I’ve kept my personal project quiet* but now going into the fourth week, I think it’s safe to make it known to the world. Welcome to Fusion Labs – a column feeding the foodaholic in me through what I’d like to believe as strict scientific, strictly controlled and laboratory grade experimentations but will mostly end up as trial and error.
Until the end of the year**, I will endeavour to create a new dish that I’ve never done before and I’ll do it at least once a week. In doing so, I hope to improve not only my special cooking skills (2 minute noodles once took me 15 minutes) but also subject my taste buds to a range of other flavours, textures and elements I normally wouldn’t even consider trying. I have always been a meatatarian but not a massive carnivore, just one that prefers to have some meaty texture to my intake. I already have my eyes squarely set on Jamie Oliver’s veggie patty burgers.
I’ll take some photos through my journey and try to accompany them with some words. I’ll try to keep failures to a minimum but will try to give them another shot before admitting defeat.
Finally, there are no rules. All dishes are fair game – that is, I’m not going to discount the easy milkshakes or garden salads although I’ll feel like I’d be cheating a little 🙂 Like I mentioned, I’ll do at least one dish a week but can try more time permitting.
My final goal is to find dishes that compare to my all time favourites (as judged by others, not me, honest): pork spare ribs and sticky date pudding. I don’t believe I’ll find any that will topple them but I’d like to try… ranking new dishes second or third will be a good achievement.
Pork Spare Ribs
The ultimate finger licking experience the whole family, relatives, and friends all agree. Conversations are usually kept to a minimum as each individual concentrates on the explosion of flavours that unconsciously warps you into another world.
These take considerable effort but the results are spectacular. I normally accompany these bad boys with some roasted sweet and normal potatoes, and sometimes with a side of salad or veggies. The potatoes stay in the oven for around 1.30hrs to develop a crispy outer crunch but soft and smooth innard. I always try to make the ribs tender which are later usually confirmed as they fall off the bone with ease.
Nothing is wasted, the left over sauce is collected and used as a condiment over other meals through the week.
My runner ups for mains are chicken pot pie and perhaps asian style oven baked fish.
Sticky Date Pudding
I have always liked sticky date but never really enjoyed it as much as I did when I was in England (a year ago) so I thank them greatly for instilling greater curiosity. Maybe I hadn’t had a really good one for a long time.
If you have a blender, these would be super quick but I choose to make them by hand – there’s just a form, an art, some people call it love, that goes into the food when it is all done traditionally. I serve the cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream, warm butterscotch sauce and sprinkled with roasted nuts.
If you can’t eat them all, cut them into portions, wrap them up and freeze them. You can also store the leftover sauce in the fridge. When ready, take the cake out, place some of the sauce over it and microwave on high for around 45 seconds then add the rest and enjoy.
One remark from my brother was that if he could only have one meal left, then it would be this.
I don’t have any runner ups in the dessert category so am looking to find my two remaining podium finishes.
Let’s get started: Chocolate Lava Cake
My journey started in the second week of September 2013 with a chocolate lava cake.
The cake was plated up without breakage and started to ooze out its glorious river of smooth chocolate warmth as you ran your fork through it. I decided to add some scoops of vanilla ice cream to add another texture to the dish (hot and cold). If you are a chocolate lover then this is your dish. If you’re a little like me and like to have more than one element, then we still have some way to go to topple the venerable sticky date pudding.
Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
The third week of September saw a chicken and mushroom casserole with rice.
It was fantastic so much so that we didn’t have any left overs despite mindfully cooking extra for work the following day. The fusion of all ingredients, particularly the chicken, ham and mushrooms worked well. The final result had the right amount of consistency. This meal brought a smile as I recalled my failed attempt at beef stroganoff many years back where the sauce was so thick that nothing moved and the taste was kinda bland.
My bro’s low carb diet went out the window as he heaped in his fair share and a tower of rice.
Sizzling Lamb Koftas
The fourth week of September came some sizzling lamb koftas inspired by Jamie Oliver.
They looked at me in puzzlement and asked “why lamb?” as they knew I wasn’t very fond of it. In fact, I had always enjoyed a good lamb kebab. This dish was to compare to my Mexican beef burritos with lettuce, tomato, carrots, gherkins and some hot sauce.
I mixed the lamb with some breadcrumbs I had just whipped up then wound them onto the skewers and fried them on the griddle pan. When done, I brushed some sweet chilli sauce and rolled them in some crushed roasted pistachios and fennel seeds and plated them up with a wrap, red cabbage salad, some leafy lettuce and fat free plain yoghurt.
They were good, but next time I will add just a little bit of heat.
* Wise boffins suggest that you hold onto your new personal goals if you want to give it the best chance to succeed. Multiple studies throughout the ages summarise that you are in fact less likely to complete your goals if you have disclosed them beforehand. Check out Derek Siver’s TED talk on this matter.
** Why give an end date? Every project has an end date that provides an opportunity to evaluate overall performance. It gives you time to reflect on the elements that worked well and those not so. Even if there had been more failures than successes, the best way to improve is through correction and repetition 🙂 So no doubt my antics will continue into the new year but I may write less about them.