26 Mar Fresh hake, fresh, the one in the sea.
IF THERE IS AN OBSESSION THAT IS REPEATED AMONG GOOD COOKS, IT IS THE QUALITY OF INGREDIENTS.
It is the quality and the state in which the ingredients enter the door, because from then on, luck has its way, and everything that happens from that moment only depends on your hands, your intelligence, and your imagination.
That is why the good Chef, the chef with roots, specifically, begins to cook the dish in the market, with the supplier, carefully selecting the ingredients with which he is going to work, as a painter chooses his colours, or better still, like a Florentine sculptor who goes down every morning to the quarry of Carrara to look for the stone where he knows his David is hidden.
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the colours of the final picture that is drawn on the plate. Yet, few cooks, few chefs, devote the time and attention they devote to other equally important ingredients to their oil selection.
Extra virgin olive oil is a fresh food, that is to say, it degrades by a process of oxidation just like other fresh foods, like hake, lettuce, or tomatoes. It is true that, thanks to its natural antioxidants, it resists the passage of time better than any other, but it is still a fresh product, a living product, and from the first moment it is produced, like everything that is born on this planet, it begins its degradation process.
The best oil, the perfect one, is the one that is inside the olive before it is harvested.
For this oil to reach the dish in the best possible conditions and be served as a highlight for the rest of the ingredients, as a condiment that marinades and enhances the flavours, each of the steps taken, from the tree to the kitchen, must be meticulous and precise in detail:
- Olive in its optimal moment of harvest: Some say green, others golden; what seems unanimous is that it must be picked before turning black.
- Non-intrusive harvesting technique: Blows can damage the olive, it is better to use vibration and combing.
- Transport in the shortest possible time: The mill must be close to the olive grove and prepared for the reception and immediate milling of the fruit.
- Cold extraction: We use an external cooling system of the mixer that never exceeds 23°. Less quantity is extracted, but the quality is much higher.
- Storage without oxygen: It is deposited in a controlled atmosphere that gives complete stability to the product.
- On-demand packaging: Store only for a short time and package small batches.
- Dark glass bottle in small formats (500ml): glass is the best material for oil conservation. The less oxygen the container shares with the oil, the better. In the kitchen, small bottles guarantee that with every use, the oil is in its best shape. It is better to open a new bottle for immediate use.
And now, the financial department arrives and tells the Chef that it cannot be, that a bottle of the best extra virgin olive oil costs 10€ per half litre and that in that way, they would be ruined.
Then the cook takes some paper and a pencil (some still use them) and writes the bill takes his shame to the accountant:
500 ml to give to the dishes or to top off 50 to 100 plates, depending on whether 10 ml or 5 ml are used in each. That is to say, using the best extra virgin olive oil means adding from €0.20 to €0.10 to the cost per dish.
Not even that small leaf of lettuce balanced with a carrot heart has come out so profitable as that drop of pure olive essence.