By Paul Suplée,
MBA, CEC, PC-3
I know I said I was done with teaching, but the university made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
And just like my last job, the fall semester means I can teach our way through the foods of this great country of ours.
We start in New England, where we discover the fruits of the cold: lobster, clams, cod, squash, pumpkin et al.
As we move down the coast and specifically into East Coast Cuisine and Southern Cuisine (two of my absolute favorites), the buffets become noticeably more beige in theme.
Frying already brown foods makes for a fairly dull look on the plate, but that can quickly be enhanced by adding vine-ripened tomatoes, sweet corn and other wonderful local produce.
The south is where you see baked greens, usually sweetened and spiced with a bit of vinegar, and pies and more fried foods.
Throw in some country ham for an addition to the week’s salt supply and you’ve got a winner. In fact, every time I eat greens from Georgia to Florida, I relish the fact that they’re well done, or overdone so to speak.
And then we have Florida cuisine, a fusion of Latin, Caribbean and continental foods.
Seafood is of great importance to Florida because it’s surrounded by ocean on more than one side (it’s true, it can be a “gulf” but you get the gist), and it there is no dish more symbolic of this cuisine than ceviche, that magical dish of raw seafood that is bright, vibrant and delicious.
Since we’ve come to the end of summer, it can serve as a reminder of the scorching days of summer, or perhaps serve as motivation to spend another cold winter on the shore.
People always catch their limit in the bass, which is fantastic in this dish, as is the mahi and tuna that some friends are still catching in Wilmington Canyon. So whether you’re ready to use end of season catches or reminisce about the season that just ended, it will taste amazing.
And now that I’m writing about Florida, I realize that I miss it. I haven’t been there for a month, and it will soon be time.
I’ll be sure to stop at all the local restaurants I can and sample their wares, comparing them to what I did today. It’s a good day. It’s kind of a day in Florida. I can write it as another part of teaching.
For 5 people in pre-meal
1/2 # large shrimp
1/2 # Sea bass or mahi, cut into strips or diced
1 ea. Red pepper, roasted and peeled
1 ea. Yellow bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 ea. Fresh jalapeno or serrano, finely diced
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 bitter orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. sugar
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. Cumin (optional as I disdain cumin)
1/4 tsp. Chopped cilantro
20 ch. Tostones (recipe follows)
Mango Mojo (recipe follows)
- Shell the prawns if necessary by removing the tail.
- Divide the back so that you have equal, flat shrimp halves.
- Combine the cilantro shrimp ingredients and refrigerate for two hours. The acid in the juices will “cook” the protein in the shrimp. If you don’t prefer raw ceviche, pre-cook the shrimp briefly to get some doneness before marinating in acid.
- When the seafood has had enough time to cook in the acid, place it in a bowl and serve with the tostones and mojo. A salsa cruda would also work here too; just be sure to balance the sour flavors of the juices with sweet flavors somewhere in the dish.
3 bed. Ripe plantains
1 tbsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 tsp. Sugar
- Combine dry ingredients and store until needed. This mix also works great on fried yucca root
- Peel and cut the plantains diagonally into ¾ inch pieces
- Mash them between two pans or with a tortilla press until they are about a quarter inch thick.
- Remove and if you want to clean them, cut with a circular cutter to make them more uniform. Otherwise, leave them natural.
- Fry them in hot oil (350F) until brown but not too dark and remove to cool.
- When ready to serve, fry again in oil at 360F until golden and crispy. As soon as you remove them, sprinkle with the cinnamon-salt-sugar mixture.
Makes 2 cups
1 Mango, mashed
Citrus juice, as needed
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 ch. Red onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch stem ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Cilantro, to taste
- Mix the purée and the juice and set aside.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for about six minutes. Cool.
- Mix all the ingredients well and check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary.
- Let stand for at least an hour for the flavors to blend and check the seasoning again, adjusting if necessary.
- Run it through your Vitamix blender to get a nice smooth consistency.
— Paul Suplee is the owner of boxcar40,
boxcar on main events, made by boxcar
and sport fish catering.