(WHEN HUNGER STRIKES)
22 April 2011
Put on some Latino music — and an apron — and get ready to whip up a mean meal, salsa-style
Grab your straw hat, your sunglasses, some sun block (or sun tan lotion, if you please) and all the books you have yet to budge on your reading list. We are going
Where is the plane ticket? No need. Break out the entertainment system and put on some Mariachi music or Carlos Santana, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass or even a little Buena Vista Social Club. While you are at it, shuffle your feet to the beat of the drums because during the time you save up for the actual plane fare, you and I are going to get our salsa on in the kitchen!
I don’t know if you know, but I am a child of the Caribbean. When it comes to the magic of the place, we who grew up there have fond memories of our childhood and are still children at heart. The Caribbean and Latin American region provided a fun and exciting backdrop to summers and holidays spent climbing trees, picking and eating fresh fruit and even veggies. For those more inclined to adventure and
who had greater freedom, fishing by the many rivers or even at the sea in coastal areas was the perfect way to spend a summer day.
Life in the region is a colourful and eclectic mix of colours, heat, spiciness, sea and mountain breeze, sun, rain, and just general excitement. We make the most of what we have and find creative ways to add our own touch to everything. We are a colourful people. We get lost in our music and dance and talk with much animation. This is reflected in our ‘sing-song’ accents, or music, and of course, our food.
It is a multicultural grouping of nations spanning the Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, English and Native American Indians. The Caribbean and Latin American region span Mexico and Central America, South America and the islands from Trinidad & Tobago in the Lesser Antilles all the way to Puerto Rico, Hispanola and Jamaica in the Greater Antilles. They are a varied bunch but all have one thing in common — a love for tasty food, taking simple ingredients and as Chef Emeril Lagasse would say, “Kicking things up a notch!”
This week we will draw inspiration from the Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America when hunger strikes.
We are making a squid ceviche, tomato salsa, and a beef burrito that will make you want to join a Latin dancing class. These dishes are all popular throughout the Latin American/Hispanic states but will vary from one to another with additional ingredients. I have compiled the simplest recipes with the easily available ingredients so that we can get a good taste of Mexico. So there you have it, three very tasty and spicy dishes, Mexican style.
Ceviche is an appetiser in which you may use raw shrimp, red snapper, hammour scallops, squid, octopus, crab, tuna, salmon, and mahi-mahi. Only very fresh seafood should be used for this dish because it is usually “cooked” with the action of the acid in the lime marinade. In this case, I blanched the squid but there is no need to do so with shrimp, fish and scallops.
1 kg fresh squid, cut into rings
3 tbsp fresh limejuice
1 tbsp sunflower or peanut oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Serrano chillies (one seeded), both minced
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 large red onion, minced
1 clove garlic, sliced in two
Salt and pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all of the ingredients except the squid. Set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil. Put your colander in the sink and prepare another mixing bowl with an ice bath to the side. Wash squid. When water starts to boil, blanch squid for no more than 1 minute. Remove immediately from heat and pour in colander in sink to get rid of the hot water. Empty the squid immediately in cold bath to stop the cooking process and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Drain in colander. Remove the garlic pieces from marinade. Add squid to marinade and combine. Put in an airtight
container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve as an appetiser in fancy digestive or martini glasses.
400-500 gms minced beef
1 large red onion
2 medium tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 Serrano chilli (seeded to make less spicy)
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp chilli paste or chilli powder
A handful of chopped coriander
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pack of tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese
Remove tortillas from fridge; bring to room temperature. In a hot pot, sauté onions, cumin, garlic and chilli. Add beef and brown.
Add other ingredients except chilli powder and coriander. Taste. Add chilli pepper if desired. Keep stirring until cooked in about 15 minutes.
Place a tortilla on flat surface. In centre of tortilla, place a tbsp of sour cream in a line. Add about 2-3 tbsp of meat (or more) along same line. Add shredded cheese on top. Add 1 tbsp of your fresh homemade salsa. Top with fresh coriander and/or green onions. Fold the front of the tortilla over the filling then tuck in both sides and fold again. Roll the tortilla over on its belly. You may secure with a toothpick. Makes about 6 tortillas.
1 kg tomatoes
1 small red onion
A bundle of fresh coriander
1 large lemon
1 Serrano chilli (remove seeds to make less spicy)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Dice tomatoes into small bits; add salt to bring out the juices. Finely mince the onion in your blender with a little sunflower oil, or dice very small with your knife. Add onions and stir. Squeeze lemon over tomato mixture. Mash the mixture with a potato masher or pulse with hand. You want a thick, lumpy salsa, not a purée. Chop cilantro and the Serrano chili and add to tomatoes. Taste. Adjust with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Chill for at least 1 hour and serve with corn chips or with Pita Chips. This is also great after sitting in the fridge overnight.
Kari is a Dubai-based writer and photographer
of the food blog www.chefandsteward.com.
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