Those of you who have been following along for a while, may remember my mentioning some great food on my trip to New York. The trip was such a busy tiring one, I barely (operative word) had the energy to eat let alone take photos of the food. But one dish really stood out. I found it to be an amazing compilation of flavors and savored every morsel. This gastronomic treasure was found at Mercer Kitchen in Soho, one of Jean-George Vongerichten's many restaurants. He called it a tuna spring roll with soy bean purée.
Normally when I think of a spring roll, I think of veggies and possibly a meat, chicken or fish encased in a thin rice paper or other such wrapping. Jean-George's, however, were just the raw tuna in a circle with a very thin layer of light flakey wrapping around the edge. These were plated in a semi-circle on one side of the dish with a mirrored semi-circle of the purée on the other. In the middle was a design with another sauce or two and edamame lined up in a row like a Zen rock garden putting you at peace before entering into perfect union with your food. It was phenomenal! Did I say that already??? Well it was!
Okay. So as you might have gathered, I really enjoyed these spring rolls. But it was the sauce/purée that really cinched the deal. So what was in it? Soy bean obviously. In my mind that means edamame. I also tasted lime and there was a good amount of cilantro too. "I could make this", I thought!
Shortly after getting back from the city, I went to my farmer's market and found a new fish vendor. She touted the fish was fresh enough for sushi. So I opted to try her ahi. Not cheap... but less expensive than some stores. I thought it might be perfect to try with Jean-George's sauce!
Now for the sauce. I knew it had edamame. I put that in a blender. Cilantro? Check! Fresh squeezed lime? Check! Whiz and blend. Too chunky. Not smooth enough. I needed something to thin it out and make it a sauce. What could I add? A little oil. Olive would be too Mediterranean. So I added some vegetable oil and some sesame oil. Getting thinner. I added a little soy sauce. I added a little chili oil but not too much as I didn't want it to spicy. I couldn't add much more lime as it would be over-powering. And so it went. I added edamame, cilantro, lime, a combination of sesame and vegetable oils and soy sauce until the consistency and taste was close to what I envisioned.
Sorry to say, I do not have exact measurements for you. I just kept putting in a little of this, a little of that. I got close! My sauce was still thicker than the chef's but the taste was close. Not quite the same. But close. Maybe with practice I will get it! And maybe with practice, I can work out some measurements and better guide for you. Because this definitely had a great flavor!
I tried to plate mine similarly to the restaurant presentation. Of course, my ahi was just raw and sliced. In the center I made a design with soy sauce, sesame oil and chili oil with the edamame beans in a line. Unfortunately when I brought it to the table the oils and sauce blended around and wasn't as pretty as it was when I first did it. I also had to realign my beans for you.
I think my version may have been better suited to a grilled white fish. A lovely sword fish or even sea bass or halibut would have been divine!
This photo is far from ultra appetizing but as an experiment, I took a small piece of the ahi and rolled it lightly in panko. I then QUICKLY tried to brown it in a pan of hot oil. Unfortunately the ahi cooked up much more than I would have liked. I wanted a crunchy outer texture and seared fish but it was almost cooked all the way through as you can see. It was pretty good. But I liked it raw better.
I wish you could taste it too and help me decide the proper ingredients and quantities. But I will keep at it and see if I can't get it to be a bit closer to the original.
Now look at my messy kitchen upon preparing just one experimental dish for just myself! Oh and some rice and peas for the kids. Pathetic! Wish I was neater when cooking. Then it wouldn't be such a pain to clean up afterward.