Monday, September 10, 2007

Bag o' Funk

Last weekend, I discovered the joy of my Chicago Public Radio Membership card. It essentially gets you a free entree at many Chicago restaurants. Two friends and I vowed to spend the weekend dining only at restaurants that honored the card. One of those was a usual favorite, Bin 36. (I love any place that will sell me a plate of artisanal cheese.) We dined on crab salad towers and pepper-crusted swordfish. The fish was so good that it needed to be recreated at home. We tried it yesterday. Unfortunately, my friends couldn't find Tellicherry peppercorns at my favorite spice haunt, World Market. We resolved to make it work with the tri-colored peppercorns. As the fish started to cook, my kitchen filled with the worst odor! We started to wonder if the fish was bad. It turned out the smell came from the peppercorns. They became so pungent as they bloomed in the oil. (duh) Ick and double-ick. Now obviously I wasn't cooking at Bin 36, so I can't attest to if black peppercorns smell the same or as strongly, but I swear my fish had a better flavor at the restaurant. Lesson learned - Tellicherry for crusting! Spice Crusting 101
  • Pat the food to be crusted dry
  • Rub with oil (not a lot, just enough to coat)
  • Dip food into the spice mixture and press the spices in
  • Add a scant amount (just enough to coat the bottom) of oil to a hot pan
  • Just before the oil starts to smoke, add the food
  • Do not move or adjust the food until the spices on the bottom are golden brown (you'll know it's ready when the food releases easily when you try to move it)


Anonymous said...

The plates are cute! I wish you well in your quest to master cake decorating. Who doesn't love cake?!?!

Shawnie said...

Wow, you are amazing. Your reviews on amazon are so detailed and full of the information I actually want to know. Thanks for all you work.

I have an odd request, and if you don't have the time or inclination that is ok. I ran onto your review of Cook's Illustrated's The Best Make Ahead Recipe book. I was searching because I bought the book and made the baked ziti dish, but have since moved. Now I can't find the book and my kids and husband are requesting the dish. Is there any chance you would mind emailing me that recipe (if you still own the book)? The whole family would be thrilled if you would. Either way, Thanks!

NuJoi said...

Shawnie -- I'll be glad to send you the recipe, but I dno't have your e-mail address.