Posts Tagged ‘Supper Club’
A few weeks back, my friend Erin sent out an email with the brilliant idea of a supper club. In a twist on the classic supper club, the guests are in charge of the food while the host takes on the booze. Each dinner is to be organized around a theme and this last Saturday things kicked-off with Peruvian night.
On reading the theme, I was taken back in time to a cliff top restaurant in Lima where I savored ceviche while watching the large dark blue waves of the Pacific ocean roll, crash, and foam below. I knew I had to make this citrused Peruvian classic.
In fairness, this dish likely originated in a few place across the globe. But around 500 years ago the Moche, a coastal civilization in current-day northern Peru, came up with the stuff. Modern Peru adopted it and it hit the United States in force in 80s. It’s easy to make and prefect for these warm summer months.
For the uninitiated, cechive is fish or seafood “cooked” in citrus. Cooking fish, meat, poultry, etc. is all about changing the structure of the proteins or breaking them. In science/Alton Brown talk, the citrus does its cooking by denaturing the proteins in the fish. And, since the cooking comes from the fish’s time in the citrus bath, unless you’re using sushi grade fish, be sure to use small pieces and marinate for approximately three hours; raw fish can carry some nasty stuff.
- 1 pound white saltwater fish: albacore, sole, snapper, halibut, etc. (I used halibut)
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 T. salt
- 1 rocoto chile (chile manzano in Mexican markets) or 2 aji limon (substitute a habanero) – I used the habanero, the only pepper I could find.
- 1 medium onion, sliced very thinly into half-moons
- 4 T. chopped cilantro
For the citrus, you’re going to want to buy the fruits and juice them yourself. The stuff you buy in a bottle is going to disappoint every time.
Cut the fish into pieces no bigger than one inch cubes; remember the bigger the pieces the longer it takes for the citrus to do its work. Salt the fish, then cover with the citrus juice in a non-reactive (glass or plastic, metal might yield an unpleasing metallic taste). Add the sliced onions and the chiles. Put the covered mixture in the fridge for two to three hours–if you have true sushi grade fish, its okay to shorten so the fish is still raw in the middle. When you serve, garnish with the cilantro.
Overall, ceviche is a very forgiving dish as long as you start with good fish. It’s a great food to play with: ratchet up the heat (the habeneros were a little intense), pull it back, add the cilantro before marination, change-up the citrus juice, etc.
Peruvian Stewed Chicken
Because ceviche is, in all honestly, a bit of a cooking cop out, I helped Nick and Becca in their preparation of Peruvian Stewed Chicken.
- 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 to 12 small chicken pieces
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup green peas
Place tomatoes in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until liquefied. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over moderate heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another two minutes. Add cumin, oregano and bay leaf and stir to combine. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to pan. Brown the chicken lightly. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover 3/4 of chicken. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until chicken is cooked through. About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, add the green pepper and peas. Serve warm.
True to form, we managed to pull off the dish and (a big pot) of rice and arrive fashionably late, along with most of the supper club crew. At the dinner itself, the stewed chicken was a bit bland. Though the the next day, the flavors had come together and were more bold. I would recommend making this dish a day in advance and reheating, for maximum flavor.
Transporting our creations was a bit tricky and I was thrilled, for probably the 100th time, that Becca actually has a car in New York.
The actual meal was a lot of fun. Erin pulled together a good group of people who pulled off some great dishes (including a salad, a cheesy potato dish, and a beef dish that seemed to be the bovine cousin of the stewed chicken) . I’m very much looking forward to the next one.