Romesco is a Spanish sauce made from nuts and red pepper. It is from the region of Catalonia where, in spring, it is served as a dip for calçots, a local spring onion that are traditionally charred over an open fire. Romesco sauce is often served with seafood, though it is very versatile and is also good with vegetables, chicken and red meat.
750g piece Bass Groper fillet, skin off, bones removed
½ cup beer
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon warm water
½ cup plain flour
Olive oil, for deep-frying
2 egg whites
Salt flakes, to taste
1 small red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
2 x 2cm pieces fresh lemon skin, pith removed
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup blanched almonds, toasted (see notes)
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted (see notes)
⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned (see notes)
10 basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Cut fish into strips, cover and set aside.
Combine beer, oil and saffron. Sift flour into a bowl and gradually whisk in beer mixture until smooth. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
Make Romesco Sauce: place onion, garlic, tomato, chilli, capsicum, lemon skin, salt and half the olive oil in a baking dish and place in the oven for 20 minutes, turning a couple of times to colour evenly. Place roasted vegetable mixture in a food processor with almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, basil, vinegar, salt, pepper and remaining oil and blend into a coarse paste. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180°C.
Meanwhile, beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the batter. Dip strips of fish into the batter, draining off excess and deep-fry, in batches, for 2-3 minutes, until crisp and well coloured. Drain on paper towel.
Sprinkle with salt and serve with Romesco Sauce.
Toast almonds and pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, tossing gently to prevent them burning, or under a griller (but watch them closely).
Toast hazelnuts in the same way, or in a 200ºC oven, until skins are scorched, then wrap in a clean, dry tea towel and rub briskly to remove most of the skins.