Hot Dishes

Today was hot, so dinner needed to be something on the lighter side, but the day was also strenuous; our various exertions of summer camp, rehearsals, and gardening called for serious sustenance. Besides the garden, my sweat-inducing activities included errand running, among which grocery procurement, so I bought two small pieces of fish: tuna and bluefish, thinking to do two different things with them.

Up above was the bluefish; I cut it into small pieces and dusted it with flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, then fried them up in a bit of oil (a mixture of canola, olive, and peanut left from making fried chicken, which I’ll write about soon). I served them with a fried quail egg on top and scallions. It was a pretty compelling little dish.

Next up, my version of green papaya salad, invented years ago out of frustration at not being able to get green papayas. I spin sweet potatoes on the spiral slicer to make them into thin noodles, then dress them aggressively in a mixture of sesame oil, lime juice, cider vinegar, grated ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, and the mango chutney from a couple of posts ago. I knead it all together so the salt in the dressing draws liquid out of the spuds and renders them tender and supple like actual noodles while flavoring them at the same time. It’s a satisfying dish, and the mango chutney only made it better. There are some chives and cherry tomatoes in there, too, and peanuts either crushed or in butter form are always welcome.

I rubbed the tuna with salt and seared it on both sides. Because these were pretty skinny steaks, they cooked more than I like, but the yellow beet purée added a lovely sweet moisture that rounded them out quite well. And the assertive flavor of lemon marigolds (plus the petals from some bigger ones) added an attention-grabbing complexity that meshed interestingly with the sweet earthiness of leftover yellow beets cooked in lamb pho and puréed. Marigolds are a strong, and slightly odd flavor; finding seamless matches for them is a challenge so for the most part I use them as bright garnishes rather than dominant components. Few ingredients, big impact: this is an important goal in cooking, and one which warmer weather seems more conducive to since everything is so fresh and vibrant.

The wine was Eminence Road’s just-bottled Rielsing, which I picked up from them today at the weekly market. Initially, it’s sharply acidic, with pale flavors that can’t compete. After some time in the glass and the attendant rise in temperature, though, a powerful nose of diesel and peaches appears and the texture rounds out with plump details. It’s an ideal match for this sort of food.

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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth
    July 12

    I cannot get over how beautifully you write each and every time. And photograph. And cook.

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