Merry Christmas from Mexico

21 Dec

It’s Christmas time. A time for family and friends, Christmas Trees, Mistletoe, Holly, snow and oh…wait a minute, wrong country!

 

It is true that some of the holiday traditions cross all borders. There are regulation, Douglas fir trees for sale at the Sunday Market, and if you thought Christmas trees were expensive at home, try the prices down here! These are heavily outnumbered though, by the plastic, artificial trees and wreaths. The only true touches of Mexico are the Poinsettias, for sale at the market or growing in yards and alleyways all over town, and the Piñata’s dangling from wires stretched across the main streets in Loreto.

 

No one wants to get caught under the Mistletoe in Baja. The member of the family that grows here is very parasitic, (yes, I know that all Mistletoe are parasitic) covering just about any and all trees and looks nothing like the European version. It certainly doesn’t spark the same feelings of love as it does at home. I’m pretty sure no one down here has ever seen a Holly bush, or snow for that matter, except maybe on TV, so that doesn’t even enter into the equation.

 

Doesn't actually inspire feelings of romance does it?

The family and friends part is pretty similar. For many of us on the beach, a few family members have arrived to spend the holidays and friends that aren’t here yet, will turn up early in January after they’ve spent the season with their loved ones. Lots of those who come to the Baja, wait until after the Christmas Holidays before they head south.

 

For me, this is a rather melancholy time. I loved Christmas at home, spending time with my daughters, decorating the house and tree, selecting and wrapping presents and the seasonal, traditional treats. I don’t get to do that anymore as we come down here long before the holidays and neither of our kids are at that financial stage where they can opt for a 2-week vacation in Mexico with us. So no tree, no decorations, no lights, no family, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a huge group of friends who get together to make sure Christmas is celebrated the Rattlesnake Beach way.

Winter is here and the dramatic sunsets reflect the change in the weather.

 

It starts with the Christmas Eve Bonfire, a large, welcoming fire to which everyone brings appetizers. We all sit around, keeping warm by the fire and eating all sorts of wonderful things, enjoying each others company and conversation. The fire burns very late into the night, and friends from all over, come and go as the evening progresses. The next day is all about Christmas Day dinner and is set up so that everyone who is attending makes some portion of the meal. In my case, this year it’s Dark Chocolate Truffles and a traditional English desert, Trifle.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but food has always been a big component of the holidays for us, and with my background in fishing, there was always a large amount of my own smoked salmon available. Such is not the case anymore as I don’t guide and have limited access to salmon, but down here I’m up to my eyeballs in Yellowtail, a type of tuna. The folks on the beach have been catching these tasty fish for a few weeks now and the largesse in sharing has been so phenomenal, our little freezer is full. Not only has everyone been sharing raw fish but also they attempt to outdo one another with their smoked Yellowtail as many of them bring smokers with them from home. I don’t have a smoker, but I do have a recipe for Gravlax. This is a Swedish recipe for a type of Lox that doesn’t require brining or smoking but gives the fish a smoky flavour. I wasn’t sure it would work with Yellowtail, but since the density of the flesh is very similar and the smoked fish tastes very similar to salmon, I figured what the hell, I could certainly give it a shot. Nothing like being able to offer guests a little lox styled fish, cream cheese and crackers when they come calling.

 

The 4 main ingredients of Gravlax

If you’ve got access to salmon (any type except pink as it’s too thin) or a nice piece of tuna, give this recipe a try you won’t be disappointed. Just so you know, I didn’t have any Sake, so I substituted Tequila. The taste difference was negligible. Hope you enjoy this tasty treat and hoist a Rum and Eggnog for me will you? Feliz Navidad!

 

Ready for sharing.

 

 

Tea-Brined Salmon Gravlax (or Yellowtail)

 

3/4 cup Lapsang souchong tea leaves

1/2 cup boiling water

3 lb. salmon fillet with skin on

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup coarse sea salt

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh cracked peppercorns

2 Tbsp sake

 

1. Pour boiling water over tea, steep, cool to room temp.

2. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the fillet with plastic wrap.

3. Combine sugar, salt, and cracked pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 of mix in the dish.

4. Place salmon on mixture, skin side down.

5. Rub the wet tea leaves onto the top of the salmon.

6. Drizzle the sake evenly over the tea leaves.

7. Sprinkle the remaining salt and sugar mix onto the tea leaves.

8. Fold the plastic wrap over the fish and press with weight in a small pan/

9. Refrigerate for 48 hours, turning every 12 hours.

10. Remove from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry.

11. Slice and serve with diced red onions or sour cream.

 

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3 Responses to “Merry Christmas from Mexico”

  1. Yolanda December 21, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Yummy! Thanks for sharing… Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Anne January 5, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Hi little sister, hope you had a great Yule and wishing you an awesome New Year. All is well here. Love to you both.

    • Alexis Thuillier January 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Same to all of you Anne. Hope the Christmas season was a wonderful time!

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