Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge - Sushi (with a twist!)

Get your party hats on people, because I've completed my first Daring Kitchen Challenge! Better late than never, right?

The November 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge has been chosen by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of Bite Me Kitchen. They chose Sushi, specifically Dragon Rolls, Nigiri and Spiral Rolls)

But (and this is a big 'ole butt), like I teased you in my previous post, my sushi had a twist. Better get out your saris and slap on your bindis now, because it's an Indian twist!

The spread

The following was on the menu last night (clockwise from left)

  • Tandoori Dragon Rolls - filled with tender tandoori chicken chunks and crisp cucumber batons, spread with peach chutney and topped with creamy avocado slices and a sprinkling of freshly ground cumin and coriander.
  • Peach Chutney - we used this for dipping instead of the traditional soy sauce.
  • Cumin Carrot Maki - Ribbons of blanched carrots decoratively arranged inside the roll, topped with a thin strip of rice and a sprinkling of whole cumin seeds.
  • Lemon Pork Nigiri - Thin strips of pork stir-fried with pickled lemon atchar; nori-strips hold these together to form Indian-style battleships. Scattered with grated lemon peel.
  • Red Dragon Roll - Stuffed with spicy aubergine chunks and crunchy cucumber and topped with roasted redpepper.
  • Indian-spiced Omelet Nigiri, two ways - Thinly rolled omelets, spiced either with paprika or garam masala and turmeric. These were secured with blanched spring onions. 

    My favourite was the Lemon Pork Nigiri - the assertive flavours of the pork really made this stand out for me and I regretted the fact that I'd made only two of these. In South Africa we have a saying - "Spyt kom altyd te laat" (meaning regret always comes too late) - which I thought was really apt in this case.
    Photo of Lemon Pork Nigiri
    TheHusband's vote went to the Indian-spiced Omelet Nigiri (clearly a good day for Nigiri...), which I must concede was also pretty good. I will qualify that however by saying that the garam masala/turmeric ones were the clear winner of the two varieties, as the paprika didn't really add that much flavour. It did get bonus points for appearance though.
    Photo of Indian-Spiced Omelet Nigiri
    Honorable mention must also go to the Tandoori Dragon Rolls - the creamy avocado topping was the perfect foil to the spicy chicken and it left us with very satisfied tastebuds.
    Photo of Tandoori Dragon Rolls
    The least popular option was the Red Dragon Roll - poor thing looked a bit sad (just look at it's wonkiness!) and tasted somewhat iffy, mostly due to texture issues. Sushi needs something with a bit more substance and body and the aubergine curry, sadly, was not it. My heart bleeds for you aubergine, you know I normally can't get enough of you, but maybe you should stick to what you're good at, mmm?
    Photo of Red Dragon Roll
    Last but not least was my decorative maki roll with carrot and cumin. This was by far my favourite as far as appearance went, but the flavour was unfortunately not quite there. It wasn't bad, it was just... meh. Know what I mean? It clearly needed something more, I'm just not sure what that "more" would be.
    Photo of Decorative Cumin Carrot Maki

    And so concludes my first (of hopefully many!) Daring challenges. I really enjoyed the experience, even though I've made sushi before, as not only did it give my creative streak a chance to run buck wild, but I also learned some new techniques with the making of the dragon rolls. Something that I will certainly add to my repertoire when next I make sushi. The decorative sushi was also a novel idea which certainly does pretty up the plates.
    As to whether I would make the Indian-style sushi again? Our favourites will definitely be in the running for a reprise in the Creative household. And I think they would wow guests as a deliciously different starter to an Indian meal. For now though, it's on to the next challenge - and time for a much deserved break after days of thinking up fusion combos and hours of prep work in the kitchen last night! (Special shout-out must go to TheHusband for not only indulging me with all my scheming ahead of the time, but also patiently waiting three hours for his supper last night until I had finished ALL the prep work and ALL the photo taking. I love you! *mwah* )


    Yum Yucky on November 18, 2009 4:15 pm said...

    I never EVER said this about Sushi, but that looks really, really.

    Ok, now back to being afraid of the stuff (should I be??)

    Marisa on November 18, 2009 4:55 pm said...

    Get a friend to hold your hand, put on your bravest smile and take a deep breath... definitely nothing to be afraid of with sushi!

    Although, my mom still won't touch it. *sigh*

    Audax on November 18, 2009 5:12 pm said...

    Congratulations on your 1st challenge!!! I am so impressed with your sushi platter and the amount of creative effort and prep time you put into this banquet. Your fusion sushi is so intriguing and certainly will be going on my sushi plate next time I make it especially the Lemon Pork Nigiri which sounds so tasty. Your photos are so clear and show off the sushi so well. Fabulous work on this. Hope you have as much fun on the other challenges. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

    OBTW you have about a week grace time to do the recipe the web-robot check off the blogs about a week after the reveal date. Audax

    Marisa on November 18, 2009 5:47 pm said...

    Thanks for the kind words Audax!

    Joanne on November 18, 2009 11:42 pm said...

    I LOVE how creative you got with this. This is so incredibly innovative. I am quite impressed. And I want to eat all of the sushi. (I am a sushi fanatic). That tandoori dragon roll looks especially tasty.

    nina on November 19, 2009 5:31 am said...

    Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine one can add an Indian touch to sushi...... However I am glad you tried sushi it your first time????It is so rewarding!!!!

    Marisa on November 19, 2009 8:33 am said...

    Thanks for all the compliments guys - you really make my day!

    I really enjoyed pushing boundaries with this challenge and was very pleased with the results.

    Nina - I have made sushi before, but it was pretty basic stuff - just maki and nigiri. This was the first time I made dragon rolls and decorative sushi.

    MaryMoh on November 20, 2009 1:13 pm said...

    These sushi looks so impressive....very creative. I wonder whether I would really want to eat them....will just spoil the beautiful presenatation if I do. Well done.

    Jeanne on November 20, 2009 1:19 pm said...

    Wow - I love it! Fusion sushi - clever clever clever.

    kathy gori on November 21, 2009 4:12 am said...

    very intriguing...looks great!

    Chef Fresco on November 23, 2009 5:04 am said...

    Nice sushi spread! We've never attempted homemade sushi - your post is motivating me :)

    wasabi prime on November 23, 2009 9:39 am said...

    how wonderfully inventive -- I love the twist!

    Koek! on November 24, 2009 9:46 am said...

    Icing cupcakes always brings out the kid in me (not that it takes much!). Great recipe...

    Koek! on November 24, 2009 9:47 am said...

    Oops. That comment was supposed to go on your cupcake post! Ai...

    Marisa on November 24, 2009 9:51 am said...

    Thanks everyone for the lovely comments - appreciate it!

    Koek! - don't worry, cupcakes do that to me too... we'll blame it on the sugar rush okay? ;-)

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