Ojibwe poet Heid Erdrich’s new cookbook, Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest, brings to light the indigenous roots of the new locavore trend.
She “indigenizes” her diet and recipes—her word for eating more “indigenous local” foods.
Read more about Heid Erdrich and her indigenize movement in Indian Country Today Media Network’s story Poet Heid Erdrich Turns Talents to a Cultural Cookbook Celebrating Indigenous Foods (11/26, Konnie LeMay).
Below, Heid Erdrich shares three favorite recipes. The second is ideal for leftover turkey, and the third has been modified by her sister Louise Erdrich, a New York Times best-selling author.
Bering Strait Theory Corn and Fish Soup
Serves 4–6 | This dish is adapted from a recipe in Blue Corn and Chocolate by
Elisabeth Rozin, who sought to indigenize the crab soup found on old-school Chinese
restaurant menus. I’ve changed it a bit from Rozin’s recipe, and I offer it here as
further proof that the Bering Strait was never a one-way street.
1–2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, white parts chopped, half the green tops
chopped and reserved
2 cups corn, thawed if frozen
5 cups stock
1Ž4 cup rice wine or mirin, optional
1 teaspoon soy sauce, or use fish sauce
1 large egg
1Ž2 cup coconut milk, or use half-and-half
1 cup flaked smoked whitefish
In a skillet set over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon sesame oil and cook ginger, garlic, and chopped white green onion pieces until just fragrant. Reduce heat to medium, add corn, and stir well, adding more sesame oil as needed to prevent sticking. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until corn is heated through. Add stock, rice wine (if using), and soy sauce, and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
In a small bowl, beat egg lightly and set aside. Increase heat to high until mixture boils, then use a fork to slowly drop in egg strands, breaking up strands as they rise to the top of the pot. Stir and reduce heat to low. When the soup is no
longer boiling, stir in coconut milk, white pepper, and any remaining sesame oil. Serve into soup bowls, add whitefish, and garnish with onion greens. Serve immediately.
Variation: Use dried sweet corn soaked overnight and simmered until very soft.
Duck Egg Meatloaf
Cooking buddy Richard LaFortune had a bolt of inspiration when I handed him ground turkey and duck eggs. The whites of duck eggs have higher protein levels than chicken eggs, and the yolks are more rich; do not overcook, as they will become tough. Richard suggests serving this meatloaf with peeled, boiled potatoes and sunchokes mashed together and Mushroom Sage Gravy (page 102).
4 duck eggs, or substitute jumbo chicken eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or duck fat
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1Ž2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
2 cups crumbled corn bread, or substitute bread crumbs
2–3 tablespoons water
2 pounds ground turkey
dash hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 eggs in a saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil. Remove from burner, cover, and wait 7 minutes. Drain water and plunge eggs into an ice-water bath. Using a spoon or the back of a table knife, carefully crack the shells all around and allow to chill in the water. Peel eggs gently because the yolks are very softly set. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil or duck fat in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a large mixing bowl and stir in finely crumbled corn bread or bread crumbs and water. Allow to cool completely before adding ground meat, remaining uncooked duck egg, and hot pepper sauce. Mix well with your hands, but do not overmix.
Place half of the meat mixture into a well-greased 9×5–inch loaf pan, and nestle the soft-cooked eggs end to end in the center, covering with the remaining
meat mixture. Sprinkle the top of the meatloaf with smoked paprika, and bake for 1 hour.
Cadillac Manoomin Louise’s Way
Serves a crowd generously | When I told my sister I was going to title her manoomin dish after our ancestor Antoine Laumet Cadillac, Louise let me know that revised history calls him “one of the worst scoundrels in New France.” She suggested I call her rice “Scoundrel’s Cadillac Manoomin Louise’s Way.” Frankly, I think Louise has redeemed our line with her saintly tendencies and her language table offering of luxurious manoomin dishes sure to “put a hustle in your bustle” whether you dance fancy or not.
1 pound manoomin
4 cups mushroom or other stock
pine nuts (as many as you can afford)
sea salt and white pepper
drizzle olive oil
Here’s how Louise says to make this dish:
Put the manoomin in a good solid pot under cold running water. Wash off some of the dust: two or three rinses should do it. Add a good quality stock to the wild rice. Use the thumb measure: your thumb touching the top of the wild rice, the stock measuring up to the first knuckle of your thumb. Boil the wild rice; the time varies depending on how it was finished and where it grew. Watch it closely as it approaches done. Test for al dente. You don’t want mushy rice.
Meanwhile, those expensive pine nuts. Use a cast-iron skillet to toast them first on high, stirring constantly so they sweat before they toast, then remove the pan from the heat. Don’t burn them: it brings out the bitterness. As with us all.
Toss the wild rice, sea salt and white pepper to taste, and olive oil. Cover with the toasted pine nuts for effect. This dish is best served in a wooden bowl.