02 November, 2011

Last night's dinner.

Pan-fried mahi-mahi with sweet and sour vegetables on celery and basil noodles.
This is what happens when Charlie goes all day thinking about how he's going to make chicken for dinner and then gets off the clock and gets his seasonings out and gets into the kitchen and reaches into the fridge only to find that - hey, where the fuck is the chicken?
What with the commotion surrounding not giving a fuck if it were Halloween, I had forgotten to get chicken out of the freezer to thaw. Now I was stuck. Sort of.
I had planned on making a sort of tex-mex variant on chicken and noodles. So I had a few things in my little spice cart (Yeah, dude, I have a spice cart. Fuck you.) like hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, those kind of things, and I was all uppity to cut me up some peppers and sautée the shit out of them. It's what I do. But, without any meat thawed, my great tex-mex chicken and noodles experiment - pollo y fideos - would have to wait and I would have to rethink where I was going.
So, seeing as how fish fillets take something like ten minutes to thaw in a bowl of cold water, I changed up my game plan.
I set the mahi-mahi in a bowl to thaw out and set about dicing some veggies. I started with the carrots I was going to slice into discs and throw into the pasta, but after dicing some red bell and pablano and liking how they looked next to the orange of the carrot, I thought about giving these a nice sear altogether in something sweet to compliment the heat from the pablano. In a ramekin, I mixed some honey with some lemon juice - honey for the veggies and lemon for the fish (still not knowing how I was going to cook these damned things) and to dilute the honey a bit - and some olive oil to make the oil for the pan for the veggies, which by now included onion and garlic.
With the oil done, I began slicing celery for the noodles until I realized that perhaps making a parmigiano-reggiano cream sauce for the noodles might clash, but fuck it, lets see if we can find something in the fridge to make it work, pulling out my basil.* The expiration on it was last night so it was then or never. That's when I asked myself, Wait. Is this fusion cooking? I've got tex-mex veggies, shooting for an Asian bent on including carrots and then there's basil now in the noodles (a nod to pho) but basil is also found in Italian dishes and the sauce has a little bit of an Amero-Italian bent to it. Oh, and my oil for the veggies smells like the lemon and honey tea you drink when you have a sore throat.
So, last night, I was convinced I was going fusion, which I actually got kind of excited about, given that most of the time, I feel like I'm in a creative rut in the kitchen.
By the time I got the veggies frying, the oil began to smell a little, familiar. I couldn't place it, so I grabbed a fork and stabbed a carrot and tasted it.
Sweet and sour.
It smelled like medicinal tea at first.
It came out smelling and tasting of sweet and sour.
I had accidentally just made my first sweet and sour sauce.
With that settled, I skipped making the parmigiano-reggiano sauce for the noodles and just topped them off with the veggies. All in all, it wasn't bad.
Yes. I seasoned the fish with Old Bay.

* It should be noted that fresh basil from the grocery store lasts something godawfully stupid like four days. The expiration date is no joke on these damned things. So, last week, when I bought fresh basil to make my meatballs with on Sunday, I was displeased to find it had gone all purple and wilted by Wednesday? I think. I chalked it up, though, to leaving it on the top shelf of the fridge - closer to the freezer - and not in the crisper. This last time I bought basil - just to have on hand - I thought to leave it in the crisper. Nope. Four days later and purple patches began showing up. So, if I ever tell you to do anything, it's to not buy fresh basil unless you have an absolute need for it in say either one huge recipe or in a handful of regular-sized ones that you plan on eating over the course of three days like a basil maniac.
That said, dehydrated basil in your spice rack has nothing on fresh basil. Jus' sayin'.

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