IMBB #14: Orange You Hungry?
April 24, 2005
Orange is the theme of this month's IMBB, and what a theme it is! An inspired bit of lateral thinking by Foodgoat has left us with a color, not an ingredient, to work with this month. I am, as always, very curious to see how other people approached the theme. Until then, here's my attempt:
Some say it's trendy, some say it's already passe, but I think it's here to stay. There's something special, something uniquely gratifying about vertical food. Is it a protest against the entropy of the universe and the disorder and decay that seem to dominate our lives? Is it the phallic nature of these towering constructions that is the source of their appeal? Or is it a destructive impulse? Is it that we take pleasure in toppling, dismantling, and then consuming the creations that our hapless hosts have painstakingly built for us? Perhaps. All I know is, some food tastes better when it's taller than it is wide.
The recipe below should make four salads. You may wish to increase the amount of the dressing you make, though, to suit people's preferences.
Tower of Orange:
- 1/2 small papaya
- 4 small (orange) tomatoes
- 1/3 head savoy cabbage
- 1 lb fresh salmon fillet
- 5 slices thick cut bacon
- 3 (orange) bell peppers
- 1 c chopped pea shoots
- fresh basil
- fresh tarragon
Render and reserve the fat from the bacon. Chop the bacon into bits. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the salmon fillet and pan-fry in 2 tbsp. of the bacon fat. Remove the skin from the fillet and shred the salmon with two forks.
Chiffonade the basil and mix with the papaya. Chop the tarragon and mix with the shredded salmon.
Take a 16 oz plastic cup -- you know, a "beer cup" -- and cut out the bottom. Grease the inside with nonstick spray or olive oil. Turn the cup upside down on a flat-bottomed plate or bowl. Drop a few tablespoons of each mixture into the cup and pack it down gently with the spoon. We alternated the orange layers with the non-orange layers like so:
- Orange bell pepper
- Pea shoots
- Bacon bits
- Orange tomatoes
- White bean ragout
- Papaya/basil mixture
- Savoy Cabbage
- Salmon/tarragon mixture
But of course most any order will do. Spoon the dressing around the sides of the cup and gently remove the cup. The resulting tower is surprisingly stable and very impressive.
The 16 oz. cup results in a relatively large salad. If you're serving this as part of a three or four (or more) course meal, you may wish to use a smaller cup.
White Bean Ragout:
- 1 can Cannelloni beans (or other white beans)
- 3 tbsp "bacon bits" (see above)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1/2 cup stock
Saute the garlic for 4 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the beans, the stock, the thyme, and the bacon and cook over a medium heat for about 5-8 minutes or until the bean mixture begins to thicken.
Curried (Orange) Tomato Dressing:
- 6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
- 1/2 of a sweet onion, diced
- 8 (orange) tomatoes, rough chopped
- 20 or 30 coriander pods
- 3 cardamom pods
- 20 or 30 cumin seeds
- 3 or 4 peppercorns
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- apple cider vinegar
Toast the spices in a dry pan until you can smell them. Grind them using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Saute the onions and the garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the ground spices and saute for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute for two minutes. Add the wine, the stock, and the thyme, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool and puree. Add vinegar to taste.
The result should be somewhat aggressively spiced and tart. It may look like a soup, but it's really a salad dressing, so don't be afraid to add just a little more vinegar.
I had fun making and eating this salad. The various textural elements worked well together, I thought, and the flavors meshed satisfactorily. The curried tomato dressing was quite good. I do feel as though one or two of the flavors could be a bit more intense. I may trade mangoes for the papayas the next time, for instance.
I count this as a definite success, if only because it has increased my confidence regarding vertical plating of salads. The assembly was easy and fun and trouble-free. And it was fun to eat, too! This will definitely enter my dinner party repertoire.
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Now that's a tower! What a great combination of flavors! excellent choice.
Posted by: chronicler at Apr 25, 2005 9:17:53 AM
How gorgeous! I was wondering if you could get *that* tall mould, but what a clever idea. It sounds really delicious!
Posted by: keiko at Apr 25, 2005 2:35:58 PM
orange tomatoes! yes, i found them this weekend here, and i love them! tang-y color, but a lot less tangy tasting than regular red ones. your salad is gorgeous :)
Posted by: sarah at Apr 25, 2005 7:10:39 PM
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Posted by: Alfonso at Dec 20, 2005 9:34:52 AM