Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In France courtbouillon means something else. Forget Paris. In Louisiana, courtbouillon is fish poached in a roux-thickened tomato sauce. I think it's usually made with whole fish - catfish particularly - but fish counters up here don't give you near as many options. I went with tilapia fillets, because they looked fresh.

The prep:

Courtbouillon prep

Onion, carrot, celery, red bell pepper. You make a roux (flour and oil, heated until muddy brown), you add the vegetables and let them cook briefly, and then add - in my case - smoked shrimp stock (use any seafood stock, any other stock, or water) and a can of pureed tomatoes. Season - cayenne pepper, paprika, celery seed, bay leaves, white pepper, green peppercorns, thyme, salt. Simmer until thick.

Poach fillets for about ten minutes, serve over rice with green onion.

Tilapia courtbouillon

And the dark brown object at about five o'clock? That's a curd chile. It's Indian, but I'm hooked on it: it starts as a fresh chile pepper that's soaked in yogurt (curd) and salt all night, dried in the sun all day, lather rinse repeat, until you have a salty cured chile. Drop it in the deep fryer for a few seconds - I'm sure you could pan fry it or put it in a hot oven briefly - and it becomes a crispy salty thing that you crumble with your fork and mix into the food to add salt and heat and the slightest bit of tanginess.

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