I'm not really sure what to make of Valentine Warner. On the one hand I quite like the look of some of his food, but on the other his random drooling comments and vocal stylings remind me quite strongly of David Bellamy. Tricky....
However this Mexican tortilla and sea bass recipe that he cooked on his tv programme a few weeks ago did catch my eye. Despite most of Mexico being pretty hot I somehow associate Mexican food with winter and hearty veggie chillis with loads of cheese and rice, and not something I'd generally cook in the summer. But this more seasonal dish (recipe here) basically involves flaked sea bass, guacamole, and an onion relish, all wrapped in a corn tortilla. This was not a combination that I'd really think to put together, but it all worked amazing well, and was perfect for a summer evening. The dish could have been quite rich with the sea bass and avocado, but was not at all heavy, and the other elements provided a nice freshness to it all. I think using corn tortillas rather than the flour ones also kept things light, as flour tortillas can become quite gluey and a bit like eating a damp flannel.
As ever I did tweak things slightly and used my own guacamole recipe which includes chopped spring onion, red chilli, and no mayo (in fact not sure that should be included in Val's recipe at all as I don't recall it being in the tv show), but also added a few blobs of sour cream over the filling before rolling up the tortillas. The only slightly disappointing part was the red onion relish/pickle. The recipe called for the thinly sliced red onions to be blanched before marinating with orange and lime juice and oregano. Admittedly I had to substitute lemon juice but the whole thing lacked punch, with a few vague hints of onion and citrus that did not match the incredibly vivid colour in terms of flavour. Next time (and I will definitely make this again), I'll just use sliced raw onion and not bother with blanching.
I thought I'd also add a few prawns to go in the tortillas, in case one sea bass fillet each was not enough. These were baked in the oven with some garlic, chilli and olive oil until cooked through, combined really well with the rest of the components inside the tortillas, and could even have replaced the sea bass completely in a fish emergency. The source of these prawns and the quality of some of them is however another matter which I may blog about later, but has definitely pushed me back into the arms of the supermarket as far as internationally travelled seafood goes.
So in conclusion, do Valentine Warner's tip top recipes compensate for his somewhat daffy presentation style? I say yes! All hail the David Bellamy of food!