Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Adventure Begins: Ginger Chicken Rumaki & Curried Couscous Salad!

OK, so no pressure here, none at all. But the question at hand is: WHERE to start? For those of you familiar with “Savor the Moment” you know just how fabulous this cookbook is. There are so many fantastic recipes that choosing 1 or 2 to kick off this project is a little (gulp) daunting. So, I suppose, why not start at the beginning. I turned to page 16, the first page with recipes, and saw two: Spicy Oysters with Mango Dip and Ginger Chicken Rumaki. Now I am not the biggest oyster fan. My husband is, however, he was out of town and my Mom was joining me for dinner tonight (also, not a big oyster fan.) This left the Ginger Chicken Rumaki. Recipe 1 decided. Gaining momentum!
Now for a little help with Recipe 2 I enlisted the help of my wine chiller. I had been wanting to try a Gewurztraminer from Alsace, France I had recently purchased. It is a delicious spicy, white wine that pairs wonderfully with curry and ginger dishes, among other things. I had the ginger part taken care of so, for the curry portion of the evening, I opted for….drumroll…the Curried Couscous salad. These two items would make for a nice light dinner which Mom would appreciate and go perfectly with the wine. Whew!

The Dishes:
Ginger Chicken Rumaki (pg. 16)
Curried Couscous Salad (pg. 124)

The Drink:
2002 Domaines Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Fleur

Now I love just about anything wrapped in bacon. For our Rehearsal Dinner a few years ago I requested a whole plate of scallops wrapped in bacon just for me (when else are you going to be able to do that?) I finished every single one…no regrets. So I was very excited to make the Rumaki. According to Wikipedia, Rumaki is an hors d'oeuvre of mock-Polynesian origin. It was probably invented by Victor Bergeron, known as Trader Vic. Its ingredients and method of preparation vary, but usually it consists of water chestnuts and pieces of duck or chicken liver wrapped in bacon and marinated in soy sauce and either ginger or brown sugar. The earliest known reference to it is on the 1941 menu of the "Don the Beachcomber" restaurant in Palm Springs. The name may be an alteration of Japanese harumaki 'spring roll'.
While preparing this recipe, the smell of the marinade made my mouth water! I probably marinated the chicken for a total of 2 hours. Assembling them was easy enough after partially cooking the bacon. I also purchased the sliced water chestnuts instead of the whole ones and they were still delicious. The tricky part with this dish is selecting the appropriate toothpicks that can stand up to the cooking process. If they have the cellophane tips, they will melt. Also, the wooden ones turned black so, after cooking and for presentation purposes, it is very easy to just replace them with clean ones. Perhaps soaking them would prevent the blackening, if anyone has tried this please let me know. They are WELL worth any additional effort – they are DELICIOUS! Also, adhere to the cooking time of 3-5 minutes under the broiler - they really do cook that fast!
Now, the Curried Couscous Salad is the perfect “make ahead” dish. It just gets better and better with each passing hour. And, what they don’t tell you in the book is that it is also highly addicting! The combination of flavors in the dressing (red wine vinegar, curry powder, lemon juice, etc) is just perfect and the textures of the garbanzo beans, almonds and celery is fantastic – a great crunch factor! I opted for the golden raisins instead of the brown (personal preference) and they were also delicious. I really look forward to making this dish again.
In addition, both of these delicious dishes paired perfectly with the Gewurztraminer! My Mom also came up with a great idea for an appetizer or first course: serve the Curried Couscous salad in a martini glass with 1-2 of the Ginger Chicken Rumaki on top. Thanks, Mom, and session one completed!

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way about bacon! I believe you could serve me shoe leather wrapped in bacon and I would not complain a bit, though I would much prefer the ginger chicken rumaki. Thanks for the motivation, looking forward to making some myself.

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