December 15, 2010

How to make Fish Burritos in 'Uiha

Over the past year, I've learned how to make life easier here by learning how to cook very basic flour items from scratch, like pancakes, breads, muffins, cakes and even crackers.  I've been slowly working up my skills to the point where I have enough skills to be able to create a variety of meals on-demand .  In the beginning, I pretty much stuck to making yeast bread and Navajo fry bread - a recipe that my mom has made for years.  But I needed something even more versatile - fry bread is great, but it isn't exactly low-fat once its been drenched in cooking oil, plus oil has to be imported and is thus a non-renewable resource.
Therefore, the most recent item I've been learning to make is tortillas, which consists of about the same ingredients, but which are superior to fry bread in many ways, the first being it requires less cooking oil, and the second being that tortillas are flexible and can be made to wrap around a range of fillings.  This has recently become one of our lunchtime favorites. 

Burritos are great on-the-go lunch foods, easy to pack, and easy to prepare.  Dad likes burritos because they're not too heavy on the stomach while he's working in the hot summer sun, and I like them because they're versatile and can use up leftovers.  Any leftover starch from the night before (like rice, breadfruit, taro or green bananas) can be added to a little bit of fresh or tinned meat, to make a tasty, but light, meal. 

To begin:
Start out with 2-3 medium fish.  Gut, scale & boil until done.  Drain water and de-bone.  Give bones to dogs, cats and/or pigs. 
Season with whatever's handy.  I used salt, black pepper, paprika and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper and one small chopped onion.  

 To bulk up the fish filling, I added cubed breadfruit from last nights' dinner, plus a salsa made from almost-ripe papaya and pineapple, to add a tangy, fruity freshness.  I mixed altogether, and added the juice from two small limes.


 Next, prepare the tortillas.  I got this recipe off the internet.

For 5-6 large tortillas
3 C flour
3 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt
3 T oil
1 1/3 C lukewarm milk (or water) 
*The lukewarm-ness helps the dough to stay malleable

Stir dry ingredients together, then slowly add oil & milk a bit at a time while stirring.  When ball forms, knead briskly for 2 minutes with bare hands.  Let dough sit covered with damp towel for 20 mins.  Then, divide into 6 fist-size balls and let sit another 10 mins. (I usually cheat on the time, cutting it by half). Finally, using a floured board and rolling pin, roll out each ball into a large circular shaped tortilla - as paper thin as you can reasonably get it (its good to have a nice big flour board). 

Then, use a very small amount of oil to coat the bottom of a fry pan, set on medium high and cook the tortilla for 20 seconds, or until beginning to have brown spots.  Flip quickly and cook other side - its amazing how fast they cook. 

Finally, while the tortilla is still warm, assemble the burrito, placing a large dollop of fish & breadfruit filling on each tortilla.  I added a couple dressings: goat cheese (called "paneer" in India or queso blanco in Latin America) and a simple white sauce made from goat's milk, oil and flour, to give the burrito some moisture (in lieu of sour cream, mayo or guacamole)
(I'll do another post on these two condiments later) .   Wrap the tortilla into a bundle (an art in and of itself, I'm learning), and serve with whatever's handy - I had papaya dressed with lime juice. 
Delicious, simple, and best of all sustainable!  Aside from the flour, oil and seasonings (salt, pepper, etc.), this was a completely sustainable meal using foods we gathered - limes, papaya, pineapple, breadfruit - and best of all, fresh fish from the reef right outside our house, caught last night by my Salesi, the BEST fisherman in the WORLD =).