Malmö: tapas at Escama

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That Friday night in Malmö was lovely and balmy and when we arrived to Escama for dinner the outside area was of course packed. I had booked a table but the outside area was first come first serve. A shame, but I get it. So we put our names on the list and and sat down at the bar.

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And we divided our dinner into two sittings; nibbles inside at the bar and more substantial dishes outside once we got our table.

We started with some excellent jamon iberico (tapa negra) and Monte Enebro cheese. Real classics. Especially the cheese section was a little unimaginative. Nice cheeses but a very standard selection. Luckily the ham made up for it!

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It took a good while until we got seated outside, but we nibbled, drank cold Albarino and talked.

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When we sat down outside we got a different waiter, and it was like somebody had forgotten to “hand us over”. We got no attention and had to flag waiters down several times to order, ask for side plates and so on. Really not fun when we were finally going to order the main part of the meal.

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We had the tuna tartar which I was a little disappointed with. It was literally just chopped tuna with a little seasoning. Some crunch, more flavour and a nice emulsion would have been nice!

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But the entrecôte steak that we’d seen our table neighbours inside enjoy was amazing! I would come back to have one of those to myself. Easy! We both enjoyed that VERY much, so they do know their meat here. The patatas bravas were also nice, although on the spicy side, but I quite like that.

All in all, we had a nice but very long (due to the lack of service at the end) dinner with some varied service. But the jamon iberico and the steak were so good that all is forgiven!

Escama, Fersens väg 4, 211 42 Malmö, Sweden

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More tapas: Croquetas de jamon

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I really wanted to make croquetas de jamon (Spanish ham croquettes) when I made the other tapas dishes, but sadly didn’t have time. But that didn’t stop me. Instead I made them the day after when I had more time on my hands and served them appropriately as a starter snack with a nice bottle of cava.

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It was the first time I made croquetas and it wasn’t difficult at all. Much easier than I expected actually, and lots of fun! But it does take a while to make them. About 45 minutes to make the bechamel, three hours to rest and then another 30 minutes to fry them. But it’s completely worth it.

I halved the recipe from the book Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy, making 12 instead of 24 croquetas, but they are quite large so you could easily make 16 from the recipe.

Croquetas de Jamon, makes 12-16

Adapted from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy.

25 g butter

1/4 onion, finely chopped

35 g cured ham, preferably Spanish Jamon Iberico, chopped

400 ml whole milk

30 plain flour 

grated nutmeg

1 tsp salt

a pinch white pepper

1 egg

breadcrumbs 

500 ml neutral oil for frying

Melt the butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and ham. Cook for a few minutes until the onion turns translucent but not coloured. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, bring the milk almost to the boil and set aside. 

Add the flour to the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until the flour has toasted a bit. Add the hot milk little by little, whisking all the time, to make a thick roux. Keep going until you have added all the milk and you have a smooth and silky bechamel. When it comes to the boil reduce the heat to low and add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, whisking to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Line the bottom of a baking tray with baking parchment and then pour the bechamel into the baking tray. Spread it out and then immediately place a layer of cling film directly on top, making sure the cling is touching the surface of the bechamel as this will stop a skin from forming. Transfer to the fridge and chill completely. 

After three hours the bechamel should be firm enough to handle. Peel off the cling film, turn the bechamel out on to a floured surface and carefully peel away the baking parchment. Sprinkle with more flour and use a knife to cut the bechamel into 12-16 equal squares. Dust hands with flour and roll the squares into balls between your hands.

Beat the egg in a bowl and pour the breadcrumbs out onto a plate. Dip each ball in the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs.

Heat up the oil in a large deep pan until it reaches 180C. Fry the croquetas in small batches until golden and crisp (takes about 1 1/2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel before serving.

Patatas bravas

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I often cook Italian or French food but very seldom (if all) Spanish food, although I love to eat it out. I don’t know why this is but here is my first proper attempt to change that.

My brain (and gut brain) work in mysterious ways and one day last week I just had to make patatas bravas. Maybe it was because I try to eat more potatoes and less bread or just because I got a craving. Who knows…

I did some research and then made my own version and although not perfect it was a good attempt. I used Rick Stein’s approach with par-boiling and frying the potatoes which was nice, but next time I will try them deep fried.

Although tasty, I thought it looked a little sparse to eat the patatas bravas on their own so I fried some chorizo and padron peppers to go with it, two things I can never have too much of.

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When I finished off the leftovers the next day I simply added a fried egg. Delicious!

Patatas bravas, serves 2

4-5 large Maris Piper potatoes

oil for frying

Tomato sauce:

1 garlic clove, pressed

400 g chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp chipotle paste

smoked paprika 

salt, black pepper

Allioli:

1 egg, at room temperature

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 garlic clove, pressed

approx 300 ml mild olive oil

some lemon juice if needed 

salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Par-boil in salted water until just softened, approx 5-7 minutes. Drain and fry in oil until golden brown and soft (or even better, deep fry until golden brown and soft in the middle). 

While the potatoes are cooking, make the sauces. 

Tomato sauce: Fry the pressed garlic in some oil in a non-stick sauce pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil and cook until it has thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper, chipotle paste and smoked paprika. 

Allioli: Mix the egg, sherry vinegar and garlic in a blender. Add 1 tsp oil and beat. Then add the rest of the oil in a trickle while beating. Add salt, pepper and maybe some lemon juice. 

Season the potatoes. Serve by smearing tomato sauce onto the plate/serving bowl. Add the potatoes and top with allioli. 

Stuffed squid

A while ago I found this recipe for stuffed squid on one of my favourite Swedish food blogs: Gittos Mat. I just felt like I had to make this dish one day and bring a part of sunny Spain into my kitchen.

I rwally like squid and can not believe how cheap it is. Another thing I can not comprehend is why you in some restaurants (not the best ones, admittedly) get horrible rubbery calamari, when fresh squid is silky smooth and light years from the rubbery texture. Why oh why, I wonder.

I love homemade calamari and all my friends who have tasted it can not believe how good it is. And it is so incredibly easy to make as long as you do not mind deep-frying. This dish however, is a bit more fiddly, but it was a joy to cook it. And to eat it too of course. Serve with white bread to dip into the sauce, and perhaps a side salad of rocket and feta like I did.

Stuffed squid, serves 2

4 squid tubes

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

2/3 of a fennel

100-150 ml fresh breadcrumbs (1-2 slices)

1 egg

75 g chorizo

a bunch of chopped parsley

plain flour

400 g chopped tomatoes

salt, black pepper

olive oil

(my addition: balsamic vinegar)

Rinse the squid and pat dry. Chop onions and garlic finely and fry until soft in olive oil. Place half in a bowl for the stuffing and keep half aside for the sauce.
Chop the fennel finely and fry until soft in oil. Add to the bowl. Also add breadcrumbs and the egg, stir and leave it to swell for 10 minutes. Chop the chorizon finely and add to the mixture. Add the parsley and season. 

Stuff the squid tubes with the filling, but not too tight. Use toothpicks to seal the ends. Coat the tubes with flour and fry them until golden in olive oil. Place in a casserole dish and add the oil too. Add the onions and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Add a glug of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Put on the lid and let it gently simmer for an hour. Serve and enjoy!