Brazilian RecipesFire Up the Brazilian Grill
There are few places in the world worth getting on an airplane just for the food, and the Ponta dos Ganchos in Santa Catarina Brazil makes the cut. Set in a fishing village, this sedately, deeply luxurious retreat has a culinary program that is amongst the top in the world. Their breakfast all day is a legendary degustation menu, that may start with delicate papaya canapés on fresh lime, and continue for 9 more courses, with everything from a taste of Croque Madame to smoked salmon and cucumber and ending with traditional local puff pastry rolls of deliciousness. They are serious about breakfast all day too; you go into such chill mode at the Ponta that it’s not surprising to wake at 2 and roll into the breakfast room, where they serve you sans judgment.
We on the other hand, were quite motivated by the prospects of eating everything at the resort, and luckily we did, as we stumbled upon a traditional Brazilian grill for lunch one day. We had to make their chef share all his secrets. Our meal started out with big gorgeous salads. One was a simple tomato mozzarella with grilled bread, and the other a mixed green with toasted almonds, fresh surpremed citrus and smoked salmon. Both were just packed with flavor. The star of the show was the seafood grill, which when we’re not at the resort, we’re addicted to creating at home.
Place all ingredients in a blender and process well. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
Finely chop the onion, tomato and arugula and lightly coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and set aside.
For the Vegetables and Grilled Seafood:
Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for about 90 seconds, drain and place in a bowl with plenty of ice water to cool.
Coat the potato with salt and wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 F about 25 minutes until soft. Remove potatoes from the oven and set aside.
Prepare the charcoal fire until hot. Meanwhile, season all fish and seafood with salt and pepper to taste. Do the same with the vegetables, except potatoes.
Once the coal is red hot, brush the fish, seafood and vegetables with herb oil and place directly on the grill, presentation side down. Once on the grill, brush more of the herb oil (except on the eggplants) and grill until the fish is medium rare to medium, the octapus is opaque and the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
Presentation of Plates:
Place the arugula in vinaigrette porcelain spoons and arrange on top of the plate. Place the lemon slices and the potatoes on the sides of the dish, and align the fish and seafood in the center. Arrange the rest of the vegetables around the fish and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
The leftover herb oil can be stored in the refrigerator and use for salads, pasta and seasoning beef or chicken to be baked or grilled.
The eggplant absorbs a lot of oil, which is why you should brush only one side.
The squid can be substituted for cooked octopus in warm water with salt, bay leaves and leek. When the tentacles are soft, drain and place in a bowl with water and plenty of ice. The fish can be replaced by other fish of your choice, and the vegetables can be replaced orplus cassava (already cooked), mini corn, onion into thick slices, peach palm, leeks or whatever else looks delicious at your farmer's market.