Sunday, 5 August 2012

OFC - A Central and South American Feast

I might have grumbled about not having any Asian or European countries on our list, but one of the good things is we had three countries from Central and South America which led to quite a good Saturday night feast!  Perhaps its just me being lazy, but it does seem that a lot of these countries are overlooked for their more well publicised neighbours such as Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.  If you look in the right places, the food is healthy, fresh and really delicious.  Of course, it helps if you're a fan of rice, beans, limes and coriander, as there are some recurring themes in the food!

Our three were Nicaragua, Guatemala and Chile.  Guatemala and Nicaragua are republics in Central America, previously colonised by Spain and with rocky histories.  Guatemala is relatively poor, whilst Nicaragua has the lowest GDP in the whole of Central America.  Nevertheless they are fascinating countries and tourism (and therefore cash) is on the up in Nicaragua.  Chile, on the other hand, is one of South America's most stable and prosperous countries.  It is the longest country in the world so has a fairly varied eco climate with both deserts and a glacier.  Much of the food for all three countries is Spanish based and they benefit from great sea resources.
 Nicaraguan Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is the national dish of Nicaragua.  It means "spotted rooster" in Spanish, although there's nothing to do with chickens here.
half an onion, finely chopped
half a pepper, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
half a tin of kidney beans, drained, with some of the liquid reserved
cooked rice - roughly 3:2 with the beans
salt and pepper to taste

1.  fry the onions, pepper and garlic for 2-3 minutes
2.  stir in the beans with some of their reserved liquid, salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to cook through.
3.  add the rice, and more of the reserved liquid if necessary.  Adjust the seasoning and heat through thoroughly.

Guatemalan Mango and Avocado Salsa

half a mango, chopped
half a red pepper, diced
half a tomato, diced
one guacamole, chopped
1/8 red onion, diced
lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl about 30 minutes before serving. Leave covered in the fridge for the flavours to combine.  Check the seasoning and serve.

Chilean Seabass Ceviche

This recipe needs really fresh seabass (well, to be honest, what recipe doesn't?).  It's dead easy: chop the ingredients into smallish pieces, combine, and leave in the fridge for a few hours.  Drain off the excess liquid before serving.

4 small seabass fillets, skinned
one spring onion
quarter of a red pepper
juice of half a grapefruit
segments of quarter of a grapefruit (I was able to use the ones out of the squeezed half)
juice of half a lime
chopped coriander
salt to taste

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