Sitting on a terrace in Marbella, Spain, in the Costa del Sole, looking out over the Straights of Gibraltar across to Africa, I tucked into a plate of Serrano ham and a spoonful of extremely simple, and heart-stoppingly ripe tomato concasse. No garlic, no onion, no flourish of herbs; Just this, the most beautifully cured ham and the ripest, sweetest tomato I had ever tasted.
It was a moment in time that I will never forget.
It was truly magic.
Tomato Concasse (con-ka-say) is a fancy way of saying 'chopped tomatoes'. It is a bit more involved than simply chopping a ripe tomato, and in most cases I like to skip steps and keep things simple, but on some occasions, it is nice to have a perfectly diced, ripe tomato without a hint of skin or seeds.
Here's how you do it:
Score, (shallow slice) an X in the bottom (the end opposite the stem)
Now, get a big pot of water boiling. As soon as the water is boiling, chuck the tomato into the water and let it simmer there for just a minute or two, until the skin starts to peel off. As soon as that happens, pull the tomato out of the boiling water and plunge it into ice water
Now, peel the skin off, slice the tomato in half and scoop the seeds out. Slice what remains into strips, then cut those strips into small dice. That's tomato concasse. I like to sprinkle with the tiniest bit of sea salt and drizzle some fruity extra virgin olive oil over (this is when expensive olive oil is worth it).
Lunch today: Country ham, sauteed with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and topped with tomato concasse.