Wednesday, December 16, 2009

comfort and soy

As the days get shorter our thoughts turn to comfort. Comfort food, of course. Now Amanda, I apologize right up front, I'm not talking diet food. Oh no. I am thinking about peanut sauce, gooey and rich and poured over noodles. Peanut sauce takes on all types of shapes and flavors in my kitchen. I never make it the same way twice. Rather, I proceed from a basic plan and improvise as I go. My peanut sauce is an Asian melting pot with my gratitude and apologies to all.

Tonight the peanut sauce was tossed over noodles with some steamed broccoli and some pan fried firm tofu. I like to get the tofu really golden and crispy.
It's about half way there.

I then add to the noodles tons of chopped scallions and julienned cucumber. I love the mixture of all the  crunchy textures glued together with that non-dietetic peanut sauce. The sauce itself usually has ginger, garlic, lime and or lemon juice, jalapeno, sugar, coconut milk and soy sauce. I just throw it all in a pot and let it melt down a bit and start tasting it to adjust the flavor. Oh yeah, and I use Skippy extra chunky peanut butter. I can hear you all groaning. I'm sorry. It tastes really good. Amanda, just skip down to the next paragraph about the kale salad. Ok, I would love to hear anyone's peanut sauce recipe. I tried Daniel Boulud's version and IT WAS NOT GOOD. It really wasn't and he is GREAT. The Malaysian Restaurant Penang on Queens Boulevard makes an AMAZING  peanut sauce that I just love but am too shy to ask for the recipe because if they said no I would probably cry.
It's a white girl from Manhattan's version of peanut sauce over noodles. Yeah that's linguine under there. I said I'm sorry.

Anyway, kale salad, what a concept. Amanda told me about a swanky wine tasting dinner she recently attended that served a salad she believed to be finely minced uncooked kale. Really? She said it was fantastic. Huh, worth a try. I picked up a bunch of stunningly colorful red kale today at Whole Foods and thought I would give the salad a shot.

When you finely mince beef for steak tartar it gets very tender, so perhaps it would work for kale. Perhaps. Kale leaves are particularly tough for a green leafy veg, but if this technique worked, well, how cool? So I tried it, chop chop chop.

I dressed it with white balsamic vinegar and some walnut oil and lots of s & p. And I tasted it. Um, chewy. Really chewy. It didn't taste bad and if you served it to me I would eat it, but I did not get it to the point where I would serve it to you. So I will pursue this concept further and see where it goes.

Peanut Sauce
1 cup of extra chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup of coconut milk
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 inch piece of peeled ginger finely minced
2 scallions finely minced
1 jalapeno finely minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sugar

Put all ingredients in a small pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes untill all the ingredients are blended. taste to adjust seasoning. Store in fridge for a week. Great with everything!

You had me at "peanut sauce". Admittedly, it doesn't take much to get me salivating. But I am particularly susceptible to any recipe involving peanut butter, be it main course, salad or dessert. I get weak at just the thought of cold sesame noodles from my local Chinese take-out establishment. I can waive the calorie counting for a night for the occasion of trying out your recipe!

Vouvray is the wine that jumps to mind. One of my favorite whites, I sometimes inadvertantly overlook it. Vouvray is a region in France located in the Loire Valley.  Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, the wine is made in a variety of styles, raging in dry, or sec to the slightly sweeter demi-sec, and much sweeter moelleux. There is an occasion for each style! I would enjoy a richer style with this dish, one which has characteristics of honey, figs and nuts. Vouvray pairs very well with stronly flavored dishes, and I think this combination would be beautiful!

The style and acidity of Vouvray is based on the balance of sugar in the wine. Vouvrays have great ageability, especially the moeulleux style. This is a wine, if you have not yet tried, is definitely worth seeking out. With Deb's peanut sauce, I would definitely lean towards an off-dry, or slightly sweet style. The sweetness of the wine is a fine balance to the zip from the jalapeno, and saltiness from the soy sauce.

Deb, I cannot wait to try this one out! Sounds wonderful and right up my alley!

As for the kale salad, it definitely looks like the one I enjoyed the other night! You mentioned the toughness of kale, and that you chopped away - believe it or not, your pieces are still larger than the ones in my salad! The kale I had was chopped so fine, almost like little strands of confetti. It was so shredded, there was no toughness at all. Just a wonderful crunchiness that gave me the idea that it could not have been blanched. Pine nuts added to the crunchiness as well, and plump somethings (like very large raisins, but I don't know what they were) gave the salad a scrumptuous sweetness and chewy texture. Perhaps I should call the restaurant and investigate this a little!

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