I’ve always loved cream-of-any-veg-soup, but that’s not really why I make it. I make it cause it sells well. My wife loves it. Dinner guests dig it. Even my 2-year-old daughter asked for seconds today. That, and my secret quest to get soups back on our tables..
Cut from the belly. One of the mildest fishes I’ve ever tasted, and I felt like I could eat a whole plate of it. These particular lake fish were extremely lean, so it lacked the fat to be luxurious, but shone in it’s cleanliness of flavor profile. It struck me as having the flavor profile more the direction of rockfish sashimi more than salmon. Best pairing – Riesling
Tail pieces, gently pounded thin, seasoned with lemon, lime, red onion, salt, pepper, oil. The bed of zest and seasoning under the fish was a great idea, and the texture was lovely. Reminiscent of tartare presentations I’ve made a few times, it’s a style of eating raw fish that I think would appeal to even the non-raw-fish-eater. Best pairing – gewurtztraminer
Poached loin with Chive Beurre Noisette, Chard, and Thyme-Rice
I dig this dish with salmon, and it didn’t disappoint with char. I think this would be more successful with a thicker piece, done more med-rare, but otherwise, I was really happy with how this turned out. I chuckle every time I think of char being complemented with chard. Heh. Pairing: pinot noir
Almond Crusted Schnitzel
This dish was slotted as the one to go for crispy skin, and although it didn’t get there, the skin was memorable for me. It is so delicate, that in this preparation, we ate it with the flesh, and could hardly tell. It is tender, soft, and extremely easy to eat. We preferred it with a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon. Although robust from being fried, this dish worked better with white wine than red.
While filleting and deconstructing the whole fishes, it felt wrong to discard any, so it went into a stock pot. I’d also wanted to do a dish with cream sauce. Someone suggested chowder: genius. This was another of the top dishes for me.
Chili, citrus, onion, and fish just works. Plain, simple, on a round of toasted home-made baguette. Clean, flavorful, vibrant – very solid. In hindsight, this was a fortunate place in the menu to put this dish, as the freshness could act as a palate cleanser between two very savoury courses. Wine: Riesling.
Yellow Curry with Red Lentil
Indian yellow curry with coconut milk, on a bed of red lentils heady with fish stock and fresh garlic. The char collar atop the lentils got me excited every time I lifted the lid, and the curry filled the house with great smells.
Candied Char, 2 Ways
I’d have loved to cure and smoke char, but time constraints disallowed proper execution. So instead, we went with a ‘dessert’ course, candying the char as much as possible in the time we had. There were two camps, both in conceptualizing, and in preference for the final product. One went lavender-honey cure, and I went with the classic brown-sugar and kosher salt direction. The brown sugar one, with 2-3 hours time, resulted in a fruit-jelly-gummy-thinger texture. I preferred it rinsed of its cure. The lavender one was good, largely dominated by the lavender…and the lavender added from the garden.
It is important to note that these were freshwater char from the Yukon. They were extremely lean and delicate – which presents some unique challenges in their preparation. For example, we were excited to get some ‘fishyness’ out of the fish stock that was very lightly perfumed – not a typical problem with fish or seafood in general. Always fun to take a wonderful ingredient in multiple directions, this will remain a memorable night. Or perhaps ‘morning’ would more appropriate than ‘night’, as I believe the clock hit midnight and we still had 4 courses or so to put out.
Wine-pairing-wise I was quite pleased. We had a 2004 Paul Garaudet Monthelie Cuvee Paul from Burgundy that was a nice treat, and a good complement to the fish. Pinot Noir and perhaps gamay would be two of the only red varietals I’d go with for Char. One the white side, we had a 2005 Leon Beyer Riesling Reserve - clean, fresh, with vibrant acidity which made it a solid pairing. We also had a 2006 W. Gisselbrecht Gewurtztraminer Reserve that worked well with the more forcefully flavored dishes, as its heady nose of citrus fruits and perfume could stand up to quite a bit.
Remember me mentioning searing beef in the dark one morning? This soup was born from the cooking liquor that was that braise, and inspired by this. I’d say it’s my first properly executed beef vegetable soup. Proud to say all the veg are from the garden, and that my wife even liked it. I have a tendency to over-garnish soup and turn them into mushy stew-like nastiness. I guess I’ve learned my lesson.
I took photos today in prep for a post about baking a ‘boule’. I’m hoping to get that up tomorrow.
Yeah, I know. But I had to – it’s one of the best ways I can suggest to truly appreciate the delicate texture and flavor of the shaggy mane mushroom.
There are times when I have so much chicken stock I don’t know what to do with it, and there are times I can’t keep enough around. Noodle soups sure make it disappear fast – about a pint per serving, I figure. Glad I make my own.
This stock was made from the honey glazed rotisseried chicken the other night, and it made a beautiful stock. I was surprised. I normally prefer uncooked bones and meat for my chicken stock. Especially if there is a heavy flavoring on the roasted bird – the all-time worst being lemon, in my opinion. Lemon-gravy. Ew.
2 cups or so of chicken broth
1 cup or so of pork broth
A healthy shot of leftover Nuoc Cham [see previous post]
1/2 tsp or so of chili garlic sauce
~3″ of lemongrass, minced
A minced small green chili
A small portion of fresh rice noodles for Pho
1 filleted and deboned rock cod
Poached the fillets in the stock, then in went the rest. Add a Thai basil palate cleanser and an ounce of Japanese plum wine to quell the sweet tooth. Wow. Rock cod poached is amazing – the perfect blend of density and flakiness. I dipped mine in hoisin, of course. And the lemongrass gave the complex broth a fantastically fresh aroma. I don’t expect you to run out and make this. I just wanted to post it so that I wouldn’t forget what I did. But if you were to make it, you’d be in for a treat.
I ate my vietnamese soup for breakfast, lunch, and supper today. No pictures, sorry. Good thing I made it, as I woke up with a sore throat and headache. Hence my lack of awesome story about my soup eating binge. Dang.
I have great respect for Vietnamese cuisine. For some reason, among the asian cuisines I’ve been exposed to, I’m drawn to it the most. Maybe I’m more ethnocentric than I think and it’s only because they were once colonized by the French, my European cuisine favorite. Or not. I’m a big fan of the clean, fresh, savoury, transparent, and crisp vibe to the food. Not much fanciness. Just good food done properly.
I’ve recently become a student of Phở – a Vietnamese noodle soup in beef broth. At what is in my opinion the best Vietnamese restaurant in town, I tried both the Northern and Southern Vietnamese variations. Both excellent. After much discussion about flavour profiles, differences, and similarities, I had to try it at home.
So today I bought a cheap duck and a slab of cheap beef and made stock, jacking it up very slightly with star aniseed, onion, szechuan peppercorn, and black peppercorns. Stock, I can do. I love the pace of stock. 9 hours of love. And although some aromatics may vary, the meats don’t vary much cross-culturally, and the process is much the same.
So soon, likely tomorrow, I will post pictures and a review of my resulting bowl of noodles. I am on a mission to become adept at this. Can’t wait.