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Do big fish improve with long maturation? The answer is in the Bistronomika restaurant


The chef Carlos del Portillo knows the seasons of each species, eviscerates them, matures them for several days in the chamber, uses precise cutting techniques and controls the roasting points on his grill in Madrid to the millimeter.

The fish that arrived at my table during my last visit to the Bistronómika restaurant, in Madrid, lacked garnishes and sauces.

In the center of the plate there was only a thick whitish loin that flaked into flakes full of eagles, whose roasted skin peeked out between the interstices of the meat.

More minimalist impossible.

Already in the mouth, the subtle aroma of charcoal from the grill enhanced the delicate iodized taste of the piece, while my lips did not detach due to the effect of collagen.

After the first bite I felt compelled to savor it more slowly than usual, in an exercise in rigorous concentration.

"You are enjoying a 10-kilo yellow grouper from the Conil [Cádiz] market that has matured in our chambers for 10 days," Carlos del Portillo told me.

“I present it as it comes out of the fire, without garnishes or sauces.

Our fish are too important to disfigure with dressings.

Sorry to be so radical, but I don't want any dressing to change its characteristics.

I try to make my clients discover the flavors of each species.

Only sometimes I sprinkle them with a reduced juice of their toasted spines, like a Bilbao”, the chef explained.

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Do large fish subjected to

long maturation times? I asked del Portillo.

"I'm not going to tell you anything new.

In essence, they intensify their flavors and improve their textures when it comes to volume fish.

After their capture, due to rigor mortis, they become hard as boards, apart from being tasteless.

As the days go by, its meat softens while its fat infiltrates and its flavors become more concentrated, ”he replied.

Del Portillo, with one of the 10-kilo turbot that matures in his restaurant. José Carlos Capel

What method of roasting do you follow?

“I have no fixed rules, although I do not distance myself from my rules.

I provide myself with fish of approximately 10 kilograms, which we carefully scale, gut and dry before depositing them whole in our chambers.

Its powerful musculature makes it possible that after 10 days of rest they are perfect for grilling.

My rule is approximate: one camera day for every kilogram of weight.

When our clients are aware of the days that the fish that they like so much have rested, they raise their hands to their heads.

Even so, they are not exaggerated maturations.

If this grouper weighed twice as much, the resting time could be doubled without deteriorating.”

While he argued his reasons, Del Portillo was pointing out the date of capture of each fish and the day of arrival at the restaurant.

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A post shared by Bistronomika (@bistronomika_restaurante)

Is there a species with which you particularly identify?

“I like to work the big groupers, turbot, sea bass, sole and borriquetes.

I stock up in Galicia in the port of Marín, in Conil and in Santa Pola (Alicante) for shellfish.

Sometimes uncontrollable factors affect the final result.

The quality of the fish and its maturation times are decisive.

No less transcendental than the treatment they receive in the embers.

The fire draws very fragile lines, it just as much enhances the flavors as spoils them”.

Appearance over the embers of one of the fish matured in the Bistronómika restaurant. José Carlos Capel

The roasting system of this professional is as simple as it is refinedly complex, a mixture of intuition and uncontrollable technique.

Del Portillo placed half a yellow grouper on the grills.

In a constant coming and going without losing sight of his piece, he began to make points.

“The fire must not be too powerful.

Watch how I caress the embers a few inches without burning myself.

I start with the fish skin side down and wait for its meat to begin to temper.

I don't measure times, I roast by eye.

I let myself be carried away by my intuition, details of sight and smell.

Something important is never to place fish with wet skin on the grills, it is destroyed immediately.

If the skin blackens, we are making a mistake: either the height of the grill is not adequate or there is excess power in the coals.

Roasts need time, they have to be slow.

As the fish tempers, I distance the rack from the coals with twists on the racks.

It is about roasting without drying to preserve all its juices.

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A post shared by Bistronomika (@bistronomika_restaurante)

While I was listening to Del Portillo's doctrine, memories of memorable experiences in La Huertona, Güeyu Mar, Elkano, Desde 1911, El Señor Martín, Etxebarri and Cañabota passed through my head.

Fish sanctuaries where different maturations and types of roast are handled.

Is the old idea of ​​fish the fresher the better compatible with the practice, not only yours, of matured fish? I asked him with a smile.

“Everything has to be qualified.

The rule is neither valid for all species nor for all sizes.

Maturations are meaningless with small fish.

Anchovies and sardines deteriorate for hours.

Mullets lose overnight.

We are an independent bubble within the fascinating world of fish”.

Follow me on Twitter: @JCCapel and on Instagram: @jccapel.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-25

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