Friday, September 18, 2009

Sauces a la Blue

During a recent trip to Flagler Beach, an old-fashioned beach community on the East Coast of Florida between Palm Coast and Daytona Beach, with a giggle (a gaggle would have been  a bigger group) of travel writers, we dined on some exceptional food.

All of us fell in love with Chef Gary Maresca and his wife, Kelli O'Reilly, who run Blue, a divine restaurant in the downstairs of Topaz Hotel, maybe a mile south of the Flagler Beach Pier. Gary, who's been working in food since the age of 12, developed his culinary chops working at Riverview in Oakdale, Long Island; the Daily Grill in Los Angeles; and Ruth's Chris in Beverly Hills.

I talked him into sharing two recipes for sauces so full of flavor that, in the words of Paul Prudhomme, "They dance in your mouth."

Note: Both are on the spicy side so go slow adding the hot stuff and season to your taste.

Wasabi Encrusted Oysters
1 lb. butter softened to room temperature                  1/2 cup wasabi powder
1/2 cup horseradish                                                    3/4 cup honey
2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Combine butter, wasabi and horseradish and blend well with your hands. Add honey and bread crumbs and combine until it forms a paste.
Shuck oysters and top with wasabi butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and sprinkle with a little minced red pepper and green onion then serve.

Store unused topping refrigerated for up to two weeks while you see what other foods it enhances (I'm thinking maybe as breading for shrimp).
Note: Gary originated this sauce as a crusty coating for salmon; the idea of adding a little Asian fusion to an existing recipe came to him in a dream, he said.

Mango Chili Garlic Glaze

2 cups diced mango (1/2-inch dice)                   1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar                                                         2 TBS fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups water, separated                                1/2 cup corn starch
2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine sugar and vinegar in a sauce pot on high heat until sugar is dissolved. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 cup of water.
While that mixture comes to a boil, combine 1/2 cup water with corn starch to create a slurry, add to sauce pot and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and glaze meat.
 Note: This is spicy and sweet - "The meat has the flavor, the sauce has the heat," said Gary, who uses this on duck but I can think of other meats - like pork or game - it would jazz up.

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