16 May 2010

Foodie Fights

I signed up to compete in Foodie Fights this year. It's kind of an online Iron Chef deal. Each battle has two ingredients that the contestants must use in a single dish. This battle's two ingredients are wonton wrappers and strawberries. Entries are judged on creativity and photography, basically, and the assumption of yumminess (of course, everything I cook is yummy. Right?). On Tuesday, you can vote for whatever your favourite recipe is for this contest.

I tried to be creative, but I also wanted the two ingredients to be additive to the meal, not just two separate yummy bits. I wanted 1 plus 1 to equal 5,000, if you get my drift. So, I tried two dishes to increase my chances of getting that additive deliciousness. The strawberry soup was about a 20--the ravioli was just a 2.


The delicious ingredients for Foodie Fights battle number 3. (Okay, so the wonton wrappers say "gyoza skin," but there's a wonton recipe on the back, so I figure they're fine for these purposes. I bought them from Hana Market on 17th and U Streets.)


I decided to go for strawberry soup, because it's getting really hot here in DC and it's a refreshing, chill way to use the in-season "berry" (it's an enlarged receptacle, not a fruit--the fruit are really the little pips that people think of as seeds. There are seeds within the pips.). The soup will get the most play, because it's my submission for Foodie Fights, but I'll mention my ravioli at the end. To start, here are the full ingredients for the soup.


Strawberries and wonton wrappers, of course; lime (I didn't use the lemon); vanilla; cinnamon; ginger; spearmint (grown at Mr. Yogato); heavy cream; vegetable oil; and sugar. Not pictured (because it was under some cheese in the fridge) but used in the soup: plain yogurt.


To make the soup, I used one pound of diced strawberries, juice from half of a lime, a dash of vanilla, about half a tablespoon of chopped ginger, half a cup of sugar, half a cup of heavy cream, and half a cup of yogurt. I tossed it all in a blender and pureed until I was happy with the flavour. (It could be modified with some orange juice for a more citrusy flavour and liquidy consistency or increase the cream for a thicker soup.) Then I stuck it in a bowl and put it in the fridge to chill while I worked with the wonton wrappers.

I got the idea of using wonton wrappers as delicious crispy accents to the soup from Maangchi's maejakgwa recipe. I cut the wonton wrappers into fun shapes (see: right) while heating a pan of vegetable oil for frying and simmering half a cup of sugar, half a cup of water, a dash of vanilla, cinnamon, and some crushed ginger in a pot to make a syrup.

I made some wontons into straws, to suck the soup up through for fun. I got the wrapper wet with a little water and used a chop stick to roll them into straws. Here's a quick video of how to roll wonton straws.

video


Once I had strips, triangles, straws, smiley faces, and other wonton goodies ready, I fried them right quick in the vegetable oil.


I made three straws, although there was only myself and a friend eating the meal I was preparing. I wanted a third just in case. Y'know. In case I ate them. Which I did (there were two more made prior to these three).


After frying the wonton wrapper bits, I tossed them in the ginger syrup. I had one straw in each glass of soup (I don't have bowls, really), a smattering of ginger wonton cookie goodness, and a few leaves of mint.



As my friend said, the wonton wrappers were dangerous, almost like carnival food. The crispy sweet goodness definitely added to the soup--both the soup and the crisps tasted good on their own, but eating the ginger yummies with the soup made it all taste even better! 19 May update: As wondered by BS of Endless Simmer during Foodie Fights judging, the straws did hold up pretty well. They sat in the soup for several minutes while I took photographs and prepared the ravioli (see below). The straw lasted for about 15 seconds of soup-sucking before the soup end got soggy and collapsed. I think the sugar glaze on top of the fried oily shell prevented the strawberry liquid goodness from penetrating the wonton. That just makes it sound so much more appetizing, doesn't it...? I suggest keeping a small supply of these straws around to slurp the soup--three or four should do!


Now, here's the failure. It's baked (because boiling made it into a horrible messy cheesy glue) feta/gorgonzola/blue cheese ravioli with ginger candied walnuts and a strawberry sauce, garnished with mint because it's pretty. I wanted a very strong-flavoured cheese ravioli offset by the sweetness of the strawberries.



Although it looks really really tasty (and it was), all of the components didn't really amplify each other to raise the deliciousness of the dish. They all tasted fine on their own, and didn't really taste bad together, but together they didn't make the dish pop. I think next time, I'll grind the candied walnuts, mix them in with the cheese, cut the mixture with a bit of ricotta, and place a slice of strawberry within the ravioli before cooking them. That would mix the flavours and, I think, amplify the dish, but as it is, they didn't tie together all that well. It is totally tasty, don't doubt! But just not additive like the soup and crispy wontons bits were.

3 comments:

I'll take ginger-y wonton straws and strawberry soup over ravioli any day! I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had one attempt flop, but I'm fairly certain that the flop allows for brilliance in the second dish. The soup looks and sounds fantastic!

Looks delicious! I love how you included your flop in the post as well. Good luck!

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