On a recent trip to London I hit up a restaurant in Exmouth Market called Moro, had Romesco sauce and changed my life. I’m not quite sure how I’ve gone 30 years on this earth and the first time I had Romesco sauce was in London, in February… of 2012. Seriously, this is just despicable.
At Moro I had some sort of fish that was served bathed in Romesco. While I was eating it I had no idea what it was. Sure I knew the sauce was tomatoe-y with a hint of spice but I kept on coming across this crunchy little explosions. It really was a delight with the perfect balance of flavours and textures. So delightful that I went back home and began trying to figure out how exactly to recreate this at home.
Luckily I didn’t have to search that hard because the interwebs revealed that the Moro romesco sauce recipe is abundantly available. Go figure. Apparently there are a few Moro cookbooks out there as well (which I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection). Even for a major, diverse city like Toronto the ingredient list proved to be a bit of a challenge. Of course I had no trouble finding things like saffron. But the peppers, oh the peppers! Usually I’m able to find whatever dried chiles I need at Kensington market but I could not for the life of me find Noras or Guindillas. I substituted other peppers for them but I’d love to get my hand on these peppers (especially the Noras).
While my romesco didn’t taste exactly like the one that I had at Moro it was great. I served it with some super-pricey Halibut that I bought at Pusateri’s (I had one of those group buy deals) and it was a fantastic way to honour that expensive little piece of fish. For the record, romesco would also be great with shrimp, chicken and maybe even some veg like asparagus.
Definitely a new fave.
3.5oz/100g whole blanched almonds
2oz/55g shelled hazelnuts
4 dried noras peppers, or ordinary dried peppers or 1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
Half a dried guindilla pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled
6 tbsp olive oil
2oz/55g stale white bread, cut into .5in/1.5cm cubes
5oz/140g piquillo peppers, or 2 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1-1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or a mixture of the two
1 tsp tomato purée
40 strands saffron, infused in 8 tbsp boiling water
half tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1. Toast the almonds and hazelnuts either in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop until light golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
2. Open up the dried peppers and discard the seeds. Crumble the peppers into a bowl and top with boiling water.
3. Fry two of the garlic cloves whole in the olive oil until light brown. Remove the garlic and reserve. Fry the cubes of bread in the same oil until light brown. Reserve the oil aside.
4. Puree the nuts, bread, garlic and peppers (both soaked and piquillo, reserving the soaking water) in food processor. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use that too. Once you have a coarse paste, transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the olive oil, half the pepper water, the vinegar, the remaining garlic clove, crushed, the tomato puree, saffron, paprika, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.
5. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water and/or more olive oil. Romesco can be made in advance.
6. Serve over pan-fried fish or shrimp, chicken etc.
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