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Chef Robby Goco Teaches Us How To Cook Mediterranean, One Of The Healthiest Diets In The World

The Mediterranean diet is the sum of the cuisines of all the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, North Africa and some parts of the Middle East. We usually associate pasta and paella with these cuisines, but there are many other healthy delicious ways of using Mediterranean ingredients in your everyday meals. Start by eating more plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes and nuts. Use heart-healthy olive oil as often?as possible. Consume fish at least twice a week. And yes, you can drink red wine in moderation too! In the following recipes, Chef Robby Goco shows us how we can use these key ingredients to cook soul-satisfying dishes that adhere to the Mediterranean diet, which are similar to the dishes he serves in his popular restaurants, Cyma Greek Taverna (FB and IG: @cymarestaurants) and Souv by Cyma (FB and IG: @souvbycyma).

 

Fasolada

 

The Greeks make an excellent version of white bean soup called fasolada. This hearty, rustic soup has nourished generations of Greeks, with each household having their own version of this traditional dish (just like us Filipinos with our adobo). It’s best to use fresh dried white beans (and the whiter the beans, the better). Also use the best extra virgin olive oil possible, as its taste will dictate the overall flavor of this dish.

Serves 4

  • 400 grams dried white beans
  • 8 cups cold water?
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomato?
  • 1/2 cup diced celery stalks
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley?
  • 3 small carrots, small dice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves?
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley?
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Soak beans overnight in 8 cups of cold water.?

2. The following day, transfer beans and the water they’ve been soaked in to a stock pot or large casserole.

3. Add in the rest of the ingredients to the pot, except for the vinegar and olive oil.

4. Cook for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Remove from heat.?

5. Transfer beans to a serving bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

 

Baked Sweet Fish in White Wine

 

While Pernod is optional in the recipe, do try to use this French liqueur, which is perfect for seafood with its sweet, lovely anise flavor. It’s especially good with clams and fish. Fennel bulbs may be hard to source, but it’s one ingredient that really adds flavor to this dish, just like the Pernod. Feel free to use any fish you like, but we do love lapu-lapu, fatty salmon and tuna.

Serves 4

  • 1 kilo whole lapu-lapu, cleaned
  • salt and pepper, to taste?
  • 2 lemons, zested and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill?
  • 5 spring onions, sliced?
  • 1/4 cup sliced fennel bulb
  • 1/4 cup sliced white onions
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled, large dice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup fish stock?
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, large dice?
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 8 clams?
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves?
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod, optional?
  • parsley, for garnish

1. With a knife, make several even slits on the fish. Season with salt and pepper.?

2. Stuff fish with lemon slices and dill. Place remaining lemon slices inside the slits of the fish. Set aside.

3. Combine all other ingredients in a baking pan. Add whole fish to the baking pan, placing it on top of the vegetables. Season the whole dish with salt and pepper. Cover with foil.?

4. Place in oven set to 375°F and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.?

5. Transfer whole fish, together with baked vegetables and broth, to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley.

 

Rice-stuffed Tomatoes

 

Another traditional Greek dish is gemista, which means “filled with.” Tomatoes and/or green bell peppers are stuffed with rice, vegetables and/or meat, drizzled liberally with olive oil then baked until soft. The addition of dried fruits (sultanas) and nuts (pine or cashew nuts) to this rice stuffing mixture makes it a truly Mediterranean dish. Feel free to substitute any dried fruits (e.g. raisins, dried cranberries) and nuts (e.g. walnuts) of your choice. You can replace the Japanese white rice with brown rice for added nutrients and fiber.

Serves 4

  • 8 Baguio or salad tomatoes?
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped sultanas or white raisins
  • 1 cup uncooked Japanese rice, washed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts or cashew nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley?
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic?
  • pinch of white sugar?
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup water?
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.?

2. Partially slice top off the tomatoes, leaving the top part still attached. Empty out the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon, setting aside the flesh, seeds and juice.

3. Roughly chop the flesh of the tomatoes and separate the juice. Combine the chopped tomatoes with the sultanas, washed rice, nuts, parsley, red onion and garlic.?

4. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rice mixture inside each hollowed-out tomato.?

5. Add a pinch of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the tomatoes with their sliced tops.?

6. Arrange tomatoes in an ovenproof pan. Add a little water to the pan to prevent the tomatoes from drying out. Drizzle the stuffed tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil.?

7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Checking every 10 minutes, bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

 

A longer version of this article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 3, 2016

Recipes by Robby Goco

Photography by Paulo Valenzuela

Food styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz

Set styling by Athena Fregillana