Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Can Do It All

As promised before I am continuing on with the seafood theme, though to be honest I was planning on having at least a one week gap in between, but with a menu change coming up I wanted to see if it will work before the menu was submitted to print so I can add it last minute. The short answer is yes. Here's the long answer:

I have lost many hours of sleep stewing over this special, and the funny part is that I was already set on the flavor combinations. Based on a slider dish that I had on the menu at my first restaurant in NYC, I have been wanting to make little taco shells out of three-inch gyoza wrappers that were layered with fresh avocado, raw, yellowfin tuna that had been tossed in a dressing of red onion, sesame oil, cilantro and soy sauce and topped with a fine shaving of local mixed greens and a touch of Sriracha aioli for spice and fruitiness.

So, if I already knew what the plate was going to be, why all sleepless nights? I am constantly trying to come up with new and interesting presentations that are sometimes beyond the means of the equipment that I have. So what do I do? I make it myself. While I have a taco shell fryer, it only makes one at a time, and since I planned on serving five per order I didn't want to stand over the fryer all day, so I created a multi-taco fry basket capable of cooking nine mini shells at one time.

Then I needed a way to serve the tacos so that they wouldn't fall over or slide around. First, I thought about making a metal stand that would hold all five in a row, but later realized that the best (and most sanitary) option would be to make a form out of something edible, and since the dish was centered around an Asian/Latino theme, I figured that there was no better medium than rice.

I chose calrose rice (a California variant of the japonica variety used for sushi) due to it's stickiness, and from that I came to the realization that the Japanese have a form of sushi called oshizushi, or pressed rice, where boxed forms are used to shape the rice, meat and toppings. I used this technique as inspiration to make my own mold with an elongated plastic box used to separate silverware in drawers with little wooden dowels set inside to create indentations that would cradle the mini tacos. For added sanitation (a chef's and customer's best friend) I used plastic wrap as a barrier when I pressed in the cooled rice that had been tossed with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds for color contrast and a bit of crunch.

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This summer I plan to start focusing on more seasonally based fruit cocktails whenever possible (with next week's Gay Pride drink special being an interesting exception :) ). There are so many fruits out there now that I feel spiritually drawn and quartered when it comes to what fruit I could use, especially as the peaches perfume the air around me as I write this...

Now that the melons have shown their heads I can finally introduce a cocktail that I wanted to offer this time last year but had waited too long before the season ran out. Back then I had the notion that honeydew melon had a hint of licorice within it and the scent had never left me, leading me to pair the second-most sweet-friendly herb with one of our most common melons.

I juiced the honeydews before straining to end up with a pure essence of the fruit without all of the thick pulp, allowing it to soak up all of the fresh flavor of the muddled basil before the Skyy vodka was introduced, leaving a drink that is without added sugar and void of typical mixers; just good fun in the sun.

With Love,