samedi 24 janvier 2009

Tzic de Rez

A new ingredient I tried in México was sour oranges (naranja agria). These are similar to the Seville oranges that are used in marmelade. These are not particularly attractive oranges as they have a dimpled thick skin and very sour juice. In Yucatecan cuisine, sour oranges are used in marinades, pickled onion relish and sauces.

Under the guidance of Chef Carlos, we prepared a Yucatecan specialty called Tzic de rez. This is shredded meat with radish, onion and cilantro that is marinated in sour orange juice and served cold wrapped in tacos. We used the leftovers on grilled nachos with cheddar cheese, salsa de chile habanero and tomato.

Tzic de rez
Serves 4

500 g (1 lb) beef (boneless beef chuck)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oregano leaves, to taste
1 handful radishes, finely diced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
60 g (2 oz) white onion, finely diced
Juice of 3 sour oranges*

Season beef with salt, pepper and oregano; place in a large saucepan. Add water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is very tender (about 1 hour). Cool meat in broth then remove and shred using two forks.
Add shredded beef, radish, cilantro, onion and sour orange juice to a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; mix well and place in refrigerator to chill. Stir occasionally.
Serve chilled on corn tortillas with tomato, avocado and chile.

*If sour oranges are not available, try the following substitution from Chef Rick Bayless
Makes approx. 250 mL or 1 cup
180 mL (3/4 cup) fresh grapefruit juice
90 mL (6 Tbsp) fresh limejuice
2,5 mL (1/2 tsp) finely minced orange zest (coloured part only not white pith)
Combine ingredients and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Strain to remove the zest.
Use within 24 hours.

dimanche 11 janvier 2009

Huîtres / Oysters

Oysters presented on the half shell and served with bread, butter, red wine vinegar with shallots, and lemon.  Add a glass of white wine and lunch is complete.  

My preference is the N° 3 size like these ones.  I usually eat the Quiberon, Fines de claires or Oléron varieties in France.  

The shells take a bit of care to open to avoid accidentally cutting your hand with the oyster knife.  
Wrap the shell in a tea towel (or use one of the specially developed gloves or plastic mats) with the deeper half of the shell on the bottom to catch as much liquid as possible.  Insert the tip of the oyster knife near the hinge and twist to pry the shells apart.  Run the blade along the inside of the top shell to sever the muscle.  Remove the top shell.  Run the blade around the oyster to loosen it from the bottom shell.

lundi 5 janvier 2009

Salsa de Chile Habanero

Habanero chiles are native to Mexico's Yucatan region. They are probably the hottest chiles available anywhere. Habanero chiles are used to flavour some of the hot sauces. Habanero chiles are similar in look and heat to the Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Peppers.
While in the Yucatan, I had the opportunity to cook with Chef Carlos and one of the dishes we made was Salsa de Chile Habanero. This salsa is made with sour orange which helps to reduce the heat of the chiles but even so this is a salsa only for those who can take the extreme heat.

We used it sparingly as a condiment for meat and chicken dishes and to spice up a plate of beef nachos.

Extreme care must be taken to not touch any senstive areas after handling the chiles to avoid burning your eyes or skin. Remove the skins and seeds by using forks to avoid touching the chiles. Wear latex or rubber gloves if you are especially sensitive.

Habanero Chiles grilling.

Salsa de Chile Habanero

10 chiles habanero, grilled, peeled and seeded
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Juice of 2 sour oranges
Salt, to taste
2 cloves of garlic
sprigs of coriander (cilantro), to taste

Mash together the chiles, red onion, orange juice, salt, garlic and coriander using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add a little water to thin the mixture, if desired.