I've always believed that the difference between restaurant fare and gourmet home cooking lies in the sauces. Restaurant chefs spend hours creating variations on the classic Buerre Blanc, Veloute and Mornay sauces. Even simple sauces, like Louisiana remoulade, get an epicurean twist at the hands of highly trained, creative chefs.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of dining at Emeril Lagasse's restaurant, Emeril's, in Orlando, Fla. Reservations at the Universal Studios CityWalk restaurant are, in most cases, made three months in advance. After a long wait and a seven-hour drive, I was able to confirm my sauce theory.
Although Mr. Lagasse is best known for his lively Food Network TV persona (his "BAM" and "kick it up a notch" are Lagasse trademarks), the experience of dining in his restaurant made it clear that his popularity is based on talent, not personality.
When you are seated at Emeril's you're asked what kind of water you want. Although this is a common question in Europe - you're being asked whether you prefer bottled still or sparkling water - it can take you aback in the States and leave you feeling worthy of a Jeff Foxworthy joke.
Once our "water" choices were made, my husband, Bond, enjoyed a cup of spicy turtle soup. My first course was an unforgettable crabmeat strudel served with a sweet corn remoulade sauce. Although the rest of my meal was divine, the chunks of lump crabmeat baked in phyllo pastry served atop the creamy, slightly spicy sauce with chunks of sauteed sweet corn was the standout dish.
Recently, I bought some beautiful steelhead trout at Publix. I planned to prepare it in my usual oven-baked method, but I wanted a special sauce. When I made a pass through the produce section, the creative remoulade from Emeril's came to mind.
Rather than rely on just the crunch of corn, I decided to add diced homegrown tomatoes to the sauce. And, rather than sauteing the vegetables, I oven-roasted them. Then, I combined these roasted jewels of summer with classic remoulade ingredients, including mayonnaise and sour cream (my addition), ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, chopped green onion and Worcestershire sauce.
This Emeril-inspired sauce offers many levels of flavor - from the crunchy sweetness of the corn, to the smokiness of the roasted tomatoes, the zing of the lemon juice and the creaminess of the mayonnaise and sour cream. It's not only the perfect sauce for your favorite roasted or fried fish, but a great crab-cake topper as well.
When summer is but a memory, frozen corn kernels and grape tomatoes can replace the seasonal vegetables.
The sauce recipe makes 2 cups, more than you'll need to top four servings of fish. Toss leftover sauce with boiled shrimp and serve on a bed of lettuce for a delicious summer shrimp salad.
1 3/4 cups corn niblets (2 to 3 ears fresh corn, 1 3/4 cups frozen or 1 11-ounce can drained corn niblets)
1 medium tomato, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons ketchup, chili sauce or cocktail sauce
1 tablespoon grainy or Dijon mustard
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 6-ounce fish fillets
Jarred Cajun seasoning mix, to taste
To prepare the sauce: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread corn and diced tomatoes on a baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, scrape into a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
When cool, add the lemon juice, mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, mustard, green onions, parsley and Worcestershire. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare the fish: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the fish fillets on the baking sheet, skin side down, and sprinkle to taste with the Cajun seasoning. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet, slipping a metal spatula between the skin and flesh of the fish.
Place on individual dinner plates and top with 1/4 cup of the remoulade sauce.
Makes 4 servings. (There will be extra sauce, which can be kept in a sealed container for up to 1 week.)
Nutrient analysis provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to email@example.com.
|Saturated Fat: 3.5g|
|Cholesterol: 120mg||Recipe was analyzed using 6 oz of trout and 1/4 cup of remoulade per serving|