Darlings, who KNEW you could make STEW out of Cal-la-loo? Now, say it again as if nutty tough guy Christopher Walken was saying it: Who knew? You could MAKE stew? With cal-la-LOO?" Don't know why I thought of him but I love his wacky inflection and love imagining him saying "callaloo!!" He would say it too. He's that kind of guy.
As you know, La Diva has been traipsing around South Beach and not cooking very much at all. My poor farm share was starting to wilt so I decided I had better make a meal out of the less hardier veggies stat! That veggie was the mysterious callaloo. It's only mysterious to me though as this suprisingly mild and tender green is a Caribbean staple, as discovered in a previous post.
On Wednesday night, I thought I'd at least cook the veggie and think about what else to do with it the next day. Vague ideas of mahi mahi and chilies and spices went through my head. However, darlings La Diva had other things on my mind, like the finale of Top Chef! The Big Shamu and Java Junkie over at Top Chef: They cook. We dish. were having a chat about the show at 9pm so I had to get to steppin'.
Calalloo phase one:
Cut away the large stems from the leaves and slice, set aside. Then, chop leaves and keep separate. In a medium saute pan heat olive oil and sweat one onion, two minced garlic cloves, one plum tomato diced, 2 bay leaves, one small minced serrano chile and a few sprigs of thyme. Now add the chopped stalks and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until slightly soft. Then add the leaves, saute for a few minutes and add about a 1/2 cup water or broth. Cook on a medium heat for about 7 minutes, until the leaves and stalks are tender.
Be careful not to over cook the callaloo as all the recipes I've seen for it mention that the vegetable is to stay green and not turn brown or overcook to be tasty. The veggie itself is pretty bland so season with a bit of sea salt to taste. But not too much, more flavor and salt will come later! Time to set it aside, Top Chef was on the telly and fellow bloggers were waiting in the chat room!
As it turned out, our fave contender, Carla Hall didn't win. (boo!) And then later, Season One Top Chef Winner Harold Dieterle joined the gang (yay!) and talked about his travels to Thailand and some pretty wild new dishes he's working on at his restaurant Perilla in Greenwich Village. It was all very spesh and now La Diva is itchin' to get back to NYC just to check the place out! (and Harold too, the big ol' sweetie pie)
La Diva's Mahi mahi with callaloo over polenta
You know, seeing as I now live in the South, it would only be appropriate if one of these days La Diva would learn to make grits. It's what I was thinking of when I made up this dish but I didn't have any grits and polenta is very similar. Another time!
Set the greens aside and make a enough polenta for two people: Heat about 2 c of chicken or veggie broth and whisk in 1/2 c instant polenta and cook for five minutes over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. (Be careful here, darlings, this stuff will spatter no matter how hard you stir and is worse than napalm if you get it on your skin!) Stir in a good handful of cheese. Turn off heat and spoon hot polenta into two bowls.
Finally, mince four garlic cloves and gently cook in olive oil in another saute pan. Now brown two seasoned small mahi mahi filets for about 3 minutes on each side. Hit the pan with a bit of white wine and steam until just cooked. Pour in the callaloo and heat for another minute. Quickly spoon greens and fish over polenta, add a dab of butter, season with sea salt and partake in something that is surprisingly tasty and spicy and satisfyin'!
Honest to God, this dish is good! The greens now take on the flavor of the garlic, wine and fish and had turned into quite a tasty meal. And, La Diva is very happy cuz sidekick DJ Nevah L8 (for dinnah!) was already complaining about what he thought would be a "mushy not-very-satistfying-dinner! Hmpf." (he's a "texture" person, remember?!) As always, La Diva is happy to prove him wrong and watched him clean his plate! (THAT'S why there are no photos, darlings, he ate it too quickly!)
So enjoy da callaloo, my darlins' and eat all ya spicy garlic fish an hey, why dontcha wash it down wid a Red Stripe?! Enjoy!
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