What I had for dinner:

Choukchouka with Tuna

[ Previous ] 21 Jul 1994 21:51:51 -0400 [   Next   ]

Choukchouka is a vegetable stew, a sort of ratatouille without eggplant nor zucchini, supposedly of (Sephardic) Jewish origin, that is very common troughout North Africa - often under different names. What I called choukchouka in Algiers was called frita in Oran, and vice versa. My frita is a sort of ratatouille with lamb chops, hard boiled eggs, etc, and is always served hot. Choukchouka has onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and is very often served cold.

Just like yesterday, I start with the onions. Two large red onions, cut in chunks, are put to cook slowly in a tightly covered pan with a little olive oil. The goal is here not to melt them completely, but to brown them as pieces. When they are well browned, a half dozen sliced jalapeño peppers are added, and cooked further.

Three tomatoes are seeded, peeled , and cubed and added to the onions.

Meanwhile, 2 red and 2 green bell peppers are charred on the stovetop, over direct flame. The skin must be completely black all over. They are then placed in a paper bag to cool and loosen the skin. After a few minutes, the skin is easily rubbed off under water, and the flesh of the peppers cleaned and sliced lengthwise. They are added to the pan with the onions and tomatoes, together with a tbsp of anise seeds, and a dash each of ground cinnamon and ground mace. The mixture is cooked further a few minutes.

Place canned tuna on a plate, cover with the choukchouka, salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped fresh mint, and serve with crusty bread. (I suppose fresh tuna could be used, but I do prefer the canned stuff. Same thing with sardines and anchovies, actually.)

Makes 2 servings.

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