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Steven Saunders on returning to Spain to launch a new restaurant collaboration with TOWIE star Elliott Wright





This week, celebrity chef Steven Saunders launches a new restaurant collaboration in La Cala de Mijas in Spain and shares one of his favourite launch recipes.

Sadie Wright , Deborah Wright and friends at the launch of the restaurant collaboration (60953459)
Sadie Wright , Deborah Wright and friends at the launch of the restaurant collaboration (60953459)

Life is unpredictable: well, mine is anyway!

A couple of months ago I came over to Spain to see my partner Ania and ended up staying here. There are many reasons, not least that Ania lives here and we don’t like to be apart. Love keeps us together at all costs. But then there is the weather and the UK politics…

It was an easy decision to be honest to stay here in Spain, although I dearly miss my family, who live in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

As soon as I arrived, I felt I was home. I thought that seeing my old restaurant, The Little Geranium in La Cala, where I spent seven years, would be too much to handle. I thought that seeing my beautiful villa which had to be sold would be too much for me. I thought that seeing the local people and friends again would be too upsetting. I wept a little, but through relief, exhausting emotions, satisfaction and excitement. This is home for me and it always will be.

I was contacted by about a dozen restaurants all wanting to do something with me as soon as I had arrived. I am well known over here because my restaurant had been such a huge success.

It is a much smaller fish bowl here, filled with an international market of regular clients and friends - I love that. Olivia’s beachside restaurant, owned by Elliott Wright, a star of TV’s TOWIE and a close friend, was one that reached out.

He was very keen on the idea of me coming on board and I loved his enthusiasm.

Steven Saunders with, left, TOWIE star Elliott Wright (60953518)
Steven Saunders with, left, TOWIE star Elliott Wright (60953518)

Elliott’s words were that he wants my head, my experience and of course my name. I write the menus, the recipes, create the standards and then let my young team implement them with me watching over.

If it’s all going well I leave them with it, but I always go over and see all the clients that I have known for many years, and I have been surprised and delighted that so many regulars, so many friends, have come to see me. The restaurant has been packed out every day.

There is a time in everyone’s life when you do want you want to do, not what you have to do. Living here is simply beautiful.

As I write this article, it is 28 degrees and it’s the end of November. The sun is beaming down on me, the air is warm, tropical birds are singing, the sky is a deep blue, studded with small puffs of white….it looks as though it has been painted by Van Gogh.

It’s the only country with weather like this all year around and it’s in the centre of Europe.

We are sitting here discussing business with a local restaurateur near La Cala called Pura Asia. I love oriental food and I love experimenting with Asian flavours. The food here is brilliant and the owners literally work 24/7, like many business owners over here.

While we also have a cost of living crisis, you don’t notice it because the cost of living is so much cheaper.

Today’s lunch with a bottle of wine for two was 35 euros. It’s cheaper to eat out than to buy from the supermarkets and eat in, so we pretty much eat out every day, which we couldn’t afford to do in the UK.

The launch of the restaurant was amazing. We had live music and dancing, shots and small plates of some of the dishes from my menu and people flew in from all over the world. Newspapers and magazines covered it and local radio and TV.

It was a tough night for my kitchen because it was all new to them, but it was a sensational one, filled with lovely people wishing us success.

Steven Saunders with partner Ania at the launch in Spain (60953462)
Steven Saunders with partner Ania at the launch in Spain (60953462)

Elliott and I gave a speech. I explained why I was back and how and why I feel rejuvenated by it. I have to say that Ania looked stunning and everybody loved her.

Michele Eusden, from Euro Weekly Newspaper, commented that she was beautiful and asked: “How do you do it, Steven?”

I replied that I told Ania that I was worth millions… but I meant pesatas!

My Spanish is getting better. I speak Spanglish with Ania - we start in Spanish and end in English. La receta de mi tempura de langostinos was a great success. Here it is.

Steven’s special Prawn Tempura with Korean barbecue dip

Steven’s special Prawn Tempura with Korean barbecue dip (60953467)
Steven’s special Prawn Tempura with Korean barbecue dip (60953467)

The angel hair filo pastry (kataifi) in this recipe adds an incredible crunch to the prawn tempura. It also looks far more appealing. You can buy it online if you don’t find it in the shops. It’s a Greek product, usually found frozen.

Ingredients for 4

  • 16 king prawns, peeled
  • 1 pack of frozen pasta kataifi
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour
  • 100g of plain flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250ml of ice cold sparkling water

Method

  • For the tempura batter, sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir in the sparkling water. Allow lumps in the batter, which give a nice crunch when cooked.
  • Dip the prawns into the flours and then the tempura batter until very lightly and evenly coated all over.
  • Roll the prawns into the pasta kataifi and wrap around firmly.
  • Drop the prawns into the pre heated fryer (190C) and fry until golden brown and crispy. Usually 2/3 minutes.
  • Drain on kitchen towel and season with salt.

Korean barbecue sauce (serves eight portions approximately)

The sauce can be used on meat such as chicken, beef, or pork. It’s a sticky-type sauce that is both a bit sweet and spicy, similar to a teriyaki sauce.

  • 2 tbsp of soy or Tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce (most supermarkets sell it)
  • 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar (or any wine vinegar)
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 1 whole green jalapeno chilli cut in half, with seeds removed
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger peeled
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 200ml of apple juice (you can also use orange juice)
  • ½ white onion

Blend all these ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Taste and, if too hot, add some fresh lemon juice and a little honey. The heat of chillis vary sometimes. Serve with a little wasabi mustard and some Japanese sushi ginger is great tossed through a salad.



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