A couple of nights ago I made a batch of Cilantro-Chile Chutney to go with some yogurt-marinated chicken thighs that I cooked for myself and some girlfriends, including Epicurious Brit! I know what some of you are thinking… “don’t you HATE cilantro?” And yes, there was a long period in my life – the majority in fact – that I hated cilantro so much that I would tell waiters I was allergic so I could avoid having it on my plate. But in recent years, I have found that it is unavoidable in San Francisco. Between Mexican, Indian and Asian food, it’s an essential ingredient to practically any ethnic meal in SF. I started to give it a shot, and it turned out that I was able to train my taste buds to adapt to the flavors of cilantro. It no longer tasted like soap, but like the refreshing lime flavor that I had only heard other people talk about. These days, I will gladly include cilantro in any dish where it seems like an appropriate addition. But to create an entire chutney with cilantro as it’s main ingredient? Well I’m just damn proud of myself.
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1 serrano chile, seeded (be careful!)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (hard to find, but Whole Foods has it)
- 2 TB fresh lemon juice
- 1 TB ginger, peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
In a small food processor, chop the ginger first. Add the cilantro, chile, coconut flakes, lemon juice and salt and continue to blend. Taste for seasoning, then add up to 1/4 cup of water to thin out the chutney. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a jar or container and refrigerate until use.
The chutney was the perfect topping for the juicy chicken thighs, and I used it again last night on some fresh sole that I picked up on my way home from work. The guy at the market said they had just got it in that morning, and even though the $19.99 per pound price intimidated me, I picked up two small filets for about $10.00.
Sole is a very delicate white fish, and should be prepared very simply. I drizzled a little olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper on my filets and baked them in the oven (on a cooking-spray coated baking pan) at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. I then added a tablespoon of the chutney onto each filet and spread it evenly. I served the sole with some lentils and a spinach salad and savored every last bite. The chutney was the perfect addition to the sole. I was worried it might overpower the subtle flavors, but it was deliciously refreshing with a hint of spice from the chile.
I am trying to think of other things to pair the chutney with. I may use the last of it on an omelet or some soft scrambled eggs this weekend. Any other suggestions?