Tuesday, September 7, 2010

RECIPE - Pirarucu a Casaca (Pirarucu in a Tail-coat)

One of the most popular ways to serve pirarucu all throughout the Amazon basin, pirarucu a casaca is a traditional dish at holidays, celebrations and parties. I'm not sure why it's called "pirarucu in a tail-coat" but perhaps it's so-called because it's often served at important functions.

Pirarucu, the giant Amazonian freshwater fish, has been eaten since long before electrical refrigeration reached the Amazon, and in earlier times it was often salted and dried to preserve it from the heat of the tropics, using techniques similar to those employed to make salt-cod (bacalhau). This dish is made of rehydrated salt-pirarucu combined with fried bananas, manioc flour and sauteed shoestring potatoes. In areas where it is impossible to obtain manioc flour, the dish can successfully be made with out it, and salt-cod can be substituted for salt-pirarucu.
RECIPE - Pirarucu a Casaca (Pirarucu in a Tail-coat)

1 lb (500 gr) dried, salted pirarucu (salt-cod may be substituted)
2 cups (500 ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk
5 ripe bananas, peeled
1 lb (500 gr) boiling potatoes, peeled
1/2 lb (250 gr) fresh or frozen green peas, cooked
4 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup (200 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb (250 gr) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 oz (50 gr) pitted green olives
4 oz (50 gr) pitted black olives
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 cups (500 ml) neutral vegetable oil
1 lb package (500 gr) commercial shoestring potatoes
1/3 lb (200 gr) farinha (manioc flour)
The day before, cut the salt fish into fish-stick-sized pieces. Cover with cold water, and soak for 24 hours in the refrigerator, changing the water at least four times.

Remove the de-salted fish from the water, let dry, then fry in the olive oil until tender and just starting to flake. Remove from heat, let cool. Remove skin if present. Reserve.

Cut the peeled bananas into thick rounds. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan, and when hot but not smoking, deep-fry the banana rounds. Remove from oil, drain on paper towel, then reserve.

Cut the peeled potatoes into 1 inch (2 cm) cubes. Cover with cold water in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and when just tender, remove from heat. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop cooking, then drain and reserve.

In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, then saute the onion and garlic until transparent, but not covered. Add the potatoes, then the chopped tomatoes, plus half of the parsley and green onion. Cook, stirring constantly until the tomatoes soften and the potatoes are heated through.

Combine the manioc flour, a few tablespoons of olive oil, the coconut milk, the hard-boiled eggs and the remaining parsley and green onion. Heat in a large saucepan until the flour absorbs all the liquid and is heated through.

Cover a large platter with the manioc flour mixture. Place the fish decoratively on top, the add banana slices and the the sauteed potatoes. Cover all with sprinkled shoestring potatoes. Serve immediately.

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