Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unexpected Combinations of Ingredients

Usually I've planned my weekend dinners in advance; I know what I'm cooking and when. But this weekend was a bit up in the air. Can you believe I was more interested in the Ravens game on Saturday and my impending puppy adoption than meal-planning? I know, me neither. Especially the Ravens part - better luck next year, losers!

Anyhoo...I had a bunch of leeks in the fridge that I knew I wanted to cook down and combine with some pre-roasted chestnuts (Melissa's, discovered in the produce section at Wegman's just before Christmas). That left the matter of protein and starch. The cupboard offered up a bag of Trader Joe's heat-and-eat wild rice. Leeks, chestnuts, wild rice - ok, that all seems to work. But a look in the freezer revealed only a package of swordfish steaks. A wild card.

I grabbed my copy of Roy's Fish and Seafood cookbook to see what magic Chef Yamaguchi worked with swordfish. A recipe with Japanese flavors (wasabi, mirin, sake) sounded good, but it involved making a beurre blanc and I didn't feel like opening a bottle of white wine. Roy's beurre blanc recipe also involved heavy cream, which I did not have on hand. So, as usual, I decided to wing it by taking the general flavor profile and doing it my way.

I marinated the fish in soy, sugar, sake, garlic, and ginger for about fifteen minutes. While the fish was marinating, I made a bit of sauce with butter, sake, onion, ginger, garlic, and because I wanted a creamy sauce - sour cream. (Yes, it worked perfectly.) I flavored it with wasabi powder, soy, and Sriracha. Although it sported the colors of Thousand Island dressing or the spicy mayo found on some sushi rolls, it tasted like neither. Surprisingly, it had the sophisticated flavor of a French-style cream sauce with some Asian aspects. Also surprisingly, it went well with the fish (which I somehow managed to cook perfectly) and the leeks and rice. It was one of those dishes that didn't even look right on paper, yet worked. But then I probably don't give myself enough credit - I see lots of combinations that don't seem plausible on fancy restaurant menus, and diners pay good money to eat them.

I would actually prepare this again. If I remembered how I made the sauce. :)


bernal_vernal said...

What kind of doggie are you getting? Dogs are the best!

theminx said...

I got a little mutt, hard to tell what he is - Yorkie/Westie/Sheltie/Dachshund/Chihuahua? All or none of the above. He's really shy and has been hanging on me for most of the day...like a baby...lol