8 November 2015

You say tomatillo, I say tomato...

Spiraling quickly toward the end of gardening season, here's a bright late-harvest recipe for before the dutch oven gets dusted off.

Maybe not technically a posole, but a fantastic green tomato fish chowder (garnished with the world's smallest radish).

North Atlantic End-of-Season Posole

adapted from bon appetit October 2015 issue

1-3/4 lbs green tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, smashed then minced
1 fresh hot peppers, thinly sliced
all the cilantro that survived the first snowfall (or 1 cup)
2 cod loin fillets*
kernels from 2 cobs of sweet corn**
2 cups seafood stock***
garnish for serving: sliced fresh hot pepper, radish, lime

*yeah, okay, cod loins vary in size, but use enough to serve a decent soup-amount to 4 people... a pound to a pound and a half will do

**blanch very fresh sweet corn in boiling water for 4 minutes then plunge in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process; using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob... or use a heaping cup of frozen corn

***made from fish heads and/or shellfish shells (ours was in the freezer made some time ago, likely from shrimp heads and shells, maybe trout heads or lobster scraps too)

True, we had to substitute nearly every ingredient, but that's just the
cost of living on an island in a cold, harsh climate.
Wash and quarter the green tomatoes, removing the stem and any unsightly spots, bruises, frostbite, etc.  Puree in a food processor or blender and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium.  Cook onion, garlic and hot pepper until soft.

Add half of the green tomato puree and cook until the mixture reaches a good steady boil.  Add cod, corn, and seafood stock.  Bring to a simmer and maintain it to poach the cod until it is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

While the cod is cooking, roughly chop the cilantro and add to remaining green tomato.  Puree together.

When the cod is cooked, remove soup from heat and stir the green tomato mixture to incorporate, breaking the cod into chunks.  

Ladle into bowls, garnish with hot pepper slices and radish and squeeze a bit of lime juice over top.  

Serves 6 as a first course or 4 as a light meal.


Whenever we buy a gourmet cooking magazine, we excitedly scan the pages.  Ooooohing and ahhhhing.  Imagining a dinner party.  Looking up ingredients that are probably readily available in major cities but impossible to find on this island in the North Atlantic. Or at least impossible to find all at the same time.  (We fantasize constantly about grocery stores that you can walk into with a list and walk out of with everything ticked off.) 

It's possible there is some sort of psychotic disorder that makes us buy these magazines over and over again.  Taunting ourselves with them.  Salivating over meals we'll never eat.

Then this miraculous thing happened.  Flipping through the October issue of bon appetit, I came across a recipe for green posole with cod and cilantro.  Brilliant, I thought, I can make this.  "Did you see this?" I called out excitedly, "We have cod! We can make this!"

"We don't have tomatillos," Fefe Noir, all sensible-kill-joy about her says, "and where will you find hominy?  What is hominy?"

Pffffffttt... details...

This year's garlic harvest chez The Moose
Curry Experience, curing in Fefe Noir's office.
This is a great recipe for November on Newfoundland's Avalon peninsula, as we are spiraling quickly toward the end of gardening season.  The garlic has been harvested and cured, the cilantro is still hanging on.  Peppers are finally ripe, or ripe-enough at least.  The first snow means we have had to give up on the vague hope that the tomatoes are going to ripen outside, so they have been brought in, green, to be hung to ripen, or stored in dark boxes, or made into jam and salsa and chutney.

I know, green tomatoes are not tomatillos, but they are bright with lemony-acidity which is a great base for a fish soup.  And sure, shallot season is over and I hadn't thought far enough ahead to buy some for storage but red onions are strong and juicy right now... and okay, the cilantro that is hanging on has gone to seed but the feathery green on the flower stalk tastes as much (maybe even more) of cilantro herb as the broad flat mid-summer leaf.  In the end I couldn't find hominy, but we had blanched and frozen a bit of local sweet corn.  Clam juice, too, is clearly for fancy people with fantasy grocery stores, but seafood stock is simple to make.

In the end, I'm pretty sure this is no longer a posole, but it is definitely a really good soup.