Whiting with Tamarind

Today we studied the Fabaceae (the bean family) in horticultural systematics. After the lab was finished I had some plant samples left over, which I decided to incorporate into dinner. Hooray for edible lab materials.

First up, I decided to create a sauce from the tamarind. Time for a plant nerd rabbit trail. Tamarind is the common name for Tamarindus indica, a tree found in tropical areas. The fruit of tamarind is an indehiscent legume [1], which is referred to as tamarind and is used for culinary purposes. So the name tamarind can refer to a tree or the fruit of the tree. End of plant nerd rabbit trail.

Tamarind prior to preparation.

I broke open the tamarind and removed the shell, leaving the seeds and pulp behind. I put the seeds and pulp in a bowl, then submerged them in water heated to 175° F.

Tamarind seeds and pulp prior to soaking.

After fifteen minutes of soaking I used my fingers break down the pulp and create a tamarind slurry. Then I poured the concoction through a strainer to remove the seeds, fibers, and miscellaneous plant debris. The end result was a whiskey glass with tamarind juice in it.

The tamarind juice.

While this preparation was going on I put a couple of whiting fillets in the oven to bake. I gave them a light coating of salt and pepper. After fifteen minutes of baking I poured the tamarind juice over the fillets and added a bit of pepper. After five more minutes of baking I deemed them done.

I also had snap peas, the fruit of Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon, from the Fabaceae lab today.

The peas have been chopped.

I chopped the ends off the pods, put a dash of olive oil in a fry pan, then covered the peas with glass for a few minutes. Then I squeezed half a lime over them and added salt, pepper, and honey. I raised the heat for a few minutes and let them sizzle.

The peas post-sizzle.

While this was going on I also prepared some fried tomatoes. I used Kumato tomatoes. I coated a fry pan with a little olive oil, salt, papper, and dried oregano, then placed cross sections of the berry on it.

Fried tomatoes.

And so the final result was this:

Dinner is served.

The whiting was very good. Tamarind has a slightly sour taste, which got along well with the pepper. Adding the tomato, which was slightly sweet, created a great pairing. In the future I will use fried tomato as a topping for tamarind-ized fish. The combination of lime-honey-pepper is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, so the peas tasted just like I expected them to: a wonderful mixture of sweetness, spiciness, and sourness.

I like plants.

[1] Indehiscent legumes are a bit controversial in botanical circles. By some definitions a legume must be dehiscent. In this case an indehiscent legume would be called an indehiscent pod (or an iPod, if you will) . Personally I have no problem with allowing legumes the option of being either dehiscent or indehiscent.


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