Zoltan Szabo

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Top 20 Ingredients of Lust and Desire

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By Zoltan Szabo

We have come up with this list back in last summer on a Sunday afternoon while chef Michael Pataran was preparing a huge pan of his famous paella (see recipe below) at Johnny Szabo's house in the backyard over open fire.

These are foods and ingredients that life without would not be the same, we thought.
We have debated each and every one of them as the list could have gone on and on, but we settled with these.

We argued whether Tasmanian Ocean Trout and oysters should make it to the list...among many other worthy items...

Throughout my career I have had the privilege of sampling all these magnificent food choices and I truly believe that all of them reflect gastronomic divinity and provide an unforgettable dining memory.

...And without any further due, here's the list. Your comments and/or suggestions are, of course, welcome, as always!
1.      Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Estera Madura, Spain

2.      Mozzarella Di Bufala, Campagnia, Italy*

3.      Bafun Uni, Aomori Prefecture, Japan

4.      White summer Truffles from Alba (Molise), Italy

5.      Liba maj (Goose Liver), Hungary**

6.      Yukisio of Miyakojima Okinawan Snow Salt, Japan

7.      25-year old Balsamico Tradizionale, Modena, Italy

8.      Pachino Tomatoes, Sicilia, Italy

9.      Chachak Beauty Zjilvo Plums, Serbia

10.     Birch Syrup, Forbes, Saskatchewan, Canada

11.     Copper River Salmon, Alaska, USA

12.     Kobe Beef, Tajima-ushi breed, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

13.     Beluga/Osetra Caviar, Caspian Sea, Russia/Iran Border**

14.     Oaxacan Chocolate, Calle Mina, Mexico

15.     Anchovies, Collioure, Mediteranean, France

16.     Spanish Saffron, Valencia, Spain

17.     Manuka Honey, New Zealand

18.     Tahitian Vanilla, Raiatea Island, Tahiti

19.     Wasabi Root, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

20.     Bottarga di Muggine(pressed mullet roe), Sardinia, Italia


Add XVOO cook chicken and reserve. Do the same with each of lobster, prawns and squid. Add oil and sauté onion and garlic. Add sausage and red pepper and cook 7 min. Turn up heat and add rice stirring clockwise. Deglaze with Albariño wine. Add enough stock, ½ saffron, thyme, basil, tarragon and all the other spices and cook until stock is reduced.

Add more stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, vanilla bean, chiles and a small portion of salt. When stock reduces add more and continue doing this method until rice is 80% cooked. When you add the last batch of stock also add the rest of the herbs, saffron, clams and salt. Cook 2 minutes more stirring and then add the Idiazabal and all the reserved meat and seafood with their juices and cook 7 minutes more stirring while burying all the meat and fish. Add the parsley and a little stock for moisture and then pack it all down with a spatula. Cook on low for 7-10 minutes covered with foil to build a bottom crust. Remove from fire and place entire pan in broiler and cook until a dark brown crust appears (turning the pan when necessary to ensure even browning. Remove, sprinkle with more parsley, cracked pepper, scallions, squeeze of lemon and serve in paella pan.

·        Chicken thighs, cubed, (3 pc.)

·        Chorizo sausage, 1” pieces (4)

·        Prawns (21-25) cleaned (12)

·        Lobster, blanched (1 wh)

·        Clams, littlenecks (1 lb)

·        Squid, cleaned, sliced (2)

·        Spanish onion, small dice (1 x-lg)

·        Garlic, minced (7 cloves)

·        Red peppers, julienne (2)

·        Albariño white wine (1 cup)

·        Tomatoes, diced (10)

·        Tomato paste (1/2 cup)

·        Thyme (4 tbsp)

·        Basil (15 leaves)

·        Tarragon (3 tbsp)

·        Saffron (1 tbsp)

·        Smoked paprika (2 tbsp)

·        Cardamom (1 tsp)

·        Fennel seed (2 tbsp)

·        Bay leaf (4)

·        Lobster stock (AN)

·        Vanilla bean (1)

·        Jalapeno, brunoise (1)

·        Dry mulato chile (1 sm.)

·        Dry ancho chile (1 sm.)

·        Salt TT

·        Cracked pepper, TT

·        Scallions, on bias (2)

·        Parsley, chopped (1/4 cup)

·        Smoked Idiazabal or Manchego cheese (1 cup)

·        Lemon (1/2)


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