Sunday, June 9, 2013

3 Sisters Edamame Succotash and Jerk Tilapia

If you are like me, the first thing you think of when you hear the word succotash is not food at all... it's Looney Tunes. Sylvester the Cat is known for his exclamation, "Sufferin' succotash!" whenever he is exasperated, like this:
video
If you are more like me, you have taken this word for granted and finally decided that you should figure out what it means. This week I cooked Edamame Succotash and Jerk Tilapia to accompany it. That's right-- I made the Succotash the star of the show.

About Succotash
The phrase we know and love(?), "Sufferin' succotash," itself is a minced oath, which is basically a replacement word or phrase for a curse word. There are plenty: Oh my gosh! Darn it! Oh fudge! What the heck!? The list goes on. "Sufferin' succotash" is said to be a depression-era phrase replacing "Suffering Savior," the latter of which clearly violates certain Christian standards of making reference to Jesus. It is obviously outdated, and a similar outburst of exasperation can be delivered through more modern sayings. Succotash was not an invented word to replace savior, however; it was a real food with a real place in society at the time (and way before).

In its most basic form, succotash is a dish consisting of cooked beans and corn. Modern nutritionists have all sorts of scientific grounds for corn and beans to be eaten together (they form a complete protein, meaning that all the essential amino acids are accounted for between the two foods). However, the real geniuses behind this dish were probably not discussing amino acids. In fact, they were not speaking English at all. Succotash comes from the Narragansett word msickquatash, and it was in fact Native Americans who are credited with the development of this dish. The Native American "three sisters" (corn, beans, and squash) are famous crops because of their miraculous way of working together, both in soil and in the human body. To this day, some regional varieties of succotash include squash as well as corn and beans.

While the ingredients can be tweaked a little to fit personal preference, the majority of succotash recipes call for lima beans, corn, and a cream or butter sauce.

Choosing the Recipe
I intended to make a succotash involving all three sisters: corn, squash, and beans. I found the recipe from Food Wishes, a video blog, and let that be my guide. Unfortunately (for some-- fortunately for others) I was unable to find either fresh or frozen lima beans. Having no interest in canned limas, I opted for frozen edamame, or soy beans, instead. It was delicious and packed a nice protein punch (1 cup of limas provides 29.3% of your daily recommended protein, while edamame gives 57.2%).

I did a bit of research into jerk spice blends, and I ended up choosing my favorite one based on the funny nature of the blog it came from. Cooking for A**holes (reader discretion advised) made me laugh out loud, so I had to go with that recipe. It's a quick meal with a ton of flavor.

Memorizing the Recipe
The succotash recipe required little to no technique. Butter and oil go together in a pan. Start the onions, then add the more firm, raw ingredients (green beans and zucchini). Toss in the edamame and corn once the other veggies have started to brown a little. Keep cooking, then top with tomatoes for color. Salt and pepper and taste along the way. Bam. Done.

The jerk spice blend was a little tricky to master, although knowing which spices had more dominance and which had less was helpful. Allspice got the most; followed by thyme, garlic powder, and nutmeg; then salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon took a back seat since they are inherently spicier or more bold than the others.

The Verdict
I had a heaping pile of succotash at dinner and another heaping pile at lunch the next day. I would eat this hot, cold, room temp, alone, as a side, on rice, on pasta, slightly pureed into a spread, in a box, with a fox, here and there, anywhere! I really love vegetables, and this was a simple and delicious way to get a lot of them at once.

For those of you who have not cooked (or eaten) a lot of fish, tilapia is a nice, easy go-to fish. It's not too fishy, it cooks quickly because it's thin and light, and it's really inexpensive. It takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with, so the jerk spice blend was an excellent way to make a boring fish more exciting. This whole meal takes about an hour (probably less if you aren't stopping to photograph all the time).

The Recipes
3 Sisters Edamame Succotash
Inspired by Food Wishes
Yield: 8-10 servings, depending on how hungry you are

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into inch-long pieces
  • 1/2 bag frozen edamame (shelled), thawed
  • 1 bag frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
Preparation:
  • Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Once melted, add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and green beans, coat with the butter/oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  • Add the edamame and corn to the skillet. Mix and cook for another 5 minutes until all vegetables are warm but still firm.

Jerk Tilapia
Adapted (and censored) from Cooking for A**holes
Yield: 10 tilapia filets (spice blend can be kept for later when making smaller portions)

Ingredients:
  • 10 tilapia filets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Preparation:
  • Combine allspice, garlic powder, thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix well.
  • Lay the tilapia on a flat surface. Spoon a generous amount of jerk blend on top of each piece (1 heaping spoonful). 
  • Pat/rub the blend on the entire top surface of the tilapia.
  • Heat the oil in a nonstick pan. Place the tilapia, seasoned-side down, in the pan (as many as will fit-- I did three filets at a time). While the fish is cooking (about 2 minutes over high heat), sprinkle the other side with a little more jerk blend. 
  • Flip and cook for another 2 minutes (3 for the thicker pieces).
1. Blend

2. Season
3. Cook
4. Flip

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