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Watercress with Corn and Crema

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In the kitchen

Ruth Alegria urged me me to come back to Mexico City for what seemed like a great symposium on Quelites. In a broad sense, quelites are edible greens but if you ask most Mexicans, I find they mention the common wild greens from their area. Well-intentioned and well-traveled Yanks will tell you that quelites are lambs quarters, and they are, but they are much more as well.

I couldn't justify the trip and while it's a real regret that I couldn't go, Cristina Potters posted an excellent report on her Mexico Cooks site that inspired me to play around with watercress and try and replicate one of the dishes. This I was able to do (well, a version of the original, anyway) with the help of several online friends (who I'm not crediting just in case they want to retain their anonymity) and this is the result.

1-comal

1. Dry grill onions, garlic and a serrano on a very hot comal.

2-molcajete

2. Pound the roasted ingredients in a molcajete with some tequesquite or salt and make a paste.

3. Take the kernels from a cob of corn and simmer in a little water.

3-molcajete

4. Add some of the corn water, half of the kernels, a little milk, a little crema Mexicana, a little masa diluted in water to the paste in the molcajete and continue pounding until you have a smooth sauce.

4a-cazuela

5. Heat the sauce for about 10 minutes or until somewhat thick, like a porridge.

4-watercress

6. Clean and trim a bunch of watercress. I also use Upland Cress (also known as Land Cress) and it was fine. I'd think purslane would work as well.

5-cazuela

7. Add the watercress to the corn sauce and add the remaining corn kernals. Toss until well mixed. If it's a wild cress, you may be able to cook it a few minutes longer but cultivated watercress is very light and you just want to heat it through.

6-finished-dish

8. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

I think it would make an excellent side dish for almost anything. I've had it for dinner by itself all week. Quinoa or tortillas would be a smart choice. I assume you can make the sauce in a blender and if you do, I hope you'll report back.

My Internet Friend notes:

I first saw this prepared by an aunt whose family is from the Texcoco Lagoon area... and she used this base made from Fresh Corn & Masa (flavored with chiles & alliums etc.) to cook a wide range of ingredients... and referred to them as Tlamole de Quelite, Tlamole de Hongo, Tlamole de Trucha etc., When cooking vegetables she seemed to use fresh chiles exclusively. When cooking proteins she used dried chiles instead.


So the sauce would work with mushrooms and even trout! I was thinking of trying it with our wild Claytonia (Miner's Lettuce) next spring.


7-omelet

Breakfast this morning? Why an omelette filled with this very dish!



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