Yep that’s right folks it’s another installment from the Sorry, Internet. Kitchen, which is definitely a recurring feature of this blog that gets new updates all the time.
In some cases, things that you loved from when you were young can present themselves to you in your memory as a single scene. This is a scene that I remember from when I was younger, like early teenage years:
Waking up pretty early on a fall Saturday morning, with most of the windows and sliding glass doors already opened by my dad in the living room and kitchen. Relatively “cold” for Florida … we’re talking like 65 degrees here at the chilliest, though. The Gators will be on TV, probably that 3:30pm slot on CBS, but that’s hours away. The TV is off for now and my dad’s stereo is playing some weekend playlist via an early non-iPod MP3 player.
I know we’re going to have to do yard work before the Florida game, because in that state you have to mow your lawn every other week to keep up with the rate the grass grows. Right now, though, it’s time for breakfast and my dad is making something that was a fixture during these years. It involves canned fish and Cuban crackers.
This dish, as far as I know, does not have a name, even in my family. I’ve never eaten it at anyone else’s house, even in South Florida, and I’ve never found it pre-prepared in any grocery store, even at the Sedano’s down Pines Blvd. Tonight when I asked my dad, though, he suggested calling it revoltillo, which apparently best translates to “parcel of things jumbled together.” It fits the dish, so I’ve settled on revoltillo con sardinas, since most Google searches for revoltillo will turn up a more traditional breakfast dish that includes eggs.
Even referring to this as a “dish” leads to thoughts that will regard it as much fancier than it is. Like many meals that my dad passed down to me from his family, part of its appeal is in its simplicity and its abundance. You can eat this once a day for five days in a row and spend a total of like $15 on it. This applies also to steak sandwiches with tomatoes and mayo on Cuban bread, to white rice and black beans with an egg or pork, to the arroz con pollo my mom made regularly. You can have a lot of it, enough to last days, and it stretches your pants considerably more than your wallet.
I’m unsure how many times the specific scene I remember actually played out. But given the detail about the relatively chilly Florida morning, that exact scene can’t have been too regular. Even Christmastime in South Florida is an 80-degree affair more often than not. The revoltillo con sardinas was quite regular, though, and so was the weekend playlist which certainly featured Boston’s “More Than A Feeling,” and so was mowing the lawn, and so was watching the Gators play at 3:30pm on CBS.
Revoltillo Con Sardinas: How To Make It, How To Eat It, How To Love It
Per usual, my breakdown of ingredients is not scientific and my directions are not precise. At the end of the day, it costs zero dollars to worry about yourself so I am gonna worry about myself and let you make your canned fish cracker mixture on your own terms.
One thing to note here is that some ingredients may be somewhat difficult to come by at your standard grocery depending on where you live. If this is the case for you, be sure to check what the grocery stores call the “international food” aisle, which realistically is always the most premium aisle if you like food that tastes good, or otherwise maybe check Amazon dot com.
The Stuff You Need For Revoltillo Con Sardinas, And Also We’re Going To Eat Some Avocados Too
This will make a shit load of food, okay? I don’t do small portions. If I’m preparing food for me and Katie, the odds are high that I will inhale any remaining food in favor of having what Americans refer to as “leftovers.” If I’m preparing only for myself, I will sometimes force my brain to not eat the entire contents of a box of pasta, allowing my efforts to yield two to three meals of sustenance.
In this case, I really mean it when I say it’s a lot. I always encourage my students to eat canned fish first thing in the morning, so you can consider this breakfast food if you like, but it’s also perfectly acceptable for many reasons to eat for lunch, when the sun is highest in the day, or even as a snack in the afternoon, or even as an appetizer or side for dinner. Heck, you can just eat this for dinner, really. This is probably good for like six servings or whatever.
Two small tins of sardines. You want the sardines to be packaged in olive oil. Do NOT @ me about canned fish. You’ve made it this far, and besides, canned fish is fancy now.
Two small tins of squid and/or octopus. This might be the thing that your local grocery store doesn’t have. If you can find a store that sells Hispanic food, you’ll likely get lucky there because Goya packages squid in garlic sauce. Try to find it in olive oil if you can, but finding it in garlic sauce isn’t the end of days.
Two small tins or one large tin of canned tuna. Solid white albacore will do the trick. We are not fancy folk right now. The stuff you’d feed to your cat is good for your heart. You want this tuna to be packaged in WATER. Not olive oil. We will be adding more oil later, and it’s easy to find tuna in water.
Olive oil. This should already be in your apartment and if it isn’t, you need to go back to the drawing board on whether you should be making your own food.
Salt. Again, if this isn’t in your house, please reconsider your attempt.
Vinegar. I guess like red wine vinegar, or maybe balsamic? I do not know the difference between these and I usually rely on Katie to tell me which is correct. We didn’t have any regular stuff in the apartment tonight so I used a SMALL amount of white wine vinegar. I am a chef.
Lemon juice. I used this because we didn’t have the correct vinegar, I guess, and I felt we needed more citrusy zing.
One big large bright green Florida avocado. These are not your little dark green hass avocados that you pile into your shopping basket for your homemade guacamole or your Super Bowl Nachos (TM, all rights reserved, this blog invented nachos). Not every grocery store will have the Florida avocados, and IMO, the hass avocados won’t go right with the revoltillo, but I am not a police officer and I won’t be in the vicinity when you make this anyway.
Some tomatoes, red ones.
A bag of Cuban crackers, enough that you think you have way too many.
Okay time to do the extremely long hard work of making this thing.
How To Prep Your Revoltillo Con Sardinas
Here are the very difficult instructions for the prep work. PLEASE be sure to follow these extremely closely otherwise you may mess up and die.
First open up all the tins of fish and throw away the lids. We do not eat the lids in this house!!
Dump all of the canned fish stuff into a colander and allow all of the liquids to drain into your sink, those cowardly liquids can meet their maker now.
Shake the colander a bit so more of the cowardly liquids goes into the aforementioned sink drain.
Transfer the contents of the colander into a large bowl.
Dump some olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt on top of the fish stuffs. Do not go light on the olive oil and salt. If you’re not willing to throw some olive oil and salt at the problem, we’re not going to get along. Olive oil is a noble liquid.
Mix all of this stuff up. Use your hands. We’re not trying to get a spoon or fork or tongs dirty, and those instruments should be reserved for more pristine foods anyway. Use your hands to mix.
Keep on mixing. The tuna should be separating, the sardines should be getting scrunched up. Go ahead and continue mixing this until it looks pretty unappealing. We're not going to be putting this on a plate and setting it on a table, so you won’t lose points for your “plating” not looking nice. The ideal is that it’ll look like mush.
Taste some of the mixture that is undoubtedly sticking to your fingers, and add more olive oil, vinegar, salt etc as needed.
When you are satisfied with the taste, wash your god damn hands they have fish all OVER them now!!!!!!! You animal.
Put the bowl to the side and take out one (1) sharp knife. Slice avocado in half lengthwise, open it, remove the pit, then cut the avocado to make lengthwise slices. (P.S., this is unrelated and not crucial for this recipe, but I bought this knife a while back and it’s truly changed my cooking life; chopping vegetables is my favorite part of making dinner now. Buy this to protect it, hone it regularly like at least once every two weeks, get it sharpened by a professional every 6-8 months depending on how often you use it, immediately dry it after washing by hand, and you’ll be in a happy place for a hot minute. This is amongst the best tactics to improve your experience of prepping food for under $50.)
Slice the tomato into rounds. Put the avocado and tomato on the same plate and dress with olive oil and salt.
Open the bag of Cuban crackers gently, you do not want to go off breaking up all your crackers. We want these intact, they are small carb boats.
We didn’t turn on the oven. We didn’t fire up the grill. We didn’t need the stovetop. We didn’t even use a spoon or fork. We did use a knife, but it’s up to you whether you used a cutting board. I don’t advise cutting things in mid-air but if you’re more skilled than I am, that’s one less thing to wash.
How To Eat Your Revoltillo Con Sardinas
Now here is the really important part. You’re going to sit down with your bowl of fish stuff, your plate of avocado and tomato, and your bag of Cuban crackers. You’re going to do the following:
Gingerly take a Cuban cracker out of the bag. These will break if you look at them too hard and we want them in top shape for funneling fish mush into our mouths.
Load up that cracker with some fish stuff.
Optional: Add a tomato and/or avocado slice to your cracker.
Required: If you chose to skip step three, eat the tomatoes and avocados separately.
Repeat until full or food is gone.
How To Love Your Revoltillo Con Sardinas
Preferably with more olive oil.
I hope you enjoy this slice of my youth.