acorn squash & coconut soup

I love how coconut can transform an otherwise dull dish, into something silky, luxurious, and sublime. While I wouldn't exactly say that coconut is lusciously orgasmic in and of itself, but it certainly can't hurt, especially if dinnertime is spent using as many superlatives as possible. Coconut seems to have one of those uniquely distinct flavours, which can be very benevolent to the palate. When combined with other flavours, it can enhance or even create the exoticism of a dish, taking you to a new place, a new horizon. I recently had a bit of an epiphany at wd-50 in nyc, which inspired me to capture the essence of the luscious coconut-enhanced dish I enjoyed. Not because I think I could possibly recreate anything invented by James Beard Award winner, and Michelin-starred restaurateur Wylie Dufresne, but because it is summer and I am becoming weary of salad and antipasto dinners. The simplest answer is likely that, I longed for anything resembling my renewed love for coconut. So which dish inspired this coconut concoction? Surprisingly, it was an entrée, and there was very little coconut involved at all. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a beautiful plate intertwined with "Wagyu flat iron, coffee gnocchi, coconut, cipollini, sylvetta". Reading the description of the dish, it is easy to underestimate the highlight the coconut is for the palate. The coconut seems like it could be just one more item in a list of high-end ingredients plated to perfection. However, wd-50 is just the kind of place where the dish received, the visual, and the aroma of the dish, far exceeds a basic listing of ingredients. It simply can't be described by words, thereby creating an element of surprise. The flavour ultimately tied everything together, just as it should. Not only did the plate look beautiful (of which I usually care little about if a dish does not taste great), but the textures and flavours were actually seductive. The beef was rich, and tender. With the artistic touch of a painter, the smear of coconut helped to keep the flavour of the wagyu linger gingerly, creating an eating event I would remember for some time. The wd-50 dish did not have a fake coconut flavour, as many are prone to dislike, but more authentic, the flavour and texture at least in part from coconut butter. This for me, was the highlight of my meal. For me it was not a perfect dish; the gnocchi were too doughy, and I prefer onions lightly sauteed or cooked without any crunch. But with great sentiment, I will continue to meditate upon the beautiful marriage of wagyu and coconut. It has been a few weeks, and I am still craving coconut. In fact, I'm wishing it was lingering in my mouth just like I wish ice cream would on a hot summer day. I also love the idea of coconut used in a soup. While vichyssoise, is a popular summer soup, I was thinking that a similar soup could be created with coconut milk. A soup that doesn't have to be cold or hot, but may be best served at room temperature. It's rich and filling without seeming too heavy. Acorn squash tends to be associated with the other fall squash of the harvest, but it has such a delicate flavour, it seems to fit my summer appetite perfectly. It can stand up to a little bit of richness. Just not too much. A little bit of chinese five spice, adds a little bit of earthiness and depth of flavour. The addition of crème fraîche gives the soup additional luster and luxuriating finish. acorn squash & coconut soup 2 acorn squash 1 14 oz can coconut milk (full-fat) 1/4 - 1/2 tsp freshly ground Chinese five spice fresh chives crème fraîche (optional) fleur-de-sel, to taste 1. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. Slice each acorn squash into 6-8 sections, leaving the peel and seeds intact. 2. Evenly space the squash pieces on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the freshly ground Chinese five spice over top, and roast approximately 45 minutes or until fork tender. 3. When cool enough to handle, separate the flesh and skin, placing the flesh in a blender. Snack on the freshly roasted seeds. 4. Combine the squash, can of coconut milk, and 1/2 cup of water until smooth and silky. 5. Add fleur-de-sel to taste. 6. Soup may be served as is, or with the addition of chives and crème fraîche to taste. Soup is best served at room temperature or just above.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

The combination of five spice, coconut and squash sounds excellent and I like the idea of serving it not hot but just room temperature.

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