Sunday, February 10, 2013

Challenge: Prune (or how I took some of global cuisines most sacrosanct dishes and gussied them up with prunes)

So, Week 4 challenge is complete.  This week, it was make something that you didn't like when you were a kid.  Clearly, the most challenging aspect of this challenge was to determine what I didn't like as a kid.

I figured that to get an accurate take, I should go to my mom.  I thought she'd give me something I could work with.  A dish that I could elevate beyond what I'd had as a kid into something much better.  I hoped she say Stroganoff.  I never liked stroganoff as a kid, but I think I'd probably like it now.  I've been wanting to try my hand at the strog for a while, but Jamie is more resistant.  She also disliked stroganoff as a kid.  This would be a perfect opportunity because she couldn't turn it down if it was a formal challenge.  But I didn't get stroganoff back from mom.  Instead, I got prunes. 

I don't really remember not liking prunes.  Of course, I don't really remember liking prunes either.  They were sort of a non entity in my young life.  However, I'm always telling my kids they have to listen to their parents, so, I accepted the challenge from mom.  Prunes aren't really a dish though.  They pretty much are what they are.  I thought may I could buy some plums and make a better prune, but the prospects of getting a decent plum in Wisconsin in February were slim to none.  So instead I thought about what I could do to incorporate prunes into another dish.

I thought about shrimp with plum sauce and hot mustard.  I thought I could do something there.  I came up with this idea to treat the prune as though I was making shiokombu but the prune was the kombu.  I packed 100g of prunes, 25g mirin, 40g rice vinegar, 70g sake, 30g soy, and 25g sugar into a bag and let it cook sous vide for an hour at 87C.  This kept the liquid from reducing, and allowed the prunes to hydrate somewhat.  After cooking, I removed the prunes from the liquid, and blended, adding a combination of the cooking broth and EVOO until it reached a consistency somewhat like a marmelade.  I plated with sous vide shrimp and some dollops of chinese mustard.  This is Shioprune Shrimp with Chinese Mustard: 

Shioprune Shrimp with Chinese Mustard

The sauce was really quite good, and paired well with the hot mustard.  Next time, I'd probably tempura the shrimp to give it a little crunch rather than the more delicate sous vide shrimp texture.

But I wasn't done yet.  I had guests coming for dinner, and one prune dish surely wouldn't suffice.  I took some inspiration from Michael_Natkin's Romesco entry from the challenge a couple weeks ago.  If you've never had it, do yourself a favor and whip up some romesco sauce.  It is delicious.  I made the romesco sauce, but included 10 prunes in the sauce.  I cooked potatoes, carrots, leeks, asparagus and cod sous vide.  I made a stock from the shrimp shells and cod trimmings, and reduced that with some previously made vegetable stock and carrot juice into a broth.  I took a blowtorch to some scallions I'd trimmed and plated the dish:  Prunesco Sauce with Cod and Vegetables. 

Prunesco Sauce with Cod, Potatoes, Carrots, Asparagus, Leeks and Green Onion
I served it with some Crostini to mop up the sauce.  The prunesco sauce was sweeter than the romesco sauce (I also made some of the standard recipe)  It was delicious with the crostini and leeks and onion, but the standard romesco sauce paired better with some of the other veggies, particularly the carrots that were sweet enough on their own.  I don't have any expectation that prunesco will become the new standard across Catalonia, but I imagine if you had some roasted calcots and a bowl of prunesco sauce, you'd be pretty happy indeed.


My upgraded torch - with holster
Torching onions

1 comment:

  1. I can't remember making stroganoff for you when you were young, but if I had made it, you would have liked it. You liked everything. Except I'm pretty sure you turned up your nose at the prunes. Don't know why your brother liked prunes, because he disliked almost everything. You should have pretended you were your brother and you could have made something with jelly and onions!