I took the bone from Sunday's lamb leg and put it in our huge stockpot with some aromatics with a goal of producing many quarts of some highly flavorful and polyvalent stock. I love lamb with phở flavors; since there's significant overlap with many Moroccan spices there's a natural sympatico with the rich, gamy meat. So to the pot I added the following: a charred onion, a charred thumb of ginger, a carrot, some fresh parsley, some fennel stalks, a few cloves, two star anise pods, coriander seeds, a cinnamon stick, and black peppercorns. I brought it to a bare simmer and held it there for about five hours, skimming it when I came in from the studio to pull an espresso and refill my water glass. This new stove can do such miraculous things with two gallons of liquid.
I froze most of it (already loving the new chest freezer) and put some aside in the fridge for various purposes. First up, dinner: a risotto made with the recently dug carrots and the newly arrived ramps. I added garlic mustard, which is up in abundance and easily exceeds anything one would hope to find and pay money for at a store right now. It has a short season, but man–along with lamb's quarters, it's right up there for delicate elegance in the free and forageable category. All of these early spring arrivals are so tasty and cleansing; it's a helpful reminder that we're animals and evolved to need such things after a long winter. I started the carrots just after the rice and added the minced greens at the very end so they'd keep their color.
And I made too much, on purpose. Leftover risotto is just a wonderful thing to have at one's disposal in the fridge; arancini, sushi, soups–it's a magical thing that gets one halfway home without lifting a finger. In this case, sushi. I Picked Milo up from school and we kept going, across the river, to pick up our fish order from Gerard. This time around, we got Arctic char, mussels, and scallops, figuring that we could get at least three dinners out of the order. I put the mussels on ice for later on (thinking moules frites for tomorrow) and trimmed and rubbed the char with miso, putting it back in the fridge for about half an hour to pick up a bit of flavor; because it looks like salmon, I always find char to be a letdown since my brain is expecting the fatty richness and instead gets the subtle sweetness. It's my brain's fault, really, since it is actually quite tasty.
I put a few scallops into a small jar with kimchi brine to firm up and flavorize, also for just 30 or so minutes, since the hour was latening, and ran outside to pick some things to help make it even better: a ramp, garlic chives, red mustard leaves, and spinach sprouts. Since I recently got a sushi mold, I figured I'd try to make a pretty plate. Also, I bailed on dinner last night because I was tired and worked late and it did not go over particularly well, so extra beauty was in order.
I seared the scallops ferociously hard on one side, removing them before they cooked more than a quarter of the way through so they were silky raw on the other side. I cut them in half, and nestled them into little gunkan-maki (battleship sushi) with a dribble of their pan juices. The char, trimmed to size, fit into the mold to make battera sushi. And I made two rolls: avocado and ramp. All the above used the risotto in place of plain rice, and the delicate phở notes added a certain something. The chives, cabbage flowers, and spinach made for some very interesting garnishes, both visually and gustatorily. A very satisfying combination, and well-complemented by an unoaked Finger Lakes Chardonnay: Red Tail Ridge's sans oak 2008. I like their approach to winemaking, and they do decent work given their tricky climate. Unoaked Chardonnay makes a good match with this sort of clean food, because the vanilla and pineapple qualities from oak (especially American) can overpower the food.