Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Round-up

I've made a few things in the past two days.

For Friday's dinner, I made Hawaiian Pulehu Tri-Tip Steak (pg 46) and Black Goma Asparagus (pg 86). I think the steak is a big gimmick. It appeals to a tourist's notions of exotic cooking, but isn't actually a good way to make a steak.

First, you cake a tri-tip steak with a mixture of garlic, pepper, sugar, and sea salt. Like, A LOT of sea salt.
 Let it sit for half hour and go light up the BBQ. The thing that makes this steak unique is that you lay it directly on the coals and flip it every four minutes. Chef Choy says it will be "crusty on the outside and rare on the inside." What he means is it will be charred on the outside and raw on the inside, except for the ends, which will cook through and be dry as boards.

The biggest problem is that the recommended cut of beef is not the same width all the way through. This would work better with a london broil or something that is flat and even.

Because it was soooo rare, and I don't think tri-tip is a particularly tender cut to begin with (or at least this one wasn't), it was too chewy for me. I prefer to focus on the pleasures, rather than the mechanics, of eating, and that was very hard to do here.
The meat looks like it's cooked to a medium here, but trust me. It was still chilly in the middle.
On the plus side, I expected this to be a salt-bomb, and it wasn't. Maybe a lot of the salt burned off or was transferred to the coals?

Conclusion: Dislike. On a different cut of meat, cooked a more even, reliable way, the salt rub would have been good, but that wasn't the recipe. It takes a lot for me not to finish my steak, and I left most of it on my plate.

I wish I could say that the Black Goma Asparagus was better, but it's really just asparagus with soy sauce on it. Add a bit of ginger, a bit of sugar, and black sesame seeds (I used white), but all you taste is soy sauce. Plus, a certain toddler who shall remain nameless distracted me while I was cooking them, so they were mushy.

Conclusion: Just okay.

Now, on to brighter pastures!!

Last night, I made Moloka'i Shrimp Spinach Salad. It had many components, which started to annoy me as time passed and my kitchen sink filled to the brim with dishes, but it was worth it.

Marinate shrimp in a brown sugar/soy sauce/red pepper flake mixture with a bunch of spices thrown in.

Toss spinach with a sweet, warm balsamic vinaigrette, then top with the shrimp, sliced roasted red pepper, boiled eggs, and minced macadamia nuts. The vinaigrette was supposed to have 1/2 cup (!!!) of pine nuts in it, but I must have used up what I had last time I made pesto. I didn't miss them.
This salad was slightly too spicy for me. I think I have a sensitivity to red pepper flakes, as opposed to other pepper products. No matter how small of a pinch I use, they always seem too spicy to me, so the three teaspoons used here was more than I'm used to. The egg had the surprising effect of mediating the heat, though. This salad kept a beautiful balance between sweet (red pepper, sugar, balsamic), salty (soy sauce, macadamia nuts), and spicy (red pepper flakes, ginger, white pepper).

Conclusion: LOVED it. Matt said that he's never eaten a salad so fast in his life.

I asked Matt to pick out  a dessert from Ready For Dessert. He's not a big sweets guy, and my hope was that if he picked the treat, he'd eat more than a sliver of it. He chose Apricot Souffles (pg 131), which I never would have picked, because our universal disappointment with Dorie's cheese souffle turned me off to wasting my time on another.

I am so glad he picked this. It was amazing.

For a few minutes, you simmer dried apricot halves in white wine, with the contents and pod of a vanilla bean, then leave it to sit for about an hour (or, in my case, most of the afternoon). When you're ready to make the souffle, puree the mixture (sans vanilla pod), sugar, and an egg yolk. Then you assemble it like any other souffle, whipping up the egg whites, then gently folding them in. This recipe is for four smaller servings, instead of one giant souffle, so it only cooks for about nine minutes.
Hello, new friend.
I like knowing that souffles really aren't as difficult or as scary to make as their legend would suggest.
Lebovitz recommends serving this souffle with raspberry sauce. Perfection. The souffle tastes like pure apricot concentrate, and the tart raspberry sauce provides a masterful counterpoint. I was afraid, after my previous cheesy experience, that it would taste eggy, but it didn't.

Conclusion: Loved it! Light, melt-in-your-mouth, fruity goodness. Now I want to try Lebovitz's other sweet souffles.


  1. YUM! That souffle looks ace. Nice pick by Matt :) That salad looks lovely too :) And I'm all about spicy so I'm sure it would be perfect for me. Sorry the other two were 'eh.'

  2. I just received two Hawaiian cookbooks from my sister! So, I'm excited to try out some dishes before you move on to your next challenge!

  3. I would have never thought to pick a month of Hawaiian cuisine. The shrimp salad does look like a convincing argument.
    And you usually can't go wrong with David L. I made his bacon ice cream (for real) this weekend & even the largest skeptics in the house were won over...

  4. I hope Sam stops disappointing soon, although that salad does look and sound ono. Souffle looks unbelievably delicious. I'm surprised the flavor was so robust throughout just from the dried apricots!