Monday, January 15, 2007

Tilapia Migas - Indian Austrian Mexican Style

Once every two weeks, I make a point to use up all the vegetables left over in the refrigerator. I usually start guilt tripping about the 10 day mark, and develop a fine fear of looking to see how far the left-over vegetables have gone.

Work always gets in the way of an overly ambitious cooking schedule. I invite vegetable cutting boy to come by. He pulls everything out, half filled bags of chard, mustard leaves, bok choy, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, onions, spring onions, shallots, garlic, small red potatoes - he says it's not bad at all, there's nothing to throw away but you have to cook these now.

So he weans, preens, lops, chops, slices and dices; soon a rainbow of vegetables look up expectantly. The first thing I do is open a can of Mexican salsa verdes in vinegar toss a good bit over each of the vegetables, over the fish marinade. But, not the potatoes: the potatoes will be cooked "dry" in Indian spices and onions.

Then I select the spices - a range of masala ingredients - and a container of nutritional yeast. That's the Austrian part you see.

Nutritional yeast is not quite brewer's yeast, but it supplies B-12. The corporate yeast monopoli-nistas like to enroll vegans that only their version has their holy grail B-12.

While we're on this subject, what did vegetarians do before the advent of "Korporatische"? Vitamin B-12 must be supplemented by those on strictly vegetarian diets, as well as other amino acids, which raises all kinds of interesting Darwin-esque questions about people inside their veggie-only box...

"Nutritional yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a food yeast, grown on a molasses solution, and comes in powder or flake form. It has a pleasant-tasting, cheesy flavor and can be used directly on vegetables, baked potatoes, popcorn and other foods as a condiment. It is different from brewer's yeast or torula yeast. It can often be used by those sensitive to other yeasts. Yeasts are not animals! Yeasts are part of the group fungii. They were originally considered to be plants even though they do not produce chlorophyll, now they have their own kingdom. "

"Natural nutritional yeast has been recognized as an excellent source of essential nutritional elements. One heaping tablespoon provides more protein, with all the essential amino acids, than most common foods. nutritional yeast provides all the B-vitamins, including choline and inositol, RNA and DNA, and all the important mineral and trace elements natural to yeast. Nutritional yeast tastes good because it is a primary yeast grown specifically as a food supplement."

I had a feeling that the yeast business got serious in Germany, France and Austria - them thar places that were the Western birthplaces of BEER und VIN. Und indeed, we find zat is zo! The Lesaffre Yeast Corporation is "leading the world in yeast research and technology" and at their fine site we read about their GREAT STEP FORWARD.

"In 1871 the Austrian Baron Max von Springer, owner of an excellent distillery at Maisons-Alfort, introduced from Vienna the idea of extracting yeast from the grain fermentation wort and selling it to bakers. Up until that time, the bakers had used their own sourdough, sometimes accompanied by residual brewery yeast. The following year, Lesaffre and Bonduele developed the process of manufacturing fresh yeast at Marcq-en-Baroeul, with the operation being housed in a former mill. The Societe Industrielle Lesaffre grew from this site. This company gradually emerged as the driving force and the platform for the industrial and commercial expansion of the yeast branch of the Group."

Well, there you go. Out of the grain wort sprang yeasty Austrians... and a century plus later:

"In February, 2001, Lesaffre Yeast Corporation further expanded its presence in the US yeast industry with the purchase of Red Star Yeast from Sensient Technologies Corporation. The Red Star family featured a consumer yeast brand as well as commercial products for the wholesale, bakery, foodservice and nutritional yeast industry. This merger continued to increase SAF’s leadership position in the U.S. yeast industry and gave the resulting company a strong national network of plants delivering quality yeast products to bakery, food, agriculture and nutriceutical markets.

Well that explains a comment at a veggie site: " might conclude that Red Star T-6635+ nutritional yeast, and probably no other variety, is a reliable dietary source of B12 at this time."

Oh puh-leeeeeze. Corporate jingle jangle. Merdekopf-ische. That's French-Austrian for "shit for brains". More on "neutriceutical" monopolies later, but I have to dig up Linda Ronstadt's "Lets get physical" for that one.

Back to the fish and veggies. A multiplicity of veggies works well with blander tasting fish, so I always make sure I have Tilapia (and real Tortillas) on hand and I set out four pans for a fish and veggie dinner that always garners a vow never to cook anything else again.

  • Fish
  • Potatoes
  • Green and Leafy only
  • Celery/Mushroom/Peppers - everyone else
These should be thinly sliced. In a saucepan with olive and sesame oil, add the onions, and cook until soft, then add "masala" components: cumin, tumeric, coriander, fenugreek, salt, red pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder and bring it to the point the spices begin to turn in the pot, stirring. Now add the sliced raw potatoes, and cover. Let the potatoes get really brown on one side, then turn, and cover again. Keep doing this until the spuds are done. Keep the heat to medium low, more low.

Remove, set aside and cover.

Green and leafy vegetables
In a wok style pot, place some olive oil then add the chard and other green and leafy cut small. It will look fairly mountainous and will cook down to only a few handfuls. Sprinkle soy and your leafy green spices over the mountain - tumeric, cumin, chili pepper together with a good dose of nutritional yeast. Note, I did not cook these spices in the oil. This is considered a crime in some Indian cooking circles, and I laugh defiantly at them.

Cut the tilapia into stew sized pieces, put lemon juice over, and marinate in a bit of rice wine vinegar and soy. In a pan heat some sesame seed oil with a bit of olive and very slowly fry a finely diced mix of the onions: spring and shallots etc. When half way to translucent, add cumin, coriander, ginger powder, red pepper powder and garlic powder. When cooked to where the onions are ready, add tilapia with marinade. Sprinkle some dried tarragon over this.

Cook about 5-6 minutes stirring gently once or twice. Remove from pan, put aside.

Celery Mushrooms Peppers etc.
Olive oil now, heat and add celery, mushrooms, peppers and anything else that doesn't fall into the other categories. Add soy, sprinkle the "hard vegetable" curry spice mix over, and stir. Now add a heavy sprinkle of nutritional (brewer's) yeast, two turns of the pot.

On low heat, cover and let cook til done. Use your judgment, you're in control.

Tortillas (optional)
In one of the pans I place a bit of oil, and place whole tortillas and cook til crisp, placing on a paper towel to absorb the oil. I do this for as many people as are sitting for dinner, or else for a simpler meal, I serve the fish over spuds, and the veggies around that.

Otherwise, I place the tortilla in a place, the fish in the middle, and the spuds and veggies in a circle around the fish. The tortilla is eaten when it has soaked up the amazing juices, and are easy to cut. You will have happy tummies set aglow with the exotic spices and the fish is delish.

Disclaimer: No vegans were harmed in the preparation or consumation of this dish.


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