....the smell of hot, humid pavement, salty ocean air, and the waft of fresh baked bread and simmering kitchens...
....hear the rustling of trees high up above the old world buildings, scooters honking, and the gentle klinking of spoons in coffee cups....
...look at the rows and rows of patio canopies, tiny winding cobble stone streets, little old men with bottles of wine for breakfast with their little pastries...
...feel those cobble stones and bricks beneath your feet, the warmth from the Summer sun, beads of perspiration tickling down your back, the breeze coming off the Mediterranean, and the hunger in your belly because your internal time clock is all fucked up...
...now taste all of it...
That was how I first experienced fava beans. In a dish called Habas con Jamon (Spanish for broad beans* with Jamon**). And that's how I'm presenting it to you.
While in Barcelona we stumbled into a cafe for lunch one day and I found myself in absolute awe of a brilliant green dish that was placed in front of me. No where had I ever tasted anything so rich, so fresh, so buttery, and so perfect. Hello, fava beans.
I've been in love with them ever since and while they're only available briefly in the Spring here on Vancouver Island - and they're a bitch to prepare - I definitely get my fill. You can find them at The Market on Yates right now, or make a trip to your local farmer's market (i.e. The Moss Street Market). You won't be sorry.
* You will need many more beans than you think. Once the casings are gone, there is significantly less volume than when you bought them. I recommend 1 and a half to 2 Lb per person with casings on.
** Jamon is a very special cured meat from Spain made from Iberian pigs which is carefully produced with very stringent guidelines. If you can't find it you could substitute prosciutto but as I've discovered, it won't have the same flavor as the good stuff. Try your local artisan meat shop or Italian deli. You can get it in Victoria at Ottavio's Italian Bakery and Delicatessen.
Habas con Jamon
(with seared ahi tuna)
2 Tbsp Butter.
1 Brown Onion, diced.
175 g Jamon or Prosciutto, roughly chopped.
2 Garlic Cloves, minced.
4 Lb Fresh Broad (Fava) Beans.
2/3 C Dry White Wine.
3/4 C Chicken Stock.
2 Yellowfin Ahi Tuna "Steaks" - for more information on the right tuna to buy click here.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
What to Do:
First, prepare the fava beans. This does take a bit of time but it's very easy. Snap off the top end of the bean and gently peel off the seam (like peas). Then gently wiggle your fingers inside to open the pod. Pop out the beans and discard the shells to the compost.
Now here's the time consuming part: the beans are tricky and have a second shell. You'll need to bring a large pot of water to a boil, dump the beans in, boil for about 30 seconds to loosen the second casing and then immediately drain and run cold water over the beans to stop the cooking process and maintain the brilliant green color. Now you can carefully made a tear in the outer coating near the "bum" of the bean (when you see them you'll know what I mean) and just gently pinch the bean out of it's casing. Tada! Bright green broad beans! Again, discard the shell.
Add the broad beans and wine and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add the stock, reduce heat to low-medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Uncover and cook for another 10, or until the beans are tender, and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally, season well with black pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over high heat. Add a touch of olive oil once hot, place very cold, sushi-grade, line caught, ahi yellow fin tuna into the pan. Sear for about 20 seconds on both sides. Remove from the pan. Slice into 1/4" slices. And sprinkle lightly with salt.
Serve beans hot, top with the tuna and saddle up with some crusty bread.
What's your fondest (or least fondest) food memory?
This post is linked up with the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop via The 21st Century Housewife; Tasty Tuesdays; Slightly Indulgent Tuesday;