Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dark Days Challenge week 2 - old patterns die hard

Okay, after saying I was going to avoid the meat-squash-veggie-potato pattern of meals, my next Dark Days meal falls into that category. Almost. (No pictures because they were *really* terrible.)

A protein did take center stage, and it was boneless sirloin pork chops in an Asian marinade. I seared them with a heavy coat of five-spice powder then added some soy sauce, ginger, and citrus juice (sudachi) as it cooked. Good stuff.

The side dishes did not, in fact, include a potato. Nor rice, nor any other starchy thing. They did involve great fun with ratios, however. I broiled a kabocha squash with a soy/ginger/honey glaze, and cooked carrots with a honey/ginger/soy glaze (yes, I used the same ingredients for the sauces, but in different ratios)I braised pac choi in a soy/citrus combination, and to do something new and different I had an adventure involving a quick pickle of daikon radish.

One thing I have learned about quick daikon radish pickles: when the first step says to toss your sliced radish with a small amount of salt to draw out some water, do not use a very large amount of salt in hopes that it will work more quickly. Especially if that radish has been sitting in the fridge awhile and gotten a bit porous. Porous radish soaks up salt like crazy, and all of your rinsing and soaking won't help it.

Ah, how I love trial by error.

Fortunately, I had recently received some good advice about seasoning, the gist of which is this: there are three main components to seasoning, which are salt, sweet, and acid. If there is too much of any one of those, you can balance it out by increasing the other two. While this wouldn't work with every recipe, it was great advice for pickles. They went from being too salty to being too acidic (I tossed the rinsed, drained radish with rice wine vinegar) so I added an extra dose of sugar (which is actually an ingredient anyway) and it was all okay. And pretty darn tasty.

Lest I forget: Kabocha squash was from Just this farm. Carrots and pac choi from Wayward Seed Farm. Daikon radish from Sippel Farm. Pork chops from Blue's Creek. It's funny how I can remember a story about every single thing I buy. The teenage girl who waited on my at the butcher shop was sunny and cheerful; there was very little pac choi to buy that week but I managed to score some anyway; the kabocha squash is called sunshine squash. I had no idea what to do with a daikon radish, but they were really lovely and I carried it around the market like a baton. Don't you just love food with stories?

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