Have you ever eaten something and then immediately felt the urge to bring those flavors (or something similar) into another dish? I know I'm weird, but I get this urge pretty frequently. I think this is how I've come to know what flavors generally work together, allowing me to get all creative with the rest!
Tonight's inspiration - the Soupergirl's Jamaican Me Crazy Sweet Potato Soup. Remember how excited I was about the whole sweet potato/citrus/coconut combo? I really wanted to take it into the world of pasta dishes - specifically delicate pillows of sweet potato goodness!
I figured I'd pull a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi and follow it - I don't trust myself to play around with this just yet. I popped in some ground coriander instead of nutmeg and started daydreaming about sauce. I knew I wanted to make a coconutty sauce to submit to BSI this week, especially since I had about half a can leftover. That's pretty much all I had to work with.
Sauces (non-tomato) and I haven't gotten along in the past so I did a ton of Googling and recipe book reading to figure out how to make this work. I decided I needed a bechamel-based sauce and I'd infuse some coconut milk with lemongrass, rum, lime zest and cilantro. I didn't want something too zesty...just enough to add more depth to the coconut milk.
I threw in a bunch of stuff and salt and let my coconut milk infuse for about 15 minutes. Torture! I kept sniffing while I stirred to see if I could add anything else and omg, it smelled like heaven! After 15 minutes, I drained the milk and had just over 1 cup of liquid.
I got to work on my roux (did I mention my past creamy sauce concoctions tend to end up lumpy?) and slowly poured my warm coconut milk in. NO LUMPS!! Wooo. Perfect thickness too!
My sweet potato gnocchi was another story. They were looking kinda slimy after I took them out of the water, but I figured I may have just boiled them for a minute too long.
Final product? I present to you Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Coconut Lemongrass Sauce
Woah, my gnocchi look like shrimp! haha. OOO shrimp. I wonder if this sauce will go good with some shrimp...mmmm. Sorry for the lame name. Too many random ingredients to decide on a name ;)
Coconut Lemongrass Sauce
2 tbsp lemongrass, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tsp rum
1 piece lime zest
1 c coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
pinch lime zest
1/4 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
1/8 tsp chili garlic paste
Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add lemongrass and garlic clove and stir until fragrant. Add rum and lime zest, stir for 1 minute before adding coconut milk. Stir in cilantro and salt and let simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain into a measuring cup.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat butter over medium low heat. Slowly whisk in flour and once all flour is incorporated, continue whisking for another minute. Slowly pour in coconut milk, whisking constantly to ensure no lumps form. Whisk in lime juice, zest, salt and cilantro for at least a minute. Add some chili garlic paste and remove from heat.
Overall, I thought my dish was ok. I am my worst critic and I always think things can be improved upon. I think the sauce could have used a little more zing...I just got scared about making something too overpowering so I held back on the infusing ingredients. Lesson learned. It smelled and tasted delicious on it's own, but it got a little lost when on the gnocchi.
I may also not be into creamy sauces. Yes, I think that's a big thing. I bit into a solo gnocchi and immediately wanted a tangy sauce. This is not the first time I've had gnocchi and wanted an acidic sauce. The creamy coconut/lemongrass/cilantro thing was a nice combo with sweet potatoes, but I think I'm discovering I really do prefer tangy and/or tomato-based sauces with pasta. Hmph. Go figure!