Martin Lersch at khymos.org started a food blogging event a while back called “These Go Really Well Together (TGRWT)” to explore flavor pairings. His theory is that if two food share common odorants, they might taste good together. For every round, the host picks two food items and everyone else makes a dish and writes about how well the items paired. I have been reading the blog and entries for a little while, but haven’t participated until now.
For this round, Greg at Humbling Attempts at Creativity chose sage and roasted peanuts. Another item listed in the announcement post that shares volatile compounds was cooked cod. After thinking about those ingredients for a while, I decided to make peanut crusted cod with some type of sage sauce or oil. I see the chefs on Chopped quite often take one of the ingredients and grind it up to make a breading out of it. I thought I could do that with the peanuts. Initially I bought roasted peanuts in the shell and smashed them with a kitchen mallet after shelling them. When I used this as the breading, it came out a little bland in my opinion. The second time I decided to use dry roasted peanuts for a little extra flavor. I also used my food processor to get the peanuts a little bit finer and more even. Then I just did a standard breading process on the fish (flour, then egg, then peanuts).
For the sage, I initially wanted to make a sage oil. I see Bobby Flay make herb oils on Iron Chef America all the time and it seems pretty easy. I don’t have a blender, so I had to use my food processor. I put the sage leaves in the bowl, add some heated (I hoped this would have the same effect as blanching the sage without any introducing water) canola oil, and whirred it for a while in the food processor. Then I strained all the bits out. It didn’t end up as green as I would have liked, but it did have a bit of sage flavor. Because of the color, I decided not to use the oil during plating and instead used it to pan fry the fish.
I served the fish over Israeli cous cous, and for a little more sage flavor and a little color, I fried a few sage leaves and put them on top.
I really enjoyed the flavor of the cod and the peanut together. They complimented each other nicely. The peanuts also added a nice texture to the dish. As far as the sage, I didn’t end up with a whole lot of its flavor in the final dish. When I got a bite with some of the fried sage and the fish, it worked well. The sage added a bit of brightness and freshness to the overall profile. I also enjoyed the crispiness of the sage after it was fried. I had never used that technique before. Next time, however, I need to work on a way to get a bit more of the sage flavor. Perhaps some sage butter or some kind of sauce. Thoughts?