The capers looked suspicious. Their green skins were dotted with a pearly pink shine. Inside the refrigerator, the capers have been curing in a salty brine along with other forgotten condiments for the last two years. Aged jars of mango chutney, tikka paste, and Thai red curry paste were shelved nearby, yet they lack the capers’s pastel iridescence.
This color means one thing, mold. I empty the jar into the garbage disposal and whirl away one of the main ingredients in this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, capers.
The July Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen. Sketchy chose the recipe Skate with Traditional Flavors from Grant Achatz’s cookbook Alinea. The recipe’s traditional powders include a caper and onion powder, a lemon citrus powder, a cilantro and parsley powder, and a brown butter powder with bananas. First, these ingredients are dehydrated and then ground and sifted to a fine powder. They are later plated with the cooked skate along with fresh banana slices, small green bean rounds, and brown butter powder sprinkled over the fish.
While I used some of the ingredients and techniques from the recipe challenge, I rewrote the recipe based on tastes and pantry supplies. A few of the alternative Daring Cook’s suggested using the tofu fish sticks recipe by Vegan Lunch Box as a substitution for the fish. With inspiration from both recipes, I made Breaded Tempeh and Tofu sticks served with Miso Ginger Tofu Rolls.
Having tossed all the capers, I searched the kitchen for alternative ingredients to use for the breaded tempeh and tofu sticks. I found bananas, parsley, and vidalia onions called for in the traditional powder recipe. I also added ginger root and carrots. Each one was dehydrated then ground then mixed with toasted and ground almonds and sesame seeds. I cut and dipped the tempeh and tofu into a bowl of soy milk and then rolled them in the powders. The sticks were then baked in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.
Over half of the tofu sticks were cut into matchsticks and wrapped in nori sheets with miso ginger spread, short-grain brown rice, cucumber and carrot matchsticks, and fresh parsley leaves.
Ingredients used to bread the tempeh and tofu sticks:
tan sesame seeds
Ingredients used in the Miso Ginger Spread:
brown rice syrup
In the end, the suspicious jar of capers led to a new discovery. The sweet and sour bananas, miso, and umeboshi plums flavors are soft yet still pronounced against the more distant backdrop of ginger, almonds, and sesame seeds. Maybe I won’t clean out the condiment shelf after all…