Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Toughest Question


The hardest question to answer, I think, is that "what is your favorite food?" question. I don't know the answer. It depends on the day. I used to say, definitively, that is was khorosht-e karafs, but now I'm not so sure. So then the interrogator moves on to their next question, unhappy with that answer.

What's your favorite type of food?

Uh, edible?

But no, of course that's what they mean.

They want an easy to digest answer, like Italian, Greek, Thai, Mexican, Middle Eastern, etc.

None of those answers satisfy me though. None of them really mean anything. Well, they do, but to different people they mean different things. Take Italian for example; for some people it conjures up images of red checkered tablecloths, pizza, and spaghetti and meatballs. To another person, it may conjure up fresh seafood dressed simply in olive oil and some vegetables following a course of fresh pasta tossed simply with rapini. The answers really aren't that simple.

And then what about American? What does that mean? I don't even want to try to wrap my head around that.

Like this dish. It has Asian flavors, but is it Asian? Highly doubtful. It was conjured up in test kitchens, and is tasty. But it fuses together flavors and different cultures and fresh ingredients and fits them nicely onto my plate.

Now that's my favorite kind of food.

As for the actual dish composed of the elements above, it jumped out at me when I was looking at the index of the August issue of Bon Appetit and had avocado in the basement on Monday and saw Asian Avocado Salsa. Dad however decided to make something that wouldn't go with the salsa, and the watercress at the store was droopy. Wednesday night, with the remaining avocado, I made a small batch of salsa based on the recipe, and as per one of the suggestions in the magazine, tossed it with some summer squash Dad grilled, soba noodles, and topped with (accidentally untoasted) sesame seeds.

Asian Avocado Salsa
based on recipe in August 2008 Bon Appetit
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon wasabi paste*
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup 1/3-inch cubes jicama (about 1/2 4" jicama)
1 large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, but into 1/3 inch cubes

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and wasabi paste. Stir in cilantro, green onions, and jicama. Gently stir in avocado.

*I used wasabi powder mixed with water to create a paste so I'm not sure in intensity how it compares to a purchased wasabi paste. However, if the salsa is mixed with pasta and vegetables, an extra 1/2 teaspoon or so does not hurt because the squash mellows it out.

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