Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kona Kampachi Dinner

I'm a regular reader of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, a site devoted mainly to modern Asian cooking, peppered with bits of her life and two adorable boys. The funny and talented Jaden simplifies favorite Asian recipes so that a novice cook like myself can brave up and tackle dishes like phở and even cook whole fish! Jaden also does free drawings for food-related goodies (like we really need a reason to read her blog), and I happened to be one of the lucky winners for the last drawing! The prize was super fresh Kona Kampachi fedexed to me from Kona Blue. :)

Since it is sushi-grade Hawaiian yellow-tail, I decided to make poke (pronounced "po-keh"), which is an appetizer of seasoned, raw cubes of fish. I don't eat raw fish, but my tasters reported that it was superb fish that is "melts-in-your-mouth good"!

Kona Kampachi Poke
(Yields 4 Appetizer Portions)
  • ½ lb fresh Kona Kampachi, cubed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Mix all seasonings together and then toss well with fish. Cover and chill for a couple hours before serving.

I went to the Asian market to pick up some fresh Thai basil to make my basil olive oil for dinner, but when I saw a pile of gorgeous, plump Chinese eggplants, I had to snatch up a few to make roasted eggplant soup.

Roasted Eggplant Soup(Yields 5 Appetizer Portions)

  • 4 big Chinese eggplants, pierced
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, cut shallow X on bottom
  • 4 shallots, peeled
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 chili, or to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tiny pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water, more or less to adjust consistency
  • Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Plain yogurt for topping
  • Fresh basil olive oil for garnish
Preheat oven to 450F broil. Brush tomatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic and chili with oil and roast until vegetables are tender. Check every 15 minutes to rotate and remove the ones that have finished cooking. Once everything is done roasting, you can remove the eggplant skin if you wish, but I love the smoky flavor of the skin. Dice cooked vegetables and set aside.
Heat up a soup pot and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Throw in bay leaf and cumin seeds and fry until they start to crackle. Add roasted vegetables, broth, water and bit of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 20 minutes or so until everything is tender.
Fish out the bay leaf and discard. If you want the soup to be creamy, take off the burner and puree with hand blender until smooth. Bring back to burner and adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls and top with a dallop of yogurt and fresh basil oil.
To make fresh basil olive oil, just add shredded basil leaves, lemon juice, salt and pepper to fine extra virgin olive oil and blitz the ingredients together with a hand blender.
For the main course, I decided to grill the fish medium-rare (mine was well-done) and served it on top of a coconut curry sauce with a drizzle of the basil olive oil. I don't eat fish very often, but I must say that this fish is wonderfully tasty. I especially like that the flesh is really firm and contains a healthy amount of oil. Definitely a worthy splurge for a celebratory occasion. :)

Grilled Kona Kampachi with Curry Sauce
(Yields 5 Entree Portions)
  • 4 lbs Kona kampachi fillets
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 6 shallots, diced
  • 2 Thai bird’s eye chilies, whole
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 can (13.5 fl oz) unsweetened Thai coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil olive oil to garnish
To make curry sauce, heat oil in a deep skillet over high heat and fry cardamom, cloves, cumin and curry leaves briefly until fragrant. Add the onion and chili and saute until golden brown. Stir in ginger and garlic and toss until fragrant. Add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, and curry powder and mix well. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and a bit of salt and cook until tomatoes have blended into the mixture. Whisk together coconut milk and a cup of water and stir into the mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer until it is reduced by half or to desired consistency. Once the sauce is to your liking, taste and adjust seasoning. Don’t be impatient and try to adjust your seasoning before the sauce has finished the reduction. You can serve sauce as is, but I like to puree my sauce with a hand blender to make it super smooth and a bit frothy.
When ready to serve, season fish with some salt and pepper. Heat up grill pan and make sure it’s hot before laying the fillets down. This fish is extremely easy to cook because the rose colored flesh turns opache white when cooked. To serve, ladle some curry sauce on plate and lay fish on top. Drizzle a bit of fresh basil oil serve with a side of jasmine rice.


emily said...

From the words of the insufferable Rachael Ray, "Yum-O!" :)

Tia Nguyen said...

LOL. I can so see you chomping down on that raw fish. :D