An old family friend (who closed his most recent letter to me with “Kaszub – that’s what I am”) invited me to Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck last week. He recommended the duck’s blood soup, czarnina (from the Polish word czarny, black). I decided it tasted like A1 sauce. The only thing I would pay for again at the restaurant would be the sauerkraut. I guess Bill Clinton ate there in the mid-nineties.
After we finished lunch we walked over to this Polish market on Joseph Campau street. I thought it was strange that they abbreviated the name to Jos Campau on most signs I saw. We walked in and I saw some of the things I used to see in Ukraine. They had all the herbal infusions I used to drink to keep me warm like lime blossom, verbena, and hibiscus. My Kashubian guide recommended the veal hotdogs but I wasn’t really in the mood. After we walked past the meats I found the smoked fish aisle! They had cold smoked mackerel just like my friends in Ukraine used to serve me.
(Notice that odd abbreviation of Joseph on the label!) I wanted to cut it up as soon as I got home but I had a vegetarian guest arriving the next day and I didn’t want to stink up the refrigerator so I put it on hold. This is how it looked when I finally plated it in the Ukrainian style. It was just as fatty and fantastic as I remembered it being in Dobrovelychkivka.
Andrew came over today to help me make zongzi for lunch. Joyce and her mom let me sample some they had made last week and also gave me a bag of bamboo leaves for me to use. I finally got a chance to stuff them but Andrew and I were too hungry to do them the right way and steam them for hours. My solution was to throw everything in the rice cooker and then after the rice was almost done I stuffed it in the bamboo leaf pockets and steamed everything for a little longer. I put some scallions, star anise, ginger, garlic, and pepper in with the rice in the cooker. Andrew doesn’t eat meat so the zongzi weren’t as delicious as I thought they could have been with the help of a little animal fat. We were also missing the chestnuts and shiitake mushrooms Joyce and her mom used.
We grilled some skewers of tofu, too. This was surprisingly delicious and I will definitely make it again.
1 cup plain yogurt
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small chunk of fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of garam masala
5 tablespoons of shredded coconut
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 brick of extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon chaat masala
Soak about four wooden skewers in water for 10 minutes. Cut the tofu into about eight pieces and put them on the moistened skewers. Mix yogurt, garlic, ginger, sugar, garam masala, coconut, turmeric, pepper, and cumin together in a bowl. Spread this mixture on the tofu and let it marinate for a few minutes. Grill on medium heat until lightly browned or about ten minutes. Sprinkle chaat masala on top.
I served the zongzi and tofu with a salad of kale, peaches, chayote, and red onion. The dressing was just olive oil, balsamic vinegar di modena, and lingonberry jam. I’m getting hungry again…