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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

grilled swordfish, poached baby octopus and fresh cured sardines for the Iron Foodie Challenge 2010


The time has come to post the goods. I have been hanging on to this post for days now anxiously tweaking each and every word waiting for the day to arrive and it is finally here. When the box from MarxFoods was delivered and I opened it up and took a whiff I knew instantly what I was going to do. The list of ingredients are: dried Aji Panca Chiles, Bourbon Vanilla Beans, Fennel Pollen, Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms, Tellicherry Peppercorns, Dulse Seaweed, Maple Sugar and Smoked Salt. Each ingredient on its own is fantastic but we, the contestants, need to use at least 3 of these little gems. I went ahead and used them all. Get comfortable this is going to be a long ride.

First thing that came to my mind was a barbecue sauce so I ground up the aji panca chile and the tellicherry peppercorns and added them to the maple sugar, the scraped out bourbon vanilla bean, the smoked salt and the fennel pollen.

A little water and I let it steep over a low flame until the flavors were fat and juicy, once everything was engorged I added a little corn starch to thicken it up and et voila my barbecue sauce was alive. Smoky, sweet, spicy and exotic.

Secondly I decided it would be tasty to make dulse pasta with a dulse pesto so that was whipped up in a jiffy. I rehydrated the dulse and added it to a basic pasta recipe you know egg and semolina flour. The pasta came out great with its dulse freckles and sweet and salty taste of the sea. I took some of the softened, moist and pureed dulse and added a little wasabi powder and sesame oil and the pesto was born. This dulse pasta with dulse pesto was going to be the perfect side to go with my collard green puree and grilled swordfish with my 5 ingredient bbq sauce. Lets call it Tellismoky Panca Sauce, or something like that, strong flavors all living happily together and mellowing each other out if you can believe it - swordfish, collard greens, dulse and my sauce - now thats a menage a trois but with 4 - kind of like swingers.

How could I stop there? I couldnt, so I slow poached some baby octopus and the dried porcini mushrooms in olive oil for about an hour and a half on super low heat.

When the octopus was tender like butter I served it and the mushrooms on top of some thin cucumber slices that were dusted in tellicherry peppercorns, fennel pollen and smoky salt and the whole thing was drizzled with some of the poaching oil and a dressing made from white vinegar and some of the maple sugar then over it all - a touch of aji panca chile powder.

An absolutely delicious first course and thats all I have to say about that one.

Sardines. I picked up some fresh sardines and they were screaming to be cured with the smoky salt so I said ok and I also added a sprinkle of aji panca chile that I powdered and some tellicherry peppercorns because I am fun like that.

These cured sardines were then lightly grilled and then served with grilled carrots and grilled green onion drizzled with good virgin olive oil.

Who needs to even tell you how good this was. The fishy goodness of fresh sardines is in love with the smoky salt and subtle yet sweet bites from the chile and the peppercorns, the carrots and the scallions, they were the icing on the cake. There shouldnt be any doubt that I am THE IRON FOODIE of 2010 but I cant do it without you.

Everything was "kid" approved, even with homework.

Oh wait, did I forget dessert, I dont think so. Pull up a spoon. Dulse ice cream with fennel pollen and maple sugar caramel and Aji Panca and bourbon vanilla bean sorbet with maple sugar syrup and smoky sea salt.

Creamy, potent and refreshing these desserts capped off a delicious journey of flavors, the fennel pollen added the right "tang" to the sultry seaweed while the smoky salt held hands with the aji panca and they both bathed happily in their caramels and syrups.

The only thing you need to do is decide which spoon to choose.

Since I didnt make one "signature" dish I guess I would have to say that the Tellismoky Panca Sauce would fit into this category - if I need to pick one, no wait, pick the baby octopus, no pick the sardines or the ice cream - no, pick them all. I am a true Iron Foodie - implementing all the ingredients creating unique and delicious dishes from start to finish, that is what you should really look at. Voting begins on December 7th on FoodieBlogRoll - so, if you are not a member yet you still have time to join.

41 comments:

Mexico in my kitchen said...

You have to add a warning sign in your blog. My mouth is watering. Good luck in the contest you deserve to win.

Saludos,

Mely

Mo Diva said...

YES! i love everything that is goin on here.. the baby octopus looks magnificent and freakin yummy!
I also love swordfish. You've won me over, i hope there are leftovers. :-)

FOODalogue said...

OMG, you're a mad man!! :) Like a looney scientist in his lab. Way to go to intimidate the rest of us contestants, but congrats on taking this challenge waaaay over the top! Really great job.

mermayd said...

a sure-fire winner! everything looks scrumptious.

dana salvo said...

The octopus looks gorgeous! God bless ya cause I would never touch it haha.

Danielle said...

Ummm octopus is my favorite! Looks good!

Kittycat said...

Very interesting and looks amazing.
UNfortunately I dont cook.

SO I will just have to enjoy your experiences. : )


Kittycat

Janis said...

Damn, that is impressive! Great job making my jaw drop. Every one of those things looks fantastic and I would love to taste them.

Kate said...

Holy Cow! Such wonderful creativity and amazing dishes!!! I'll try to remember to head to Foodie Blog Roll and vote :-) Kate @ kateiscooking

Marjie said...

Yeah, you know how to make us drool. I'm first in line for the dessert. You know I love vanilla!

Savory Sweet Living said...

Love the menu, everything looks delicious especially the octopus! Sound like a fun challenge and of course you did an amazing job!

Vickie said...

Chisto! This is all so beautiful and interesting. My favorite is probably the sardine with grilled veggies - but I'm loving the octopus as well. Lovely pictures plus you have mismatched silver (a favorite collection for me). Lovin it!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

This looks amazing! You are truly talented in the kitchen.

Angie's Recipes said...

omg...the grilled octopus looks so darn good! And I love the pasta!

Micky-T said...

My teeth....are salivating.
That octopus looks beyond delicious, and my mouth can so imagine the texture of that creature.

cathy robinson said...

Octopus is starting to very appetizing!!!

The Blonde Duck said...

Thanks for letting me know about the pictures!

You've outdone yourself! Good luck!

Jessie Carty said...

i am literally drooling over that pesto :)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

You could sell the photos of the octopus on top of the cucumbers. It really has star power written all over it.

Best of luck in the contest. There's no doubt in my mind that you'll excel with entries such as these.
Sam

Chow and Chatter said...

wow first class gourmet meal - impressive so sorry we couldn't make it to NYC

Jamie said...

I am stunned! This is simply fabulous and you are the Iron Foodie Chef in my book. Where did you get such amazing culinary talent? I'll vote for you for sure! And kudos for raising a kid who loves it all!

Anette said...

Impressive!

Doc said...

OK-If you don't win with that, it's rigged. 'Nuff said.

Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

Wow wow wow! This is really some challenge entry! This is really incredible! Best of luck in the polls!

Cynthia said...

There are no words. None. You are an amazing cook!

mermayd said...

i want those spoons!!!

Jenn said...

Nicely done good sir!!!! I'm totally rooting for you.

I need to try cooking with octopus one of these days.

Velva said...

Whoa! Your dishes are stunning. Of course, I would not have expected anything less from you. Dude, you are tough competition. Good luck to you.

btw, I have always followed your blog but, today I made it official. :-)

tasteofbeirut said...

Good luck in this contest! You definitely deserve their accolade for all this hard and inspired work!

Magic of Spice said...

Oh wow, everything looks absolutely amazing!

Gina said...

Incredible.....

East Village Eats said...

Damn Christo, you're not messing around, are you???

Barbara said...

Brilliant, my dear.
The octopus looks divine...I love it so. Had some the other night, out, but it was tough. As so often happens. Pleased to see yours was tender!

Biz said...

That bbq sauce just screams me - yum!

I'll definitely be voting for you!!

Juliana said...

Wow, everything looks fabulous...love them all and must have to admit that the presentation of the dishes are awesome...

Proud Italian Cook said...

Just so you know, I'm drooling over here looking at your blog! You are like the mad scientist, but definitly in a good way!

Debi Shawcross(Table Talk) said...

Impressive all around~preparation/flavors/plating:=nice job!
Love the spoons

eonyc said...

Oh my GOODNESS this all looks delicious! I am learning to love sardines and I bet yours were amazing.

chefyourself said...

Holy pulpito, Batman! I'm trying to dive into my screen for that octopus, tis perfection!
I'm squeered of ju, I feel like such a slacker now.

Rebecka said...

like I said...Damn, how the heck am I'm suppose to win this challenge with a competitor like you??? Shish!

These are all inspired dishes, my fav is the octopus...looks very tasty! Best of luck in the challenge!

Lori Lynn said...

Woo! Hoo! That is one creative entry! Your flavors and textures have blown me away. I bet it tasted wildly good! Good luck!
LL

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