A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

South American Cooking

I got this cookbook for Christmas from Nancy. First I read through it on a trip to the South Texas Coast, then I put it aside for a while. This weekend I got serious and made two wonderful dinners from it.

The first was Catalan fish. I used frozen albacore, a staple from Trader Joe's around here.

Season 1 pound mild fish fillets with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Saute in 2 tablespoons olive oil:

1 medium onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced

Stir about five minutes, then add 1 cup white wine and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add the fish, cover, and simmer 8 minutes or until just done.

Remove fish and set aside. Cool the sauce for a few minutes, then puree in blender until smooth. Return to pan and bring to simmer, then add 1 tablespoon capers and 12 Spanish olives. Put fish back in sauce and reheat gently.

The recipe calls for cornmeal dumplings, but I made cornbread instead.

Then tonight I made a chicken stew served with a quinoa pilaf. The stew had chiles, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and parsley. The sauce was enriched at the end with frozen peas and bread crumbs! I also made a cilantro condiment similar to chimichurri sauce, and very much the same as we get at Indian restaurants.

What I liked so much about these meals was the relative absence of the ubiquitous dairy products, wheat, and citrus. It felt like pre-Mexican cooking, very separate from the European tradition.

We had an inexpensive wine from Chile with the chicken tonight.

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