Sunday, August 18, 2013

On the Homefront: "Something's Fishy" Table

Coco the Dalmatian graces an otherwise fishy table featuring her
favorite color -- brown! 

If you are getting a feeling of déjà vu looking at this tablescape, you are right -- you have seen this table before, sort of!  In addition to the set of blue Fitz and Floyd Les Fish salad plates, I also have a brown set.  I thought it would be fun to do a table very much like my previous one, using a lot of the same or similar elements, but in a more neutral color palette using my brown plates.  Here is the result:

Dark brown wooden bead placemat from Target; speckled brown dinner plate (made in Japan, no manufacturer) from The Cupboard in Fort Collins, CO, years ago; square appetizer plate in one of four coffee colors (espresso, mocha, latte (shown), café au lait) from Crate and Barrel years ago; brown and off-white Fitz and Floyd Les Fish dessert plate; small white scalloped bowl for dipping sauce from Pier 1; white flatware from Target; white coastal design water glass from Big Lots; white bone china fish sculpture napkin holder; woven natural fiber Threshold table runner from Target; can't remember where I got the wine glasses or the brown napkins.

Close-up look at some of the fish-shaped chopstick holders
decorating the centerpiece.

Notice the color-coordinated brindle brown and white dog
in the background!

I decided to go with a distinctly Asian-themed menu this week.  Of course fish had to be on the menu again (fried Korean-style this time).  You can use store-bought fresh or frozen Asian dumplings (I got shrimp potstickers from our local Publix), or you could make your own if you are feeling really ambitious (one of these days I will post my mother's recipe).  The Dipping Sauce for the dumplings is simply 4 T. soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp. sesame oil.

My husband loves the Sesame Zucchini and Radish Salad, but I seldom make it because I am not that fond of radishes.  In this dish, however, their spicy bite is toned down and complements the other flavors well.  I also find it rather tedious to julienne vegetables.  My mother, who taught me this recipe, had the best knife skills of anyone I have ever known -- she could slice vegetables so quickly and uniformly it was almost scary!  Unfortunately, I did not manage to learn that skill from her, so it takes me forever to cut up the ingredients and they are not always pretty, but at least they still taste as good!  To serve this salad, place a mound of hot rice on a plate and make a depression in the center.  Put the cold salad in the center and spoon some of the soy sauce marinade over the rice, which will absorb the liquid and take on its flavors.

Dessert is the only course which has nothing to do with Asian food, but the bar cookies are delicious and figs (my favorite fruit) are in season now, so either one is still a great way to end the meal.

Brown and White Fish Menu:

Asian Dumplings/Dipping Sauce
Steamed Rice
Sesame Zucchini and Radish Salad*
Fresh Figs/Demerara Sugar and Light Cream

*Sesame Zucchini and Radish Salad

1 medium zucchini, julienned
12 red radishes, julienned
2 scallions, sliced
1-2 T. soy sauce
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Serves 4.

For something completely different, instead of Lindt Lindor Truffles the candy bowl contains a Korean hard candy with a toasted rice flavor.  My mother told me that one of her favorite snacks as a child was the golden brown crust left on the bottom of the rice-cooking pot, known as nurungji.  Apparently this is a beloved flavor throughout Asia, and quite a few toasted or "scorched" rice snacks are available, including these hard candies.  To me they taste a bit like burnt caramel with a toasty undertone -- you can read another blogger's rather funny description here.  I think we both agree that these treats are worth a try, but we would not buy them again!

Now I can't decide if I like my blue and white or my brown and white table setting better.  Luckily, I don't have to choose, since I can do either one whenever I please!

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