A blog about cooking with a surprise set of ingredients.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tacos para Mexico... (or a failed president)

Quite a fishy bag...

The starting point for this bag was the fabrication of a trip to the fish shop to entertain the smaller boy, and a very clear request from the bigger boy to eat fried squid for dinner. So off to Hasymar on Rue Malibran we went. As well as the squid, we bought a variety of different small fish (including red gurnard, on which see Monsters in Megeve, from back in 2011). Stopping off at the greengrocer next door, we picked up some coriander and mint, tomatoes, harissa and a mango, and added a jar of tomato flesh and some polenta from the cupboard at home. I’m thinking bouillabaisse, and am intrigued to see what Henrik will do with the polenta – I have never really liked it, either home-cooked or in the nicest slow-food restaurants in Italy. Will he be able to convert me to the cause? Game on, Henrik!

(I shall not mention the man's name even if quite a few of the food items are yellowish/orange... neither should I claim that the first image below is an a failed attempt to make the man's face in squid and lemon – I just couldn't get the calamari to the right colour...) But I shall mention that I suspected that Hazel would get me a fishy bag when she snuck out that Sunday afternoon. So it's not that I was unprepared (or that my preparedness was under-reported..) but I had not expected this onslaught from the sea. Now, Magnus, our oldest – who about a year ago to our great relief proclaimed that he no longer wanted 'kid's food' and ordered grilled sword fish – had given clear instructions that he wanted calamari fritti' for his bedtime snack. So first thing on the list was quite easy. To make the batter, use ice cold water and normal flour and don't mix too long. Deep-fry at 180 degrees until nothing close to orange and serve with way too yellow wedges. 

Not orange enough and too yellow...
Having done my fatherly duties, I was ready to attack the fish. It was quite obvious that Hazel was aiming at a bouillabaisse... The hurdle was rather the polenta. When handing over the bag, Hazel said 'I've never tasted anything I like made out of polenta...' So what to make from it. And that's maybe where the entremets was born. Polenta is corn, corn comes from Latin America and is used for instance in Mexico to make tortilla. The rouget could work with a mango salsa... A wall of fish tacos... If that wouldn't entertain a Scottish girl, I don't know what would. 

Tortilla proved to be quite like dumplings or chapatti, you mix flower with hot water. In this case also with some lard (as for dumplings) and some baking powder. And then you roll it out and bake it in a cast iron pan on the stove. I made a simple salsa with the African chilli, tomato, mint, red onion and mango and pan-fried the red snapper. The tortillas were quite gritty, but I guess that would make them more resistant...

Tacos para Mexico

Somewhere I've heard that the key to a good bouillabaisse is the delicate mixture of flavours from a number of different kinds of fish. And here I had four, or at least three and the zombie remains of the red snapper. I baked the other African chilli in the oven to make some rouille and went at making the soup, first a stock from the rouget bones, and then onions, fennel seeds and everything else that goes into it. And potatoes, nothing is more sure to win over a Scottish lass than these golden fruits of the earth that also are immigrants from Latin America. When the potatoes were almost done, I added the fish. But before that, I had thought that disguise is often the best ways to get the boys to eat something, so I made a quick polenta, cut it into cubes and fried them like croutons. 
Bouillabaisse with polenta

Last but not least, was there a desert to have had from the remains. The polenta croutons were excellent, crisp on the outside (slightly burnt at places) and soft, almost creamy on the inside. Something could be based on this. I cut two longer pieces and fried them in butter. On top of it, I placed cubed mango and a cream made from mascarpone (that I found in the fridge) and zabaglione made with amaro and the rest of the chilli. And to top it off, sails made of dried slices of tomato (yet an immigrant). Let's see what Hazel says...

Sails from Latin America

1 comment: