Monday, May 21, 2012

Insalata di Wahoo e Fusilli di Farro con il Cilantro Aioli

Wahoo and durham wheat fusilli pasta salad with cilantro aioli!

     The main reason that I wrote this recipe title in Italian was because Italian cooking techniques and a classic Roman pasta were used to make this entree.  The two featured ingredients, wahoo and cilantro, are not Italian in nature.
     Many Italians do like these tropical flavors, especially wahoo because it is a great firm flesh fish for "a la griglia" cucina di Italia.  Wahoo is a popular hard hitting tropical game fish and it is the fastest predator in the sea.  A large wahoo can swim over 50 miles per hour and it can literally smoke a fishing reel!
     Fusilli di farro pasta has been popular since ancient Roman times.  Whole grains that were used to make polenta back then, eventually they became the first Italian pastas.  Durham wheat grain is very healthy to eat as a rustic style Roman pasta.
     Aioli Background:
     Aioli is an emulsified garlic and olive oil sauce.  In Catalonia, aioli is made with a mortar and pestle with no egg yolk added to aid the emulsification of the sauce.  In France, Italy, Spain and most places around the world, aioli is emulsified with an egg yolk.  When properly made, both types of aioli should be translucent white in color and not yellow.
     The French do sometimes cut the addition of olive oil short, to make a pale yellow colored aioli sauce.  I have posted a recipe for that French style aioli sauce in my blog for a composed grilled eggplant salad recipe.
     Some say that aioli originated in Catalonia, but that is incorrect.  It does not take a genius to figure out out how to emulsify two ingredients that were common throughout the mediterranean region from Egypt and Persia to Italy, Greece and Spain.  Even the addition of an egg yolk to aid emulsification could have been discovered by any witty cook that separated an egg yolk from an egg white.  Ask any Catalonian and they will say that they created aioli.  Ask any Greek, Persian, Egyptian or Italian and they will say that their countries invented aioli.  The same goes for mayonnaise, because both the Spanish and the French claim that mayonnaise originated in their countries.  Ce est la vie!
     A Catalonian aioli only has two ingredients.  Garlic and olive oil.  A standard basic aioli usually only has three ingredients.  Garlic, olive oil and egg yolk.  Some chefs do add a pinch of salt to an aioli, but pepper is never added.  Some chefs add a very small amount of lemon juice, but that also is not a necessary required ingredient.  I only add lemon if the recipe can benefit from the lemon flavor.
     Aioli can be considered to be a mother sauce just like mayonnaise, because secondary flavors can be added to the aioli.  Usually the secondary flavors are chile pepper powder or green herbs.
     I posted a picture of what a freshly made aioli should look like.  I learned how to make aioli while apprenticing with a great Italian chef that had a very successful restaurant on the French border.  He simply made his aioli with a whisk and used the best olive oil in the house.  His aioli had a light gravity and it stood tall in a spoon, like the aioli in the pictures.
     Just like making mayonnaise, only add a few drops of olive oil at a time, while constantly whisking, till the sauce starts to bind and emulsify, before drizzling a very thin stream of olive oil!  Otherwise, the aioli will remain thin and it will easily break.
     Aioli Recipe:
     Very finely mince or puree 8 cloves of garlic.
     Place the garlic puree into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 egg yolk.
     Add 1 drop of good quality virgin olive oil at a time, while constantly whisking, till the sauce starts to bind and emulsify.
     Add a very thin stream of the virgin olive oil, while briskly whisking, till the aioli becomes a translucent while color and the texture becomes stiff, yet with a light gravity that is not airy.  The aioli should be lighter in texture than a mayonnaise and it should be able to stand tall in a spoon!
     The aioli can be kept refrigerated for 7 days.

     Cilantro Aioli Recipe:
     Place 3 ounces of the aioli into a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tiny pinch of sea salt.
     Add 3 tablespoons of very finely minced cilantro leaves.
     Whisk the ingredients together.
     Set the cilantro aioli aside.

     Insalata di Wahoo e Fusilli di Farro con il Cilantro Aioli Recipe:
     Cook 1 portion of fusilli di farro in boiling water over high heat.
     When the pasta becomes cooked al dente, drain the hot water off of the pasta.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.  (Never shock an Italian pasta with ice water!  Cool the pasta gradually with cold running water, so the texture does not change and so the pasta does not starch.)
     Drain the cold water off of the pasta.
     Place the pasta into a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of very thin sliced celery.
     Cut a carrot in half lengthwise.
     Bias slice 2 tablespoons of a carrot half and add that to the mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped bermuda onion.
     Add 1 thick sliced green onion.
     Add 4 to 5 ounces of canned wahoo or flaked baked fresh wahoo.  (Drain the oil or water off of the canned wahoo first.)
     Add the cilantro aioli.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Gently toss the ingredients together, so the wahoo flakes remain intact.
     Place 4 roma tomato tomato slices around the border of a plate.
     Use a 5" wide tall ring mold to mound the pasta salad on the center of the plate.
     Sprinkle a little bit of small grated parmesan cheese on top of the pasta salad.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of crushed black peppercorn over the parmesan and the pasta salad.
     Place small cilantro sprigs between the tomato slices on the plate.

     Buongustaio!  People with good taste do know that wahoo is a true gourmet item.  The Hawaiians call wahoo by the name ono and they too revere ono as a true gourmet fish!  Wahoo is a light flaky and very clean tasting predator, with no tuna predator after taste.
     Japanese commercial fishermen cannot overfish wahoo out of existence with massive drag nets like they did to all the tuna species, because wahoo are loners that travel in pairs or threes.  Wahoo are the smarter fish in the sea, because they do not need to go to school!  Ha Ha Ha!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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