I am a non-reciprocator—people invite me to their houses for fabulous meals. I eat, and weeks later I think about having them over… and then I think too much…
Time keeps passing and I somehow get invited back to their place again… and the one-way valve of guest parisitism continues.
I am in the happy situation of having a few friends who really like cooking and will just come to my house and cook for me.
This is a situation not to be taken lightly. It is sacred and I wouldn’t want to do anything that would ruin it, so I’ll use this column as a formal apology for my serial social transgressions on the dining front.
Recently, my friend Sarah came to my house laden with baskets of edibles, a box containing a deep-fryer (a birthday gift from her boyfriend—diamonds are so passé) and a cooler full of Morimoto/Rogue beers.
The beers are a collaboration between Rogue Brewing Co., which opened its doors in the late 1980s in Oregon, and Japanese-born Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
Sarah’s plan for the evening was to create a Japanese-inspired dinner, featuring the deep-fryer, and pair the dishes with the Morimoto beers. All I had to do was to supply the kitchen. Sweet.
Chef Masaharu Morimoto made the transition from Japanese Iron Chef to the Iron Chef America food show some time during the last decade. He does cool stuff like build his own smoke boxes in Kitchen Stadium and use hot rocks to cook food.
He’s handy with a fileting knife and looks good in grey (and I think he’s a Winter if my circa 1989 colour seasons chart is accurate).
He also gets the dubious distinction of being the only iron chef on the show who has his speech subtitled onscreen… and his English is actually better than some of my relatives.
Anyway, our first course of the night was gyoza, a succulent Japanese dumpling that, apparently, was appropriated from the Chinese.
The filling was ground pork, soft tofu, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, garlic and some other stuff the girls threw in while I wasn’t looking …
We took the party outside on the first nice day of summer in June and proceeded to painstakingly fill 100 dumpling and egg roll wrappers with filling, only sometimes asking about the eradication of trichinosis and whether everyone had indeed thoroughly washed their hands.
The overflowing plate of porktastic morsels was fried (in several batches), steamed and then paired with the Morimoto Soba ale.
Soba is buckwheat and it is more closely related to rhubarb than it is to wheat. The Soba ale is a light, quenching ale with a hint of something grainy and indefinable (probably the buckwheat).
The ale did a good job of cutting the deep fry and keeping the palate light. We would have continued to keep our palates light had we not absolutely demolished the platter in minutes between the six of us.
Course two was deep fried chicken wings with teriyaki sauce. Eight minutes in the deep fryer. Drizzle with thick teriyaki, smatter with chopped green onion—crispy, sweet, salty, saliva-inducing… filling a deep-seated primordial need.
The fry was paired with the Morimoto Black Obi Soba ale… Perfect.
This beer tastes like a dry stout. The ingredient list includes several different malts and roasted soba.
Clearly, the brewmaster at Rogue likes dry. The proprietary Pacman yeast Rogue uses eats everything in sight and creates a very dry beer—a pretty good pairing for deep-fried fowl, I must say.
Although the night was Japanese, there was no sushi and the deep-fryer saw a lot of action.
The third course was tempura vegetables accompanied by a dish of eggplant steeped in sesame and tahini. Barely battered and deep-fried, the tempura carrot slices and broccoli were served with a soy dashi dipping sauce. Delicious.
The beer pairing was the Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. This beer is brewed like a pilsner but with a slightly higher alcohol level and slightly higher amounts of hops.
The Rogue site says to pair it with seafood or poultry, but the tempura was perfect. The bitterness of the hops and the crisp cleanness of the cold aging contrasted with the fry and made it all seem less unhealthy.
Dessert was decadent chocolate, chocolate cookies—not very Japanese and there was no specific beer for this, but sometimes chocolate is allowed to be the star.
Sadly, we weren’t physically capable of stuffing any more liquid down our gullets and so we never did tie into the outrageous Rogue Voodoo Maple Bacon Ale Sarah brought for postprandial sipping.
I think I see a multi-course beer-breakfast pairing in my future…