Katie, of Thyme for Cooking, has again this year offered a fun, international exercise: the worldwide Season’s Eatings foodie gift exchange. The idea is that you send a “local herb, spice or other food” that is unique to, or characteristic of, where you live, along with a recipe, to a randomly-chosen Season’s Eatings participant.
In exchange, you get the same from a randomly-chosen person, and you cook and blog about it.
This year, I shipped off ingredients – of possible interest to certain foreign Customs inspection dogs ‑ in the hope that a recipe from my area might be well-received by the recipient.
At the same time, I received a fantastic gift, a recipe, and a charming letter from lapoussine35 of Daydreaming Japan.
I used to live in Japan so I was pleased to receive a note from another Japanophile.
My gift was Fleur de Sel Guérande au piment d‘Espelette – sea salt mixed with Espelette pepper – and is quite special. The pepper is an Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (AOC) from the area around the town of Espelette in southwestern France.
It has been called the caviar of sea salt.
The piment d’Espelette is red when mature, and relatively small and mild. Heat-wise, it is usually compared to paprika, another flavorful European pepper product. Piments d’Espelette also have a dark, slightly smoky flavor which can be intensified with roasting or pan-searing, and a robust peppery flavor which can be useful in a wide variety of dishes. These peppers are traditionally used to rub Bayonne ham, a famous export of the region, and they also appear in many other Basque dishes. -Dummypedia for Dans
That AOC designation ensures that controls have been put in place to guarantee that the pepper is from that region and that it represents the locale’s terroir. I’m given to understand that all Espelette peppers should come from similar soil and weather conditions, and generally be of the same unique quality.
Lapoussine35 provided both sweet and savory recipes, and I chose the savory one: Sole Fillets with Tomato Chutney.
Because I live in the third-largest desert in the Western Hemisphere, I was unable to find sole, despite nearly forty days of wandering.
And after being introduced to the word goujonette, I decided to wander about a few more days discovering what the heck that is (it matters in a few minutes when you start making this recipe). I even sat by a cactus and wrote a poem:
Quel Est Un Goujonette?
What the heck is a goujonette?
Is it the size of a hair barrette?
Or is it bigger, like a chicken tender?
Or a slab of belly, before you render?
If you cut one, how do you do?
Will a knife suffice, or a cleaver too?
If you cut it wrong, will Pepin complain?
Will the Basques who see it rain on your plain?
I don’t know what a goujonette does,
And Wikipedia has no buzz.
So I’ll Google Image it and see what I get:
A proper cut, or a hair barrette!
Having figured out how to cut a goujonette, and being lonely and sole-less, I opted for another white-fish: flounder. I can’t imagine that whilst Mr. F was lying somewhere on a North Atlantic seabed, he ever imagined he would end up artificially-chilled in a refrigerator, in a Territorial-style house, in the suburbs, in a desert, in the American Southwest.
But he did. And so the recipe was before me along with the fish, and the Season’s Eating’s deadline was over me like a desert thunderstorm about to break.
So. At risk of prematurely exposing a brand-new baby web page that needs the bottle/growing/training, I present lapoussine35′s recipe.
This is an easy and excellent recipe and, after making it, the dish barely survived the kitchen counter, much less swimming its happy way along to the dinner table. Thanks, lapoussine35, and Happy New Year to you, your family, and to all Season’s Eatings
2 sole or flounder (or 4 fillets)
10cl olive oil
Fleur de sel Guerande au piment d’Espelette to taste
1L peanut oil
(If required) Remove the skin from the fish by tearing gently.
Cut the fillets diagonally to make small goujonettes.
Whisk the eggs with olive oil. Set aside in a bowl.
Place the flour on a plate.
Place the breadcrumbs on another plate.
Season the goujonettes with fleur de sel.
Dust goujonettes with flour.
Then move them into the egg/olive oil mixture to coat.
Then coat them with breadcrumbs.
Fry the goujonettes in peanut oil until they are golden brown and present a crisp appearance. (For me, this was about 3 minutes.)
15 cherry tomatoes
2 onions (I used one onion because I live in Texas and everything is bigger here)
5cl olive oil
15cl balsamic vinegar
Pinch fleur de sel Guerande au piment d’Espelette
Cut washed cherry tomatoes into quarters.
Sweat onions in olive oil.
Add tomatoes and heat over high heat for four minutes.
Add balsamic vinegar, sugar and pinch of sel. Stir.
Simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally. The chutney is ready when it has the consistency of applesauce and there is almost no liquid.
Add butter; mix, and chill.
Serve fish hot with chutney chilled.