Thursday, April 10, 2008

rice riot

My father is an excellent and quietly adventurous cook, and it was he who first discovered the basis for my latest experiment - the revolutionary whirlwind that is eggless emulsification. In a sauce typical of fat and liquid magically forming a happy cream, egg yolks are frequently used as a binder, with the obvious example being hollandaise, in which lemon juice and butter are emulsified via heat and egg yolk. Or mayonnaise. Which, not using heat but just yolks, is en even more perfect example. Yeah, forget hollandaise, roll with mayo.
My father at some point started making this insanely vivid and deliciously pungent creamy sauce, which is rad because it magically emulsifies olive oil with salt and garlic. I know you're imagining a kind of gritty oily slop but I'm telling you, it really does emulisfy to a creamy rich mayonnaisey pud. He pounded in a big mortar a handful fresh peeled garlic, three or four big cloves, with a tablespoon of table salt. REALLY bashed, pounding away, until the sandpaperyness of the salt and the bang of the pound made a smooth mush. Then, whisking with a fork I believe? or maybe a lil whisk - he whisked in a thin drizzle of olive oil until the desired creamy consistantsy resulted. Emulsified. Really. Weird, no? Anyway as you can imagine this sauce is quite flavorsome, salty and creamy and sharply hot from the raw garlic. It is fantastic spooned on the side of a serving of grilled tuna or any thick white fish, so the diner can gingerly dip pieces in the sauce to judge for themselves how much is enough. Also, a spoonful tossed with steamed broccoli is lovely.
In my variation, I diluted the sauce. I did so AFTER the initial preparation because I figured adding anything that wasn't entirely smooth, like a puree might interfere in the emulsification.
I made two. For the first, I whisked in a splash Marsala, a splash soy, and a few drops fish sauce. I then mixed in some finely minced ginger, a few finely minced Chinese black beans, a few minced scallion. Served with roasted cod and Chinese-style fried green beans with pork shreds. Although the combination of flavors was not original, the vividness of the raw garlic and the peculiar dense creaminess of the sauce was delightfully different than what the palate has come to expect from these standard Asian ingredients. I suppose one could try making the sauce with one part sesame oil to two or three parts olive. That might be good too.
The next one I made was more straightforward. I roasted the garlic first, and used six cloves instead of 3 or 4. Whisked it up with salt and oil, then decided it was ungarlicky for my now totally insane preference, whisked up a lil batch of the raw garlic version, and added a teaspoon of that. Added some chile pepper flakes. Thought about an anchovy but figured that'd be salt overkill. Added a tablespoon or more of finely minced parseley and spread on toasted slices French bread. Sprinkled the top with grated Gruyere and parmesan, put under grill for a minute, and Bob's your uncle. Just don't plan on making out after eating these.

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