Comoros

Steve’s house

2 October 2015

Comoros is a little archipelago off the northern coast of Madagascar, and until 1975 was a French colony, which boded well for its cuisine.

IMG_58092Steve’s starter was a miniature version of Langouste à la vanille, the national dish of Comoros. Not that you’d know that if you were to read the “Vanilla and shellfish” entry in Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus, where she credits Alain Senderens, the French pioneer of nouvelle cuisine, with its invention. The poor Comorians, who have been eating this stuff for centuries, have been royally shafted by this arriviste, nay, impérialiste. Although in his defence, his dish is Homard à la vanille, whereas the Comoros version is Langouste à la vanille, the humble langouste being, as you know, not the true large-clawed lobster, but the spiny rock lobster immortalised by the B52s. Please do not waste my time by talking about the langoustine at this point, because I am not interested and indeed may give you the back of my head. The langoustine, or should I say Norwegian lobster, is neither a true lobster nor a rock lobster, and if you insist on putting that in vanilla butter then that’s your affair.

Anyway, Joe declares it “delicious” and Sophie and Steve declare it “all right”. Pairing it with spinach gave it an unexpected sweetness and depth. Steve had hoped that fish and vanilla was going to prove a revelation, but it wasn’t really that revelatory.

IMG_5825For the main course, Sophie prepared Island Rice (Riz des Iles). Joe slams it: an underwhelming kedgeree, he claims, providing sustenance but not deliciousnance. Sophie and Steve declare it “all right”. It was a bit strange to combine rice with mashed potato. Seemed a bit unnecessary.

And for dessert, Joe’s recipe for Karara is outlandish, even compared to a Celtnet recipe, calling for a full 5kg of flour. He divides all the quantities by 10 and hopes for the best. The result is like a super-sweet fritter or blini, not unpleasant by any means, but we can only manage a couple before it’s too much already.

IMG_5829

Scores

Food: 2.5/5

Recipes

Langoustes au beurre vanillé (v.o.)

– 3 langoustes (ou lotte de mer), d’environ 150 g
– 15 cl de vin blanc sec
– 5 cl de vinaigre de vin blanc
– 100 g de beurre
– 1 cuillères à soupe d’huile
– 1 gousses de vanille
– 1 citrons vert
– sel et poivre
– (épinards)

Versez le vin blanc et le vinaigre dans une casserole. Laissez-les réduire, sur feu moyen, pour obtenir 2 cuillères à soupe de liquide. Réservez.

Aplatissez les gousses de vanille. Fendez-les en deux dans la longueur, puis grattez la pulpe avec le couteau. Posez-la sur une petite assiette. Coupez le beurre en cubes.

Coupez les langoustes en deux dans la longueur. Préchauffez le four à 270°C (thermostat 9).

Faites chauffer l’huile dans un grand plat à rôtir. Disposez les moitiés de langouste côté chair vers le fond. Enfournez-les pendant 5-6 min. en les retournant à mi-cuisson, puis salez et poivrez-les, laissez-les se détendre à l’entrée du four éteint.

Faites réchauffer sur feu doux la réduction de vin. Incorporez-lui, en fouettant vivement les cubes de beurre. Salez, poivrez, ajoutez la pulpe de vanille et donnez un dernier coup de fouet.

Au moment de servir, dressez les demi-langoustes sur des assiettes chaudes, carapaces en dessous. Nappez-les d’un peu de beurre blanc. Servez le reste en saucière. Décorez de demi-rondelles de citron vert. (Et servez avec la tombée épinards.)

Riz des Iles (Island rice)

500 g white rice, cooked
100 g fresh fish
100 g chopped shallots
50 g chopped coriander
Kernels from 1 cob of corn
100 g mashed potatoes
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp curry powder
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 tsp coffee powder
Salt to taste

Cut the fish in steaks then fry in oil until coloured. Add the garlic, mashed potatoes and shallots and fry for 5 minutes before adding the spices and 300ml water. Mix with a spoon to form a stew and continue simmering gently. Add the cooked rice and sweetcorn and stir vigorously for 2 minutes. Add the coriander and stir in then allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Karara

You might want to divide these quantities by 10.

500g of flour
2/3 can coconut milk
220g of sugar
1 tsp baking soda
water
salt
oil

Sift flour into a bowl. Add some salt and baking soda. Pour the coconut milk into the bowl and mix it with the flour. Work the dough well. Allow it to sit in a plastic bag for 5 minutes.
Roll some dough into a ball, flatten slightly and place it on a pastry board.  Roll out the dough. Pinch the dough into pleats with your fingertips. Sprinkle with flour.
Fry the cakes in hot oil for 6 or 7 minutes, then remove and put them in a bowl.
Put sugar and water in a pot and reduce to a syrup. Cover the cakes in syrup and serve.

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