Leslie Meredith on Challenge 2
The mystery ingredients this week pointed to the Mediterranean, but I thought too many cooks would go that direction, so I looked further East, to Thailand.
Thai fish cakes (tod man pla) are delicious, though traditionally made with fresh, firm white fish, like cod. I thought the mackerel would work, and the hemp hearts could be incorporated as a binding agent.
The relentless green bean harvest continues at my house, and I was happy to find yet another way to use up some of the beans, too. I was out of red curry paste, but happily discovered I could tap my garden and pantry to try a homemade version.
I never met a condiment I didn't want to try, and have some of the more exotic ingredients like yuzu and fish sauce on hand. More and more of them can be found outside specialty markets at big grocery stores like Jewel as home cooks get more adventurous.
A pad thai with broccolini rounded out the plate. The homegrown peppers and tulsi (aka holy basil) lent the dishes extra heat and surprising flavor. I used a thin slice of a fire-engine red habanero pepper and a basil flower as garnishes to boost the visual appeal. Both are edible, but the pepper was much too hot for me.
These recipes were quick to prepare and lend themselves readily to experimentation and substitutions. They provide a "greatest hits" of taste with salty, umami, sweet and sour all in the mix. They'll be going into regular rotation at my house.