We spent New Year’s eve in Corsica with a group of friends. Given that we were in a house situated in a tiny village of 40 inhabitants, and considering that around the holidays everything is pretty much closed in France, I have nothing to report in terms of food discoveries. We pretty much bought a bunch of groceries on our first day, and we cooked simple meals every day.
Corsica, or at least the small part we saw, is a beautiful island, with rugged mountains that come down straight into the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean. There are fig trees and citrus trees everywhere, as well as rosemary and laurel and a strange, edible fruit-bearing tree we had never seen before called Arbutus or Strawberry trees (Arbousier in French). The mountain side on which our house was located was covered with paddle cactuses, though the delicious, red prickly pears they produce had all been picked clean by now.
The weather was beautiful. Sunny and high 50s everyday. Very different than the weather back in New York where we are getting ready to return to. With a high of 17º F, it’s a veritable Arctic landscape in the Northeast. So, if you are trying to survive the first snow blizzard of 2014 and want something that provides some spicy warmth, I give you this recipe for a savory tomato jam. It’s a delicious combination of tomatoes and spices, cooked slowly together until they form a thick sauce that is a perfect accompaniment to seafood. Though I would guess that it would also pair well with chicken or pork.
Enjoy, and stay warm out there.
Savory Tomato Jam – Slightly adapted from BonAppetit.com
Makes about 3 cups
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh mint, chopped
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, coriander, and cardamom and cook, stirring often, until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar, turmeric, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.
Add diced tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until tomatoes are softened and mixture thickens, 35–45 minutes. Mix in lime juice; season with salt and pepper.
Serve over cooked fish or chicken and top with chopped fresh mint.