Forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before, but there are some things that I love to eat, but that I just do not want to be able (or even think I am able) to make at home. My two biggest “I’ll just have some when I eat out” food groups are sushi and anything deep fried.
Sushi I could probably manage, if I were a patient sort. I have a wonderful trustworthy fishmonger so the fresh part isn’t the worry. Its just something that requires a sort of artistry and panache that I’m not sure about. I feel certain that anything I tried to make would have a sort of clay ashtray je ne sais quoi about it. Anyway, we have more good sushi spots in town than I could enjoy in a month of Sundays, so I leave it to the pros.
Anything fried is a different story. I love deep fried stuff, even with the understanding that I may be shaving seconds off my life every time I have any. Sometimes the pleasure just outweighs the good sense; what can I say? And, honestly, massive pots of hot oil scare me. Perhaps I was an unlucky castle-stormer in a past life… hmmm. Anyway, I figure, by never never ever frying anything at home and not eating that sort of stuff often at all, it is ok to splurge once in a while.
One of those “once in a whiles” came up last week. I visited a restaurant that I don’t frequently frequent. It was a beautiful afternoon, my friend and I had just finished a good walk, and I was feeling a bit smug, so I treated myself to coconut shrimp. Deep fried, crunchy, moist inside and cooked to perfection, I was in heaven. Mmmm, I can almost taste it now!
The thing is, the only thing I like better than their coconut shrimp is their coconut shrimp dunked in the “spicy orange sauce” that accompanies it. The sauce takes the shrimp to a whole new level of yum. This time I actually paid attention to the sauce. Other times I’ve enjoyed it and wished they sold it in bottles, but this time I got to thinking that it might be something that I could make at home, without the shrimp part.
I think it might actually be this simple. I realized that the base of the sauce was orange marmalade, and the “spicy” part tasted like horseradish. And I could see what looked like a few (very few!) red pepper flakes. There may well be additional ingredients, but they are subtle, so figured maybe this was enough information to run with.
I love horseradish. I think it is under-appreciated and underused. I know it crops up from time to time in sauces for beef, and as something to give some oomph to gefilte fish, but it is good for so much more!
For one thing, it is a beautiful plant. The broad green leaves surround stems that somewhat resemble broccoli rabe but with lovely white flowers. The resemblance is not surprising, as they are very distant cousins!
The useful culinary part of the plant is the root. This big knobby shillelagh of a root is ground and mixed with vinegar, vinegar and cream, or vinegar and beet juice for a magnificent red horseradish. The final “prepared” product is available in most groceries in the cold case, in glass jars. I don’t have a preferred brand, I like it all!
My point is, horseradish can wake up almost anything. Coconut shrimp is wonderful by itself; with the sauce it is sublime. And, this sauce is in no way limited to fried shrimp! Trust me, I just tried some mixed with plain yogurt and it was out of this world crazy good! I’m thinking it would be great in a vinaigrette, as part of a marinade for chicken before grilling, on grilled shrimp or pork chops, or simply on buttered toast as you would use marmalade by itself. Mmmm…
Here is what I’m suggesting:
Mighty Tasty Orange Sauce
3 heaping tablespoons good orange marmalade
1 heaping teaspoon horseradish
1 very small pinch of red pepper flakes (completely optional)
Mix all very well in a glass or ceramic bowl, taste for proportions, and store in a covered glass jar in the fridge.
I really think it couldn’t be easier. Actually, I’m not ever sure if this counts as a recipe! Enjoy this “sauce” any of the ways listed above, or as you like (and be sure to let us know what you think, OK?). Mmmm!!