Made in Spain: José Pizarro’s recipes for Spanish autumn fish

This summer, 10 years after I opened my little tapas bar in Bermondsey, south London, I launched two restaurants at the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly. It’s probably one of my proudest career moments: my first foray into central London, with something that reflects the whole of me: buzzy, vibrant tapas on one floor, more elevated dishes for sharing on the first floor, all housed in my favourite gallery in town. I love watching people eat my food, and believe that we appreciate art in a similar way: with emotion, delight and, sometimes, a sense of mystery or wonder.

Hake in salsa verde (pictured above)
This lovely dish is inspired by the Basque country in northern Spain. Even though I’m from the hot, dusty south, much of my heart belongs to the wild, green landscapes of the Basque region. A few years ago, I cooked with my good friend and fellow chef Juan Mari Arzak at his sociedad gastrónomica in San Sebastián, where we made a dish with hake, clams and shallots. This is my homage to it: the flavours and colours are alive with energy.

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml txakoli (a slightly sparkling Basque white wine), or dry white wine
150ml fresh fish stock
Sea salt and black pepper
4 × 180g hake fillets
200g frozen (or fresh) peas
200g live clams, cleaned
8 spears jarred white asparagus (when in season, use fresh and blanch until al dente), optional
1 small handful finely chopped parsley
Crusty bread, to serve

In a large frying pan for which you have a lid, heat the oil on a medium heat, then fry the garlic and shallot for three or four minutes, until lightly golden. Add the flour, cook, stirring, for about two minutes, then slowly stir in the wine and cook for another two minutes. Pour in the stock bit by bit, stirring well between each addition, until you have a smooth, silky sauce.

Season the hake, lay it in the sauce and leave to cook for four or five minutes. Add the peas and clams, cover the pan and leave for two or three minutes, until the clams open (discard any that do not). To finish, add the asparagus and parsley, simmer for a minute, just to warm through, then season to taste and serve with crusty bread.

Citrus prawn fritters

I had these gorgeously golden, crisp, juicy balls on the menu when I opened José Pizarro Broadgate back in 2016, then quickly put them on at all my restaurants; the Royal Academy is no exception. You can’t beat the sensation of sinking your teeth into one: every bite is delectable and moreish. The allioli makes a lovely, creamy, lemony accompaniment to the fiery prawns. Ideally, make the prawn mix a day ahead.

Prep 30 min
Chill overnight
Cook 20 min
Serves 4

For the fritters
400g peeled prawns, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (pith and seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
1 small green chilli, finely sliced (pith and seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1½ tbsp (5g) chopped coriander
1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tbsp cornflour
1 egg
Salt and black pepper
Oil, for frying
Coriander cress (or extra chopped coriander), to garnish

For the lemon allioli
1 egg yolk
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped
1 good pinch flaky sea salt
50ml olive oil
175ml sunflower oil
1 good squeeze lemon juice, to taste

A day ahead, put the chopped prawns, lime juice, chillies, shallot, coriander and spring onion in a medium bowl, mix to combine, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the allioli, put the egg yolk, garlic and salt in a food processor and blitz on medium speed for three or four minutes, until creamy. With the motor still going, add the oils in a slow, steady stream, until the sauce is emulsified; towards the end, once the mix has started to come together, you should be able to add it a little faster. Stir in the lemon juice, then set aside (or cover and put in the fridge, where it will keep for up to five days).

Just before you’re ready to cook the prawns, stir the cornflour and egg into the prawn mixture, and season. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer (or high-sided frying pan) to 170C. Working in four batches, so as not to overcrowd the fryer, drop tablespoons of the prawn batter into the hot oil and fry for two minutes, until golden brown. Drain the cooked fritters on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining batter.

Serve the fritters hot with a garnish of coriander cress or chopped coriander and a bowl of allioli for dipping.