Saturday, November 12, 2005

Recipe: Tomato Gazpacho

Finally found some time last weekend to cook and have dinner. Feeling rather inspired by the French trip, I decided to try my hand at a tomato gazpacho. There was just one slight problem: I had no idea how to make one.

After looking around, I found an easy-looking recipe. Actually, tomato gazpacho is not very difficult to make; you just have to make sure your ingredients are nice and fresh, no preserved stuff.

Whoop 001

It is indeed unfortunate, though, that something as simple as fresh ingredients are so hard to find in Singapore. The tomatoes you see above, vine-ripened, are still not as sweet and succulent as one would like, but they'll still set you back about $2 each, so you'll want to budget properly.

My main problem was that I only wanted enough gazpacho to fill five shot glasses, and had no idea how to reduce the recipe correspondingly. In the end, I ended up with about ten times as much gazpacho as I needed. If you do feel like serving gazpacho, keep the portions small (as in an amuse-bouche); it's a bit spicy to serve as a full soup course.

Ingredients (serves 6 as a full course)

1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
6 ripe plum tomatoes, cubed
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups tomato juice
1/3 cup vinegar (preferably balsamic, but any kind will do)
1/4 cup olive oil

Whoop 002

There really isn't much skill involved in this recipe. It even lends itself to being made a day in advance. If you muck it up, then there is no hope for you, really. Having said that, I did manage to muck it up slightly. If you do make the recipe in advance to chill in the fridge, be sure to leave out the garlic or use very little (even less than the stated amount above). This is because garlic intensifies as it sits and will overpower the rest of your gazpacho. I read this in some other recipe and ignored it, but it turned out to be one of those pearls of wisdom that are actually true, so ignore at your own peril.

Whoop 003

Okay, so place your cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender and pulse the hell out of everything till you get liquid. If it's too dry, add some of the tomato juice or olive oil. Keep adding the other ingredients till everything has been smoothly blended.

Whoop 004

If your blender is not very big, then for mercy's sake work in batches. You can mix the separate liquids you obtain in another bowl.

Whoop 005

At the end of all that blending, you should obtain something that looks roughly like the liquid in the bowl above, depending on how far you've deviated from the recipe and taken your own liberties.

Now all you have to do is strain the liquid repeatedly (I strained at least three times) to rid it of all that unpleasant pulp, pith and seed residue that the cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes generate. Your gazpacho should be as smooth as possible.

Once that's done, have a taste. Gazpacho is meant to be pretty intense, but if it goes straight to your head, chuck it into the fridge with a couple of ice cubes to dilute it. Serve chilled at the dinner table, to be drunk as quickly as possible.

P.S. if anyone has a good recipe for clear gazpacho, I want it!

Technorati Tags: ,

No comments: