This is my entry to the Chef Curtis Duffy Recipe contest hosted by Leela at She Simmers (This lady never posts anything that I don’t like, you should go check out her blog). The winner of this friendly contest receives $100 off a dinner for two at Chef Duffy’s restaurant, Avenues courtesy of The Peninsula here in Chicago. At that dinner the chef will present the winner with his interpretation of their recipe and it will become a selection on the restaurants menu. Talk about bragging rights! And a gift set from BLiS that contains a bottle of Bourbon Barrel Matured Pure Maple Syrup and a bottle of BLis Elixer Extra Old Fine Solera Sherry Vinegar both used by some very top named chefs. Yes please!
This was a really tough one I must admit. There were four ingredients that had to be used in the creation of my dish. They all seem harmless enough on there own: fish (any variety), mushrooms (any type), fennel (the whole thing: bulb, stems and fronds) and 85% chocolate. See harmless. Yeah, until you try to put chocolate and fish together! I have never heard of this and my first thoughts, while intriguing, were also bordering on the icky side. My first attempt at this involved salmon, maple, chipotle, a smoky bacon broth and chocolate sour cream. I can honestly say I have never produced anything so disgusting in my life! There are no words to describe just how gross this was. None, except wretched, putrid, barf-making, nauseating and down right awful! What was I thinking? I don’t think I was. Not clearly anyway.
Unfortunately this was the only concept I had come up with and had been so sure that it work beautifully that I simply had no clue where to go from there. I began to freak out! Not a pretty sight. Not a pretty sight AT ALL! So after much agonizing and brainstorming this is what resulted. It’s not perfect, but everything ended up working surprisingly well together and nobody gagged or threw up! Always a plus. It really was very delicious and fun to make and eat as well. I never knew balloons could be a kitchen tool! I would love to see how a real chef would refine this to make it even better but I used up all of my resources and then some and took this as far as my abilities were able. You should check out Chef Curtis Duffy’s website if you are in need of plating ideas. His dishes and photographs are just gorgeous and he isn’t hard to look at either! Really. I’m not just saying that to be a kiss-up. Relax. I’m almost old enough to be his mother. Almost ;).
I don’t have a really great name for this that isn’t 25 words long and would be open to your suggestions. What you’re looking at here is seared tuna that was first coated with a black pepper-porcini powder and then sesame seeds. The tuna has Chinese jade gren rice between the pieces and is sitting atop sauteed fennel with fennel fronds and sesame leaves. There is fennel oil drizzled over the tuna but mine wasn’t green enough to show up. The three sauces are in little chocolate bowls that I made with the 85% chocolate. They are a miso-sriracha mayonnaisse, a strawberry-balsamic-cocoa nib-chipotle sauce and a fennel-star anise-porcini-wasabi cream made with the stems and fronds of the fennel. The coolest discovery I made was completely serendipitous. I found these beautiful sesame leaves at an Asian market and bought them strictly for decoration but quickly realized that wrapping them around the tuna and rice with a dab of sauce made for some very delicious eating! I love when things like that happen! Really cool. Here then is what I did.