Okay, so you’ve been dropped onto a fake beach in the middle of an amusement park. What now? You cook, of course!
I've watched enough seasons of Food Network Star to know that the first challenge usually involves your signature dish. But here was this season's twist: it had to park-friendly. Explicitly, that meant no utensils, and it had to be plated on servingware normally found in an amusement park. Implicitly, that meant a world of intangible things that you might expect from park food.
What are those intangibles? Here were the musts I considered:
Fun -- think churros and Groot bread
Light -- this was a water park after all and I didn’t want to serve anything too heavy or hot
Easy and relatively unchallenging -- no one comes to an amusement park to take culinary risks
So I decided to convert my miso-glazed halibut with turmeric tiles into a skewer, cooked en papillote. The parchment papillote would keep the dish neat, ensure everything inside was warm and tender, and provide a little mystery.
In my presentation, I ended up calling this a “Two-in-One Surprise Skewer”. After our cook, I had looked around and seen people had beautiful dishes -- all visually exciting colors and textures. I had… a brown paper pouch and a piece of brown bread. Blech.
So I tried to spin the negative into a positive. Can’t see what you’re eating? It’s a surprise! Don’t know what’s inside? It’s actually two things, a skewer and brothy veggies to sop up with the bread.
Sadly, neither the park guest, Giada, nor Bobby commented on my expert re-branding. But it didn’t hurt me either :P.
2-in-1 Surprise Skewer (aka Miso-Glazed Turbot and Zucchini Skewers with Turmeric Veggies and Garlic Sesame Naan)
I changed this recipe a bit from what I cooked on the show. My original signature dish used yellow squash, and that’s what I used here. On the show, I couldn’t find/they didn’t have any yellow squash, so I ended up using bell peppers.
I also used turbot here because my local Whole Foods was out of halibut. Feel free to use any firm, thick white fish like halibut, turbot, or cod.
4 cups water
1-inch knob of ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
½ head Napa cabbage
3 yellow zucchini
2-inch knob of ginger
6 cloves of garlic
¼ cup white miso
2 ½ tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 lb firm white fish like halibut, turbot, or cod
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
Splash of sesame oil
Black sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel and dice ginger. Slice Napa cabbage into ¼ inch strips. Slice zucchini into ¾” half moons. Add water, ginger, salt, turmeric and peppercorns to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the Napa cabbage and zucchini and lower to a simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the cabbage has wilted and the zucchini is fork-tender, but still firm.
Puree all the skewer ingredients (except for the fish :P) in the blender. Cut fish into 1” cubes and mix with the miso marinade.
Use pre-cut parchment paper squares, or cut them yourself. Lay out skewers diagonally on the paper. There should be at least one inch of room on each side of the skewer. If not, trim your skewer.
Lay out one square. Spread a bed of cabbage along the diagonal of the square, where the skewer will be. Build the skewer, alternating zucchini and fish. When done, place the skewer on the parchment paper. Trim the corners of the parchment paper “wings”. This will reduce excess paper. Crimp the edges of the parchment paper by rolling and pinching, sealing the skewer.
Place on a sheet tray and bake/steam in the oven for 13 minutes.
As the fish cooks, make the garlic sesame naan. Add olive oil and garlic to a small frying pan. Slowly bring to a simmer, until garlic is lightly golden. Add sesame oil. Brush oil on naan with a pastry brush. Toast in the oven or on a grill. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve hot so your guests can open the pockets and enjoy the aromatic steam.