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Outlandish Combinations


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The other week I found myself combining two totally separate dishes that in my head just couldn't work together but to my tastebud's disbelief was absolutely sublime. It happened by pure chance that one dish I had leftover from the night before and the other was a take-out brought home by my wife. It got me thinking what a once in a lifetime combination of flavours it was because a) unfrozen leftovers are a rarity in my house (especially the tasty ones) and b) my wife never usually buys the takeaways but this time she was returning from a visit to her uncle's Chinese restaurant. Ok, ok what is this combination....this culinary chimera? It was Mole Poblano Chicken and Singapore Noodles!!! Who'd have thunk it. Even my wife who is deeply suspicious of fusion food thought there was something magical about it.

The Mole I'd cooked the day before from a nice paste made by the Cool Chile Co (purveyors Mexican ingredients in the UK) and if anything tasted all the better for leaving a day. Singapore Noodles are fried rice vermicelli with a medium hot curry flavour and usually with an assortment of meat, fish or veg. This one had prawns. Can you imagine the flavours of these two combined, well I couldn't and normally I wouldn't dream of putting the two together. It just so happened that I was feeling lazy and couldn't be bothered to cook some carb to go with the mole, so just zapped the noodles instead. Has anyone put these two dishes together before? idunno. Will anyone ever put them together again? Oh yes, me for one and hopefully one of you after reading this! Please try it I promise it really works. Why? I don't know, is a Mole equivalent to a Mexican curry? But then why would any curry go with any other...

Are there any as seemingly outlandish combinations you've had, by chance or by design, that you want to share with us? After this episode I'm willing to give my tastebuds the occassional challenge. Rendang and champ mash maybe, or coq au vin with soba noodles, or pesto with char siu, or pulled pork with kimchi & oysters, oh that's been done already!

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Hmmm Pasta with Kimchi, yes, Kimchi with bacon, well bacon goes with most things. But Pasta, Kimchi, bacon and cream, now that's a combination! How much kimchi do you use? Do you think some parmesan cheese would work with that too? It's the combination of dairy and Asian ingredients that is under-explored in my mind.

I once made a creamy saffrony prawn risotto with fresh prawns and the large dried Chinese ones. It didn't really work, the flavour was ok but the textures were all wrong.

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It's quite a common dish, or at least it was, at fusion Italian places in Korea when I lived there.

I've never made it myself, but if I did, I would saute the bacon and some finely sliced kimchi together, and then when the bacon had rendered and the kimchi had turned orangey-brown, I would slowly stir the cream in. It works when I add cream to tomatoes, and I can't see why kimchi would be more acidic than tomatoes. Reduce; toss with pasta, etc. And I absolutely would add parmesan. No more than 50 g or so each of kimchi and bacon; finely sliced.

Not so radical a departure from mentaiko spaghetti, really, which has got to be in the same family as pasta bottarga.

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