I got in touch with my roots* this week, that is to say I made contact with Southside CSA through a friend who lives in Brooklyn. For those unsure if I'm referring to the Child Support Agency or Christian Schools Australia, I must make it very clear that I am most certainly not.
A CSA is a Community Supported Agriculture, generally a small organisation that provides weekly fruit and vegetable boxes of seasonal, locally grown products. It is most commonly the case that the products are grown sustainably and bio-organically. CSAs emerged in the 60's as a response to concerns about food quality and urbanisation of agricultural land. Though they are keenly known for socially equitable structures and small scale approach to production, CSAs are even better known–by those who use their services–as producers of super high-quality foods. Of course, it makes sense that farmers who produce seasonally, then send the goods from the field to your door are going to have the best gear around, but how quickly we forget.
Something Southside seems to have a good harvest of is radishes, which got me thinking about a Yucatecan salad of sorts which may have the coolest name going, t'zik (ts-eek). It is, I suppose, most reminiscent of a Thai beef salad minus the fish sauce and palm sugar. The original is a jumble of venison, radish, lime juice and coriander, often given a nice habanero kick. Served with a side of good guacamole and some steaming tortillas, it's a lovely fresh and clean meal that speaks well for the climate in which a radish is produced. No deer meat to be found, I made this with a bit of poached beef and added few spring onions, as follows.
T'zik | makes 4 portions
250g (8 oz.) flank steak
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
water to cover
3 spring onion
a handful of coriander leaves
1 chile habanero, seeds removed
salt, to taste
16 tortillas (the little ones are best)
- Place the flank steak in a small saucepan with garlic and salt, cover with water then bring to the boil. Turn down a little, then simmer for about half an hour. Remove from the poaching liquid, let cool a little then shred by hand–you can chop it up, but it tends not to absorb the flavours from the salad quite as well.
- Slice the spring onions finely, pick the coriander from the stalks, and chop the habanero finely. Wash the radishes, slice into rounds and then julienne (or simply grate them, there is no significant difference), then mix the whole lot together with the lime juice and a good amount of salt.
- Let sit for half an hour for the flavours to permeate, then serve with the warmed tortillas and a side of guacamole.
So if you are lucky enough to be in firing range of Southside CSA think about signing up, or just check out their blog (they have a great and very informative FAQ section which will explain things much better than I can). They may still have a few packages left for the season. If you are interested in how CSAs work and want to find one near you check out one of these: US, Australia, UK, Canada. If you live outside of these countries, you will probably speak the language relevant to your own country better than I, and be able to find your own CSA. I hope I have not been too anglocentric.
*Those who know me, know my proud Southside roots. I claim no equivalence or semblance to a Brooklynite, only boast a youth that was nestled in the leafy southern suburbs of Australia's capital. Any resemblance to cities living or dead is purely coincidental.