September 10, 2007

Tackling the F-Word

The dreaded “F-Word”! For some, it conjures thoughts of horror. For those nerds in internet-land, perhaps you see cartoon of men with fantastically tall hair shouting while nothing actually happens for episode after episode and I can’t believe how much time I tried to follow that show for. This, however, is foodie land, and perhaps you see another image. Chicken Tikka Massala, boiled so that it’d have that authentic British flavour (with a “u”). Yes, my friends. Today we go after a sensation that makes some writers want to double their exclamation points in horror… Fusion!

As some of you may remember, (some of you being those who’ve looked at The Gourmetro in the past two days) this week I attempted to create samosas at home. For those who actually finished reading my post may have remembered, my samosas wound up being a bit bland and so I felt the need to create a sauce to go along with them. But what sauce? What would complement this salty potato dish?

When I went to Whole Foods (my trip to find Indian spices), I decided to pick up a small bag of tomatillos. Perhaps it was foresight. Perhaps… madness. Probably!... boredom. I’d never made a tomatillo salsa. I love salsas. My father makes lots of them and I decided to give one of his, a chipotle salsa that perhaps I’ll divulge at another time, a twist. (His is based upon one from Rick Bayless, a fantastic writer of Mexican cookbooks.)

As far as ingredients go, you won’t need many. Tomatillos, obviously. Also, you’ll want dry chipotle peppers (canned will do – with slightly different results), garlic, an onion, and perhaps some lime, depending on your taste.

For starters, we reconstitute the dry chipotle peppers. (Note: this is only for dried chipotles) Use three or four, depending on how hot you want your salsa. You’ll want to toast these in a cast iron pan. Cast iron is preferable because you need the pan to be really hot, and stainless steel just isn’t going to give you the proper sort of heat. Before you get your pan ready, boil up some water. When the water is about boiling and the pan is really hot, pour the water out into a bowl or cup or anything that’ll hold it really. Next up, take your chipotles one at a time and just give them a hard press on either side with a spatula. You should hear a little sizzle on each side. Then, just take them out and put them into your hot water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes.

Next up, the tomatillos. Stick them under the broiler and Get these roasted before you start up. You’ll want to put them under a broiler until each side is slightly blackened, then put these aside. Try and save whatever liquid came out of the tomatillos while they were cooking. The easiest way to do that is to put some tin foil on top of whatever you cook the tomatillos on before you stick them in the oven. When you're done, you can lift off the sheet of tin foil and save all the tomatillos and the juices as well. MMMMM! Juices.

While your tomatillos or roasting, toast up some garlic. To do this, just use your iron pan again. I don’t like to use a lot of garlic in this salsa. It’s a strong taste and you don’t want to overpower the tomatillos. Just use two or three small cloves. While they’re still in their paper, throw them onto the pan until the paper’s a little blackened on a couple sides. Put these aside as well. You’ll also want to sauté your onion in olive oil until it’s a little browned. I used a whole onion, but I’d recommend using a bit less, maybe half an onion.

Once everything’s cooked up, take your garlic out of the paper and cut it up. Also, chop up your chipotles. If you want your sauce a bit milder, feel free to seed the chipotles. Throw the tomatillos, chipotles, garlic and a liberal pinch of salt into your food processor and make it nice and saucy. Then, just throw it into a frying pan with a touch of olive oil and let it all cook together. You’ll want to let it cook together a little before adding your onions to the sauce. At this point, if you want it a bit more citrousy, feel free to add a lime to the mixture. Your sauce is now done.

Mine came out a bit too sweet, probably because I used too much onion and because I didn’t let the sauce cook long enough without the onions. Learn from my mistakes, o best beloved readers.

And now, we get crazy. I put the tomatillo on top of the samosas. I know. Crazy. Mexican and Indian foods were really never meant to mix, but for some strange reason, I thought it worked. The tanginess of the tomatillo really added to the saltiness of the samosas. I can’t say that my stomach’s going to be too happy with me tomorrow, but I think that’s why god invented antacid tablets.

Experiment with your own sauce, learn from my mistakes and come up with something fun. Your stomach will hate you, but your tongue may give you birthday presents. I’m off to buy more pepto. And milk. Enjoy, my aching belly.

No comments: