14 July 2009

John Dory and Kasha

Delving into the archives of my food photos I just re-discovered this John Dory I cooked in my old house. The recipe was a toned down version of the one found in Michel Bras' "Essential Cuisine", omitting the buckwheat cake owing to a lack of ingredients. Here's the chef of Laguiole in France, an amazing, amazing restaurant (by all accounts - it's not as if I have the money to go there myself):

All his food is really bright, full of mountain herbs and the freshest vegetables imaginable. Therefore it's pretty difficult to replicate a lot of his recipes. There's not a lot of long braising, or complex dishes, just the freshest ingredients imaginable all cooked to perfection.

We took on this John Dory and Kasha as it seemed one of the more simple dishes. The Kasha cooked be done up front: boiled till soft, and left to sautee at the last minute. Without the book to hand right now I can't exactly remember how the sauce was done, but it was a revelation. Really quick and easy, and absolutely delicious - more of a aromatic juice for the fish to sit in than a sauce in the traditional sense. It went something like this: Brown onion and garlic in butter and oil, add fish bones, fish trimmings and parma ham and brown them too. Then add dry white wine, watered down slightly (and some parsley stalks?? My memory fails me). Simmer that down to a sauce like consistency. It sounds almost too simple and boring, but I know I'll repeat it again and again with white fish in future.

Finally we seared john Dory fillets (each split into three down the natural ridges in the fillet) in a hot hot skillet for no time at all (maybe 30 seconds a side), and sauteed the kasha in oil. We finally finished things with some sorrel. And here it is:

I absolutely loved this. John Dory is a hell of a fish, and the sauce just made it so moist. Kasha is a strange foodstuff. It's like a cross between a cereal and rice. I'm not totally won over by it, but it does have a hearty homely feel about it. I'm sure if you grew up on it it'd be one of those classic home favourites. Overall I was really happy with this dish, the final result really did look restaurant-y, and tasted it too.

Oh and seeing how it doesn't deserve a post in itself I thought I'd throw in a use of leftover roast beef I was quite proud of ad-libbing. I threw some garlic and ginger in hot peanut oil, then some star anise and loads of chilli bean paste (made with fava beans, not soya beans) and a good pinch of sichuan peppers. Added leftover fatty beef, some dark soy, a touch of Chinkiang vinegar, sugar, and a good load of hot water and left it to simmer for 30 minutes of so. Then I boiled up some nice quality noodles, threw them in a bowl, and poured the lot over the top:

Bad photo, but it was amazing - spicy as hell, but in a healing way. The beef was soft and had taken on all of the aromatics. The sichuan peppers were numbing my tongue - it was great.

I say I ad-libbed this, well I did, but it is a known kind of Chinese noodle dish. If you really want to experience it at its best, head to Baozi Inn in Chinatown London and order spicy beef noodles. Much better than mine and the noodles are handmade (as far as I can tell - they don't advertise that but I'm pretty damn certain they are).

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