Posts Tagged ‘Healthy eating’

Golden Fish Curry

September 11, 2016
Golden Fish Curry

Golden Fish Curry

New York Herald Tribune journalist Henry Morton Stanley finally found his rock star explorer in the village market of Ujiji on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika on November 10, 1871. It would have been the onset of a hot, humid summer in the southern hemisphere, and after his gentlemanly “Dr. Livingston, I presume,” the two men surely didn’t sit down for glasses of iced lemonade. Most likely a porter boiled a kettle over a small charcoal brazier, and the strangers acquainted themselves in tropical fashion over cups of hot tea. In our current Western world of ice cubes and air conditioning, we have missed the knowledge gained from hot climates where warm beverages and spicy foods cool the body. Whether Mexico, India or Africa, people living in the hottest places eat the spiciest food. Why? When you ingest warming spices or beverages, the body is cooled by perspiration, the natural way to chill. Chiles and spices cool in summer and warm in winter.

Beautifully composed Indian curries often begin with the hallowed trinity of mashed garlic, ginger and green chili. The fragrance of these seasonings gently sautéing in coconut oil or ghee will transport you straight to the Taj. These are called the “green” or fresh spices, and the dry spices of turmeric, cumin and coriander follow. Once you add a few tomatoes, a pour of luxurious coconut milk and simmer away, you have flavor from the Malabar Coast. Add some boneless, skinless white fish, a handful of cilantro and a few minutes later sip a magically spiced stew. Add a squeeze of lime juice, a side of fluffy Basmati rice and sample a sublimely exotic tradition. This perfect combination takes only minutes to prepare, once you give onions time to soften, sauté and simmer. It’s pure, unadulterated, inexpensive and a million times better and healthier than something out of a box or a frozen packet.

Coconut oil, coconut milk and turmeric are current wellness darlings, while garlic, ginger and chilies have long been known to have antibacterial properties and digestive benefits. Chili peppers contain more active Vitamin C than almost any other fruit. Every time I serve one of these curries, I feel the need to spread the word. So here’s a recipe to begin:

ingredients for fish curry

ingredients for fish curry

Golden Fish Curry

1 large onion (10 oz., two cups sliced)

2 generous tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil

4-5 cloves garlic

½ -1 green Serrano chili (remove seeds for less heat)

1 ¼ inches fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon garam masala

1/8 teaspoon Indian chili powder or hot paprika (optional)

1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

2 large tomatoes (2 cups peeled, seeded and diced) or 14 oz. can tomatoes

2/3 cup coconut milk (5.6 oz.) (Chaokoh brand recommended)

12-14 oz. skinless white fish such as cod

Salt, cilantro, lime

Peel and quarter the onion; slice thinly. Gently sweat the onion in coconut oil, covering with waxed butter wrappers or parchment until tender. Remove paper and continue to sauté until onion is golden (8-10 minutes). Meanwhile bash peeled, sliced garlic, ginger and chili with a generous pinch of coarse salt in a mortar until reduced to a paste (about 3 tablespoons). In lieu of a stone mortar, grate the ginger on a microplane and finely chop garlic and chili. Combine turmeric, garam masala, optional chili powder and curry powder in a small cup.

Once the onion is golden and sizzling, add the ginger paste and sauté a few minutes until it smells “cooked”. Tip in the turmeric mixture and sauté stirring until the dry spices release fragrance. Add the tomatoes plus a little water and simmer until the tomatoes have pulped. Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer 5 minutes. Taste for seasonings; add salt if needed and a pinch of sugar if the mixture is too spicy. Add the chunked fish and cook 5 minutes or until the fish flakes. Stir in a generous handful of chopped cilantro just before serving. Add lime juice to taste.

Serves 3-4

Mary Jo's Cookbook available on Amazon

Mary Jo’s Cookbook available on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

Kale, Mushroom and Bread Salad

April 8, 2014
Kale, Bread and Mushroom Salad

Kale, Bread and Mushroom Salad

As I’ve looked at tough horse fodder-like kale in markets recently, I’ve shied away from raw kale in favor of the cooked version. Like the lion on the April 7th New Yorker cover, I need to turn over a new leaf, while I wait for early salad kale in my garden.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to observe an enticing cooking demo featuring Paul Flynn, a gifted Irish chef and owner of The Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan, Ireland. I was visiting my favorite place away from home, the Ballymaloe (pronounced “Bally-mah-LOO”) Cookery School, and I lucked out to be on the sidelines of this brilliant presentation.

Paul specializes in taking traditional Irish foods and reworking them into tasty contemporary dishes. Hence, kale that grows literally year-round in Ireland, and mushrooms, often found wild. Paul’s semi-wilted kale salad is reminiscent of Italian panzanella with toasted croutons, sautéed mushrooms, and shaved Parmesan. It makes way for additional leftover bits of roast pork, lamb or chicken, turning the salad into a full meal. It’s better made at least an hour ahead and is even delicious the next day.

For this salad I chose a bunch of smaller-leafed organic Lacinato (Tuscan) kale. These dark leaves turned deep green with the dressing and held their color through the following day.

Kale, Mushroom and Bread Salad

4 oz. French or peasant bread torn into bite-sized chunks (3 cups)

6-8 oz. mushrooms cleaned and sliced

1 bunch kale (8 oz.)

4 oz. onion thinly sliced (1 cup)

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

4-5 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½ tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon honey

salt and pepper

shaved Parmesan cheese

Toss the bread chunks with 1 tablespoon olive oil, spread on baking sheet, and toast until lightly golden in a 400° oven or under a low broiler.

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and gently sweat sliced onion until limp and tender. Wash kale, shake dry, strip green leaf from center stalk, and shred. (After removing the stalks, the green leafy part will weigh 4 oz.; save the organic stalks to chop into soup or a stew.) Place kale in salad bowl; add warm onion.

Raise heat under skillet; add 1 tablespoon oil and quickly sauté mushrooms half at a time, seasoning with salt and pepper. Tip hot mushrooms into salad bowl with kale and onion. Finally, add few more drops of oil to the skillet, reduce heat and gently sauté the chopped garlic just until fragrant. Swirl in vinegar, honey and pour over kale mixture in salad bowl. Add toasted bread; toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed and a bit more vinegar or oil if desired. Top with shaved Parmesan before serving or add a few bits of warm roast chicken, leftover lamb or pork. Eat and be healthy! Serves 3-4.

Mary Jo's Cookbook available on Amazon

Mary Jo’s Cookbook available on Amazon