As a finalist in Iron Foodie 2010, I anxiously awaited delivery of the mystery box of ingredients from which I was to prepare my challenge dish. Day after day, I anticipated UPS ringing my bell and asking me to sign for a large box filled with some of the exotic products sold over at Marx Foods. So imagine my surprise when the bell finally rang and I was handed this tiny box.
There was no wild boar sausage, no geoduck (not complaining!) and no truffles (whining a little). But, in that tiny box, there definitely was a challenge. I had to create a signature dish using at least 3 of the following ingredients: dried aji panca chilis, Bourbon vanilla beans, fennel pollen, dried porcini mushrooms, Tellicherry peppercorns, Dulse seaweed, maple sugar, and smoked sea salt.
I’m anxious to see what the other contestants did but, meantime, here’s my dish. I’d say it rates -0- in degree of difficulty and a high 5 (hands up everyone) for level of taste.
Since I’m not a baker (yet), I knew I wanted to do something savory…but I also wanted to mix it up a bit with a little heat and sweet. I was immediately intrigued by the Dulse seaweed (though I had never tasted it). That led me to think of doing something from the sea and then directly afterward to creating an Asian-inspired dish. And that’s how Sweet, Spicy + Smoky Asian Shrimp came to be.
Ingredients: Dulse seaweed • aji chili pepper • sesame oil • dash of ponzu (or soy sauce) • dash of fish sauce • juice of half a lime • 1 small or half-large garlic clove • cilantro • sprinkle ground star anise
I’m taking the liberty of calling this dish “Asian” because while all the ingredients are not specifically Asian (like maple sugar), I figure the ponzu, fish sauce, sesame oil etc. are sufficient to qualify the flavor profile as Asian — plus did you see the accompaniments and the serving vessel?
The shrimp were well-coated and refrigerated for about 20 minutes.
Then they were drained and coated with maple sugar before hitting a hot skillet.
Finishing Touch: A sprinkle of chopped scallion and a very light touch of smoked sea salt (the 4th ingredient). The salt was an afterthought but it made for…
Summation. I wound up using 4 of the ingredients and I can tell you that the combination of flavors was spot-on for a marinade, a dipping sauce, and/or a just plain pour-over-the-top sauce.
If you like this recipe and are a member of the Foodie Blogroll, voting will take place beginning December 7th. The winner receives a gift certificate from Marx Foods. Maybe I could get those truffles afterall?
A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!
I've always been a culinary improvisor which means I get my kicks out of recipe development. In the FOODalogue kitchen each meal is an adventure and the journey is as exciting as the destination. My favorite kitchen tools are imagination and intuition. I rarely look at a recipe, not even my own!
On these pages, I suggest food pairings and techniques to be experimented with...in your own kitchen...to your own spice levels...and to your preferred portion sizes.