Beginning next week, I’ll be taking a pretty extensive cookbook research break that will keep me away from this site well into June, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to post one more time. In what might be the most boring premise for a reality television show ever – leading up to any trip, I stop buying food and try to only use what I have on hand. That left me with a few links of chorizo bought for garbanzos, an extra 2 pounds of malanga that never became fritters, and a half bunch of parsley because – well there’s just always parsley.
Posts from the ‘Fish & Shellfish’ Category
Every four years, my extended family gets together in South Carolina for a week long reunion. Synced to both the presidential election (something to argue about) and the summer Olympics (something to look forward to), we always know when it’s coming. This time I carved out a few extra days to visit nearby Savannah – a city I’ve had a crush on for a very long time. Read more
Despite a lifetime of research, I’m always discovering something new in Cuban food. While it reminds me not to take anything for granted, less pleasant is knowing that my nearest and dearest have been holding out on me. That’s how I felt when I discovered that harina – cornmeal simmered to a creamy state and topped with peppery sofritos and poached or fried eggs, ham or chorizo, shimp or crab – was a Cuban comfort food staple that everyone was having but no one was talking about. I’d enjoyed Italian polenta prepared this way, but I hadn’t realized there was a take on it that was much closer to home – just not my home. Read more
The weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter are defined by what you can’t do (or can’t do just yet) – light jackets but schizophrenic weather, longer days but dark morning commutes – a period of austerity before it’s all bunnies, baskets and tulips. While I’m far from orthodox, I do try to follow the no-meat on Friday rule during lent (though full confession I only seem to remember halfway through a turkey sandwich or mid-Korean barbecue). With friends coming over, the timing was right for seafood. Read more
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks under water. Not that I’ve been unusually busy, I’ve just returned to my aqua girl routines in hopes of washing away the holiday excess – drinking water like it’s my job, swimming laps like I’m being chased by a shark, and looking to add more fish to my weekly diet. Cooking fish has always made me nervous. At best, I worry that I’ll let it go too long and over cook it, at worst, that I’ll poison everyone I love in one fell swoop. I usually stick to the sushi grade varieties in the belief that if I’d just as soon eat it raw, there isn’t anything I can do to make it deadly. Still, no one likes a rut and the guys at the fish store automatically move towards the salmon before I’ve even placed my order. Sometimes I’ll change it to tuna or trout just to keep them guessing but I’m pretty sure it’s daring only to me. After a few weeks of seeing pargo (snapper) on every Cuban restaurant menu in Miami, I thought it was time switch things up again. Read more
Arroz con coco rates high on the long list of things I should have tried sooner. A staple of Caribbean cooking, especially along the coast of Colombia, it’s essentially white rice cooked with coconut milk then served with fried fish, plantains, avocado. Deceptively simple, I used equal parts canned light coconut milk and water for the first attempt, combining all the ingredients and bringing them to a fast boil. The result was great if I was going for rice pudding but otherwise too sticky and un-fluffable. Trying to get the proportions and the timing right, I used a second can and sautéed the rice with a little bit of oil before adding the liquid. It may have worked but I let it go too long and the amount of rice was way off, so it burned before it cooked. Read more
Looking over Caribbean or Central American recipes, it’s no longer necessary to seek out Latin American markets or bodegas in search of specialty items. Increasingly popular, all grocery stores are now Latin American bodegas (or at least have a booming selection of Goya products). I could also order absolutely anything online but it doesn’t compare to finding it in a newly discovered shop or even better, bringing back a longed for ingredient from a trip. Portuguese and Brazilian recipes pose there own challenges. Too often lumped in with the rest of South America, it’s a combination of indigenous, Portuguese, and African influences whose unique ingredients can put it just out of everyday reach. I can find guajillo chiles or aji amarillo within few blocks of my house but I have yet to come across dendê oil or malagueta peppers by chance, making it that much more exciting to find farina de mandioca on the lower east side. Read more