Terence Paul Saliba, Head Chef at Grotto Tavern Restaurant. Terence creates balanced dishes which are inspired by nature. His main aim is to develop beautifully crafted menus, seeking the best Maltese produce to satisfy and share his fondest food memories. He recalls one of his proudest moments during the six years he spent overseas, while working at the Moor Hall, when the restaurant was voted No.1 in the Estrella Damm National restaurant awards 2019-2020. Back home, Terence strives to make a mark on our island.
Extract taken from May's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
Meagre (or gurbell) is a fantastic fish that is thankfully one local to Maltese shores. Its fleshy, delicate, white meat is appetising on any plate, and we love it grilled, fried, steamed or battered! However, the meagre is often overlooked by other fish, though not in Chef Terence Paul Saliba's mouthwatering recipe here, where it takes centre stage.
Meagre, garlic, tzarsky kaluga caviar
Brown Meagre (approx. 2kg), filleted and pin boned
Skin and portion the fish accordingly
For the garlic purée
150g of peeled garlic
200g double cream
Salt to taste
For the butter sauce
15g white wine
275g butter, diced
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste
To finish brown nut butter
1kg nut brown butter
Basil leaves, to garnish
100g crispy garlic
100g creamed black garlic
16g Tzarsky Kaluga caviar
Method for the garlic purée
Slice the garlic as thinly as possible. Start building the purée by melting the butter in a pan, add the sliced garlic and a pinch of salt. Then sweat the garlic until slightly translucent and add the cream. Cook down the garlic in the cream until the garlic is very soft and falling apart. Finally, blend and store in a squeezable bottle. Keep the purée warm.
Method for the butter sauce
Measure out the white wine and cream in a little saucepan and bring to a simmer. Be sure to keep the mixture at around 60ºC, emulsify the butter by adding dices of butter slowly and constantly whisking. Set aside in a warm place and keep the temperature at a constant.
To finish and plate
First, heat the butter to 52ºC and make sure the temperature stays constant. At the restaurant we do this by using a water bath. Next, place the fish into the butter and cook for 15-20 minutes until warm inside. Once cooked garnish the fish with small dots of black garlic purée and evenly sprinkle garlic chips on top, and keep warm. Then create a blob of garlic purée and swipe the purée in an circular motion. Place the fish to the top left of the smoked garlic purée. Fold the caviar through the butter sauce and pour into the gap made by the smoked garlic purée. Finally, garnish with seasonal flowers and serve.