Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sovereign State #12: The Bahamas

The Bahamas
The Menu:
Roasted Black Cod with Bahamian Creole Sauce 
Littleneck Clams Steamed in Dark Caribbean Rum and Lime
Peas n' Rice (Pigeon Peas and Coconut Rice) 
Bahama Rum Punch

Aruba, Jamaica ooh I wanna take ya
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go
Jamaica, off the Florida Keys
There's a place called Kokomo
That's where you wanna go to get away from it all

Bodies in the sand
Tropical drink melting in your hand
We'll be falling in love
To the rhythm of a steel drum band
Down in Kokomo

Perhaps the Beach Boys knew something I don't.  Kokomo, Indiana does not seem that nice of a place.  Is there some hidden beach resort we don't know about, secretly guarded by those sneaky Hoosiers?  Huh, who knows?  What I do know is that The Bahamas IS the place to be for fun, sun, and a whole lotta Rum! Can I get a high five?!  Anyone?  While eating our Bahamian diner, tropical drinks melting in our hands, K and I did fall in love all over again.  So I guess it's true.  Special thanks to the truly random steel drum band that arrived at our little apartment the second I made the Bahama Rum Punch.  Man, I could listen to steel drums all day long.  In fact, in our first Seattle apartment I did get to hear steel drums all day, everyday when the creepy, naked, dread locked frat boy across the street would turn his stereo speaker out his windows and blast generic reggae all Summer long.  It was a real treat.  Okay, time to get serious here.  I must be taken seriously as a professional culinary journalist.  Perhaps my laissez faire writing style and inability to meld into the predictable food blog cesspool will keep me from getting a Pulitzer but nobody's perfect.  Sure, I have run-on sentences and sometimes I go nowhere with what I'm saying but that's not the point, the point is... what was I talking about?  Enough chit chat... 

The Bahamas frickin' rock.  I really enjoyed this meal.  Lots of flavors that I am comfortable with (I am part Cuban after all) and a few surprises here and there.  Living here in Seattle, it's pretty hard to get good Caribbean food.  There are a few local restaurants that serve up island specialties but what they tend to lack in flavor they make up for in it by charging outrageous prices, so at least you get to pay a whole lot of money for your bland beans and rice.

 I choose using fresh local fish versus something I have to get frozen and imported.  For the Black Cod (I wanted snapper but couldn't find any that looked good) I made the creole sauce by sauteing some onions, garlic, leeks and scotch bonnet peppers.  By the way, beware of  the Scotch Bonnet.  They will burn your face right off.  No lie.  I then deglazed the pan with a little coconut water and lime juice.  A couple of cloves, some cumin seed, and cilantro.  Preheat the oven 425F.  In a Pyrex pour a little sauce on the bottom, place the fish (6 oz fillets) skin side down.  Top with the sauce.  Cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the fish is cooked through.  Served on a bed of Peas n' Rice.  You can't get any more Bahamian than Peas n' rice.  It's basically pigeon peas (also known as No-Eye Peas in some island areas), a sofrito (onion, garlic, celery, peppers), and long grain rice.  The pigeon pea is similar to a black-eyed pea (the legume not the "band") only it's green in color and has an even meatier taste.  There were a ton of recipes out from as every home cook has their own secrets (I could tell you mine but I'd have to kill you).  In my recipe I added coconut milk and chicken stock.  Kind of like a Caribbean Hoppin' John.

For the clams I sauteed some garlic and Scotch bonnets in a little butter.  Then deglazed the pan with some dark rum and lime juice.  Toss in the clams and cover for about 5 minutes until they open (toss out any closed critters, they checked out a while back.  Checked out as in died).  Chop up some cilantro and scallions and sprinkle over the dish.  So simple a dumb kid at a kegger could do it.  Maybe.

Speaking of keggers, let's talk about booze for a little shall we?  Nothing beats a delicious cocktail in my book.  Not that shit made but slackers who don't give a damn and just sling cheap hooch for a quick paycheck.  You won't find any nasty, sugary, pre-made mixers in the Violet household, no ma'am.  I treat my drink like I treat my food, as a respectable art and I also don't drink to "get wasted".  Sure, I love a good buzz to help me forget about how much I hate most people, but first and foremost I love to taste something artisanal and fresh.  Something that is lovingly prepared by someone who cares about what they do. I've really gotten into mixology lately and K and I have been on quite a vintage cocktail kick.  So anyways, when it came time to do a cocktail for The Bahamas dinner I decided to make a Bahama Rum Punch instead of the nicely named Bahama Mama.  After a few cocktails everything was nice and I could faintly hear that naked guy fifteen blocks away blasting his steel drum music and ya know what?  I don't miss it one bit.

Bahama Rum Punch

(makes 1 drink)
2 ounce light rum
1/2 ounce campari orange
1/2 oz coconut water
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice

Fill a mixing glass with ice.  Pour the ingredients in.  Stir with a bar spoon until blended.  Serve in old fashioned glass with a lime wedge garnish.  If you want to make more just multiply the ingredients and serve in a festive punch bowl.

For more info on this project, read this: 203 Sovereign States

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