Sunday, October 09, 2005

I was lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the Monterey/Pacific Grove/Carmel areas for a short period of time. It has to be one of the best places I have lived because of the moderate weather and friendly residents.

Although their is little evidence of Chinese settlement the Chinese were among the first to create settlements in the area but cultural biases and anti-Chinese laws were the demise of these Chinese settlements. A suspicious fire burned down the community and laws prevented rebuilding. The Italians were another culture that settled in the area to create a fishing village.

In 1875 a Christian Seaside Resort was created and this is most likely what caused the greatest growth when families came to the resort and then later decided to come back and build summer cottages. Steinbeck's books used many characters in the Monterey area and his family had a cottage here. This resort development is what created the "blue laws" many of which are still one the books. to create a Christian community.

This area is still a wonderful place to visit for a weekend or more. There are wonderful adobes, Victorian and other historical articialalf sites and some of the most beautiful coastal and forested areas in the world.

Some of the best restaurants in the world also call this area home. My favorite restaurant in this area is the Fishwife. They have a resturant in Pacific Grove area and a cafe type eatery in Seaside.

Below is a recipe from the Fishwife.

Corn Island Tilapia with Tomatillo Avocado Salsa and Sun-dried Cranberry

Serves 4
4 Tilapia Filets
3 tablespoons Corn Island Spices
1 Tablespoon cornmeal
4 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups Avocado salsa (see recipe below)
1 1/2 Sun-dried cranberry salsa
16 crisp-fried tortilla strips, for garnish
4 sprigs cilantro, garnish


1. Split each of the tilapia filets in half down the medial strip. There will be one large and one small piece. Butterfly the larger piece; you will now have three pieces per portion.
2. Place the Corn Island Spices and the corn meal in a bowl. Mix together well.
3. Spread the spice mixture on a plate
4. Dredge each filet piece in the spice mixture, coating top and bottom well.
5Using two 10 inch sauté pans heat 2 tablespoons oil each on high heat (or use a flat grill)
6. Add the fish to the pans, making sure that the filets are not overlapping. Cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan.

To Serve:
Place three dollops of Tomatillo Avocado salsa on each individual plate. Place a small filet on top of each dollop. Top each filets with a tablespoon of Tomatillo Avocado Salsa, then top each filet with a tablespoons of Sun-dried Cranberry salsa. Garnish with 4 crisp-fried tortilla strips and a sprig of cilantro. Serve with rice.

Corn Island Spices

Makes about 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Using a fork, combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Store in a tightly sealed jar.

Sun-dried Cranberry Salsa

Make about 3 cups

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
3/4 cups diced jicama
1/4 cups dice dried pepper
1/4 cup dice red onion
1/4 habanero chile or 1/2 fresh jalapeno chile, minced
4 Tablespoons sun-dried cranberries
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoons slat

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-size non-reactive bowl. Let the salsa stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to marry before serving. Serve at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate any remaining salsa.
Note: This salsa is a tasty accompaniment to chicken, duck, turkey, pork.

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

1 pound tomatillos, husked, washed and quartered
3 tablespoons minced onion
1/3 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons cilantro
1 Serrano Chile, minced
2 teaspoons slat
2 large ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
1 cup cold water

Place the quarted tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro and slat into a blender or food processor. Blend well for 2 minutes. Add the avocados, blend for 30 seconds more. Add the water and blend until salsa has a smooth, sauce; like consistency (about 30 seconds)
Keep refrigrated in an air tight non-reactive container. Serve chilled.

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