Gambas with Fennel

There is nothing more I love to eat than head-on shrimp and Sauce Américaine. As you can see, this dish is very similar to Gambas with Fennel, almost identical, just missing two components with the addition of fennel blossoms, to give the fennel cream a little more of the fennel taste!

Here are Gambas, with a Fennel Cream, Fennel Blossoms, Saltwort, and a Sauce Américaine Foam.

Gamba in Sauce Américaine

There is nothing I love more than prawns and Sauce Américaine. These gambas or prawns are quite large; you can’t really tell in the photo, but they are seven to a pound.

This is one piece of Gamba in Sauce Américaine with Toasted Baguette and Micro Cilantro.

Recipe: Romescada

Romescada is a rustic seafood stew from Catalan, Spain. Romescada and Romesco sauce are very similar, in ingredients, but differ in method. Romesco sauce is typically pounded together (or whirled in a food processor or blended in a blender), and olive oil is added until the mixture resembles a reddish mayonnaise. However, Romescada is made with adding the individual ingredients one by one, creating a more in depth flavor profile.

What to add to Romescada is endless. Traditionally, the stew has monkfish or any other firm-fleshed white fish, such as sea bass, and any type of shellfish, bivalve, or cephalopod.

I make Romescada with the unreduced lobster stock from Sauce Américaine. That’s super flavorful. Also, I use sourdough for my bread slices.

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup peeled hazelnuts
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 2 medium Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 4 dried Ñora chiles or 2 dried Ancho chiles
  • 2 fresh Fresno peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 12 canned Piquillo peppers, chopped, more if needed
  • 2 tsp Pimentón Dulce (sweet paprika)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts lobster stock/Sauce Américaine, more if needed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast nuts and discard any skins. Then boil them for 15 minutes so that they are easy to blend.

In a large stockpot, add olive oil to depth of ¼-inch, fry 4 bread slices slowly on both sides until crisp and golden. Remove bread, drain on paper towel, cut into ½-inch cubes, and set aside. Add chopped onions to pot, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until onion is softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat while you do the next step.

Put dried Ñora/Ancho chilis in a small pot with water, simmer for 15 minutes, drain, and discard water. Remove stems and seeds.

Put roasted nuts, fried bread, garlic, chilis, Fresno, piquillo, and paprika in a food processor. Blend until it comes to a thick paste, adding more piquillo peppers if necessary to make it catch.

Add mixture from food processor to softened onions and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine, simmer until mixture has dried out a bit. Add 2 quarts of lobster broth, simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If too thick, add more stock.

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Sauce Américaine

As promised, here is my recipe for this amazing sauce.

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first, reduce that down until almost syrupy, then mount in the butter, add in a touch of lemon, and et voila!

This recipe is for restaurant quantity, feel free to cut in half or by four to make for home use. Full recipe makes around two reduced quarts of stock.

  • 5 lbs lobster bodies, around 3-4 bodies per pound
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 Spanish onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tarragon sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Handful garlic cloves
  • Handful parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Neutral cooking oil
  • Salt

Fresh lobster bodies are best but if you get them frozen, thaw them before use. Smashing frozen bodies is more difficult but it can still be done – it’s just tiring. Trust me. I prefer them fresh so the pounding is instantaneous.

In a rondeau (a wide, shallow pan, similar to a stock pot or a Dutch oven but not nearly as deep, the pan has straight sides), turn heat to high and heat up cooking oil. Add the lobster bodies when oil is about to smoke. Toss and turn and using a hammer or blunt instrument, crush/smash the heads until the coral comes out. Continuing tossing and turning so that it doesn’t burn. Add brandy and flambé aka light on fire. Be careful not to burn your eyebrows – because that does happen, never to me but I’ve seen the damage!

Once lobster bodies are red, add a little bit more cooking oil and add in the chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley stems). Sauté the veggies until soft, add a little salt to breakdown cell walls. When onions are translucent and soft, add in the dry white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and cook off wine until almost dry.

Add in tomato paste and toss paste to spread all around everything in the pot. Cook tomato paste for 2 minutes. Next, add enough water to fill the top of lobster bodies. Cover with lid or with foil and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium low, and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, water levels should have reduced by half. Using a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer, take solids out and discard. Then using a chinois or mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, stain liquid into a clean new sauce/stock pot. On high heat, reduce liquid until very dark and syrupy, about four-fifths.

Store lobster stock in pint containers and place in fridge. Best used within two weeks.

Serving ratio for two people:

When serving, heat up ¼ cup of stock, do not continue reducing, add in 2 TBS melted butter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and serve with accompanying sea creatures.

Sample dishes:

Lobster in Sauce Américaine

If done right, this Sauce Américaine is one of the best things in life. Sauce Américaine is a traditional sauce in classical French cuisine, consisting of onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, cayenne pepper, butter, and fish velouté. In my interpretation of this sauce, I make a rich lobster stock first by adding lobster bodies, the complete French mirepoix (not just onions), tomato paste, and a bouquet garni, with water to cover. I reduce all that liquid down to nine tenths and then mount in the butter. Maybe I’ll share my recipe in another post.

This is a Lobster Tail with Crispy Shallots and Micro Parsley in Sauce Américaine.

*Recipe here.

Seafood Medley Fettuccine

Sometimes Mr. Phishfeed gives me very specific requests in what he wants to eat and other times, he wants me to free-style. I forget which one he wanted when I created this but it’s basically a Medley of Seafood (Day Boat Scallops, Prawns, Octopus) in a Sauce Américaine with Housemade Fettuccine and Micro Spanish Tarragon.