Start by researching recipes that sound close to your dish and think about differences and similarities. If the recipe calls for cream, for example, do you remember the sauce being creamy or was that perhaps omitted? You'll be surprised what you forget days, even minutes, after tasting a dish and how helpful jotting down a few tasting notes can be. Do you detect a spicy component, for example? Is there a citrus flavour hiding in the background? Sometimes the coriander garnish or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes all the difference in recreating that restaurant dish that feel you might forget as soon as you put your fork down. Taking a quick photo at the restaurant helps as well.
It never hurts to ask the restaurant if they're willing to share their recipe. If they won't go for that, try asking specific ingredient questions like "What is the spicy flavour?" or "What gives the dish the crunch?" If all else fails, ask for a list of the ingredients, perhaps hinting that you have a certain intolerance or food sensitivity so they'll be inclined to include everything (not that I´d advocate fibbing, of course). Many restaurants are used to catering for food allergies and will be able to give a rundown of ingredients.
The term acqua pazza (pronounced [ˈakkwa ˈpattsa]; literally crazy water in Italian) is used in Italian cuisine to refer to a recipe for poached white fish, or to simply refer to the lightly herbed broth used to poach it.I tend to draw my inspiration from pieces not of just one, but of several similar dishes, before bringing together their best elements to showcase a fine recipe. This particular recipe was inspired by a dish I saw Massimo Bottura cook on an episode of Masterchef.The recipe was his interpretation of Triglie (red mullet) alla livornese . This is an Italian fish stew,the sauce being not dissimilar to a bouillabaise. I searched the length and breadth of the internet but could I find his recipe? Could I heck. So I improvised and "made it my own", a coin of phrase much over used to my annoyance on TV reality shows.
Well I was half way there and had to set out exactly how and what I wanted my final result to look and taste like.I wanted to keep the feel of the Bottura dish.Served on the Livorno sauce, he covered it with a very thin crisp slither of bread dusted with tomato powder, capers and black olives. I needed to put "my" own stamp on it.I decided to serve it as an ensopado de peixe salmonete, ( Portuguese Red Mullet stew ) but I was going to make a tomato acqua pazza and then deconstruct the way the dish was plated up and served.First of all I would place a slice of grilled country bread on the bottom of the dish, place the cooked fish on top of the bread and then pour the sauce from a jug over each serving once it was on the table.II garnished the fish just before serving with some black olives and capers.
4 medium size salmonete (red mullet)cleaned and flleted
600g ripe tomatoes,skinned de-seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small tin anchovies including the oil
2 cloves garlic
1 stick celery
1 leaf of leek
50 ml olive oil
50ml white wine
few sprigs of manjericão (basil)
salt and pepper to taste
Clean the mullets. Skin and seed the tomatoes,Set aside.
Chop the onion and the garlic.
In a pan heat the olive oil and the oil from the tin of anchovies.Add the onion and garlic and cook until they are soft and golden.Stir in the anchovies until they break up and melt.Add the tomatoes,stick of celery and the leek.Leave to cook until reduced to a thick sauce.Remove the celery stick and leek and strain the sauce through a passe-vite or blend in the pan with a stick blender.In the pan bring back to the heat,season with salt and pepper to your taste.Strain the sauce into a jug and keep warm while you cook the fish.Fry the fish in hot butter skin side down turn and continue cooking until fish is cooked through about a minute.In a large soup plate place a slice of grilled country bread and place two fillets of fish on top.Pour the tomato sauce around the dish and scatter a carpet of parsley powder around the plate for garnish.