Monday, January 30, 2006

Lighting the fire within...

It strikes me that this salsa thread could seem a bit out of place in January. But up here in the northern tier, one often has to try anything just to keep warm (especially when your furnace conks out on a single-digit overnight, BOO HISS!). So that may serve to explain why I have been all about the chiles and the South-of-the-Border (the other border!) flavors lately. In addition to my salsa reflections, last night, my dear friend June and I ventured into Montreal to take in a double feature of Match Point and Good Night, and Good Luck (I am singly-focused on the goal of seeing all possible Oscar contenders). Afterwards, we spied a new little taqueria on Ste. Catherine called La Nacion. It was a cozy little place where people curled up on sofas and watched soccer while enjoying a Tecate. I had something called Tacos Campechano, involving a variety of meats served with delectable little corn tortillas hand-formed by actual Latin folk (it’s always a good sign when you are in a minority of gringos in a taco joint!). Then this morning, I made it my business to cook and can six jars of the delectable Blueberry-Habanero Chutney that the kitchen Mage swears by (refer to the Oct. 19, 2005 entry of her blog for the recipe), which led to a scrumptious dinner of pollock fillets served with the chutney and black beans and rice. YUM!

So if like me, you can’t wait for summer to feel some culinary heat, I offer one of my other all-time favorite salsa recipes, as promised. This came to me, once again, from Salsa Derek, but was originally found in a great book called Salsa, Sambals, Chutneys, and ChowChows: Intensely Flavored “Little Dishes” from Around the World by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby. Be forewarned, it’ll feel like you’ll be cutting and chopping for days, but it’s darn well worth the effort! (This is why the God gave us the Cuisinart.)

Mango-Jicama Relish with Scotch Bonnet Peppers

1 jicama (size of a softball), peeled and finely grated
1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced small
2 cups mango (or pineapple) juice
¼ cup minced garlic
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 fresh habanero peppers, split, seeded and minced
(or 2 tablespoons hot sauce such as “Inner Beauty”)
½ cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
salt and pepper to taste

*By the way, if you’ve never tried jicama, don’t be afraid. It’s kind of an ugly root vegetable (distant cousin to a turnip or rutebaga?). But inside, it’s the consistency of something like a parsnip or even a water chestnut. It’s very crunchy and refreshing in salads, and it’s great in this salsa. However, DO be afraid of scotch bonnets/habaneros. For my household, we would probably stick to just one and not two as the recipe calls for. But that's your call. Enjoy!

1 comment:

kitchenmage said...

Woo hoo! Isn't that the best chutney? I am almost out, but I found a bag of berries forgotten at the bottom of the freezer recently so that may change.

The mango relish sounds yummy too. But it is a bit tough to come by mangos in the Pacific Northwet in January. Have to save it for summer.