I confess I did a little last minute shopping this year for Mother’s Day. Early Saturday morning I was already at Plaza las Américas, the largest mall in Puerto Rico (if not the Caribbean) getting gifts for my dear comadres and ordering a much needed pair of eyeglasses. I also left the mall with plantains, soursop, eggplant, celery root and ajicitos. Yes… at the mall! On the second and fourth weekends of each month, farmers and artisanal food preparers take over the third level of Plaza. I missed ‘my’ farmers’ market last week so I really needed to stock up on staples like plantain and eggplant.
All these great ingredients were the inspiration for the dish I made today to wrap up the weekend. I pan-seared mahi mahi filets and placed them on top of celery root (apio) purée. To bring the dish up to woo food levels, I added a cream sauce made with ajicitos and infused with recao, also known as culantro. The mahi mahi can be substituted for snapper, grouper or corvina filets. If you can’t find ajicitos, they can be replaced with piquillo peppers or any other small sweet peppers.
- 1/4 lb sweet ajicitos
- Olive oil
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ~5″ recao leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Ground pepper to taste
- Place ajicitos on a baking sheet. Douse with olive oil and roast at 400˚F for 25 minutes or until the skin chars.
- Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel skin off and seed them.
- In a small saucepan, combine the skinned peppers, heavy cream, recao leaf, and sea salt. Simmer on low heat for thirty minutes.
- Remove the recao leaf. Using an immersion or countertop blender, puree the sauce. Strain it using a fine-mesh sieve and discard the pepper solids. Return to the sauce pan and keep under low heat until ready to use.