You know those films that are light and easy to watch but can still carry a deeper message? Le Chef is one of those films. Made in 2012, it tells the story of a well-known Michelin star chef who is challenged by the restaraunts new CEO who wants him to lose a star so that he can hire a new chef who specializes in molecular gastronomy.
Jean Reno plays the veteran chef and you may know him from some of his American films, French Kiss, The Da Vinci Code and Pink Panther. He is Spanish by birth, but moved to Morocco with his family to escape Franco. Later in life, he moved to France and started acting at the age of seventeen.
This movie was made for foodies and francophiles alike. You get the beautiful scenery (and language) of France, the gastronomy and most importantly, the humour. While you may not be keen to whip up a Michelin Star dish, I have come up with a toned down take on a dish from the film as well as a wine pairing, tre bien!
For this recipe, I have taken a page out of my all-time favorite, Michelin Star Chef’s blog and recreated it for you.
Cod Basquasie is the name, but don’t be intimidated! It is a fish that is quite easy to prepare, a sauce that sings when the ingredients come together and potatoes that are light, crisp and delicious.
The sauce is inspired by the Basque country in Spain. It is a tomato based, red-wine sauce and it is so delicious I could truly eat it with a spoon! I edited his recipe just a bit but you can always find the original here.
To get started, you will need:
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup small diced red bell
½ cups small diced yellow bell
2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded
1 teaspoon chopped fresh
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
– fine sea salt and freshly
2medium purple potato
– fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
This sauce really is so simple to put together and I don’t say that lightly!
Start by heating the olive oil in your sarten or skillet pan. Add the sliced onion over medium to low heat. Add the garlic and cook it until it’s tender, but don’t let it burn, it heats up quickly! Next, add your sliced peppers. When those have softened, add the tomatoes, thyme and parsley and simmer on low heat for about20 minutes. Lastly, add the red wine and cook on low for another 10-15 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
For the cod, heat the grill pan until it’s very hot and add the canola oil. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper and add it to the pan along with thyme and garlic. At this point, lower the heat to medium and cook until the cod is a nice shade of golden brown, which should take 6-8 minutes. Flip the fish over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
To test it, Eric suggests inserting a metal skewer into the fish and when left for 5 seconds, feels just warm to the touch.
Make sure that when the fish is done, the basquaise is hot. Spoon the sauce onto the plate and over the cod and serve.
For the potatoes, slice each of them into cubes- 1 1/2 inch squares are recommended but as long as you try to get them all the same size so they cook evenly, they will turn out well. Place them into a pot with cold walter and salt and bring them to a simmer and cook until done. You will know they are ready when they are tender to the touch. Drain the potatoes and spread over a large pan or plate to cool. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne and thyme to match the flavors of the fish. Then, I placed them into a small ramekin and flipped them over to create the shape you see in my photo. Lastly, I added a bit of parsley puree for color but raw parsley will do.
You may be surprised to see red wine paired with fish, as the classic rule of white with fish, red with meat has been eastablished for a reason. However, there is always an exception to the rule. Of course, when choosing a red wine to pair with fish, it is best to select one that resembles a white wine, one that isn’t so bold and heavy that it would overpower the dish. As fish dishes normally have an acidic component to them; most white wines tend to have more acidity than reds and matching the acidity of the fish is something important to keep in mind when pairing wine with your dish. Some reds though have a fair amount of acid making them good for seafood dishes.
The wine paired with this dish is a Rioja, Hermanos Pecina Joven Rioja 2007, though most Merlots will complement fish as well. This wine is a medium bodied mix of fruits but with an acidity that pairs well with cod. I used it for the sauce and to drink with dinner. Some for the dish, some for me kind of ratio! Wines that are made in the Loire Valley of France are also light and sublte and tend to work well with fish. What you need to remember is to choose a wine you like because even if it is the ‘perfect’ pairing, you have to like the wine or it won’t mean a thing!
I hope you enjoy this film and this dish! Please leave a comment if you’ve tried it or just watched Le Chef and let me know what you thought. Also, use #wanderfullifestyle and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!