Grilled hake cheeks

Kokotxas a la parrilla
Chef: Pedro Arregui
Country: España
City: 20808 Getaria (Guipúzcoa)
Address: Herreria, 2
(+34) 943140614

The grill is not absent from the current boom in haute cuisine. In a clearly nonconformist gastronomic age, at the start of the third millennium in which innovation and perfectionism mark the difference between success and failure, the most archaic and primal of preparations—grilling over a flame—plays a part in the great beginnings of this golden age that we are enjoying, and of which we would never have dreamed.

Like an Adrià or a Berasategui, the names of Pedro Arregui and Victor Arguinzoniz are rising. They have been incorporating new delicacies to the grill. In the case of Elkano, in Getaria (Guipúzcoa), which is attaining a legendary career of more than 40 years, the turbot stands out for its virtuosity, followed by the collar of hake, the clams and, recently, the hake cheeks and baby squid.

Its evolution has brought with it the adaptation of tools that make possible the preparation of these ingredients over coals—“newly fashioned grilling pans”. In the case of cephalopods, this consists of two small, flat, parallel grills separated from one another by a centimeter and attached to the handle from the opposite side. The device is placed a short distance from the coals, about ten centimeters, and over high heat—since these are delicacies of limited volume, they need a blast of heat and exterior aromatization, with just the slightest penetration of heat on the interior of the meat.

The cheeks are first done on the white side, that of the skin, on which they remain for 45 seconds; they are turned over and grilled on the dark side, that of the tongue, for a minute and a half. In all, they are there for just barely two and a half revolutions of the second hand, though they can remain a few instants more or less depending on their size and the intensity of the flame. The pieces used are always medium to large sized, since their mass is more apt for this treatment. They are seasoned with the blended vinaigrette that flavors the great fishes that have made this restaurant universally famous, such as turbot and sole.

The Recipe