Chocolate Main Course
Soup, salad and dip at the all-chocolate dinner party were followed by a main dish consisting of three separate parts.
Fragrant brown jasmine rice, an obscene amount of minced ginger, and orange peel went into the rice cooker to work magic while we ate our appetizers. This provided the base for a vertical plating.
The rice was packed inside a ring mold, an old tuna can, with both ends cut out. The pros use purchased stainless steel ring molds. I say, Re-duce, Re-use, Re-think.
The protein was tofu, cubed, rolled in a mixture of cumin, chiles, cocoa powder and other spices, then fried. This was placed on top of the rice.
Shredded carrots mixed with a hot oil-cumin seed-cocoa powder mixture, which helped to wilt them slightly, became chocolate-carrot salad. Mint added a fresh, different flavor. This sat on top the tofu, and the whole thing was garnished with a tiny sprig of basil mint from the garden.
Then the ring mold was carefully removed, leaving a circular tower of food. I made a sauce with some of the reserved spice mixture from the tofu, cooked in some oil, to bring out the flavor and make an orange oil. Iron Chef Bobby Flay does this on all his dishes, apparently, using chiles blended in oil to make a bright orange sauce.
Mine wasn’t quite the same, but it was close enough for a first try. Drizzled sauce around the plate provided fancy flair.
The combination of flavors worked well together, blending orange, ginger, chocolate, and earthy southwestern spices and chiles. In retrospect, however, I’m not sure I’d serve them again in combination, because I’d rather each dish had a chance to boast its bold complexity without competition from the others.
The tofu recipe needs some adjustments. While the flavor was complex and rich, the texture was close to mush, and the proportion of spice mixture to tofu was off. I’d like to fix the recipe and add it to my repertoire of old faithfuls, so I will wait to post the recipe.
Are you full yet? Save room for dessert: mocha birthday cake.