There's a condition known as the late winter doldrums. It usually comes about after months of blah weather and the cure is a trip to an exotic locale.(maybe not so much so if you live in the currently tropical NYC area) This can be expensive but there is a more inexpensive way of dong this. Cooking meals from faraway places. It's easy and fun, a great way of livening up everyday cooking.
This was evident in both Melissa Clark and Martha Rose Shulman's columns in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Ms. Clark's A Good Appetite takes home chefs to Dakar, Senegal. She offers up black eyed pea fritters and Vietnamese inspired pickled carrots. The recipes come from the great Senegalese chef.Pierre Thiam, author of "Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes From the source To The Bowl." One of his signature dishes is accara, black eyed pea fritters. that are a popular street snack back home.It's similar to falafal in taste and flavor , usually served in a baguette. It's spiced up with a fiery sauce containing the six alarm Scotch Bonnet pepper.After rubbing off the skins, its a quick pulse in the food processor.Baking soda along with onions and a pinch of red pepper is added before it's rolled into balls and fried. He serves it with Vietnamese pickled carrots,a nod to his Vietnamese godfather,This again requires Scotch Bonnet peppers along with onion , serrano peppers and Vietnamese fish sauce. It's a spicy accompaniment that would be good for barbecues as well.
Martha Rose Shulman gives us a taste of the healthy exotic in her Recipes For Health column. Her trademark is delicious and good for you. Her recipe this week was taken from Lukas Volger , a well known vegetarian chef.His latest book "Bowl: Vegetarian Recipes for Ramen Pho, Bibambap, Dumpling and Other One Dish Meals"gives us recipes for veggie filled dumplings and ramen soups. The recipe Ms. Shulman gives readers is for bibambap a Korean mixed rice,Iis a layered meal that usually with beef however Chef Volger adds roasted vegetables to his. A good dose of butternut squash along with broccoli rabe and shiitake mushrooms are added as one of the layers. It is spiced up with gochuchang, the Korean fermented chile paste along or sambel oelek,a ground chili and seafood paste, depending upon your taste. Molasses and soy sauce are also mixed in to temper either sauces' fieriness. The garnish provides the protein as well as more tradition. Usually a raw or sunnyside up egg is added for the topping along with pickles. These can be home made as well using Kirby cucumber,in a rice wine brine.
Liven up those late winter culinary blahs witch exotic meals from faraway places. Try a Senegal accara or a healthy bimbambap .It's a fun trip for the palate.