Saturday, June 4, 2011

Slider Throwdown: Part I

While in Portland, Maine, I competed with two excellent cooks--Sonya and Pat. The challenge: create one slider, one side, and one margarita. The prize: bragging rights. And getting to taste all the food. 

I'm posting each cook's creations separately. First up is my avocado and mango dip with fried wontons, seared Ahi tuna slider, and hibiscus margarita.  

I decided on a Hawaiianish theme to tie all my dishes together. I made the avocado and mango dip first. I experienced this dish last summer when it was introduced to me by my friend Randy. It is perfect for the summertime. It consists of chopped mango, avocado, finely minced red onion, a squeeze of lime, and salt. I like to use Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, which is pinkish-orange and gets its color from clay. It has a very distinctive flavor that works great with the dip. I also added a splash of blood orange extra virgin olive oil for a little touch of citrus.

Usually I just serve the dip with tortilla chips, but I decided to elevate it a little by making fried wonton chips. This was a throwdown, after all. I bought a package of square wonton wrappers and cut them into triangles. Next I heated up some vegetable oil and once it was ready I placed the wontons in the oil one at a time. They fried very quickly so I just put in a few for each batch, flipped them quickly, and then removed them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. These wonton chips also got a sprinkle of Alaea Hawaiian sea salt.

For my hibiscus margarita I got some hibiscus and rose hip tea and steeped it in boiling water in a pot on the stove. Then I added some agave nectar to create a hibiscus simple syrup. The other ingredients included 1800 silver tequila and fresh-squeezed lime juice and orange juice. We took advantage of the newly purchased Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker to create our delicious margaritas. I lined half the rim of each glass with some more of that Hawaiian sea salt.

And now for the slider. First I made a wasabi dressing composed of grated ginger, wasabi paste, wasabi sesame oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice. I also steamed a little baby bok choy with rice wine vinegar. For the tuna I coated it in a mixture of black and tan sesame seeds and sea salt. I heated up some sesame oil and quickly seared the tuna on all sides. Choosing bread for the slider was the most difficult part. What could I use that would be light enough to complement the tuna without overpowering it? I lucked out by finding some mini-pita pockets. Perfect. I layered all the ingredients together, drizzled on some of the wasabi dressing, and topped them off with chopped scallions.

I was happy with the final products, but I still had to face the judges and compete against Sonya and Pat...

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