This week at the restaurant we had a really delicious, simple dish of “Llampuga” on our 3-course lunch menu and they really are one of favourite ingredients at this time of the year.
Llumpuga (Coryphaena hippurus) is sometimes known as dolphin fish, though it has nothing whatsoever to do with the mammalian dolphin family, or golden mackerel, but it is probably more well known by its American name of Mahi Mahi, a Hawaiian name meaning “strong-strong.”
The Mallorcan name of “llampuga” comes from the verb ‘llampegar’ (to flash, as in lightning), and the fishing season for this species coincides with the appearance of a few strong storms in early autumn and some amazing lightening displays around the Island.
Some say that the word ‘llampuga’ comes from the Latin lampare, which means shine, referring to the shiny golden colour of the fish; actually, in Spanish the ‘llampuga’ is also sometimes known by the name of “Dorado del mar”, which means ‘gold of the sea’.
The fish are captured in nets called ‘llampugueres’ and they are long swimming, fast growing, migratory fish that originate in the Atlantic and immigrate to the Mediterranean when the water temperature is over 16 degrees.
It’s one of those great-tasting seasonal fish that unfortunately have a very short season that runs from late august to October. It can measure up to 2 meters depending on the species and location, and in its adult form it is considered a white fish and in its youth blue fish.
Llampuga has a slightly oily texture that I would describe somewhere as a cross between sea bass and tuna. Be careful when cooking as it tends to dry out quickly when overcooked, and it is best served a little pink in the middle. Some medieval Mallorcan recipe books already contain references to the manner of cooking dolphinfish.
For me, the best way to cook llampuga is to pan-fry or grill large fillets and serve with a simple vinaigrette and a green salad. Ask your friendly local fishmonger to fillet the fish for you and cut them into good-sized portions. Heat a heavy-bottomed, non-stick frying over a strong flame. Season the fillets and drizzle the hot pan with little olive oil.
Place the fillets skin side down and let them caramelise until the skin is nice and crisp. Turn them over and cook for another 30 seconds and serve. “Llampuga a la Mallorquina” is also a favourite recipe of mine, so here’s the recipe. If you fancy something a little elaborate…try this delicious Llumpuga with venere rice and yellow pepper emulsion.
Llampuga with venere rice & yellow pepper emulsion
Venere rice is harvested by only a few growers in Italy’s Po Valley. It’s a cross between an ancient Chinese variety (that was reserved almost exclusively for the Emperor and his court) and Italian risotto rice. It needs prolonged cooking to release its fantastic flavour, but the end result is well worth it. It has a wonderful texture and, an almost, freshly baked bread aroma.
- 4 fillets of Llampuga (about150g each)
For the venere rice
- 250g venere rice
- 900ml fish stock
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 100g butter
- 75g Parmesan, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp Mascarpone
- 2 tbsp Fosh olive oil
- Fosh sea salt
1 Heat the stock to a slow simmer.
2 In a heavy bottom stock pot on medium heat add the olive oil and begin cooking the onions and garlic. Cook gently and allow the onions to soften without colour.
3 Increase the heat and add the rice. Coat with olive oil and lightly toast the grains for a minute. Add the white wine and ‘deglaze’. When the wine has evaporated add a large ladleful of stock. Continuously stir the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed and add another ladleful of stock. Continue this process, over a medium heat, for approximately 40 minutes. The rice texture should be ‘al dente’.
4 Add the mascarpone, grated Parmesan, olive oil, and season to taste.
For the yellow pepper emulsion
- 2 yellow peppers
- 180ml olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Sea salt and pepper
1 Roast the yellow pepper in a hot oven or place under a hot grill. Cook until the skin starts to blister and blacken slightly.
2 Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Make sure it is airtight.
3 The steam will help to remove the skin. When cold enough to handle peel the skin and discard the seeds. Place the peeled peppers in a blender and add the olive oil slowly to emulsify.
4 Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Pass through a fine sieve and chill.
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the fillets, skin side down and cook for 1-2 minutes. The skin should become golden and crispy. Turn over and finish cooking. Approximately 2-3 minutes.
Place a large spoonful of venere rice in the middle of 4 plates and sit the Llampuga fillets on top. Serve with yellow pepper emulsion.
Verjus-cured Llampuga with pumpkin seeds and grape dressing
- 800g llampuga fillets
- 200g sea salt
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp rosemary leaves
For the dressing
- 150ml verjus
- 150ml olive oil
- Sea salt & black pepper
- FOR THE GARNISH
- 10 green seedless grapes, sliced
- 10 red seedless grapes, sliced 150g pumpkin seeds
- 100g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
- 2tsp capers
- 2 tsp finely chopped chives