Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The importance of limiting reagents

Dish No. 1 with the quirky assortment of foods I have left in my fridge: panko-crusted fried eggplant with saffron coconut honey sauce, served alongside newly purchased green beans, which I roasted with paprika.

Yeah, I'm a little proud of this one.

The one flaw resulted from the fact that I'd never reduced coconut milk before (and for that matter didn't even know if it could be reduced), so the sauce got very thick before I realized how quickly it was happening (this may be because, ever the multi-tasking cook, I was breading eggplant slices as the sauce reduced). This is why the picture looks sort of goofy: the sauce glopped off the spoon rather than flowing somewhat. I was going for hollandaise consistency. It's thicker than that, sadly.

But man, does it taste great. There's a little cayenne and a touch of turmeric in addition to the saffron and honey, as well as some very finely minced onions. I did not record the proportions, but by tasting judiciously, it could easily be recreated. Just sweat the onions in a tiny bit of oil until the onions are clear, add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. After it reduces a bit, stir in the spices; don't overspice at first, because remember, the sauce volume will decrease. Adjust to taste as you go.

Okay, I lied about one flaw. I also discovered just as I was about to begin the eggplant-breading process that I had one egg left, not two, as I had thought. Yes, I know, check ingredient availability before you begin cooking, naughty me. The upshot of it is that a few slices of eggplant that I could not bread and fry remained. I've roasted them, though, and they will constitute my lunch tomorrow.

Funnily enough, when I got to the end of my little bag of panko, I discovered that there was a silica gel packet inside with the usual "do not eat" stamped on it. This amuses me.

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