Complementary Tastes

Posted on: Thursday, October 13, 2011

When we make a dish, our number one priority is taste. We love to experiment with complementary flavors and textures (salty and sweet, sweet and sour, hot and cold, smooth and crunchy) that balance but also enhance the dish. To liven a basic brownie, add a sprinkle of sea salt. To intensify a spicy black bean soup, add a cool dollop of sour cream. The two contrasting combinations will make your dish pop!

With an artist for a mom, we think the aesthetic presentation is equally as important as the taste. Like complementary flavors, complementary colors enhance a dish.

Two colors opposite one another on the color wheel are complements (red and green, purple and yellow, blue and orange). When the two colors are paired together in a work of art, the contrast intensifies the work and creates a dramatic presentation. The next time you cook a meal, think about the visual combinations and use different colors and flavors that will excite the dish.

White fish is delicious but has no range of color. To add dimension to a swordfish dish, we added slivered (purple) red onions served atop a base of sweet (yellow) spaghetti squash. The dinner was both visually enticing and delicious!

Baked Swordfish with Red Onion and Caper Relish over Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

Sauteed Spaghetti Squash 

1 small spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
2 T unsalted butter
1 T dried basil
1 T dried parsley
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper throughout 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the spaghetti squash halves cut-side down in an oiled baking dish. Pour enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a knife is easily inserted into the squash skin. Remove the squash from the oven, and cool slightly. With a spoon, remove the seeds. (Now for the fun part) Rake the strands of squash away from the skin with a fork, and place in a mixing bowl.
Sautee the 2 T EVOO and 2 T butter on medium heat in a pan. Add the spaghetti squash, herbs and salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and keep warm until ready to plate.

Baked Swordfish Steak

1 1/2 lbs swordfish steak (1-inch thick)
3 t ground coriander (adds a pleasant aromatic effect to the mild fish)
2 lemons, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
salt and pepper throughout 

Red Onion and Caper Relish 

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 T unsalted butter
1 minced clove of garlic
2 T capers
salt and pepper throughout

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over medium heat, sautee the onion, garlic and EVOO for approximately 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Throw in the capers and butter, and set aside to plate later.

Next, brush the swordfish on both sides with the 2 T of EVOO and place in a baking dish. Season each side with coriander, salt and pepper. Arrange the lemon rounds atop the fish. Bake the fish for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes with a fork. Cut the swordfish steak into 4 equal pieces. *Grilling the swordfish is also a great alternative to baking.

To assemble the plate, spoon out a heaping portion of the spaghetti squash. Place a piece of swordfish on top, lemon rounds and all. Since the lemons are cooked at such a high temperature, they lose their extreme tartness and become a subtly sweet and sour accompaniment. Spoon the Red Onion and Caper Relish on top and serve.

When serving, play around with different colored plates, glasses and table settings. The black dish makes the white fish visually jump off the plate. As shown below, the use of a blue tablecloth underneath a golden cocktail makes the drink glisten. While cooking the meal, we sipped on this:  

Ginger Lemon Martini 

2 parts vodka
1 part Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur (this was our first time trying it!)
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist for garnish

Shake the ingredients and serve in your favorite martini glass- a spicy, sour and sweet medley of flavors!


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