Monday, January 5, 2015

Feast of the Seven Fishes 2014

Every year, I like to do something special during the holidays with Mr. M&P and I. We end up spending so much time hosting and seeing family and friends that there isn't much time to devote to ourselves. With that said, years ago, I decided to do a special Feast of the Seven Fishes for just us two. It's just a nice gesture to celebrate another year together. This year, I decided to do an Asian theme for the seven course.
First course, shrimp har gow or crystal dumplings. I chopped up some shrimp with pork fat and bamboo shoots. Then I made wrappers with wheat starch and tapioca starch making a translucent skin when cooked. I added a little bit of cilantro on top for extra flavor and color. These actually turned out to be pretty good but the wrappers were so difficult to work with. Even with my dumpling making skills, I could probably never make these again just because they were really difficult.

As for the taste, I really enjoyed the sweetness of the shrimp with the fattiness of the pork. The bamboo shoots added a nice textural contrast to the softer proteins. The wrapper became slightly chewy but soft.

The second course was an XO sauce crab lettuce wrap. I made the crab salad with XO sauce and kewpie mayo. Then I added chopped red onions, cucumbers, and cilantro. All this was wrapped up in a green leaf lettuce. XO sauce is spicy so I balanced that out with the kewpie mayo which is a little sweeter than American mayo. The freshness of the greens added a nice contrasting crunch and refreshing taste.
Third course is five spiced fried squid. I bought the squid whole but cleaned. I sliced it into rings and sliced the tentacles in half at the base. Then a quick douse into seasoned cornstarch with five spice powder, salt, and pepper then into hot frying oil. I fried them into golden brown. They they're immediately plated with cilantro and lime juice. This was a nice light fragrant dish.
The fourth course was seared sea scallops with Thai coconut mashed potatoes. I cooked the peeled and diced potatoes in coconut milk with lemongrass, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves. Once the potatoes cooked and the coconut milk thickened, I pureed the whole things together and added a splash of lime at the end. Finally, I seared the scallops with a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. A sprinkle of cilantro on top to finish the fish. The scallops were meaty and super sweet. While the potatoes were so creamy and delicious. We sopped up with bite of the scallops with the potatoes.
The fifth dish was black bean and garlic razor clams. I finally found fresh razor clams and so I made a point to add them to the line up. I cleaned each razor clam from its shell then cooked the shells (for presentation) and meat separately. The shells were steams which the meat was stir fried in a fragrant sauce of black beans, garlic, and a splash of soy sauce. Some fresh scallions on top finished the dish. The result was something sweet and plump contrasted with a pungent savory sauce. A great combination. I really enjoyed this.
The sixth course was kind of like a palate cleanser but wasn't short of flavor. I made miso soup with dashi, white miso, fresh tofu, cod, and wakame seaweed. This miso soup was a bit more chunkier then you would normally find but I wanted to be gracious with the ingredients. A nice clean yet savory flavor to the soup.
And finally, for the seventh course, I made ginger scallion lobster over rice with snow pea shoots. I steamed the lobster but undercooked it. Then I removed the meat from the shells and stir fried it in ginger, scallions, and soy sauce. One the side, I made plain jasmine rice and sauteed some snow pea shoots in just oil and salt.
Overall, it was a very satisfying meal. It took a lot of prep and ingredient sourcing but I was very incredibly happy with the results at the end. I enjoyed how it progressed ever so lightly from the first course to the last. I'm really loving this tradition and hope it continues on and on throughout the years.

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