Monday, June 22, 2015

OMG a Recipe: Konquering Kiwi

Food Confessional: I'm just not that into kiwi anymore. It's important to say "anymore," because as a kid, I LOVED kiwi. The first time I had it, I felt so proud of myself for eating something so strange and exotic, and really enjoying the tart/sweet fruit with its edible fuzzy skin and inner ring of crunchy seeds. But these days....? Meh. If it's already in a dish, I'm happy to eat it, but I just don't get a hearty yen for this funky fruit, especially when our Full Circle produce delivery bag is full of the little buggers. It was the one fruit I'd either give away, or make sure I sliced up and served at brunch with friends, to get rid of it, ASAP. But I managed to conquer (konquer?) my lack of enthusiasm for kiwi in the form of salsa, specifically served atop quinoa crab cakes!

Konquering Mt. Kiwi-Crab Cake - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: you can customize those produce deliveries and tell them to stop sending kiwi. This is true. What's also true is, this was a gift from the Mister, so the account is in his name, and I can never remember the password to customize such things. But that's OK. The purpose of these Iron Chef Produce Deliveries is the same as this blog, to accept the cooking challenges every week, to make meals with what's easily available, and as Tim Gunn says: MAKE IT WORK.

And so I Made It Work with kiwi, taking to the Interwebs with vague search queries like, "What the hell can I make with kiwi," ignoring all the dessert recipes. For a while, I was letting the kiwi get overripe and soft, blending it into marinades, as the acidity of kiwi fruit is similar to papaya or pineapple -- it can totally tenderize meat like a mofo. It's better for things like a skirt steak or pork shoulder, a rich meat that works well with bright, fruity flavors, especially if you're going to grill them up for something like tacos. That got me thinking about salsas, so I looked up "kiwi salsa" and was pleased to find people making semi-savory salsas and relishes with fresh kiwi. Using kiwi the way you would fresh mango or pineapple, I saw colorful salsas mixed with finely minced shallots or red onion, some red or orange bell pepper, fresh mint or cilantro -- it's quite the summertime salsa, and something different from the typical pico de gallo.

Crab cakes, kiwi, quinoa - all the "k" sounding foods - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Given kiwi's light, citrus-like flavor, it seemed destined for seafood dishes. My modus operandi with trying new things is like the bridal saying, Something Old, Something New. If I'm experimenting with something different, I'd rather have it with something very familiar and "safe." That way you have confidence with all the other meal fixings, and you're able to focus on what the new food experiment does with a flavor profile you're already familiar with. SO SCIENCE, YES???

Anyways, that's why I paired the kiwi salsa with crab cakes, not only because it's one of the few seafood dishes I make at home, and the flavor would work with the salsa. Rich, sweet lump crab meat, seasoned and mixed with cooked quinoa, served atop -- surprise -- more quinoa and roasted veggies, and slices of avocado. I also made a tzatziki sauce -- yogurt, garlic, lemon and shredded cucumber -- which also went well with everything. Despite the recipe I'm listing, this was a total UnRecipe concept meal, clearing out the fridge of random ingredients like leftover yogurt and a variety of veggies. And I always keep quinoa in the pantry -- it's such a good staple.

All the green foods!! - Photo by Wasabi Prime
The kiwi salsa would be really good with fish tacos, now that grilling season is upon us. Any kind of grilled white fish, like halibut, seared up and then placed in a charred tortilla and a pile-on of fresh salsa with a squeeze of lime. Sounds like a summer delight to me! But if you want to stick with salsa and crab cakes, here's what I did:
Kiwi Salsa

3 kiwi fruit, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup red onion, minced fine
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
1/2 teaspoon of honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until fully combined. Taste to check for seasoning, and adjust as desired. Allow the salsa to sit for at least an hour in the fridge, for the flavors to fully permeate the mixture.
Quinoa Crab Cake (makes 4 large or 6 medium-sized patties)


8 oz lump crab meat (about 1 container from your grocery seafood department)
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely minced/mashed
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon (or lime) juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

vegetable oil and panko crumbs for pan-frying

Mix all the ingredients (minus the crab meat) in a bowl until it's a thick, sticky paste. Add the crab meat last, so the crab stay chunky, gently incorporating with all the ingredients. Form into round balls and place in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes. 

When ready to cook, take a large skillet and heat to medium-high, add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat until oil is shimmering. Drop the temperature to medium. Take the crab cake balls from the fridge and roll in a plate sprinkled with an even layer of panko crumbs, to fully coat. Place the crumb-covered crab cakes into the pan and gently flatten into patty shapes. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until both sides are browned, and the patty is firm and heated through. Set on a wire tray or cookie sheet lined with paper towels to drain. 

Can make a few hours ahead and gently warm in the oven on its lowest temperature before serving.

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