Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Soy un Jalapeño

Dear Boo,

I don't know if you've checked your calendar lately, but let me be the one to break the bad news. It's August 10th. TENTH! That's the first week of August! That means 21 days until September! Technically speaking, we have 42 days until the official end of summer, but come on. AUGUST TENTH!

Can you tell I'm freaking out?

As a preventative measure to stave off the pain of letting go, I am making a list of things I must do before Autumn is upon us. I know you might think this is a bit early to sound the alarms, but if I don't confront this thing head on, I'm likely to wake up tomorrow to find root vegetables and pumpkins have replaced the shock of red, orange and yellow blanketing the rows of stalls at the farmer's market. So here we go:

1. Eat tomatoes. Attempt to taste every variety available at the farmer's market. When possible, toss with olive oil, basil and salt. Maybe garlic if I'm feeling fancy.
2. Work on my freckles. I've got a good smattering going on my upper arms and the bridge of my nose (which, frankly, mostly makes my face look dirty) but there's a lot more area to cover.
3. See at least one outdoor movie, here or here, or even here.
4. Eat clams, as close to the ocean as possible.
5. Finish reading this book, as close to the ocean as possible.
6. Dance to live music, outdoors, as close to the ocean as possible.
7. Eat many ears of corn: raw, sauteed like this or this, tossed with mint/feta butter, mexican style, and in a pudding. (as close to the ocean--oh, let's just say this part applies to all.)
8. Squeeze in quality time with all the friends I disappear on during the busy school year.
9. Finish a Sunday NY Times crossword.
10. Drink wine with lunch.
11. Take copious naps.
12. Have a picnic on Governor's Island.
13. Use the student discount I have burning a whole in my pocket.
14. Sneak into a double feature on a really hot afternoon. Eat popcorn for lunch.
15. Make and eat more of these two (three) dishes...

Due to Trader Joe's (how I love thee) insistence that I must buy an entire box of jalapeño for a recipe that only called for one, I was left with an overabundance of peppers crowding my crisper drawer. Out of the file of "things taking up useless space in my brain" I pulled a recipe for Soy-Pickled Jalapenos that I had spotted in an issue of Bon Appetit with a feature on Korean food. Very simple, it basically required that I throw a bunch of things from my pantry into a pot and boil them. Done.

But now what?

Spicy, salty, and perfumed with lemon zest and the slight funk of the soy, these make a great condiment with infinite possibilities. Bon Appetit suggests serving them with their shrimp and scallion pancakes. Chef Josh suggested I use them in place of anything that calls for chiles, as it would add a salty complexity. He mentioned chopping it up with tomatoes and onion for a relish to top seafood or meat. I imagined throwing some into a pot of mussels for an asian-flavored broth with some heat. I bet they'd be fantastic with fried calamari, reminiscent of the Rhode Island style made with banana peppers. Or they'd work in any stirfry.

But instead I made this:
First, a vietnamese inspired noodle salad.

No recipe per se, just basic guidelines.
Throw into a bowl some sliced crunchy veggies (I used julienned cucumber, carrots, scallions and green cabbage, though bean sprouts, peppers, radish, kohlrabi would also work), rice noodles cooked according to the package and served at room temp (I used rice sticks because that's what I found, but rice vermicelli would be great too), sliced baked tofu (bought ready-made from Trader Joe's, but you could substitute chicken, shrimp, or steak, or pork). Top with chopped cilantro, mint, and basil (or any combo thereof), crushed peanuts, and soy-pickled jalapeños. Spoon a bit of the jalapeno liquid over the top, along with a generous amount of Nuoc Cham sauce. Squeeze lime, and serve. Perfect hot weather/lazy weeknight dinner.

And then, I made this:
Asianesque fish tacos.

Marinate your chosen fish (I used the cheap and tasteless tilapia) in some garlic, salt & pepper, and a few spoonfuls of the jalapeno liquid.
While it marinates, toss some green cabbage, scallions, and shredded carrots with a bit of leftover Nuoc Cham sauce.
Heat up some corn tortillas.
Cook the fish in a hot pan for about 5 minutes, flipping once.
Pile into tortilla and top with cabbage mixture, sour cream, chopped raw onion, cilantro, avocado, and soy-pickled jalapeño.
If you're the Boyfriend, top with additional hot sauce such as Srirachi.
Oh, the deliciousness.

So what do you think? Have I left anything off my list? Munch on these and get back to me.


The Mouse

Soy-Pickled Jalapeños
(lifted from Bon Appetit)

3 large fresh jalapeños (4 inches), sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Marinate, chilled, at least 8 hours.


The Cabrelli's said...

The Life of Pi is one of my favorite books - although everyone else I know who read it hated it! You can come and read it next to my ocean :-)

Anonymous said...

'Life of Pi' is also one of my favorite books. I was sad when my reading came to an end.

I think we need to try those peppers on more things. Like on a shredded pork sandwich or in an omelet or ice cream. I know that sounds crazy, but maybe it's not.

-- your bf

Anonymous said...

hey there Cabrelli!! I absolutely loved "Life of PI" loved it!

This blog is making my experience of food so much livilier...spicier, fun!!

thanks for this - looks and tastes in my mind, fantabulous


Keri said...

I made these jalapenos yesterday and i like having things that i can use for a few days. I also tried to make your tomatoes roasted in oil oil- they were amazing!!!!! I am craving one at work and i wish i had one for my 3:00 snack time craving here at my desk! They are satisfying for the 10:00pm- "i shouldn't be eating" craving as well.

The Mouse said...

Cabrellis: thanks for the invite!! I am loving the book so far :)

Keri: That's so great to hear! I love hearing about other people's adventures in cooking from the blog. Aren't those tomatoes amazing? We just made a batch here and have been eating them for days for every meal :) Let me know how the jalapenos turn out!

Keri said...

Those jalepenos are hot! i mean hot, too hot eat, hot. I think I thought I was fire resistant because i chopped up 4 and put them on a taco and my nose became numb.