What is the top secret to great Spanish cooking?
Neil, Richmond

To study a list of Spanish pantry staples is to truly feel promptly hungry. Additional-virgin olive oil, salt and sherry vinegar, as Andalusian learn chef Dani García of Bibo in London factors out, make an excellent gazpacho dressing, and are also the foundational trio of Spanish cuisine. To these, incorporate aromatics: white onion (for sweetness), tons of garlic, pimentón (smoked paprika) and saffron, the latter each in moderation.

In phrases of dry goods, Monika Linton, founder of Spanish delicatessen and tapas bar Brindisa, shares her shelves with cans of tuna (for leaf or bean salads), anchovies (as a tapa and for cooking) and shellfish.She generally cooks pulses from dry, but keeps emergency jars of cooked beans, far too. And she suggests always having heaps of (Mediterranean-sourced) nuts to hand – walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and marcona almonds – for topping salads, rice dishes, veg, puddings, you title it.

Chef/proprietor of Paco Tapas and Casamia in Bristol, and govt chef at Decimo in London, Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, meanwhile, has two major suggestions. For right pan con tomate, just toast the bread, rub with garlic and squeeze on the tomatoes, rather than chopping them, right before dressing with olive oil and salt. And for uncomplicated roast crimson peppers, blacken them directly more than a flame, then wrap and leave to sweat for 10 minutes: the skins will then just tumble off, with no want for fiddly peeling.

A sofrito, meanwhile, is the most important foundation for quite a few a Spanish meal. In Linton’s e-book The Legitimate Meals of Spain, she warns that it is not a swift fix, nor does she advise making use of out-of-season tomatoes. As an alternative, make a huge batch with the summer glut and maintain in sterilised jars. To make 600g, heat 50ml olive oil in a weighty-bottomed pan, incorporate a large, finely diced, sweet white onion and cook gently for at the very least 30 minutes, right until tender but not colored. Grate in 1kg contemporary tomatoes and cook down on a extremely low warmth (use a diffuser, if you have a single), stirring routinely, for at the very least 30-40 minutes and up to a few hours, right up until you have a deep, thick, crimson sauce. Season with sugar and salt to style, sieve and bottle, to freeze, or to refrigerate and use in just a several days.

For Paco Martin Romano, chef at Tapa in Edinburgh, salsa española is yet another crucial base. In a excellent olive oil, fry chopped onion, mushrooms and garlic, incorporate a splash of Spanish brandy, then stir in a little flour to make a roux. Loosen with red wine and meat inventory (or white wine and no mushrooms if making use of the sauce with fish), lower, then blitz sleek a vegetarian edition is beautifully satisfactory, far too. Use with roast meat and as a base for paella and all method of other rice dishes.

Romano also namechecks a 3rd base sauce, also very well suited to rice, salmorreta, which is made up of garlic, parsley and tomatoes blitzed with rehydrated ñora peppers for further punch. For paella, he sluggish cooks veg (bell peppers of all the colors, onions at a thrust, but cooked to get rid of all the drinking water), then adds rice and toasts, going it all-around regularly, in advance of stirring in the salmorreta. Insert two cups of stock per cup of rice, as nicely as a minor extra when you insert pimentón, he advises, so it does not catch and burn up.

Wherever sofrito sales opportunities, picada finishes: much like pesto, it’s used to thicken sauces and stews, as effectively as to strengthen flavours. Components range, but commonly incorporate a starch (roasted unsalted nuts, bread or biscuits, crushed) with an aromatic (saffron, herbs, peppercorns, chilli, ñora peppers, tomatoes, refreshing peppers, garlic, even chocolate) and a liquid (olive oil, inventory, wine).

And Marianna Leivaditaki, foods writer and previous head chef at Moro and Morito in London, implies generally acquiring some frozen ibérico pork in the freezer and a bottle of manzanilla in the cupboard: the two add wonderful depth to seafood and chorizo dishes, specifically. She also stresses that Spanish cooking is most effective when held simple: excellent-excellent meat or fish, oil and a potent vinegar are generally all you need.