For our last Wednesday dinner I offered to cook a South African dinner for the family. It's been a while since I used my fun Tradisionele Suid-Afrikaanse Respete (Traditional South African Recipes) book, this seemed like the perfect occasion. From the book I selected a dish called smoorsnoek and for dessert a pineapple yskastert. I pulled a recipe for a green bean salad from the net.
Smoorsnoek is a fish and rice dish that's traditionally made using snoek, a fish popular at South African fish barbecues. It's got a quite distinct gamy flavor and is also pretty bony, as a result I hated it as a child, but these days I always look forward to going home and have my dad throw one on the fire. Of course, there was no snoek anywhere to be found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thanks to some guiding tips from Jeanne from Cooksister I managed to pull off a dish that came pretty close to the smoorsnoek my mother made when I was growing up.
The green bean salad is something that my grandmother used to make for big family dinners. It's simple combination of crunchy green beans, onions, lemon juice and pepper and it went well with the main dish.
Dessert was an old childhood favorite of mine, yskastert. It translates as fridge tart and is quite honestly a seriously trashy dessert. There is absolutely no fresh ingredients in it and is the kind of thing I totally try t steer clear of these days. But as I have not had it in decades I thought it would be fun to try and make one. I was hoping to make it with passion fruit, but I could not find the right ingredients so I ended up making a pineapple version.
(This recipe is for if you do not have access to snoek. Thanks Jeanne for the tip)
1 piece of of smoked fish (I used a white lake fish)
2 pieces of halibut, broiled together with a bit of olive oil salt and white pepper
2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
2 onions chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 small pepper chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
fresh parsley for garnish
Flake the fish together and set aside. Heat oil and butter, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add the pepper and tomatoes and gently stir through to heat. Add the fish, mix through and white pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.
Green Bean salad
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 cup white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon each
Cook the green beans until they just start going tender. You don't want them all wilted. Drain. While boiling the beans, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the green beans and onions and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
(You can use any kind of fruit combination and I am sure you can even attempt to make a fresher or at least healthier version that this one if you like.)
1 box jelly (jell-o)
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin canned fruit (drained, reserve some for the topping)
Prepare the jelly according to instructions and leave it in the fridge until it just starts to set. Whisk the evaporated milk until it is foamy and thickens somewhat. Mix the jelly into the milk. Mix in the fruit. Place a layer of the crackers in a dish, top with the mixture, place another layer of crackers, top with mixture. Finish with a layer of the mixture. Top with the reserved fruit and leave in fridge until it is set. Cut and serve.