Friday, February 5, 2010

Bitter-Sweet and Savory

Dinner the night after the Yo La Tengo show. We ate pomelo and daikon radish salad with homemade Louisiana meat pie (I bastardized the filling to incorporate elements of an Argentinean recipe and also to make the home-town recipe healthier). I confess that I made the meat pie on Friday, not Saturday, but I also confess that it tasted better the 2nd night. The meat pie, made with whole wheat pie crust (that I prepared from scratch, which amazed me because it's not the kind of thing I do), was sweet and savory. The salad was bitter-sweet and had a kick to it. I highly recommend the salad - it was super easy. And the meat pie was just plain comforting. I thought this would seem like a hodgepodge meal, but it came together nicely. There are no recipes up, but I'll try to get them posted tomorrow or Sunday (pre-Saints game!).

Meet the pomelo. It is the size of a cantaloupe, but a relative of the grapefruit. Chris is not crazy about grapefruit, but he genuinely enjoyed this salad. The pomelo (at least the one we had) has a slightly milder taste than grapefruit - both in terms of bitterness and sugar content. Notice how thick the rind is. I used half of the fruit in this salad, but if you needed to serve more than 4 people, I'd go with the whole fruit. Also, though I wasn't careful to make pretty slices, I was careful to remove every bit of rind (the inner rind that covers each segment) to ensure that we didn't have any unwanted bitterness. (That's my hand removing the rind; Chris shot that photo.)

Here is the pomelo and one peeled and sliced daikon radish. As you can see, the combination looks spring-like, clean and pretty. Just as pumella tastes like a mild grapefruit, daikon tastes mild considering it's a radish. It provided a nice crunch, complimenting the pomelo in taste and texture.

Here is the romaine that I forgot to picture earlier. I used half of this (one rooted bunch) for the salad. Without a doubt, this romaine tasted cleaner and crisper than supermarket romaine. It was a smaller bunch than what I normally see at the store, but it also seemed younger. Again, if I was making this salad for more than 4 people, I'd have used both bunches (as well as 2 instead of 1 daikon radish).

The last ingredient in the salad is those micro-greens I was excited about tasting at the market. I noted earlier that I spent $3 on a sandwich bag portion. I have had 3 uses out of the one bag (for 2 people). I used 1/3 of the bag for this salad, but would have increased to 1/2 of the bag for a larger salad. My friend Bobby commented that $3 might be steep since they are only early shoots, but I have to say, they really packed a punch, and alongside the dressing, they unified this salad in terms of flavor and appearance. (Chris's photo again.)

Voila. A meal. 
If I was not a meat eater, I might have tried to make a savory pie filling with diced sweet potatoes and Quinoa. If I was making the meal as is, but I felt I needed a side dish, I might still have made diced, oven-roasted sweet potatoes. In fact, to spread the salad among 4 people, I'd advise adding a side dish. Ultimately, 1 piece of pie and a healthy portion of salad filled up both me and Chris. We did indulge in sponging up the dressing with slices of the rosemary ciabatta we purchased at the market. 

The last bite. As I prepared the salad, Chris was playing George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. There was a time years ago when this album was in my constant rotation. I was peeling and chopping the daikon radish, and I heard myself think: I bet my mom would have liked this album. Then: I wonder if she had ever heard any of it? In the nearly four years since my mom's death, I have never paused to wonder what she experienced that I may not know of. In the back of my mind, there are always fears: that I will forget her voice, her laughter, her facial expressions, the way her hands looked and the way her touch felt. To ponder over what she had known, unbeknownst to me, and to know that I cannot simply pick up the telephone and ask, "Mom, have you ever heard this song?" was a startling and unsettling moment. Perhaps I will never forget her voice, her laughter, her hands. But as I continue to age, I might accumulate an attic of unanswerable questions about who my mother was, even as I believe I knew her.


  1. that was so touching. it brought tears to my eyes. i love your music selection and that meat pie looks soooooooooo good. I will probably go the rest of my life without making a homemade pie crust.

  2. Why didn't you just supreme the pumello?

  3. Micro green were a bit overdone for awhile, so I still see them as silly, for lack of a better way to say it. They were a garnish for everything, like parsley can be, it really serves no purpose sometime, most of the time, people just use it because that is how it has always been done. Like lemon with fish. If the fish is fresh why ruin it with lemon juice and i love acid. If you do like microgreens, alot, seriously, by the seeds and sprout them yourself, its really easy to do, and so much cheaper.

  4. Pie crusts are fun and not difficult (speaking as a non-cook, who nonetheless regularly makes pie crust - there was simply no other option for many years in London). Too many people are intimidated by what other people say is difficult. I love the salad, and all your new-to-me ingredients.

  5. Wow, thanks for posting. Good one.