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In the Kitchen with Chef Aarón Sánchez: 3 Main Dishes Made with Grapes

By: Sandra Ortiz

These recipes with grapes will surprise you. Who would have thought that grapes can also be cooked in savory dishes? Prestigious Chef Aarón Sánchez shared three delicious concoctions with us.

We had the honor of tasting three delicious dishes prepared by Aarón Sánchez, a prestigious and renowned chef is famous for his participation in the Food Network show Chopped as well as for having hosted such programs as Taco Trip or 3 minutos con Aarón. We were amazed by the exotic combination of flavors and the presentation of the dishes.

We would never have imagined that it was possible to cook savory dishes -some even spicy- with green or red grapes, but this acclaimed chef showed us once again that creativity has no limits when it comes to cooking, and that anything is possible if you know how to combine the key ingredients.

Here are the three recipes that we had the pleasure to try, all with red and green California grapes as their key ingredient.

SCALLOPS CEVICHE WITH AVOCADO CREAM, FENNEL SLICES AND RED GRAPES

Serves 6-8

2 pounds fresh scallops, medium size

8 cups water

3 tablespoons salt

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 lime, cut into chunks, with zest

1 orange, cut in pieces, with peel

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 orange

In a pot, bring the water, salt, bay leaf, coriander seeds, lime wedges and orange wedges to a boil. In another large bowl put ice, water, lime juice and orange juice.

Once the water is boiling, add the scallops and cook for about 2 minutes. Put the scallops in the bowl with the ice and let them cool. When the scallops are cool, cut them into small pieces (about four pieces per scallop) and place them in a glass bowl.

Adobo

1 roasted serrano chile

¼ cup yuzu (a citrus fruit native to East Asia)

1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Chopped cilantro

Sea salt

In a blender combine the roasted serrano chile, yuzu, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and lime juice. Blend to a smooth consistency. Pour the marinade over the scallops and then add the extra virgin olive oil, chopped cilantro and sea salt. Lightly mix and let stand for 30 minutes to marinate the scallops.

Avocado cream

1 ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lime

¼ cup Mexican crema

Salt and pepper

In a food processor, add the avocado and the juice of the lime. Blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the cream and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

YUCATAN STYLE RED SNAPPER WITH PICKLED GREEN GRAPES

Serves 4

Achiote Adobo

2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons achiote paste
½ cup fish stock

In a blender, combine garlic, achiote paste and fish stock.
Blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Pickled Green Grapes

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
2 cups green grapes, cut in halves
Juice of 2 limes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

In a glass bowl, combine onion, jalapeño, grapes, lime juice and oregano.
lime juice and oregano. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4 snapper fillets

Large banana leaves (large enough to wrap the fillets)
½ cup fish broth
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wipe banana leaves with a damp towel. Place each fish fillet on a banana leaf and glaze each fish fillet with the achiote marinade. Wrap the fillet with the banana leaf and place in a baking dish. Once all the fillets are wrapped and in the baking dish, add the fish stock to the dish.
  3. Bake the fish for approximately 15 minutes or until firm. Remove the fish from the oven and cut off one side of the top of the banana leaf to expose the fish. Top each fillet with green grape escabeche and garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.

GRILLED QUAIL WITH MARINADE AND CHIPOTLE GLAZE WITH GRAPES

Serves 4

4 quail

Aarón’s Adobo (see recipe below)

Chipotle Glaze with Grapes (see recipe below)

Wash and dry quail, then season with Aarón’s Adobo.

Preheat the griddle over medium-high heat. Place the quail on the griddle, not too close to the fire, about three to four inches apart. Cook them on one side for three minutes and then turn them over, basting them with the chipotle glaze on the exposed side. Cook on the other side for two minutes and flip again, basting the other side with the glaze. Total cooking time is about 8 minutes, depending on the size of the quail. Let rest, then serve.

Chipotle glaze with grapes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ white onion

1 pound seedless black grapes (royal summer variety)

3 whole chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and cook the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Then add the grapes, chipotle, sugar and orange juice. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and has a caramel-like consistency. Approximately 15-20 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and it has a sauce-like consistency. Remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce is cool, place it in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Aarón’s Adobo

¼ cup cumin seeds

¼ cup coriander seeds

¼ cup fennel seeds

¼ cup yellow mustard seeds

2 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into small pieces

2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into small pieces

½ cup whole dried oregano (preferably Mexican)

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

¼ cup Spanish paprika, preferably sweet or hot.

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the cumin, coriander seeds, fennel, mustard along with the pasilla and ancho chilies. Let it toast for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the aroma and smoke starts to come out.

Put this mixture on a plate and let it cool to room temperature. Grind in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder until finely pulverized. Put the powder in a large bowl and add the oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Note: Chicken thighs can be substituted for the quail using the same cooking methods.

Images via Uvas from California

About the author: Sandra Ortiz

Cathy-Nuestro-Stories-Writer-Image-200x275

Sandra Ortiz Juárez studied Communication Sciences in her native Mexico and obtained a master's degree in Audiovisual Journalism in Spain. She has worked on radio, television and in digital media such as AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas and in the magazines Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres, where she served as digital director. She has interviewed celebrities such as Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, among many other personalities. In her free time she likes to dance and experiment in the kitchen. She confesses to being addicted to the internet and sushi.

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