Before we go any further, I have to warn you: this one is epic. It is the Lord of the Rings extended director’s cut of Couscous Sunday Dinners. But so, so worth it.
It all started several weeks ago when Pancha and Elena decided that Mexican/Asian fusion would be a good Sunday Dinner theme. This was a little more ambitious than, say, Lasagna Made of Beets, but we agreed to the challenge. After weeks of preparation, Pancha, Liz, Andrew, and I met on Sunday to make a big pile of intercontinental dinner.
Oh, wait. Did I mention we would also be making pie?
Liz was bent on inventing a pie for a top-secret pie project, so the gang got to work baking. Andrew and Pancha sliced apples and pears…
…while Liz made the pie crust. I have no idea how to make pie, so I stayed out of the whole business.
The secret pie filling ultimately included apples, pears, raisins, and maple syrup. Kind of like a mince pie, only less minced.
Now that’s an adorable pie! Also note everyone’s lovely aprons.
We stocked up on many wines for Mexican/Asian dinner. First in the lineup was a Riesling called Pacific Rim. The little sign next to it at the Berkeley Bowl said it paired well with fusion cuisine, and if you can’t trust handwritten signs in the wine aisle, what can you trust?
It was a really tasty wine, it turned out.
While the pie baked, we got down to some serious fusion cooking. The challenge of fusion cuisine is to combine ingredients that have been safely kept thousands of miles apart into something that doesn’t taste like an abomination unto the Lord. Or, barring that, get drunk enough that it all goes down okay.
To start, I figured the closest Mexican/Central American equivalent to sushi was ceviche, seafood “cooked” without heat in citrus juice. With that in mind, I sliced up some tilapia and set it to cook in lime juice.
Since ceviche is kind of like sushi, it’d go well with sushi dressings, right? Hoping this was the case, I made a wasabi, ginger, and cucumber salsa for the ceviche.
Next up: Mexican-style Chinese dumplings! To make the filling, I roasted a couple of heirloom red peppers…
…toasted some corn in a skillet to get it a little singed…
…and stir-fried the corn with the peppers, black beans, and pumpkin seeds.
Liz and Pancha, meanwhile, had their own plans, which started with making guacamole.
But wait, you say! What makes guacamole Asian?
Obviously, the part where Liz stuffs it into wontons.
Around this time, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) finished the Riesling and we moved on to an inferior but agreeably cheaper white blend.
Okay, time to make dumplings! We stuffed half the wonton wrappers with my black bean stir-fry and the other half with Liz’s and Pancha’s guacamole.
Andrew steamed the bean dumplings in a bamboo steamer, just as we’d done with the dumplings on Sake Night. Liz fried the guacamole wontons.
The guacamole wontons were delicious with sour cream. For the steamed dumplings, Andrew and Pancha invented a lime-soy dipping sauce, the greatest culinary innovation since last week when Andrew and my brother mixed champagne and Dr Pepper to create ChamPepper (full name: Dr Pagne’s ChamPepper, patent pending).
We could have subsisted entirely on those dumplings, but Pancha whipped up a batch of Mexican-style fried rice with egg, salsa, and olives, all topped with cheese and the rest of the guacamole. She based it all on chilaquiles, a dish traditionally made with strips of tortilla.
Not to be outdone, I decided to cook up all that tofu that was lying around.
First I stir-fried the tofu in garlic, onion, chili powder, and lime to make it all South of the Border.
Then I made a batch of miso soup, to which I added baby spinach, the tofu, some salsa, the leftover black bean mixture, and basically anything else that hadn’t already been made into food.
Finally, I crumbled a bunch of tortilla chips into the pot. Result: miso tortilla soup.
Around this time, the pie came out of the oven, golden brown and full of raisins. Dinnertime!
And here’s the spread. Clockwise from top: chilaquile fried rice with shredded cheese and guacamole, ceviche with wasabi and ginger salsa, and miso tortilla soup. Already on the table: guacamole wontons with sour cream and steamed black bean, sweet corn, and pumpkin seed dumplings with lime-soy dipping sauce. Whew.
We ate until we were in enormous pain, and even then it was hard to stop eating. Seriously, the dumplings and wontons alone would have been enough. But it was all delicious. Pancha’s fried rice was extremely tasty, and the soup came out surprisingly well for something made mostly out of the trimmings from the rest of the meal. Mission completed again, Couscous Collective!
Next up: I’m thinking cupcakes.