Enjoy Spanish cuisine at Sheraton Walkerhill
By Kim Rahn
A visiting Spanish chef aims to prepare an authentic “taste of Spain” for Korean guests and promote Spanish cuisine here.
Chef Markel Aguirre Mugica from Le Meridien Barcelona said he is emphasizing emotion in his country’s traditional dishes in a promotion at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill’s European restaurant Clock16.
"Sabor de Espana," or the “Taste of Spain” promotion will be held until May 31, and the star chef arrived on March 28 to create a full array of authentic Spanish dishes himself until this Sunday.
“Spanish cuisine is a Mediterranean diet which is famous for its health benefits and fresh ingredients. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the region, reflecting the country’s deep maritime roots,” Mugica said in an email interview with The Korea Times.
“We also have worldwide known products such as Iberico jamon (Iberian ham), and there are many dishes based on beans with many regional variations. Many Spanish dishes are stir-fried with garlic, onion and tomatoes and especially the use of extra virgin olive oil makes them melt in your mouth,” he said.
The chef said his dishes presented during the promotion are based on authentic Spanish recipes with a touch of modern flavor.
Planning their introduction, the 32-year-old said he felt very close to the Korean palate because it is quite similar to Spain in using a lot of garlic and onions.
“By the time I decided to come to Korea, I heard good news about Spanish food getting popular in Korea. So I thought, OK, they are already familiar with paella, then for an easy start, let’s make them fall in love with Spanish flavor with my La Paella Marinera! And I thought it would be very important for Koreans to get to know and try other dishes such as Iberian ham, so I added such dishes because they are part of my culture, too,” said the chef at the Barcelona hotel’s restaurant Cent Onze.
Some of his popular dishes include paella, cod salad and lamb with baked potato.
“There are three widely known paellas: Valencian paella, a seafood one and a mixed one. For this promotion, I’m preparing seafood paella with shellfish, prawn, clams, mussels and saffron,” he said.
The cod salad is a Mediterranean salad from Cataluna with fresh cod, tomato, onion, black olives and red pepper, while the lamb with baked potatoes, green asparagus and grilled tomatoes is a typical dish from the Burgos area.
More dishes such as jamon croquette, cold melon soup with Iberico jamon, and slow-cooked pork chin with manzanilla will also be available.
Today, there will be a gala dinner where guests will be served a five-course meal to be paired with quality Spanish wine suggested by the hotel’s sommelier. Rhythmic flamenco dancing and music will complete the Spanish experience.
“I want to show the best of my country in the gala dinner. My menus will be: foie micuit with acid apple sauce and butter balls; hake in green sauce with clams and prawns; lamb with baked potatoes, grilled tomatoes and green asparagus; and Idiazabal cheese semifreddo with quince jelly and nuts ice cream,” Mugica said.
The Spanish chef said he would like to experience Korean cuisine and get ideas for new recipes.
“One of my goals is to experience as many different cultures as possible and create new recipes reflecting that new world. This is a great opportunity for me to experience Korean culture and taste, and reflect it in my Spanish recipes with authenticity and a touch of Korean flavor for the Taste of Spain to land well in Korea,” he said.