Saturday, September 10, 2011

Choy Bomb

I would like to think that something went terribly, terribly wrong with the way I prepared last night's dinner of Crusted Ono as Featured at Sam Choy's Restaurants (pg 64)--yes, that is the full name--but I think it's just a poorly written recipe. This is one that I've had my eye on from the beginning, so I'm disappointed that it turned out to be inedible.

First, marinate ono (wahoo) fillets in olive oil, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. It doesn't say for how long. I did it for about 30 minutes. So far, so good. Wahoo was not available (big surprise), so I used mahi mahi, which, I assume, is cut much thicker, as I had to double the specified time to cook it through. That wasn't what went wrong, though.

Mash together a butt-load of butter, Ritz cracker crumbs, chopped macadamia nuts, paprika, and fresh basil and thyme and pat it on top of the fish. Using the correct amounts of everything, this created a VERY thick layer of "crust." I put crust in quotation marks, because I think of crusts as crunchy. This was a soggy, salty, soft mess, and left the fish sitting in a pool of grease. The picture in the book shows a thin layer, as if the fish were lightly coated, which is not the effect that the instructions produced. We couldn't eat it.
How can such a delicious line-up of ingredients create such a monstrosity?
The little intro to the recipe says that it's one of Chef Choy's bestsellers, and "it has a kind of reputation, but it works." What reputation does it have? Beats me. I tried to google it, and came up empty. (Any local input, Pauline??) 

Conclusion: Hated it. The picture in the book looks really good, though.

This is served with a Papaya-Mango Salsa, which was actually very good. I was worried, because I always think I'm going to like papaya, but I never do. Mixed in with mango, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, chili flakes, vinegar, cumin, and sugar (I only used 1/3rd of the sugar), there was enough going on that I couldn't distinguish it.

I ate cereal and papaya-mango salsa for dinner. Booooo!

Conclusion: Liked it.

To use up some buttermilk that I had laying around, I made Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote (pg 135) from Ready for Dessert. I have to say, I did not love this. I've only had panna cotta once before at Salumeria Rossi in NYC (WONDERFUL charcuterie. Go there if you're ever in the city). I remember it being light and soft. This version was the solid consistency of jello. It had a nice flavor, as the half-and-half is steeped with lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, but I didn't enjoy the texture.
Conclusion: Just okay.

We planned to have friends over for brunch this morning, but I caught a cold and then gave it to Charlie, so we rescheduled. I'd already made Blackberry-Brown Butter Financiers (pg 108) to serve alongside the bagels I planned to make, so obviously we needed to eat them anyway, with or without company.
I've never had a financier before, but they are a not-so-sweet almond cake with blackberries in the top. Traditionally, they are baked in small rectangular pans to resemble gold bars, but Lebovitz adapted the recipe for cupcake pans. Once again, this made fewer servings than he says they will, but in this instance, I blame myself. I filled the pan like I would for cupcakes, so only got 9 instead of 12 cakes. Oh well. No harm done. I have four egg yolks to find a use for. What's that you say, David? Your flan needs four yolks? Well, if I must

Conclusion: Loved them. I would eat these instead of a muffin any day of the week. They're perfect with a cup of coffee.


  1. My coffee and those blackberry-Brown Butter Financiers have a breakfast date this week!

  2. At least the muffins and the salsa were a hit! I wonder about your mahi. It's actually an incredibly similar cut to wahoo so there shouldn't have been that much difference...hmmm

  3. well the recipe might be bad. i.e, too much butter in the crumb coating,( ritz crackers already are richand cake-like so why would they need a ton of butter?)but it is hard to believe that such a popular recipe would result in something inedible! I bet your oven wasn't hot enough (could be the recipe's fault) b/c I can't imaging baking fish, even a thick filet w/a breadcrumb topping for more than 15 mins max. Fish has to bake at about 400º for as short a time as it can- otherwise - YUCK. At least the pic looked good (small consolation) and both the sweet dishes look really good!

  4. Oh, that's too bad about the fish dish because it does look delicious. I wonder how it would taste with smaller amounts of butter in the crumbs.

  5. You know I've never heard a buzz about this fish on the island but the ingredients sound like they would be great together. I wonder if, as stacyj said, cooking it differently may have saved it? Perhaps baking for a few minutes then broiling for the last few to finish it off? May have at least crisped up the topping. Another epic Choy fail!

  6. Ever ask a friend for a recipe for something they always make, and suspect that they modify it ever-so-slightly so that yours will never come out as good as theirs? That's how I feel about this recipe--like it was just badly written and promising failure. Ah well.