Can a man be both macho and metro-sexual at the same time? Rugged, yet delicate? Serious, yet playful? Quiet, yet expressive? Unapproachable, yet relaxed? Every time I sip a single malt Scotch whisky on the rocks, I imagine a tough man in a dark suit transforming into a stylish man full of vibrant personality. When my husband, a single malt Scotch whisky lover, first handed me a glass of his favorite whisky with ice for a taste, I thought he was torturing me with an alcohol more potent than cough medicine. My immediate reaction was “YUCK”. My facial expression resembled a kid who just chewed a worm and wanted to spit it out. I didn’t understand why some people would pay hundreds of dollars to drink something that seemed so aggressive, obnoxious and unfriendly. Then, a few minutes later, the ice melted and magically opened up the aromas and flavors of the whisky. This seemingly “hard-to-understand” alcohol all of sudden turned into something very elegant, smooth and approachable. On the nose, it had delicious aromas of chocolate covered raisins, hazelnuts and caramel toffee. On the palate, the mixed flavors of walnuts and hazelnuts, butterscotch and spiced orange tasted absolutely intoxicating. Treated by peat smoke and normally aged in oak casks for eight or more years, many single malt Scotch whiskies have distinctive smoky and warm spice flavors. Not only do they make such a great drink with some water or ice but also a wonderful ingredient to cook with. Just like the special Moldovan sausage I was able to prepare with a whisky in 2011 (check out my Moldovan sausage post), this week I am making a poached monk fish with whisky apple curry sauce for the upcoming holiday.
To start, peel one green apple and finely dice it. Then, soak the apple in a single malt Scotch whisky. Separately, boil about 12 cups of water in a cast iron pot and add 1 cup dry white wine, 1 onion (peeled and chopped), 1 celery rib (chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 10 fresh parsley stems & leaves, 1 lemon (sliced), a handful sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Simmer all ingredients for 30 minutes and then strain the vegetables. Next, boil the broth , blanch a 1/4 cauliflower (~6 cauliflower florets) for 2 minutes in that broth and set it aside. Separately, add about 2 lbs of monk fish with the bones to the same broth and cook until the fish is just done at 160-180F cooking temperature. Remove the monk fish meat from the bone and cut it small. Separately, in a food processor, mix the whisky-infused apple and the blanched cauliflower and season with 1 Tablespoon 7th taste curry olive oil and some sea salt to taste. Next, in a large bowl, mix 1 cup of chopped monk fish and 1 cup of the cauliflower and whisky-infused apple mixture. Divide them into 4 portions and push them down into 4 small cups. Take them out of the cups upside down on a plate and garnish with some cucumber. Serve with a curry vinaigrette made with 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons plain low fat yogurt, 1 Tablespoon 7th taste curry olive oil and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. This recipe serves 4 servings.
This dish is as complex as a macho, metro-sexual man’s different faces. A flavorful, aromatic vegetable stock used for poaching the monk fish and blanching the cauliflower adds wonderful base flavors and moisture to the dish. The sourness of the green apple is also perfectly harmonized by sweet woodsy whisky flavors and warm, spicy, buttery curry olive oil. The coarse texture of cauliflower, dense monk fish and crunchy cucumber also give wonderful texture variations in every bite. When you pour the curry vinaigrette over this dish, tangyness, butteriness and savoriness of the dish will get further accentuated and make you salivate for more bites. Yum. What an appetizer! Try this recipe for your family and guests aged 21+ this weekend. I wish you and your family a very happy Spring and wonderful holidays! Happy cooking.