Monday, February 19, 2018
Cooking

Red Mesa chef shares Yucca and Plantain Mofongo With Scallops recipe

WHO: Chris Fernandez, 41, of St. Petersburg, Red Mesa, Red Mesa Cantina chef and co-owner of the Cantina and the upcoming Red Mesa Mercado (expected to open in mid May)

WHAT: Yucca and Plantain Mofongo With Chimayo Chile Scallops and Pickled Red Onions

ABOUT THE RECIPE: Growing up in Oaxaca, Mexico, Fernandez loved cooking from a young age. His mom owned her own restaurant and made special food for every occasion. "Any holiday, anybody's birthday — she would always throw a big party at the house and cook for everybody," he said.

Food is a connection to his family, bridging the distance between them. Whenever he eats the family's traditional dishes, he remembers when his mom used to make it. And every Sunday morning, when he calls his family in Mexico, the conversation often turns to food and new recipes. Although he has lived in the United States for 25 years, he still visits Mexico in the summer to learn more about his culture and get inspiration for his recipes.

His yucca and plantain mofongo recipe is one he adapted from a Puerto Rican dish. The results were spectacular.

"Through the years, I'd try it different ways . . . I decided to make a mofongo, but with ripe plantains instead of green plantains." Other variations he made to the original recipe include the addition of the chimayo chile scallops and the pickled onions he added to give it a sweet and spicy crunch.

"The combination of the flavors is delicious, with the sweetness of the plantains . . . the texture of the yucca (similar to a potato), and then the buttery sauce with the scallops."

TIPS: Chef Fernandez gets his scallops at Sammy's Seafood, 2875 46th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. You can buy the yucca root fresh at supermarkets or specialty produce stands, but to save time, you can also purchase frozen yucca root from Publix. It's already cleaned and ready to cook. For the chimayo chile powder, stop by the Savory Spice Shop at 400 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

ON THE SIDE: "Whatever you're in the mood to eat that day." Since this is actually a side dish itself, it goes well with both chicken and steak.

CAN'T COOK WITHOUT: Garlic and chipotle chiles, which are "small, dry jalapenos. When they are fresh, they are jalapenos, and when you smoke them and dry them out, they become chipotles." He also loves cilantro, joking, "How can you say no to cilantro, being Mexican?"

LAGNIAPPE: Chef Fernandez prepared this dish — to rave reviews — for sampling at the Enjoy Arts and Tastes event, which was held in St. Petersburg in November.

Emily Young, Times correspondent

If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, email [email protected] with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Or mail to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Comments
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
Global flavors: Celebrate the Olympics with creative nacho recipes

Global flavors: Celebrate the Olympics with creative nacho recipes

The global experience that is the Olympics has returned, and that gives us a fun opportunity to learn about different countries and parts of the world while watching the triple axels and halfpipes.Food is one way to bring far-off places a little clos...
Published: 02/14/18
Sheet-Pan Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Peppers recipe

Sheet-Pan Chicken With Sweet Potatoes and Peppers recipe

For most of the year, I hold to the notion that what grows together goes together, especially when it comes to mingling things on a sheet pan.Spring’s tender greens and shoots; summer’s juicy zucchini and tomatoes; fall’s pumpkins and Brussels sprout...
Published: 02/14/18
Five ideas for quick and easy Valentine’s Day desserts

Five ideas for quick and easy Valentine’s Day desserts

Busy crafting a nice dinner for yourself and your boo this evening? Don’t worry, we’ve got dessert covered. Here are five ideas for after-meal sweets, little morsels that come together quickly so you can focus on the main event. Michelle Stark, Times...
Published: 02/14/18

From the food editor: Seared Steaks With Peppers and Almonds are elegant and simple

If you buy good ingredients, half the work is already done. That may sound a little hokey, but it’s true and it’s the cooking advice I need to heed more often in my own kitchen.My husband and I are dining out on Valentine’s Day this year, something w...
Published: 02/13/18
Taste test: red velvet cake mixes

Taste test: red velvet cake mixes

Sorry, restaurateurs, but Valentine’s Day can be one of the worst evenings to eat out — especially if you like great food, prompt service and intimate dining. Restaurants can be crowded and loud, and the staff can be stressed and rushed. So if it’s n...
Published: 02/13/18
Recipe for sweet and sour cauliflower that’s not too sweet

Recipe for sweet and sour cauliflower that’s not too sweet

Washington PostHere’s the truth about sweet and sour dishes: One cook’s sweet is another cook’s sour. That is, the balance between the two is highly subjective. Take lemonade, the most beloved sweet and sour beverage that comes to mind. I prefer it o...
Published: 02/08/18
Stories of food and romance from our readers

Stories of food and romance from our readers

We asked our readers to share a romantic food story or an especially memorable meal with their loved one. Here are some of our favorite submissions. Camping meal with flairA year before we married, Bob and I went on a camping trip to Key West, testin...
Published: 02/07/18
Engagement Chicken may not lead to lasting love, but it does dress to impress

Engagement Chicken may not lead to lasting love, but it does dress to impress

Frankly, the very idea behind Engagement Chicken makes me a little twitchy. It is essentially this: Make this chicken for your boyfriend and he will propose because you have proven you are a true woman now that you know your way around a roasted bird...
Published: 02/07/18