The Egyptian Chefs Association recently held a series of culinary competitions where highly skilled chefs were asked to tap into their creativity to come up with innovative, delicious new recipes.
Under the watchful eye of a critical panel of judges, Heba al-Azab won first prize as the best female chef side for her starter (watercress salad with shrimps and smoked mayo) and main course (salmon with black olive salsa). Winter is said to be a good season for seafood, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to cook up a storm!
Starter: Watercress salad with shrimp and smoked mayo
A handful of different varieties of watercress
1 ripe pomegranate, seeds removed
6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 garlic clove, minced
30 ml olive oil for sautéing the shrimp
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For the smoked mayo:
45 gm mayonnaise
2.5 gm hot smoked paprika
2.5 gm sweet smoked paprika
For the shrimp marinade:
5 gm lemon juice
15 gm Worcestershire sauce
15 gm soy sauce
Black pepper and chilies for seasoning
1. In a bowl, add the shrimp marinade ingredients together and whisk well to blend. Add the shrimps, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2. Wash the watercress and dry using a spinner, put in a bowl with the pomegranate seeds. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Add to the watercress and pomegranate, tossing to coat the salad well.
3. Prepare the smoked mayo by mixing the mayo and smoked paprika in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.
4. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute.
5. Add the shrimps and sauté for about five minutes or until cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. To assemble the plate, add a bunch of the watercress mixture in the middle of the plate. Arrange three shrimps on top of the watercress mixture. Top with a spoon of smoked mayo, drizzle honey on top of the salad and serve.
Main course: Salmon with black olive salsa
2 salmon fillets or steaks, about 180 gm each, seasoned well
For the black olive salsa:
30 ml olive oil
30 gm black olives, pitted and chopped
10 gm fresh basil, cut chiffonade
1 medium tomato, diced
For the red sauce:
15 ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
30 gm tomato paste
10 gm chopped basil
For the wilted spinach:
750 gm fresh spinach, washed and dried with a spinner
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil
1. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper; pat dry the salmon fillets using kitchen tissue. Place on tray, skin side down. Season well.
2. Bake the salmon in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Prepare the red sauce by heating olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and sauté for oneminute. Add the tomato paste and stir.
4. Add a dash of water, continuing to stir until the sauce thickens. Add the chopped basil and season to taste.
5. For black olive salsa, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Toss the tomatoes, olives and basil and remove from heat. Stir and season to taste.
6. In another pan, heat the olive oil, sauté garlic and gradually add spinach, adding salt to remove water and stirring until the spinach is wilted. Season to taste.
7. To assemble the plate, spoon the wilted spinach in the middle of the plate, drizzle balsamic vinegar on top. Make a curve in the middle of the spinach using a spatula and drop 15 ml of red sauce on top of it. Lay the salmon fillet on top, after removing the skin, adding half the salsa.
8. Serve immediately.