Yesterday we celebrated Emancipation Day, which recognises the abolition of the cruel, inhumane practice of slavery, and in a few days we will be celebrating our 50th birthday as an independent nation free from colonial rule. I know that many of you are planning parties around this event and some will be cooking up a storm. I know Jamaica Observer Thursday Food readers are a community of fantastic cooks, based on your correspondence. I would love to be a fly on the wall and observe your delightful culinary creations. Then again, probably that's a wrong choice of words, not a fly as I may get swatted, but you get the drift. I plan to do a series of Jamaican dishes commencing next week in honour of this wonderful milestone, but today I will conclude my summer series with the final category: main dishes.
I've been getting a lot of requests lately for non-traditional pork and fish recipes. As you can imagine, many requests I get from locals are for more international recipes, while foreigners ask for more Jamaican recipes. Sometimes it is hard to strike a balance to please everyone but I try to use local produce where possible and of course, since we export so heavily, show readers how to use overseas products which appear on supermarket shelves. Jamaican consumers have the best of both worlds, but I still maintain that most of your shopping should rely heavily on what we manufacture, grow or raise here. Of course, we live in a global village and collectively across the planet our palates are adapting to tastes different from what we are accustomed to.
I don't know what it is about summer, but for some reason I have observed that people seem to become more experimental with food. It could be that we are more relaxed or some of us are in travelling moods and as such our journeys begin with the palate. Therefore, we venture into the tastes and spices of different lands, some we have been to, others we long to journey to in the near future. Today's dishes are inspired by Asia. They are summer light and easy, packed with a lot of flavour made especially nicer because many of their ingredients come from similar produce to ours but made in different styles.
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Wishing you and your loved ones happy holidays. Have fun entertaining!
Easy Spicy Yellow Curry Fish Fillets
Oftentimes during the summer you want a fast dish, but one full of flavour. Luckily, in supermarkets there are condiments that lend a hand when you are in a hurry. This is such a dish, only five main ingredients plus a little salt, your cooking oil, and you are sorted. Of course, you can add more ingredients to jazz it up, if you wish. Fish doesn't take long to cook and is healthy. This light curry is perfect for the hot weather as it does not make you feel heavy. If you don't have access to Thai curry paste, regular spicy curry powder such as Madras will do, but will have a different flavour profile although equally delicious. This recipe serves 4 but you can double the portions for a large group and add this dish to others for a summer buffet. Great when paired with Thai Jasmine or Basmati rice. If you like wine, a chilled Riesling goes very well with this dish.
Ingredients: 1kg/2lbs any type white fish fillets, cut into chunks 1 Large Onion, sliced 1 Can of Coconut Milk 2 Tbsps Thai Yellow Curry Paste Cilantro, for garnish Salt, to taste Vegetable Oil
Season fish chunks with salt.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add curry paste to the pan, give a stir and add coconut milk, bring to a gentle simmer.
Add fish chunks and continue simmering for 20 minutes, add more salt if necessary.
Serve topped with cilantro.
Grilled Teriyaki Pork Chops with Ginger Pineapple Relish
Jamaicans love pork. This mildflavoured meat, like chicken, adapts well to any seasoning. The other day I was craving Teriyaki and promised myself to share this recipe with you. There are so many wonderful brands out there so you don't have to make the Teriyaki marinade from scratch, to save time. The pineapple relish pairs well with the pork. This can become a family suppertime dish. Right now it's great to take advantage of the gorgeous sugarloaf variety of pineapples, which are now in season.
4 to 6 Large Pork Chops
50ml/1/4 cup good quality brand of Teriyaki marinade, plus extra for basting
Relish: 1/2 Jamaican Sugarloaf Pineapple, peeled and chopped into small chunks 1/2-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 Large Sweet Pepper, deseeded and diced
1/4 Red Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large bowl add pork chops and pour over teriyaki marinade making sure each piece is coated well.
Place in the fridge, preferably overnight, or at least a minimum of 2 hours.
When ready to cook, remove from marinade and discard liquid. Pour out some fresh teriyaki sauce for basting.
In a small bowl, add all of the relish ingredients and mix well together, set aside.
Grill pork chops at least 5 minutes per side or until cooked through, make sure to baste with extra sauce midway.
Serve immediately with pineapple relish.