Chikoo is a wonderful fruit. You can scoop out the sweet and slightly grainy flesh with a spoon, whisk it into a puree to mix with rum, and, after you are done, as I discovered, use its peel to cook with. If you don’t know what a chikoo is, look for sapota. The problem I was trying to solve was what to do with chunks of basa. This fish has taken over the cheaper end of the market since it can be easily farmed at high density, and being scaleless, can be rapidly bagged. I find that the lean meat is a little tasteless. In this second lockdown I’m back to having trouble getting interesting deep sea fish, so we land up with basa every now and then, and I have to make it interesting.
“How many r’s in intolerable?” the Egg asked. “Two”, said the Crumpet. “Why?”P.G.Wodehouse (Eggs Beans and Crumpets)
A quick cook is what I promised myself. The fish came cut into small slabs, so I cut into half the usual cooking time of two minutes to the first side, and one for the other. I’ve always seasoned oil with a bay leaf and jeera, and even now that I use only a teaspoon of oil in the pan, I continue with both. After quick frying the fish, I turned down the heat, doused the thing in a 1:2 mixture of dark and light soya sauce, dropped in a de-seeded green chili sliced lengthwise, and added chikoo peels. I brought the liquid to a boil quickly, reduced the heat, added a dash of water, covered it and let it simmer for five minutes. I took the pan off the heat, threw away the peels, chucked in some chopped spring onions as garnish, and covered the pan again and set it aside for serving. I like the spring onions to wilt before they reach the plate.
“Well”, said Oofy, beaming, “this will certainly be something to tell my grandchildren. I mean, that I once lunched with a member of the Drones Club and didn’t get stuck with the bill.”P.G.Wodehouse (Eggs Beans and Crumpets)
The other thing I made for a east-Asian flavoured Indian meal was tofu with beans. I’d cooked a slab of tofu earlier and kept it for a couple of days in the fridge, soaking in dark soya sauce with a de-seeded green chili, hoping to use it on a day when I needed to bulk out something. I took it out when I found that we had a small quantity of fresh green beans. I stir fried the beans to keep their crunch and freshness, and served them with the tofu.
It was a twice- or even more than that- told tale, but the Bean embarked upon it without hesitation. “That ass Bingo Little. Called upon me at my residence the day before yesterday with a ravening Pekinese …”P.G.Wodehouse (Eggs Beans and Crumpets)
It’s nice to be able to take ingredients from across Asia and Central America and bring them together.