This is a story about home – where home is and what home means to me these days.
And also, about what probably defines to eat lunch with me. Fish, involved, of course.
We arrived in Seattle 357 days ago.
People ask me “why Seattle?” all the time. Many seem surprised that I am indeed new to the city. “Feels like you have been here all your life”. Exactly.
What I still call home however is roughly 5,000 miles (or some odd 8,000 km) away. I have lived away from the Basque Country for 15 years now and when I say I am going home, I mean I am going here. Where my parents, brothers and all my relatives live. Where Ayarza – the pastry shop still stands and where I cannot take five steps without running into someone I know. I will always be Aran “from Ayarza” or “Nekane’s daughter”.
But in this year in Seattle, I have found a community that perhaps (dare I say) didn’t know that could exist anywhere. Maybe not even back home.
I think what lies under this sentiment is also a sense of growing up. Realizing that I am the only one who can create my community that I was craving so much, to find the jobs I want or to surround myself with beauty. It is all up to me. And it only took about 20 years for me to finally realize this.
In Seattle, I have found “my people” as they say… but, and most importantly…
… I have found myself.
And I say this with no sense of sappiness. No overly sentimental feelings in me anymore. Just excited to be here and do things, which I feel is what I learn from the artistic community in Seattle. Just create for the sake of creating.
Above are some snippets of what my life here means. These colors and this light.
But let’s not forget about the recipes, which I want to keep the focus for this blog.
If you popped by my house or studio any day for lunch, this is the sort of fare you would most likely find. Super simple things assembled in short few minutes. Most likely involving fish. I am after all Basque.
Black cod, avocado and crispy garlic tartine.
A simple mecerated kale salad.
… maybe some cheese (except those times I must avoid dairy… that’s a story for another day)
And although not represented here, some sort of dish that requires a spoon. Soup or dessert. That is comfort to me.
Here and there.
Black cod, avocado and crispy garlic tartines
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bread
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz (375 g) black cod filet, skinned
4 slices gluten-free bread
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 small watermelon radish, thinly sliced
Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the garlic. Cook gently until the garlic becomes golden but do not let it burn or it will turn bitter. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside.
Pat dry the black cod and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cook the fish in the same pan over medium hight heat. Once you put the cod on the pan, do not try to flip it or move it. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on one side and then gently flip over with a spatula. Cook for another 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Black cod is slightly oily and flaky. remove the fish from the pan and assemble the tartines.
Brush the bread with a little bit of olive oil. If there isn’t much olive oil leftover from cooking the fish, you could even use that oil. It has a lot of flavor.
Assemble the tartines by toping bread with avocado slices, crumbled up fish, crispy garlic, watermelon radishes and some micro greens (optional). Another pinch of black pepper and a little bit of the leftover oil from cooking the garlic.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 pound (450 g) mussels, any beards removed and rinsed
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Note: inspect mussels before cooking and discard any cracked or open ones.
Heat a medium pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and shallot and cook for a minute. Add the mussels and white wine. Cover the pan and cook for a minute or until mussels begin to open. remove the mussels that are open and cover the pan and continue cooking for a few more seconds until they are all open. If any mussels have not opened, discard them. Add all the mussels back in the pan and add the parsley. Stir and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Massaged kale salad
8 leaves of kale, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, toss together the kale, salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice with your hands. Don’t be too gentle as the tossing action or massage helps the kale macerate. Let sit for 2 minutes. Add the shallot and olive oil. Toss and serve immediately.