Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recipes from the Glorioso Islands (but not really)

Ah, yes. It's another archipelago of uninhabited islands that are only ever visited by people who don't answer their email. Sigh.

I confess, I didn't really put my heart and soul into this one. I did do enough research to track down the names of people who have been to the Glorioso Islands, but none of them answered my messages. So I kind of just went, eff it (excuse me). This meal, therefore, is a filler. I'll tell you how I came up with it after I tell you a little bit about the place in question.

The Glorioso Islands are a tiny little group of mostly rocks in the northern Mozambique channel, about 100 miles northwest of Madagascar. There are two actual islands: Grande Glorieuse and Île du Lys, and eight hunks of rock, one of which is known by the quite telling name "Wreck Rock." Together, the total land space of the Glorioso Islands is about 3 square miles, though their exclusive economic zone is much larger than that: 18,670 square miles. That explains why Madagascar would like everyone to think that it has sovereignty over Glorioso, though the rest of the world recognizes France as the sole proprietor of the islands and all that space around them.

Once upon a time, Grande Glorieuse was actually settled. By one guy, as far as I can tell, who had a coconut and maize plantation there.  Today there are some nature reserves and a meteorogical station, some French troops and an airstrip. And that's about it.

So yes, I just made up this menu based on those few scant facts. Glorioso is a French territory, so I chose a French seafood dish based on my stab-in-the-dark assumption that the guy who once lived there probably ate seafood because, you know, island. Next I chose a sort of cornbread dish, also French, based on the maize part of the equation, and I finished with a French recipe for coconut macaroons in honor of the coconut trees that still grow there. And that is how Glorioso shall stand until someone comes along and says, "Hey, I ate there and here's a recipe."

Actually, it was a tasty meal, so I don't regret. Here is the menu:


This version was on the French Food page. As you can see, I didn't really go out of my way to find a strictly French recipe source for this, either. But I don't really have reason to believe that this version isn't authentic.

For the stew:
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large bouquet garni (mine was parsley, bay and thyme)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 pound potatoes, cubed
  • 12 pounds assorted fresh fish, cleaned and prepared
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Baguette, sliced and toasted
For the Sauce Rouille:
(Modified from
  • 1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
And on the side:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup butter, for frying
And for dessert:

Rochers à la noix de coco (Coconut Macaroons)
  • 3 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)
  • 2 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate (optional)  - Oh, please like chocolate could ever be optional
Starting with the millas:

Add the salt to the water and bring to a boil. A quarter cup at a time, add the cornmeal to the boiling water, stirring continuously.

Now turn the heat down to low and babysit the pot for about 15 minutes, stirring the cornmeal so that it doesn't stick to the bottom.

Now line a 10 x 15 inch pan with cheesecloth pour the cornmeal into it. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour or until the batter sets.

Cut the batter up into strips about 1-inch by 4-inches. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium flame. Fry the strips on both sides until they turn a golden brown. Serve hot.

Now for the bouillabaisse. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large stockpot over a medium flame. Fry the onions until translucent, then add the tomatoes, bouqet garni, garlic and potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, then put the fish on top of the veggies and drizzle with olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and let cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce rouille. Crush the garlic with the chili peppers, then mix with the mayo. Add salt and pepper to taste, the stir in the tomato paste and red wine vinegar.

Toast the baguette slices and put them in the bottom of your soup bowls. Ladle the stew over the bread and serve with the sauce rouille on the side.

Finally the macaroons. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, stir the coconut together with the sugar and salt, then add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Keep stirring until well-incorporated.

Shape the coconut mixture into balls that are a little smaller than golf balls and place on the baking sheet. Pinch the tops so they are cone-shaped (that's the French way).

Bake for 12 minutes and let cool.

Now melt the chocolate and dip the tops of each macaroon into the melted chocolate. Let harden and serve.

So yes, I really enjoyed this meal … all of it, actually, and I hate macaroons. The bouillabaisse was really good all by itself but the sauce rouille really made the dish. I don't normally think of spicy food when I think of French food, so this was unexpectedly delicious. As for the millas, I don't know if this would really be the sort of thing you would eat with a bouillabaisse  (probably not), but I thought it went really well. It was really basic but the crispy texture was very pleasant and it had a nice buttery flavor, too.

Finally, the macaroons. I generally hate macaroons, because I just don't like coconut in sweet foods. Something about that flaky, chewy texture. But these macaroons were definitely an exception. They were very sweet and sticky and for some reason I didn't mind that texture at all. Maybe because there was also chocolate.

So there you go, my fake meal from Glorioso. At least it tasted good.

Next week: Goa, India

For printable versions of this week's recipes:


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