Thursday, July 30, 2009

A soup that makes itself

Headlines across the city read something akin to: Heatwave spikes temps to 103F. Hottest. Day. Ever.

Last night, the whole house was an oven set to keep dishes warm, say 200F. Okay, maybe it wasn't 200F in the house, but there was, of course, no going near the oven to add any more heat. This morning was a bit cooler as I hunted in the fridge for what to take to work for lunch. A large, really ripe, heirloom tomato, blazing away in all its' red, yellow and orange glory, seemed to be quintessentially cool.

The tomato sat next to a container of steamed green beans and a chunk of steamed albacore tuna; all had come from last weekend's U-District Farmers Market. I threw everthing into a bowl to combine about a cup to two cups of tomato, chopped, a half cup of greens beans, and a half cup of tuna. I added a dressing of about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, about a teaspoon of sherry vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste and a dash of nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce, aka nam pla, the Thai name). I packed it into a container and off I went to work to seek refuge from the heatwave in an air-conditioned building.

When lunchtime came around, I opened the container and found that the chopped tomato had given up a chilled soup all by itself. It had the intense tomato flavor I love, garlicky from the green beans and the tuna because I had steamed both with large cloves of garlic, and the dressing played in the background like a fine-tuned backup band.

The tuna comes from the fishing vessel FV St. Jude. A woman at the U-District Farmers Market was selling their familiar canned tuna that I like to get at the grocery. What was different was that next to their display was a sign that read "sushi cuts, just cut this week, $5." In a cooler that she opened for me were frozen wrapped cuts of tuna in various sizes; some more and some less than $5.

I took home a piece and steamed it with large cloves of garlic and a coating of extra virgin olive oil. After it barely cooked all the way through, I squeezed half a lemon over it. The large, meaty flakes of white albacore stood in stark contrast to a lifetime of tuna sandwiches from cans of tuna where tiny bits of fish floated in water or oil.

No comments: