Chef Jesus Sanchez Sainz is in love with the products of the sea. It could not be otherwise for this Navarre of Cradle and Cantabrian heart. For 25 years, his cuisine has been sincere, simple, direct and respectful of the product. With two Michelin stars and three Repsol Suns that he has under his belt, he is one of the best Chefs in Cantabria.
Chef Jesus Sanchez Sainz travelled to Madrid for a few hours to share some of his best kept secrets with a group of gastronomic journalists. Jesus teaches us how to cook as a two Michelin star Chef with canned food, salted anchovy, northern bonito and tuna belly, three very heavy products in his kitchen.
Canning is a culinary resource that we have on hand, from the housewife to the professional, through the amateur kitchens, foodie and much more. We use canning to preserve food, but giving it a “little twist” we can create surprising new flavours and textures and in a very simple way, Jesús Sánchez tells us.
With these words Jesus begins his presentation and he has already won us. He anticipates that he will cook, just as he would do at home, three dishes that he prepares and serves in his restaurant. Sharpen all the senses and make sure we learn the lesson well so that we can transfer it to our kitchens.
Anchovy with Panna Cotta and Chicory
The show starts with the anchovy, this fish is one of the most underappreciated delicacies of our kitchen. You can find the anchovy’s along the Cantabrian coast and has two seasons of capture. The coastal anchovy from March to May. Plus, the return anchovy from June to the end of September.
The coastal anchovy is the highest quality and the one most sort after for the production of salted anchovies.
It is the first, salted anchovy, which Jesus uses to make Anchovy with Panna Cotta and Chicory. A combination that could sound strange to us and that hides an endearing story. Sanchez tells us that the idea came as a tribute to the workers, working with anchovies in the factory that each morning took a snack based on chicory with milk, bread and anchovy.
To prepare this version, it is necessary to wash the anchovy in water three times to remove the salt. Between washing, gently scrape with a lace to remove the silver (or skin), the edges are trimmed, finally after drying well with absorbent paper, it is opened to remove the central spine. Each spine is scraped off to remove the bones.
The anchovy is placed on a slice of toasted brioche and is completed with two dots of pepper cream and two more dots of cream cheese with nori seaweed. It is accompanied by a chicory with panna cotta (which simulates a coffee with milk) adorned with a touch of chicory reduction. A dish that is enjoyed in two bites and evokes the flavours of their breakfast.
Tips from the Chef to not waste anything
- Anchovy clippings can be dried and used to make a flavoured butter.
- The spine is very tender so it can be fried and eaten.
- If the loins are not going to be consumed, they can be preserved in a mild oil (which does not spoil their flavour) and at the time of serving they are drained and sprinkled with a splash of good extra virgin olive oil.
After this demonstration of power and to show us that cooking with preserves at home has a long way to go, Jesus changes the product and passes to the northern bonito in oil to prepare a beautiful sea fritter. Appropriate for the Lenten season. An exquisite snack whose dough is halfway between croquettes and donut dough.
After draining the northern bonito well and crumbling it, Sánchez and his team prepare a thick bechamel that starts with onion finely chopped. Cooked over a low heat, so that it releases the sugars and becomes transparent with no colour. To the onions, add flour and let it cook for a few minutes before incorporating flaked potatoes and the bonito of the crumbled north. Let it cook until it thickens.
Jesus uses anchovy essence to add a Pure umami flavour. He then drops it in bite portions in abundant oil, forming perfectly round fritters that crown with a pepper aioli and a touch of chives. The result is so delicious that we would have to hold back from eating half a dozen between us. But we hold back because something tells us that the best is yet to come.
Crispy Veggies with Ventresca
The third and last course, the raw material changes again and we are delighted with what we are learning. This time the attention is to capture the tuna belly, a preserve that does not need much because it is a delight as it is, but when it is presented in the form of crispy vegetables with ventresque it’s stunning with the textures and flavour.
The preparation starts at the end, with Sanchez showing us some pieces of dried northern bonito, that’s hard and with an unusual appearance that, grated, uses as a termination of various dishes. After draining it well and removing all the oil, you have had them in the dehydrator overnight at 70 °C, but you can do it in a home oven.
The base of this salad is made with borage leaf and glutinous rice flour. when frying in very hot oil (at 170ºC), the leaf suffers and becomes a kind of little boat on which to mount the rest of the elements. Almond Aioli, Romesco Sauce, roasted eggplant, pickled vegetables, artichoke, mini scallion, mini leek, macadamia nut and two ventresca flakes. Finally, chopped chives and textured vinaigrette.
And to think that most humans use canned foods in salads, such as toast or pizza topping, to fill empanadas or dumplings and little else. This thought has accompanied us throughout the show cooking and we have not been able to avoid feeling a bit of grief when thinking about how much we have been missing and a huge joy to see the possibilities offered by canned food and two Michelin star dishes that we can Prepare with them. Something will change from now on. Definitely.
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