Thursday, April 16, 2015
Jammin': Spiced Smelt With Basil and Chimichuri Cauliflower
I wanted to post this jam because it was so tasty, but the combination of ingredients are so eclectic that it's unlikely you'll have them on hand. The first phase was the shallow-fried smelt, and the second phase stir-frying the cauliflower before combining them together.
For the smelt, I first toasted some black peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cloves (key new addition! but go easy on them since a little goes a long way) before grinding them in a mortar and tossing with some gochugaru (ground dried Korean chili) and salt. I then shallow-fried the smelt before tossing them with the spice mix. Shallow-frying smelt (or deep-frying if you're down for using all that oil) is my favorite way to cook it, by the way. For whatever reason, it just gets rid of the bitterness in smelt's guts that broiling or sauteing don't manage to do. I think maybe it leaches out into the oil while frying.
Here's where it got more random. I had chimichurri and Thai basil leaves on hand and it all seemed like it would work out well with the spice mix I made for the smelt. So I sauteed the chimichurri for a short time before stir-frying the cauliflower and tossing in the Thai basil leaves at the end. The cauliflower is this kind of loose-stemmed variety, as opposed to the really dense heads you commonly see in grocery stores. I like this loose, long-stemmed cauliflower since you get more of the tasty stem, and it's not so dry and crumbly like the dense kind of cauliflower can be.
Finally I combined the smelt and cauliflower and ate it over steamed rice. Delicious! But I'm not often going to happen to have chimichurri and Thai basil on hand.