Sunday, January 29, 2012

Miriam's Kitchen Annual Gala: A Preview

It's only January, but already the planning for Miriam's Kitchen's annual gala is seriously underway. This year's theme is A Road Trip Across America, and the MK volunteers are practicing their submissions for the menu.

Yes, that's right: the food at this benefit for Miriam's Kitchen is all prepared by the volunteers, many of whom are dedicated foodies in their own right and who share MK's commitment to making fresh food from scratch. Take for example Tali Bar-Shalom, who is developing a dish to represent San Francisco's Chinatown. She started off with dan-dan noodles, a Chinatown staple of thin wheat noodles topped with spicy Szechuan peanut sauce. She makes the sauce starting with raw peanuts -- no peanut butter shortcuts here -- and toasts and grinds the peppercorns herself. Building from a basic recipe, next she reached for a fusion approach, replacing the noodles with jicama. I was lucky enough to get to sample this creation:

Dan-Dan Jicama Salad

This is an evolving dish, so there is no telling what its ultimate form will be, though Tali is currently experimenting with a nut-free version. All I can say is, if this is any indication of the quality of the food at the gala, this is going to be one good foodie event. Damn that was good dan-dan!

The gala will be held in May at the National Building Museum.
Watch the Miriam's Kitchen website for details about tickets, location and price.

Tali's Dan-Dan Noodles, with jicama variation

1/2 c shelled raw peanuts
1/4 c peanut oil
1 sm garlic clove, cut into a few pieces
1/2 medium jalapeno, minced (no seeds)
18g ginger after peeling (a big knuckle), minced (amount is a little flexible)
1/2 tsp szechuan peppercorns, toasted then ground
2.5 TB soy sauce
2 TB water
1.5 TB seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 TB sugar
1/2 to 1 TB sriracha sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Cook peanuts in oil about 5-7 min, they will begin to brown, let cool a little bit
2. Put peanuts/oil into food processor and pulse to coarse grind
3. Add ginger, garlic and jalapeno, pulse to mix well
4. Add all other ingredients and pulse to mix well, then taste

Boil thin noodles, rinse and shake dry, add peanut sauce and stir well. Top with toasted sesame seeds and slivers of chives.

Alternate serving: peel and slice jicama into matchsticks, put a dollop of warm peanut sauce and sprinkle on sesame seeds and chives.

Yields about half a pint -- easily four servings.

Adapted from Food and Wine

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