Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Haitian Meal (Part 2)



1 lb squid (cut into rings)
Juice of 13 limes
2 habañeros (chopped coarsely)

4 lbs tomatoes (quartered)
1 tbsp tomato paste (homemade, but substitute commercial you wimps!)

1 large red onion (cut into semi-rounds)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 small green bell peppers (cut into strips)
2 small red bell peppers (cut into strips)

1 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper


The recipe really goes in three stages: marination, preparing the tomato puree, and cooking the stuff.

Marinade the lime with the squid and habañeros for at least 4 hours.

Prepare a pot of boiling water. Dunk the tomatoes for 4 minutes or so. Pass them through a fine food mill, and collect the puree. (A deceptively large amount of work is hidden in this rather innocent description.)

WARNING: If you use heirloom tomatoes like I did, they have seeds that passed through the finest grade of my food mill. I had to pass it through a sieve lined with cheese cloth again!

Heat the olive oil, and fry the onions until limp, and translucent, and the garlic, and saute until it turns light golden.

Add the tomato paste, and fry for about a minute. Add the puree, and half of the both of the bell peppers, salt and pepper to taste, and turn the heat as low as possible.

At this point experienced readers should know what to do.

Skim, baby, skim.

Add the rest of the bell peppers, and turn off the heat, and take the pot off the hot stove.

Dump the squid, and a bit of the lime (but not the habañeros) in there.

The last instruction may seem a tad mysterious but it isn't. One of the culinary crimes that this country commits is "overcooking the squid". Squid should not be rubbery! You are dumping it into a hot puree, it will cook by itself. Of course, if you cook with different seafood, the instructions will change.

The idea behind adding half the bell peppers later is to create two textures, one slightly crunchy, and one more "soggy".

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