We start out as kids with nicknames that suit us. Sometimes those names stick for life (sorry Patty Patoot-Patoot) and sometimes we are able to shake free from their implications and mockery. I was fortunate enough to wiggle away from my nickname of Q-tip (as long as the incriminating photographs from the 80’s are avoided).
On a trip to Hawaii (over 10 years-ago this past September), I became known as Saucy. I like this name much better than Q-tip, but the name is not because I am spicy, sexy or hot. It is because I am one to make sauce, but moreover because I brought sauce… to Hawaii. In a freezer bag. Well, actually three freezer bags, three sauces – nectarine sauce, strawberry sauce and romesco, all savory, all great for fish.
The previous Summer, we had dined out every night in Maui, but realized that there were a few really good reasons not to dine out as much the following year. First of all, it is expensive.
Secondly, my Grandfather owns a condo in a really nice complex that has a community kitchen. On the beach. Well, adjacent to the beach, and with a grill big enough to roast a pig on, literally. Okay, not literally (unless it is a potbelly pig).
But most importantly (thirdly?), we could take our time on the beach at sunset, drinking our gin & tonic leisurely rather than worrying about racing back up the slope to get changed in time to eat out before sundown (which apparently indicates bedtime around there). After the sun goes completely away (as in no more light from the sun in the sky) the moon glows brightly, romantically tickling light onto the water and the stars sprinkle sparkles from the sky. This is when we open up our nap sack, uncork a bottle of wine and lay out the appetizers I prepared earlier in the day. Then (after eating of course) and only then, do we head up to the beachside kitchen where our bags of groceries have been left waiting in one of the refrigerators, turn on some music and cook out, under soft light and the sound of crashing waves.
This is just a quarter of the grill.
Which brings us back to the grill; it is large and requires coals, but has amazing airflow to get hot, and fast. Our friend Tim, whom we met that trip, literally throws the whole bag directly onto the grill and lights it on fire. The first time we met them, we had been sitting on the beach at sunset, drinking our G&T. Suddenly there was a blaze of fire up the way and to our right out of sight, in the vicinity of the grill. We thought they were sending out a smoke signal to be rescued from the island. But then later, they thought our tuna looked like fish-bait (size-wise, but it was block-cut and just caught hours earlier).
Okay, this is a piece of tuna and does look like fish-bait. It was used to make an amouse though, not dinner!
And by the end of the night, we had all become fast friends, plus they were sharing our (dinner) fish with strawberry sauce + kula corn (and there were six of them and two of us). Each night after that, we met at the “big pool” (home of the beachside kitchen), we cooked, we drank, and we ate a family meal, talking and drinking well into the night. And of course, there was always a sauce, or three. To them, my name went from Stacey to Saucy and for Tom, the “big pool” became (un-officially) known as, “Chez Stacey’s Beachfront Cafe” and he always managed to find the perfect ti leaf for an appetizer “plate”.
This one is named “Tuna” and is NOT FISH BAIT!! Cute little beach bug, huh?
This sauce came to me one night when I had an excessive amount of nectarines (is that even possible?), a craving for roast duck and the desire to make a sauce. It has been made every year since that first year, recorded in my journal (volume 2, page 72) in July, 2001. I always freeze it in half-cup portions to use throughout the winter. It is excellent with duck, lamb and fish but works well as a dipping sauce for wontons, potstickers, or shrimp rolls too. It can also be added to a little Dijon mustard, sea salt (of course), lime (or lemon) juice and olive oil for a great vinaigrette. In other words, it is versatile (and travels fine on a 5 hour flight).
You will likely have a little sludge (nectarine solids) left in the pointed part of the chinois; I like to save this in a small bowl with a tight-fitting lid to use as a spread on toast with a little soft cheese or as a condiment on a sandwich (perhaps on ciabatta with sliced leg of lamb, or on rye with turkey, havarti and avocado). Think of it as a bonus: spicy nectarine conserve. I even use it on tacos. It is the rugged cousin to the nectarine sauce, chunky and good for spreading, whereas the sauce is smooth, pretty to look at and perfect to dip in.
You can adjust the heat of the sauce to your liking by adding more lime juice and/or honey if too spicy, or adding another pepper if too tame. It should be a nice color of butterscotch and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This sauce is spicy, sexy and hot.
4 large-sized nectarines, pit removed
1 yellow wax pepper
1 Hatch chilli or 2 red Fresno chilies
1 smallish onion (sweet onion or red onion preferred), skin removed and ends trimmed
A drizzle of olive oil
1 good sized clove of garlic, chopped
1 cup sake
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime (and potentially from the other half)
1 TB Demi-glacé
1-2 TB simple syrup or honey (if needed)
Put the nectarines, peppers and onion on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Shake to coat.
Pre-heat the broiler and broil them on the middle rack, turning frequently, until the peppers are nicely browned on all sides. The nectarines and onion will not be as cooked as the peppers.
Remove the pan from the oven. Trim the stem from the peppers then scrape out and discard out the seeds. Cut the peppers into large pieces.
Cut the onion into chunks.
Remove the pit from the nectarines and cut into large chunks.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat some olive oil (approximately 1 tsp) and sauté the garlic. Add the peppers, nectarines and onion. Cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften and meld together.
Add the sake and juice of half a lime. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and purée (this recent time I used my Blendtech on the sauce setting).
Pass the purée through a chinois. It is okay (and preferred) to have 1/4 to 1/2 cup solids left that don’t pass through the mesh; reserve this to use as mentioned above.
Put the sauce back to the pan and add the Demi-glacé. Simmer for a few minutes then taste. If it is too spicy, add the simple syrup or honey, and possibly the juice from the other half of the lime.
This will store in the refrigerator for several days. I usually use this sauce once or twice when freshly made and then divide it into small Ziploc freezer bags to keep frozen for use through the winter months.
Grilled opah is a lovely choice for eating on a beach.
Since I’m not on the beach this year, I’ll take this over to Fiesta Friday for the Novice Gardener with a party hat on my head! This party hat is in celebration of my Dad’s birthday (happy birthday!!!!). I heard the party at his house this evening is drinking margaritas and eating some pretty good grub. So, since I can’t be there, I thought I would join my friends at the notoriously glorious fiesta that is being co-hosted this week by Selma and Elaine, and I will try not to break into song (as I did earlier on his annual birthday wish).
I am lighting the candles on his virtual banana cream pie! Blow out the candles Dad and hope your wishes come true!