June, 2011 Archive
We loved Fez…the medina, the hills, the ‘new’ city. And the riads. Best thing I can tell you is to walk the medina daily, and when you see construction, linger. Wait a few minutes and when the inevitable thrice hourly delivery arrives, ask to peek around.
Everyone is friendly, they love to show you how the local artisans restore thousand year old homes, oases of tranquility, serving the best foods in the city. Check out Riad Laaroussa’s website, it’s my choice for where to stay, and the food is superb. Watch the show, the bistilla was made in their kitchen.
Here is an amazingly easy and simple fish dish that reminds me of the best of Moroccan cuisine. Fez is not on the coast, and fish is virtually unseen at mealtimes, but this should make a nice dinner for you while you watch our show. The foods of Fez are extraordinary, with insane layers of flavor created by marrying smart cooking with the best ingredients. That’s true of most North African cuisine… You can use this technique on any fish, big or small, even a walleye from the lake or a porgy from the channel. Enjoy, and watch the new Bizarre Foods: Morocco show tonight at 9pm E/P on Travel Channel.
Grilled Sardines with Almond Chermoula
12 fresh sardines, cleaned, heads on…if sardines are not available, try small red mullet, mackerel or trout.
3 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 large handful mint leaves
1/2 cup toasted almonds
3 plump garlic cloves
A few pinches hot ground red chile, don’t be afraid of the heat!
1 cup olive oil
3T lime juice, more or less to taste
1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2t saffron mixed into 2T water
1 small onion minced fine
Place the onion, raisins, saffron and half the almonds into a large bowl and set aside.
Puree the remaining ingredients and cut 3 slashes into both sides of the fish. Do so at a 45 degree angle and don’t go through the spine of the fish.
Take 1/3 of the pureed mixture and rub into the fish slashes and along the length of the fish. Season fish with salt and pepper.
Take the remaining puree and combine with the onion mixture to make the table sauce (chermoula).
Grill (or broil) the fish for several minutes on each side and serve with the chermoula.
Tonight’s episode is all about Suriname, the smallest nation in South America. I visit two villages, hunt in the jungle, and discover foods that were even bizarre to me.
Since I couldn’t come up with a savvy salted piranha recipe for the home chef (next time…), here’s a dish I love in celebration of the first day of summer. We always try to keep a pitcher of gazpacho in our fridge in the warm weather months as a snack and as an easy thing to build a meal around. Keep large batches of this easy and addictive soup on hand throughout the rest of the summer.
Gazpacho (makes 6 servings)
6 c tomato juice
2 t dried oregano
6 fresh basil leaves
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 clv fresh gralic, chopped
2 t Crystal brand hot sauce
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T Worchestershire sauce
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 c cucumbers, shoped, peeled, and seeded
2 c green peppers, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
Place tomato juice in a large work bowl and add oregano, basil, and olive oil. Season with some sea salt and freshly ground white pepper. Set aside.
Place remaining ingredients in work bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine in batches, adding tomato juice mixture in equal proportions as you purée. Do not over-mix. You are looking for an evenly textured purée with some grit to it. The crunch and the pretty visuals will come later from your diced vegetable garnishes.
Chill, taste, and adjust the salt and acid (lemon-vinegar) flavors and serve, garnishing as indicated below.
Try any or all of these great “soup accessories” with your next batch of gazpacho.
• Bread cubes, brushed with bruised garlic and pan-fried crisp in olive oil
• Minced pepper, cucumber, tomato, and onion mixed in equal parts
• Minced parsley
• Olive oil drizzles
Eating Feijoada surrounded by half-naked samba dancers in tonight’s Rio episode of Bizarre Foods was a dream come true. We found some unusual hidden gems from deep in the Amazon jungle, I ate an old critter from the sea and I got to tour Rhocina, one of the most notorious slums in the world. We went into the den of the narco-traffickers to taste foods that come from the deep interior of the country, where young people emigrate every day looking for a better start in the big city. They bring their culture with them, including some amazing chow. Watching heavily armed gunmen shake us down and search us prior to entering the heavily militarized area was something I will never forget. Once in, we had an amazing eating day. Some shows are just like that.
Anyway, while sitting around the living room, try this delicious meal in a bowl. It’s a traditional moqueca that has the cashew butter added. To some, this makes it a vatapa, but to me that is splitting hairs. You can make this as varied as there are fish in the sea and many restaurants in Brazil make theirs with cuttlefish, many species of crab/crays/langoustes etc. I can’t guarantee that half naked girls and gangsters will show up, but who knows?
Brazilian Moqueca…Fish, Shrimp and Mussel Soup
1# whole shrimp (16 count work great)
1# Mussels… big, fat, plump New Zealand Green Lip mussels or Mediterranean balck mussels work best
1# Halibut, grouper, snapper or cod filets or steaks
2T lime juice, plus more for seasoning
2T vegetable oil
3 Thai bird chiles or 1 habanero chile
6 cloves garlic minced
2 onions, sliced thin
2T tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
2T cashew nut butter
4T minced cilantro leaves
2 cups shrimp or shellfish stock
Marinate the fish for 1 hour in half the lime juice. Pat dry and lightly brown over high heat in the oil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, herbs and spices. Saute briefly and when glassy add the tomato paste. Stir, and add the shellfish stock and bring to a boil. Remove the fish and let rest on a plate, continue to boil the stock. After stock has reduced by 1/3, add the coconut milk and simmer until soup has thickened. Add the shrimp and cover, cooking for a minute or so to cook shrimp through. Add the fish and mussels back to the pot, cook until mussels have opened. Season with salt and lime juice, swirl in the cashew butter and serve.