Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mar 26th - Purple Kale and Sweet Potato Salt Cod Brandade with Black Quinoa

Mad! They'll call me when they read this title. Sweet Potato Brandade!? It was delicious. It was all about this sweet potato I had sitting in the fridge and some Blooming Purple Kale I bought at the market. I was pretty close to making Ackee and Saltfish with Kale because I love Ackee but I thought 1. I need to use that sweet potato and 2. I should do something different. Oh, and some heavy cream in the fridge that was just niggling at me. D knows that when it comes to food in our house I have 2 major pet peeves: 1. Leaving food out uncovered. 2. Wasting food.

I wish I could blame my meagre upbringing in an immigrant household but for once it has nothing to do with that. Though we did grow up struggling and heard stories of our parents' hardships, food was never an issue in our house. That is the irony of the Korean household. The table should always be plentiful. It is funny, I had a portuguese flatmate for a while in England who told me that was the same in their culture. So the fridge was always packed full of fresh vegetables, kimchees, frozen goodies in case. I, however, cannot bare to see a carrot or green onion go to waste. That did not stop me from buying the tomatoes and scallions I would need should I change my mind and decide to do the Ackee on the way home. :)

I love Kale. It is a very 'meaty' green. It is part of the same family as broccoli and brussel sprouts and cooked well has the same nutty, vibrant flavour. I was tempted to put it in a dish but decided to simply sautee it in some olive oil with some green onions.

On the side as a grain, I am doing Quinoa but a new one I found at Whole Foods yesterday. Black Quinoa. In the raw state, it looks like regular Quinoa grains but indeed, black. They also had Red. I went with the Black because it reminded me of the Vietnamese black rice that I like. You cook it as you would regular Quinoa. Same as usual with a 3-1 water to Quinoa ratio. Low simmer for 15-20 minutes. When it is cooked, you will notice, the black is in the husk and you can see th regular semi-translucent grain inside. After cooking the black turns more of an oaky red. It is nice. Did not really taste too different than the regular though it did have less of a grassy taste which regular Quinoa sometimes has. It is why I often use veggie broth instead of plain water.

Sweet Potato Salt Cod Brandade

1 small (180 g) White Sweet Potato
200 g Salt Cod (weighed before desalination)
1 inch Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
2-3 gloves garlic
5 small sprigs of fresh Thyme
1/2 c Milk
2/3 c Water
3 T Coconut Milk
1 T butter
3 T Heavy Cream

Wedge of lime and fresh parsley for garnish.

You can actually choose to use 6 T of all Coconut Milk instead of Cream or vice versa. I was torn by the two leftovers and now I have less of two leftover. Silly me. Now I do not have enough coconut milk to do a stirfry. LOL.

You need to soak your Saltcod for a day or overnight. Change the water every few hours. If you forget, and you are around, you can do this upto as little as 6 hours prior but change the water every half hour. It is just easier to start yesterday.

In a small sauce pan, place the washed Saltcod, Ginger, Garlic, Thyme and Sweet Potato. Pour the water and milk over. Add more water to cover the contents. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potato is tender. Try to avoid over boiling or scalding the milk. It is not the end of the world though it can add an odd flavour. The worst of it will be that scaled milk boils over and leaves a terrible mess on the stovetop.

When it is tender, take the pot off the stovetop and drain through a sieve. Pick out the thyme stems. I did not because I forgot. Place in the food processor. You can let it cool a bit before the next step.

Pulse a few times to break down the fish. Add the butter and pulse a few times more. Add the Coconut Milk and Cream gradually as you pulse until it looks like it can take no more. By this I mean that the liquid is not separating out. It is staying a paste.

Now you could use a mortar and pestal to do this. It is the traditional way. Well, it is when you are not using 'potato' filler. Yes. Potato is filler. Though almost every recipe you will read has a potato, it is really to stretch the valuable Saltcod. The really true French recipes will not use filler.

If you have leftover, you can add more potato and fry it up as a fritter. MMMMM. I think next time I will use more coconut milk and leave out the cream. It would be pretty similar to a Jamaican Rundown in some ways I guess.

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