This week, I had a flavor Eureka moment realizing when a dish is balanced, it’s the equivalent of bolting awake in the night, sitting straight up in bed. You’ve been awakened.
A quick backstory: After initially sharing my Food Fail: A Recipe in the Making for Roasted Poblano Risotto with Fried Egg (Part I), I was blown away by the amazing Kindness Food Bloggers (Part II). Yet, the most endearing contribution to the Recipe in Development story came last week from non other than Bello. My Husband shared his story, his understanding of “Pure Food Flavors” passed down through Italian generations from his beloved Nonna (Part III).
Today’s Update: Bello’s story stuck with me. The simplicity in Italian cuisine, the focus placed on one ingredient is similar in a way, to that of Sushi. The ingredients are all simple, each respected in it’s own right. A dab of spicy wasabi meets buttery fish, atop vinegar brightened rice dipped into salty soy sauce. A chain of pure flavors bowing in nod, shaking hands rather than swimming together like the complexisty of sauces in French cuisine or the mess of American fast food.
I once took a sushi rolling class with Masaharu Morimoto and recall him saying
“If you want to look like you know what you’re doing when you eat sushi, do NOT add wasabi to your soy sauce. Each ingredient is to be tasted alone and together.”
When it comes to cooking, Culinary school can help you look like you know what you’re doing faster, but I never went. By the time I realized I had a passion for cooking, Anthony Bourdain’s books convinced me I was too old and the tuition at the French Culinary Institute convinced me I was too broke.
In order to actually know what I’m doing now in the kitchen, I’ve taken the slow hard fought but gratifyingly path of teaching myself. Cooking daily, dish by dish, year after year, slowly but surely, I went from relying on recipes to creating them.
Through many iterative tries, I’ve learned to nail my own dishes… all on a home cooks budget. With confidence, I can now turn out pastas that make my Husband tear up with memories of home, of his Nonna his Momma’s home cooking.
That’s an achievement I can point to in pride.
Speaking of Bello and his Nonna, back to the story at hand, the Roasted Poblano Recipe in Development. My last attempt heeded the wise approach of Italian and Japanese cuisine. Respect the ingredients first.
In doing just that, I had a Eureka Poblano moment. In short, roasting a Poblano intensifies its flavors by sealing in the juices and caramelizing it’s sugars. It’s such a deep, green, subtly heated flavor, it should be the focal point of the dish.
By taking freshly roasted poblanos and creating a simple yet satisfying base (rice, egg, pasta) you have a quick dish that’s already complex in flavor.
On plating up a simple fried egg with roasted Poblano and taking a bite, I realized quickly all the other elements I had added in, the black beans, the chicken broth and beer for the Risotto, the gorgeously pickled onions… they overwhelmed the intensity of the Roasted Poblano.
I took another bite and I wanted to add something more, a touch more little salt. Then I recalled the saltiness of Cotija and the advise of the Food Blogger Community and I sprinkled it on to taste again.
This was my bite of perfection, my Eureka.
In that bite, an intense yet pleasant warmth caught the back of my throat as bright green, peppery, caramelized sugars of the Roasted Poblano danced on the tip, while the salty chew of the Cotija reached over the sides of my tongue.
When a dish is balanced, it’s the equivalent of bolting awake in the middle of the night, sitting straight up in bed. You’ve been awakened.
With every bite, every part of my mouth was happier and happier as all the thresholds of taste sensitivity were pushed at once. Salty, sweet, bitter, sour… umami that’s good!
Before I knew it, my plate sat empty, staring back.
The funny part was, this was a relatively small lunch, a small portion but I was satisfied. Hunger had been tackled by taste.
As I cleaned my dishes, I had a funny thought. If everything we ate was as satisfying as this simple, balanced flavor dish of Roasted Poblano, Fried Egg and Cotija, would we stop eating sooner? Would we feel full faster and have less hunger through the day? Could the over eating in the American diet in part be due to chasing the food high I had just experienced that we rarely ever find, never find in prepackaged, precooked meals.
Food for thought as I go into the weekend and plan my next attempt at my Roasted Poblano recipe.
Thank you Food Bloggers, Foodies and Friends for going on this journey with me. If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them. I’ve started from scratch and I’m now ready to do justice to your input.