When I first read this month's Daring Cooks challenge I was a little skeptical. It seemed way out of my element and not my style at all. I suppose that's why they call these things a challenge, hello! The challenge for July was based on Molecular Cuisine and was hosted by Sketchy from Sketchy's Kitchen. I have to take the time to thank Sketchy for taking me out of my comfort zone because it turns out I loved it!
The entire time I was drying and grinding the ingredients I kept saying, "I can't believe how fun this is!" While drying the herbs, fruit and vegetables takes some time, it is so worth it just for the aroma that filled my house alone. It also opened my eyes to the possibilities of drying food for preservation. Once I searched for dried cherries in about four different stores with no luck. Something tells me I'll be drying my own! When I dried the cilantro, it was nothing like the dreary green dried herbs I have in my pantry. It was bright, fragrant and so flavorful. Who knew? I had a great time with this challenge and it was a challenge for me. I have never eaten this way or even considered cooking in this style. So thank you Sketchy for pushing me to try something new. And now please excuse me while I go buy myself a food dehydrator.
Click here for Sketchy's original recipe and tutorial. The tutorial will show you how to poach the fish in a Beurre Monte (butter mixture.)
Here are my Recipes for the Powdered Flavors I used:
zest of 2 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1 mango, sliced as thinly as possible
1 red onion, sliced as thinly as possible
10 small red chilies, cut in half and seeds removed
1 small coconut, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. All of the ingredients will have to be placed in a single layer. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients on the baking sheets. Place the baking sheets in the oven and refer to the following cooking times:
*Lime zest-20-30 minutes, or until the zest feels dried.
*Cilantro-30 minutes, flipping half way through. After 30 minutes, crumble the leaves and stems with your fingers as much as possible, return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes or until the cilantro is completely dried.
*Mango-bake for anywhere from 4-5 hours, flipping the mango a few times.
*Red Onion-bake for approximately 2-3 hours, flipping the onions a few times.
*Red Chilies- bake for 2-3 hours or until the chilies are completely dried.
*Coconut-bake for about 2 hours. Watch carefully that the coconut is drying and not browning.
The idea with the ingredients is that they become dried enough that we can turn them into powders. Drying the ingredients in a food dehydrator would be optimal but the oven works well too. When all of the ingredients are dehydrated, place them separately in a coffee grinder and grind them into a fine powder. To make the powder even smoother and to remove any lumps, run the powders through a fine meshed sieve.
You will likely have leftover powders. Trust me, you'll be happy about that.