Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tilapia, Ancho Chile and Roasted Maize Crème Soup





     A Mild Tasting Southwestern Style Fish Soup!    
     Dried Chile Ancho is a very mild and flavorful pepper.  Chile Ancho taste like rich raisons mixed with a classic deep dried chile pepper flavor.  Like many pepper, Chile Ancho has a different name when it is fresh.  Chile Ancho is a dried ripe Chile Poblano.
     Many chefs assume that all dried chile peppers have to be toasted in a dry pan before adding them to a Southwestern style recipe.  This is not really true and it is a good way to burn high quality dried peppers.  I rarely dry roast any dried chile pepper pods, because the flavors simply are carried off in the air, instead of remaining in the pot.  A good high quality chile pepper pod rarely needs to be dry roasted to bring out the full flavor.    
     Tilapia is in the Snapper family of fish.  Tilapia are usually farm raised, but this does not always mean that Tilapia are sustainable.  Tilapia feed on small baitfish and this contributes to wild baitfish depletion in in fisheries that are not heavily regulated.  Baitfish depletion affects other fish species in the sea.  Tilapia that are farm raised in brackish water tanks basically feed on just about anything from fresh water or salt water, but unregulated fish tanks often are contaminated with murky sediment, which affects the flavor of the Tilapia meat.  Tilapia from regulated fish tank or pond farms are the best choice.  For more information about selecting sustainable Tilapia follow this link:  Seafood Watch.
     For today's recipe, the Tilapia is seared to create more flavor.  Roasted corn kernels add a classic Southwestern touch.  The integral garnish adds a refreshing flavor.  The thin bread slices are dried till they are rusk.  Lime juice saturates the rusk and this garnish should be added when the soup is served, so the lime flavor remains bright.  
   
     Tilapia, Ancho Chile and Roasted Maize Crème Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 1/4 cups.  (2 hearty portions)
     Step 1:  Shuck 1 ear of heirloom corn.
     *Try not to select a GMO Sweet Corn variety!  Heirloom Native American Maize varieties are a much better choice, because they are not bred to be sweet!
     Roast the ear of corn under a broiler or over an open flame, till the tips of the corn kernels are caramelized to a light brown color.
     Let the ear of corn cool.
     Cut the roasted corn kernels off the cob and place them in a container.
     Set the roasted corn kernels aside.
     Step 2:  Simmer 1 large Ancho Chile Pepper in 1 1/2 cups of water over very low heat, till the dried chile pepper is reconstituted.
     Remove the soft ancho chile from the broth.
     Save the pot of ancho chile broth aside.
     Split the pepper open.
     Remove the stem and seeds.
     Mince the chile ancho and return it to the chile pepper broth.
     Set the ancho chile broth aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons each of:
     - small diced carrot
     - small diced celery
     - small diced onion
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 3 cups of shrimp broth.
     Add the reserved minced ancho chile and its broth.
     Add the reserved roasted corn kernels.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir till the roux turns a light blonde color.
     Add a little bit of the roux at a time to the hot soup broth while stirring with a whisk, till all of the roux is incorporated.
     Step 6:  Add 1/4 cup of cream, while stirring.
     Add 1 cup of milk.
     Stir the soup occasionally till it returns to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     *The soup will be a very thin consistency at this point.
     Step 7:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 8 ounces of tilapia filet.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sear the tilapia filet till it is lightly browned on both sides. 
     Remove the tilapia from the hot pan and place it on a cutting board.
     Chop the tilapia filet into small pieces.
     Add the chopped tilapia to the soup.
     Step 8:  Gently simmer and reduce till the soup is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  (The finished volume will be a little more than 4 cups.)
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.
   
     Petite Rusk Garnish:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 bowls of soup.
     Cut 3 thin slices of small baguette bread that are about 3/16" thick.
     Cut the bread slices in half.  (half moon shapes)
     Place the bread slices side by side on a baking pan.
     Place the pan in a 275ºF oven.
     Bake till the bread is completely dried and crisp.  (Do not let the rusk turn brown!)
     Set the petite pieces of rusk aside.
      
     Presentation:
     This recipe yields describes 1 soup portion presentation.
     Step 1:  Ladle 2 cups of the Tilapia, Ancho Chile and Roasted Maize Crème Soup into a large soup bowl.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of thin sliced green onion on the soup.
     Step 2:  Float 3 of the Petite Rusk Garnish slices on the center of the soup, so they point out from center.
     Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice on the rusk slices.  (About 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon.)
     Garnish the floating rusk with a very thin lime slice curl.
       
     This Southwestern style fish soup is perfect for a chilly day! 

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