The Good, the Badass and the Fugly


The Good: Food is magic. I’m not talking wizardry and sorcery, but talking about that magic moment when a dish comes together. You might have seen the plate of grits that I had in Charleston a few posts ago. They were the business, they charmed the pants off of me. I’m sure there are many people out there who make grits the same way, time after time – maybe with water or even milk and cream. But I’m here to tell you to go out on that culinary limb and try out a slightly different variation. If it doesn’t work, go back to the usual procedure. These grits were made using a bacon dashi, that left them in a sublime state of soy soaked awe. Dashi is a Japanese stock that in its most basic form, is made from Kombu(dried kelp) and dried fish. Thanks to David Chang, the dried fish is replaced by bacon and in the simmering process adds a smoky pig taste to the salty sea-kelped stock. The rest is elementary; a mix of soy sauce and butter, evokes the colour brown as a taste(decipher that one). Sauteed scallops, lardons and sliced scallions send this dynamite dish even further out of the park and makes this dish totally out of site – a forkful of comfort, developed through the layering of flavour foundations.


The Badass: You might look at this picture above and think ‘Meh’, what’s the big deal with dish? I’ll tell ya, it’s all about the hand made noodles, or in this case ‘Nudeln’. The protein is provided by way of  oxtail cooked for a couple of hours in red wine, herbs and veg. The resulting braising liquid, is stirred with plenty of butter to make a sultry, fat thickened, silken sauce. The recipe for the nudeln is of German origin and plays its part in the rich culinary history of the Low Country. The recipe was so simple, it blew my tiny mind. An egg, a quarter pound of flour and salt. Knead, roll, slice and then sliver into noodle strands. Boil for 30 minutes and you have soft egg noodles ready to be slicked with gorgeous ladlefuls of oxtail offerings. The posibilities are what make this dish badass and also gives the buzz to go back in the kitchen to bash out another version. Maybe, boil them in a rich stock, or roll them in fresh herbs. Or even fry them off a little, for added texture…..hmmm.


The Fugly: You gotta strike out sometime.  This dish was an experiment too far. Crossing continents in a display of bad international relations; The empanadas from Mexico, the shrimp inside seasoned with U.S. made old bay, the mayo squeezed straight out of Japan. But, don’t they look beautiful? Well that’s about all they’re good for. The over-egged Japanese mayo, was a fat not light enough to cut through the dense corn crust of the empanada. The shrimp inside  felt like an innocent by-stander, caught in a surface war between two powerful combatants, duking it out for the ultimate lasting flavour. Next time, if there is one, I’ll fill the insides with a more robust ingredient, one that can handle a little more fight, a bit more rough and tumble.

2 out of 3, I like them odds though. Keep positive “G.N.”


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Categories: Dishes, Mexicana


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