Almond and Garlic Gazpacho, also called White Gazpacho (Ajo blanco) is not as popularised as the well known colourful Gazpacho (Spanish cold soup], Ajo Blanco is a Spanish cold soup traditional from Granada and Malaga, fairly simple but complex in flavour this recipe is for those daring to try something different. It can be enjoyed as an entree or as a side dish like I did here with my crispy skin Barramundi, Ajo blanco due to its clean flavours pairs really well with seafood.
Made with blanched almonds, stale bread, olive oil, and garlic, and topped with sweet grapes the contrasting flavours will make your palate tingle.
Tips to make Almond and Garlic Gazpacho with Crispy Skin Barramundi
- Although it doesn’t take long to put together my suggestion will be making the cold soup ahead of time to let it rest in the fridge enough and serve super cold, which is key in this recipe as flavours intensify and bond while resting.
- Blanched almonds: or skinless almonds, make this soup super elegant in both flavour and looks, however if you prefer you could use raw almonds skin on, just bare in mind your soup will have a slight bitter taste due to the almond skin. If you are unable to find skinless almonds, buy raw almonds and blanched them yourself its super easy, just bring a pot of water to the boil, add the almonds, cook for a min and then drain, plunge them in a cold water bath to stop them from cooking, drain them and dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and pinch/rub each one to remove the skin, it will take you extra 15 min but it works perfectly and skin on almonds can be cheaper as well.
- Bread: My preference here is a nice crusty, rustic bread, but you can use anything bready like, even gluten free bread as long as it is stale (hard and dry). You can also dry the bread in the oven a little bit until slightly golden which can add another dimension of flavour.
- Olive oil: Traditionally the recipe uses extra virgin olive oil, which can be a bit sharp on the palate if you prefer a milder flavour replace for virgin olive oil.
- Garlic: Due to its simplicity, it is very easy to over do the garlic in this recipe, start with less and build the flavour profile slowly, also to tame the garlic flavour a little bit, try removing the garlic germ (the internal greenish stem found when you split the garlic which carries the strong pungent flavours of the garlic).
- Sherry Vinegar: This is a red wine vinegar to add acidity to the recipe and balance flavours if you cannot find it, it is fine to replace for other vinegars like rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar, even lemon, just adjust quantities and add a bit less than advise in the recipe and test as you go.
- Grapes: This recipe is traditionally served with muscat grapes (green grapes) however in order to bring a lot more sweeter notes I decided to go with red grapes, and I’ve added them roasted and fresh, again to give more texture and different flavour profiles to the eating experience.
- To speed up the cooling process, you can replace part of the water with ice.
- Bread will need to soak for at least half an hour.
- I strongly recommend straining the soup.
Almond and Garlic Gazpacho w Crispy Skin BarramundiCourse: Entree, Sides
- White Gazpacho
1 1/2 c seedless red grapes
1 c blanched almonds
3 c cold water (can use half as a ice cubes)
1 to 2 garlic cloves (adjust to taste)
250g rustic stale bread (1 day old is fine) without the crust
1 tsp of sea salt (adjust to taste)
2 tsp sherry vinegar (adjust to taste and replace accordingly)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (a bit more for garnish)
- Crispy Barramundi
4 skin on Barramundi fillets / portions
Sea salt and pepper
- White Gazpacho soup
- Cover bread with water (not the one stated in the recipe) and let it soak for a least 30 min.
- Preheat oven to 200C. Cut 3/4 of the grapes in half and disperse in a baking pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. Bake until slightly caramelised about 10-15 min and set aside to cool.
- Add the almonds, water and garlic in a speed blender along with 2 c of the water and blend at high speed to get a milky water.
- Squeeze the bread to remove any excess water and to the blender, continue blending to get a smooth consistency. Season with salt, olive oil, sherry vinegar and white pepper to taste.
- Add the remaining cup of water to the blender until you find your preferred consistency you may need to add more or less depending on the bread you used, it needs to be thick enough to be spooned as a soup.
- Transfer to a container with a lid and let rest in the fridge until ready to serve about 2h, if resting a bit more check the consistency before serving and if it has thicken loosen with a bit of cold water to pourable consistency.
- Cut remaining part of the grapes thinly, to serve divided roasted grapes in 4 plates, slowly spoon the soup on top and garnish with sliced fresh grapes, a dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and white pepper.
- Crispy skin Barramundi
- Heat a non stick pan over medium high heat, add a tbsp of oil, pat the fish skin with paper towels to dry very well, add the fish to the pan skin side down, and press to avoid it curving. Season with salt and pepper.
- Let cook skin side down for at least 4 min (this will depend on the thickness of your filets), and skin turns crispy cook about 3/4 skin side down, turn and continue cooking 1-2min until done, season the other side. Is done when a kitchen thermometer reads 57C or flesh flakes.
- Sprinkle with lemon zest and salt flakes.