To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.
~François de La Rochefoucauld

Yes, I have written about tuna more extensively in a post entitled Ahi “Nicoise” dated May 13, 2010 — look at the search box.  But, please abstain in devouring blue fin tuna as it appears low in numbers.

Then again, earlier (February 7, 2009) there existed here a post about ubiquitous steak tartare — although sublime, but with the firm texture of this finfish, tuna tartare is sapid, damn near nympholeptic.  This does not imply that steak tartare is equally divine, as both are toe curlers.  But, it is a cooling, light, dainty often app repast with tuna diced into chunks and fluidly soothed by Asian flavors (as below) in a chilled vessel, a dish which really did not emerge until recently about 3-4 or so decades ago…perhaps in Paris by a Japanese born, yet French trained, chef by the name of Tachibe — who knows?

A chilled dry white (preferably one that is French oriented or sauvignon blanc) or rosé is essential as quaff.

1/4 C canola oil
2 t grated fresh ginger, with some small chunks retained

1 – 1 1/3 lb sashimi (perhaps sushi) grade tuna, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 t jalapeño, minced with seeds and veins removed
1 1/2 t wasabi powder
1/2 t mirin
1/2 t saké
1 t sesame seeds
1 T scallion, finely chopped
1 1/2 T lime juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Non-pareil capers, rinsed
Caviar

In a bowl, add the ginger and chunks for a few hours to allow to marinate some in the frig.

In a large glass chilled bowl, add tuna to ginger oil as well as small ginger chunks, the cilantro, jalapeño, wasabi, mirin, saké, sesame seeds, scallions, lime juice, then mix well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Using fingers, very slightly strew over the tuna tartare with capers and then caviar.

Serve on chilled shallow glass salad bowl(s) over some flared avocado slices or cilantro or watercress, something like that or those kith and kin.

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Filial Wings

April 13, 2012

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
~Unknown

This quote was first attributed to the revered, occasionally ornery, Mark Twain. But that credit now seems apocryphal as apparently Twain did not utter it. There is no evidence that links Twain to the adage, and the first version that appeared was in 1915–five years after his death. The son’s age in the quote has varied over time, and while it does not rule out a fictional biographical nexus, it should be remembered that Twain’s father died when he was eleven years old.

Scholars have not found this saying in Twain’s literary works, writings, notebooks or letters and relating this quote to him are skeptical at best. No version of this same passage has been ascribed to any other significant figure either.

Did Twain inherit the quote as a vestige from earlier mots justes? A subliminal post mortem tribute? Twain or not, I still love the quote (and the man).

This is game grub. The NCAA Tourney may be history, but the London Olympics, NBA Playoffs, French Open, UEFA Euro Championship, Tour de France, Wimbledon, World Cup Qualifying, MLB season, US Open, NFL season, to name a few, all await this year. The wings beckon too, most wondrous “children”–you know who you are.

CHICKEN WINGS

3 lbs chicken wings, wingettes and drumettes intact

1 T sea salt
1 T sugar
1 T light brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
Juice of 2 limes
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1/2 C sriracha
1/4 C chile garlic sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 C honey
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Zest + juice of 1 lime
2 t sea salt

2 C duck fat
2 C canola oil
Sea salt

Scallions, green part only, chopped
Jalapeños, stemmed, and thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves

Combine the salt, sugars, paprika, lime juice, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Place the wings in a large ziploc bag, pour in the marinade and toss to thoroughly coat. Marinate for 2 hours or even overnight, then remove from fridge and allow to reach room temperature. Discard smashed garlics.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by adding sriracha, chile garlic sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, jalapeño, honey, butter, lime and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Place over medium high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and whisk occasionally until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. The sauce can be adjusted by adding more chile sauce for spice or more honey for sweetness. Season with salt to taste and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Spread marinated wings out on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with any remaining marinade, and roast until almost but not fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat and add duck fat and canola oil. With a deep fry thermometer, allow the fat to reach 360 F, add the wings and fry until golden and crispy. Using a large spider, remove onto paper towels to drain and promptly season with salt.

Meanwhile, reheat the sauce to almost a simmer. Place fried wings in a large glass ovenproof bowl, pour the hot sauce over, then mix well to coat evenly so the wings are nicely glazed.

Garnish with scallions, sliced jalapeños and cilantro. Serve with yogurt-blue cheese, barbeque, and chipotle sauces.

Pourboire: some prefer the wingettes and drumettes separated for more even frying and easier eats. Others favor lightly dusting the wings in all-purpose or rice flour before frying. Also consider a sauce with a Thai bend mixing sriracha, chile garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, dry sherry, soy sauce, garlic, bird chiles, peanut oil, lime and salt. Serve with red curry, gai yang, and peanut sauces.

I wasn’t kissing her, I was whispering in her mouth.
~Chico Marx

As a late teen first visiting Paris, I was struck (even smitten) by the provocative public displays of affection on the streets, in parks and cafés. Passionate and intimate — open mouthed, deep kisses, with cuddles and caresses. Face dwellers. Blissfully awesome came to mind then and now. In the puritanical States though, you are ridiculed, derided for such shameless ardor. Frowned upon here, public kissers are brusquely advised to “get a room.” I mean, God forbid you be so deeply enamored with each other that you really do not give a damn about those leering, envious “get a life” voyeurs. Just that kind of “refulgent” act that no doubt makes Sarah Palin feel “squirmish” (sp?). Maybe she should stick to more basic, monosyllabic words, like “dolt.”

Thankfully, face whiffing and canoodling in public venues have now become national pasttimes in Mexico. In 2009, nearly 40,000 people gathered at Zocalo Square in Mexico City to break the tally for the most people kissing at one moment. This Valentine’s Day simultaneous smooching was dubbed Besame Mucho or “Kiss Me A Lot”. The intense, overt sensuality of young and old has continued forward with lovers inveterately kissing and ardently embracing in and near squares and promenades in Mexico’s most populus city.

Ah, to create a culture of sweet, tender mercies with those ever expressive, soft yet hot kisses…panochitas.

While my preference would be fresh tomatoes or tomatillos or both, the earthy sundried ones are a luscious substitute in the off season. Then, fast forward to late summer and replace the sundried ones with home grown or farmers’ market beauties—even heirlooms. A third option is to boil about a half dozen fresh, husked and washed, medium tomatillos in salted water until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain well and zip in a blender or food processor.

GUACAMOLE & SUNDRIED TOMATOES

1/2 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/3 C sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 C loosely packed, chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 medium large ripe avocados
Sea salt
Fresh lime juice

Queso fresco crumbled, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Radishes, halved and thinly sliced, for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix the onion, garlic and chiles with the sundried tomatoes and cilantro.

Close to when you are going to serve, halve the avocados lengthwise by cutting from stem to stern and back again, then twist the two halves apart. Dislodge the pit with the blade and scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl with a spoon. Roughly mash the avocados into a coarsely textured, thick mash. You probably want some chunk.

Taste and season with salt and lime juice to suit your personal preferences.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate until ready to serve. Mound the guacamole in a serving dish, and serve with queso fresco, cilantro and radishes.