With Western food that is!
Thirty years ago when I was a grad student with my boyfriend, now my husband, in a little quaint restaurant named Movable Feast in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had this revelation.
With the very first bite, I lost all my strength, my eyes rolled back to the back of my head and I purred. I still remember it vividly. The culprit of this ecstasy was Linguini with Duck Confit and Ikura. Rich salty bits of duck confit paired so well with briny, creamy salmon eggs. It was the first time for me to taste duck confit and salmon eggs, now two of my favorite ingredients. Linguini in light cream sauce married the two together into a luscious, harmonious concoction. It was marvelous. There have been only a few dishes that could do this to me. This was my first.
Of course, I had Western food before in my early years, normally made the Thai way. Ketchup is everywhere, in pizza, pasta Bolognese, macaroni, etc. They are all sweet, with one-dimensional flavor. The cream sauces are usually goopy and thick and flavorless. And the most offensive thing of all is the Parmesan cheese, right out of the green carton! I always caution my kids when they want to order Western food in regular Thai restaurants. Beware…and mama can’t fix it for you! Don’t get me wrong, there is very good Western food to be had in Thailand but you had to know where to go and usually it will cost you a pretty penny.
Despite my fond memory of this nostalgic dish, I have never replicated it at home. It’s just about time, 30 years later…..
I already have duck confit in my freezer so that’s easy. Ikura is also easy to find. I am going to make hand cut homemade pasta with our eggs from our hens, using yolks only for luscious tender golden strings of goodness. I am doing it all the way!
Since my husband is still in Texas, I am going to make a dainty little serving just for myself (and there will be some leftover for lunch and even dinner tomorrow). I love pasta and I can eat it every day but I don’t think it’s good for my waistline. So I am going to savor this dish, like a refined person with a glass (or two) of red wine, maybe a pinot noir!
Pasta making is easy as long as you know what to look for, the perfect texture. Too hard then it will crumble and you cannot roll out the dough, too soft, the noodles will stick together. I make pasta the traditional way. I start with one cup of flour with a well in the middle, crack in three egg yolks and some olive oil. I incorporate as much flour into the egg mixture as I can. I knead the dough for a few minutes. Normally the dough should rest for an hour or so to allow the water to absorb into the flour. But I have a short cut. I vacuum seal the dough in my commercial vacuum sealer to fasten the process. I wonder if a Food Saver could do this as well. Now the dough is ready whenever I am.
I roll out the dough, using my trusty Kitchen Aid with pasta attachment. Then I cut the dough into long strips..
Now the sauce….I love butter, especially good Irish butter. I believe if you start with delicious ingredients and don’t mess them up, your final result will be sublime. I sauté chopped shallots in butter and then add cream and white wine. Don't forget to add the thick rich gelatinous broth that comes with the confit process. That stuff is gold. It will give an oomph to your pasta like nobody’s business. If you do not make your own confit, you can add some demi-glace to the sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens a bit to incorporate all the flavors, then fold in your cooked pasta and some reserved pasta water. I don’t want cloyingly rich thick cream sauce. I just want flavorful light cream sauce to kiss each strand of pasta. Pieces of crispy duck confit and Ikura are folded in at the end with some real Parmesan cheese. Deep fried sage leaves finish this concoction of love!
Did you ever have experience with food ecstasy?
With Western food that is!