Monday, February 06, 2006

A Simple Portuguese Supper


Click image for larger view.

On the Menu:
• Favas
• Grilled Sardines!
• Green Beans with Garlic & Pine Nuts

THE SHOPPING EXCURSION
I have the good fortune to live near a number of great places in Inman Square that carry quality Portuguese ingredients. The other day I set out to my favorite Inman Square spots to do some shopping for supper.

First stop was my favorite fish market, New Deal, which is run by a father and his son. The father goes out every day in search of the freshest fish and his son runs the store and provides excellent personal assistance and advice on all things aquatic. What I love about this place is that they are picky about their fish. You'll only see a handful of lobsters on ice (if any) in the window. They don't believe in stockpiling them in a big tank. Although they have a nice selection, you won't find every selection of fish each time you go in there either. You may find some beautiful salmon and swordfish one day and some fantastic crabs and little necks the next. Rest assured that whatever they do have on hand is going to be the best and you'll leave happy with whatever you buy. I have a friend who makes sushi at home and New Deal is the only fish market in the Boston area she trusts.

My objective was to get some nice sea bass for dinner. While they did not have sea bass, the proprietor pointed to the case where he had 3 or 4 different types of cod, one of which he said tasted something like sea bass. It was called Ocean Cusk. Sounded good to me. Sold. Next, I spotted what looked to me to be THE freshest looking sardines I had ever seen. Their eyes were bright and scales shiny, everything they always tell you to look for when choosing fresh fish. While I had no original intention of buying sardines, I just had to try some. I had never cooked them before and always wanted to try. So I ordered 6 of them. Not only did the proprietor clean them for me, but he also told me how to cook them (flour, salt and pepper, pan fry) although I ultimately decided to grill them instead. I thought I was done shopping when I saw that they carry my favorite Portuguese Olive Oil, Saloio, which is excellent and far less expensive than the Italian olive oils. He also introduced me to Ouro D'Oliva which is an extra virgin olive oil that he says all his customers rave about. Okay, throw one of those in the bag too. You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much olive oil in the house. I was about to cash out (really this time) when I remembered how amazing the salt cod was that I bought here on another occasion to make bacalua (Portuguese salt cod dish - recipe coming later this week). Since I don't get to the fish market as often as I'd like, I bought some salt cod as well. Okay, I'm done. Time to move on.

Next stop was the spice store adjacent to Christina's Ice Cream. Why is a spice store adjacent to an ice cream store you might ask? Well, actually it makes a lot of sense. Christina's buys a lot of spices to make their ice cream at wholesale prices. They make adventurous flavors like Mexican chocolatlavenderdar, adzuki bean - just to name a few. Anyway, they owned the adjoining space and they were already buying all these spices, so they figured why not open the space to the public and sell the spices. Not only do they have every spice known to man (organized alphabetically and beautifully presented in dark wood display cases), but they also have dried beans, mushrooms and peppers; teas; chocolate; oils (sesame, grapeseed, olive, etc.); and other specialty food products. They even have ginger-infused salt. Don't ask me what you'd do with it but it smelled amazing! It's a cook's dream. I never have to worry about hunting down that hard-to-find spice. Chances are, they will have it. As you might expect, I ended up with more than the peppercorns I went in for. I left with dried fava beans, vanilla beans, grapeseed oil (hard to find) and sesame oil.

As a side note, Christina's ice cream is, as you might expect, phenomenal. In my opinion, one of the best in the Boston area (Toscanini is my other favorite). I'll do a separate ice cream review at a later date. Don't want to shortchange the experience.

THE RECIPES

Favas
My Mom's recipe. She doesn't really write anything down so this is an approximation of measurements. It's not a fussy recipe. You can play around with it and not ruin it. Favas are a Portuguese tradition and often served at Fiestas in the summer which is kind of a strange food to walk around with but who's complaining.

2 cans of fava beans (approximately 3 cups). You may also use dried fava beans but you must soak them overnight and pre-cook them for at least one hour in boiling water before adding them to the dish.
3/4 lb. of linguica (Portuguese sausage)
2 large onions or 3 small onions, sliced
1 can tomato sauce
Tsp dried basil
Tsp dried thyme
Crushed red pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

How to:
1. Heat a large cast iron pan or dutch oven over medium-low heat
2. Coat bottom of pan generously with olive oil and add the onions
3. Simmer the onions until soft (about 10 minutes)
4. Add the thyme, basil, crushed red pepper, beans and tomato sauce and simmer for 40 minutes.

Serve with a nice loaf of bread for dipping!


Grilled Sardines!
Don't knock 'em 'til you try 'em. De-lish!!
Recipe from "The Food of Portugal" by Jean Anderson (I bought my copy from ebay. Also available on Amazon.)

Ingredients:
6 - 12 sardines (as an appetizer, I'd serve 3 per person)
1 cup kosher or coarse salt
Olive Oil

How to:
1. Turn on the broiler.
2. If possible, ask the Fish Monger to clean the sardines for you. If not, scale the fish with the back of a knife (don't use the sharper side because you might cut into the fish). You can leave the head on or cut it off depending on your level of tolerance for looking at the fish head (personally, doesn't bother me).
3. Place the sardines in a glass dish side by side and cover them with the kosher salt. Place in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 hours.
4. Rinse the sardines, dry them with a paper towel.
5. Rub the sardines all over with olive oil, place on a broiler pan and pop in the broiler for ONLY about 3 minutes each side, until the fish almost flake at the touch of a fork. Serve immediately.

NOTE: There are bones in sardines but thankfully you can pretty much get them out all at once. Just take your knife and flip up the skin on one side, take out the bone and go about your business. Also, if you do eat a bone, not to worry. They are tiny and won't hurt you a bit. So tasty and a great way to get those oh-so-important Omega 3 fatty acids.


Green Beans with Garlic & Pine Nuts
I just winged this one. Look Ma. No recipe!

Ingredients:
About 1 lb. or package of fresh Green Beans
3 or more cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pine nuts
Olive oil

How to:
1. Heat a cast iron or frying pan over medium heat.
2. Coat pan generously with olive oil
3. Sauté the garlic (don't let it burn, keep stirring it)
4. Sauté the green beans with the water to desired tenderness (I like it to have a little bite. I cooked it for about 5 minutes)
5. Add pine nuts a couple of minutes before you are going to take the beans off the stove.


If you're wondering what I did with the Ocean Cusk cod I spoke about earlier, I saved it for another meal. It was so fresh and delicious, all I did was squeeze some lemon on it, sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper on it, and bake it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes along with some asparagus that I coated with olive oil and salt and roasted for about 30 minutes. Simple and sublime.


New Deal Fish Market
722 Cambridge Street (between Inman Square and the Cambridgeside Galleria), Cambridge, 617-876-8227

Christina's Ice Cream (and Spice Store)
1255 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-492-7021

6 Comments:

Blogger J Billson said...

Aloha,

I was just browsing through the blogs and came across yours. Looks like a bunch of great recipes. I'm portuguese myself, and have never tried grilled sardines. Here in Hawaii, we mix them with tomatoes, onions (sweet Maui onions, if you can afford them), an soy sauce. No need for cooking the mix, just eat like a salad.

My grandmother still cooks us Portuguese bean soup, vinha dalhos (beef), and sweet bread. We usually get our malasadas from Catholic church bazaars. That's about the extent of Portuguese cuisine that I'm familiar with.

Anyway, great blog. I might try out these recipes..

Mahalo!!

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Jerilyn said...

From one portugue to another, love those recipes. I'm not too keen on the sardines but I'm digging the Favas. My Mom makes her own too. I so know what you mean about no measuring because my Mom does the same thing. Now that I'm used to it it's not so frustrating for me when I do it. Happy Eating. Talog. Jerilyn Skolis

6:04 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

hi jerilyn! you are so funny. if you have any good ole portugue recipes you want to send my way, please do. thanks for checking out my blog! i'm having a lot of fun with it!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

Aloha, James.
Wow. You are my first visitor from a non-contiguous state. LOL. You know it's funny. I just bought a cookbook (see my blog entry about "community cookbooks") that features all recipes from hawaii and i was amazed how many portuguese recipes there were in the book. i did not know there was a large portuguese population in hawaii. very cool. any recipes you want to send my way, please do. and thanks so much for stopping by!

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these great recipes, I am from Portugal and came here when I was 7 , 30 years ago.My mom still cooks portuguese food, but I have not been able to keep up the tradition of cooking like her!! I love all portuguese food.THANKS KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to have a recipe for vinha dalhos if anyone has one.

Thank you, Donna
dlp007@comcast.net

11:48 PM  

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