Chili of the Sea
Every time Greg goes out of town, I get big ideas about making good on my threat to paint the office a bright shade of snow pea or subject my temporarily single self to that crazy Master Cleanse fast where the only thing you get to “eat” is lemon water flavored with cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup. Just imagine the expression on his face when he traipses in from LA or London or wherever to find me bouncing quarters off my abs and the Mac drizzled a nice spring-y green. I must be getting old because this trip, I couldn’t even get it together to apply the purple Manic Panic I purchased on a whim the day after I left. (The sales boy offered to teach me how to bleach out the brunette before laying down my grape streaks, but it wasn’t necessary as nature has already taken care of that step.) A lot of stuff piled up on the table, but not much of it was edible.
I just couldn't get it up to cook anything more involved than mac and cheese on plastic plates, though I did manage to delay the children’s dinner & alarm the neighbors for a good half an hour by balancing on the arms of my beloved 40th birthday chair, photographing a few items I couldn’t resist picking up en route to the Vegetarian Dim Sum House. I'm a slave to art!
And, you'll notice, a green papaya salad, which only set me back five bucks at the Bangkok Grocery. It came packed with peanuts, salt, and a little rubberbanded baggie of chili oil that made me totally homesick for Thailand, until I unwisely upended it over the whole kaboodle, forgetting my gringo origins. To quote Bumblebee Man, "Ay! No me gusto!" Well, actually, I did kind of gusto it, but I'm not sure it was worth the bleeding ulcer it tore into my stomach lining.
Hey, would you just look at the size of that wooden spoon! Milo tried to confiscate it for some yet-to-be-disclosed evil, but I was like, “Take a number, bud.” I got it at this truly amazing restaurant supply I blundered into on Bowery – they had rat traps stored next to mah jong sets and these enormous cast iron woks more equal to the task of stir-frying your average three-year-old... It's called Hung Chong Imports, 14 Bowery. You can even get you one of them waffle iron thingamajigs that makes those mini egg-cakes at once, though why bother when there's a guy selling them 20 for a dollar just up the block?
Well, anyhoo, he's back in town, just in time for me to split for North Carolina, but we did manage to squeeze in some seafood chili. I know, it sounds industrial strength grody, but you don't eat it with your ears, so simmer down. It makes me yearn to be sitting under a palapa out Mexico way and if I could say something in Thai here, I probably would.
Chili of the Sea
Heat 1/8 cup of olive oil the big stockpot that is the sole piece of bridal Calphalon to survive a decade (oh hell, a couple of months) of your cooking with its anodized finish intact.
Add a bay leaf,
2 chopped up poblano peppers (seeds removed),
a small yellow onion, also chopped up,
a tablespoon or so of minced garlic,
1/2 tablespoon of thyme (or whatever that green stuff is that you stuck in an unlabeled babyfood jar last year and eventually started to call Herbes de Provence),
a 1/2 tablespoon of oregano,
1 teaspoon of cumin,
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
and 1/4 cup of chili powder (you heard me)
Wrest your wooden spoon from one of the small elves infesting your apartment, open a window and stir that edible sawdust for a good 3 minutes.
Stir in a couple of soup spoons of tomato paste and cook 3 more minutes.
Add 1 & 1/2 cups of fish stock (which in my book translates to 1 & 1/2 cups of water and a Knorr fish bouillon cube)
the juice of one lime
a cup of canned black beans (rinse the unspeakable slime off first0
a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (if you're feeling gourmet, pay a little extry for the fire roasted kind)
and about ten bucks worth of seafood (This go round, I chopped up a fillet of tilapia, and tossed it in, along with a small container of bay scallops and half a package of frozen salad shrimp.
Get busy with the salt and pepper, then bring the whole shebang to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes over low heat.
Garnish with sour cream, sliced up scallions, a plastic fireman's helmet, whatever says chili to you.
This'll serve 3 adults, all of whom want seconds. If they're still hungry after that, they can start spreading sour cream on whatever they pull from the cabinets, a la Greg.
What's he so happy about?