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Oct 12, 2004


Hi I'm PDP-1 and this is my first attempt at doing ICSA. The challenge was to make five things with some form of sesame, at least one of each with black or white sesame, and at least one drink and a desert. Oh, and if you could also work out how to make all these new, never tried before recipes finish up at the same time so they resembled an actual meal that'd be cool too.

Here's what I got:

The Menu:
- Pork kebabs marinaded in spicy tahini sauce
- Sesame garlic crostini w/ tomato, mozzarella and thyme
- Napa cabbage salad w/ sesame oil and balsamic vinegar dressing
- Black sesame seed tea w/ pear and almond milk
- For desert, Black sesame tea cake

Overall I'd guess it took about 1.5 hours of active cooking time, plus a few more hours waiting for marinades and stuff. Anyway, here's how it all went down:

Pork kebabs marinaded in spicy tahini sauce
My first challenge is that I live in the podunk south and the grocery stores here don't stock no anchor baby droppin' foreigner foods like tahini. We will have to make our own, so dump out a bunch of white sesame seeds and pound them with rocks until a paste develops.

I added a little vegetable oil to make a sauce and tasted - kind of a light nutty flavor but a bit bland on its own. I decided to throw in a few spoonfuls of Thai chili paste to give it that good ol' Thai kick, and also added about a knuckle's worth of grated ginger, salt & pepper, a dollop of honey to help it glaze, and some red pepper flakes. Mixed it all together in one of my ugly bowls that I think my mom bought during the Regan era and passed down to me when she wanted to buy new stuff. Taste again, and at this point it's really pretty good!

Time to cube up some pork chops and marinade in the sauce for a couple of hours and also soak some skewers in water. When it's almost go time skewer that pork up, curse at yourself for forgetting to buy a red onion, and set it all on another ugly plate for transport out to the grill.

The finished product was actually my one mild disappointment of the evening. I wanted a sweet/spicy flavor on the pork bits but somehow the marinade that tasted so good in the bowl didn't translate to the final dish. Maybe it needed to sit overnight, or maybe I should've ground up some birdseye chilies for more heat. It wasn't bad or inedible, just kind of bland grilled-pork-on-a-stick.

Sesame garlic crostini w/ tomato, mozzarella and thyme
OK, this one was piss-easy but also one of the best things I made. It easily wins the highest reward/effort ratio item of the night. Dump some sesame oil in yet another ugly bowl, add garlic powder and coarse sea salt and mix. Slice up some baguette, shave off some fresh mozzarella, slice up some villagio marzano tomatoes, and may as well grab the last of that fresh thyme because it's gonna go bad if we don't use it soon. Prep board is ready to carry out to the grill:

When the time comes, brush the sesame-garlic sauce onto the baguette slices and toss them on the grill alongside the kebabs until toasty. Remove them, top with tomato, cheese, and thyme, and return them to a cool spot on the grill until the cheese is melty. Taste one fresh off the grill and then engage in a battle of willpower to just not eat the whole bunch right then and there. They were freakin' awesome hot and fresh and definitely something I'll make again as an appetizer when grilling out with friends.

Napa cabbage salad w/ sesame oil and balsamic dressing
Another easy dish, in fact so unexciting to make that I didn't think to take any pictures of the process. Thinly slice a head of napa cabbage and mix in some matchstick'd baby sweet peppers and diced green onion. For the dressing combine sesame oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl grated ginger, dried thyme, brown mustard and a pinch of salt and then whisk until emulsified. Just before serving time toss everything together in a bowl until lightly coated and top with crushed peanuts and crumbled ramen.

Overall a solid salad dish but I'd cut the balsamic down a lot if I did it again. I used about a 1:1 sesame oil/balsamic ratio and (a) the balsamic vinegar dominated all other flavors, and (b) it clung to the creases in the napa cabbage which made it look overly brownish. Cut the balsamic to about a third of what I used this time and it'd be a winner.

Black sesame seed tea w/ pear and almond milk
This one was my flier for the night and half way through I thought it was gonna be a failure but wow was I wrong. A quarter cup of black sesame seeds, 1.5 cups water and half a diced pear go into the pot. Bring it up to a boil then reduce to a mild simmer for ~30 minutes. At this point it looks like a disgusting mess and smells kind of like something's burning the burning smell turned out to be coming from the tea cake, more to come on that later on

Try to ignore the gross-ness for now and soldier on. Add about a cup of almond milk and heat gently until it starts to just boil. Dump the mess into a french coffee press and push down the plunger to strain out the solids. Pour the liquid into some teacups and pray that it tastes better than it looked on the stove.

Prayers answered! Unfortunately I was on about my third bottle of chef marinade sauce so I don't remember which particular god I was praying to, but whoever they are they're a good and just god and I'd give them five stars on a yelp review. The drink was smooth and velvety, kind of like a warm nutty chocolate milk. Despite my thinking it wasn't going to turn out well it was actually one of my favorites of the night. A lot of work for one drink, but if you ever find yourself wanting to make an unusual after dinner digestif type thing without any caffeine or alcohol this could be just the ticket.

Black sesame tea cake
I try to eat healthy most of the time which means I almost never bake anything since all good baking recipes seem to include massive amounts of carbs, fat and sugar. The innermost machinations and arcane logics of baking remain a mystery to me and I know I don't have the experience to just wing a recipe of this type so I'll just rip this recipe off wholesale and follow it to the letter aside from halving the proportions.

OK, it's go time. Mash up some black sesame between some black rocks until lightly crushed and super looking:

Mix up the batter and pear chunks in yet another one of my shockingly large supply of ugly dishes, this one looks like it came from the 1960's. My grandma probably passed it down to my mom when my grandma wanted to get new stuff. Anyway we're all ready to go so dump this stuff into a baking tin until about 2/3 full.

Failure! Within the first 10 minutes the batter almost doubled in size and ran over the edges of the tin. I put it on a cookie sheet to contain the mess, but it looks like I'll be disassembling my oven and scraping crap off my heating element in the near future.

OK, maybe I panicked a bit too much there and it actually wasn't such a failure after all outside of having to open up the windows to let the smoke from the char on the bottom of the oven out. After trimming off the worst of the overflow it looked a lot better and even tasted quite nice!

I get to visit with both my dentist and personal trainer this coming week, I'm sure they'll both be thrilled when I tell them that I've been eating leftover cake for breakfast all weekend.

Welp, that's my first ICSA thread hope you liked it. That was the most complex meal I've ever cooked in terms of making five dishes at once but I learned a lot and got some new recipes out of the deal. Time for me to go clean that oven out.


May 29, 2008

That all looks awesome and you are wonderful for contributing!

Oct 9, 2007


Like the look of the tea and tea cake combo. How different were they in flavour?

Mar 1, 2010

TRULY scientastic.

I love a first time ICSAer. No bullshit, straight in at the deep end, and you did a great job. I like the look of all the foods you base, and I really like the honest evaluation of the pros and cons of everything. Nice work!

Oct 12, 2004


Thanks for the kind comments!

Cavenagh posted:

Like the look of the tea and tea cake combo. How different were they in flavour?

Quite different. The tea tasted like semi-sweet chocolate with a little bit of nuttiness, the cake was more sticky sweet like molasses. Also the tea didn't really pick up much of the pear flavor and I'd likely skip it next time, while of course the cake had big chunks of pear inside that contributed to a varied texture and gave a bit of respite from the borderline too-sweet cake.

Drink and Fight
Feb 2, 2003

hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot hoot hoot hoot hoothoothoothoothoothoothoot hoooohootohtothotootothtoto, hoot

Woo! Nice entry!

Apr 14, 2008

The Freshmaker!

This looks great and kudos for actually making it all in one sitting. While doing research for my entry I gave some thought to matching pears and sesame, so I am glad you went with this.

Happy Hat
Aug 11, 2008

He just wants someone to shake his corks, is that too much to ask??

This is awesome

Mar 28, 2010

Yip Yip, bitch.

RE: The pork skewers. Is it possible that they just needed a titch more salt to make it work? Maybe with like a soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and scallion dipping sauce, they'd have tasted better? Just a thought in case you have leftovers, and are unimpressed still. Either way, it's a shame it didn't work out as well as you'd have liked. Maybe smaller pieces? It's well possible that the amount of seasoning that could have stuck to the surface wasn't sufficient to flavour the size of piece that you cut up.

That drink sounds very intriguing, and an excellent vehicle for mulling spices and junk over the winter. I'm curious to see how it'd be with a spot of grated ginger and a bit of cinnamon. Definitely want to try that out at my friend's house, who has a giant bucket of black sesame seeds.

Crostini are always way more impressive than they have any right to be, because damned if they don't have soooo much of the things everyone loves with so little effort. It's a tiny bit more fattening, but if you're ever feeling lazy, you can toss the sliced bread in a plastic bag, along with the oil and seasonings, and get a huge amount of them seasoned at once. Then you throw them onto baking sheets, and bake them in your oven. That said, if the grill is on, it's not going to hurt anything to have 'em on there.

All in all, your entry was well documented, was plenty funny to read, and had a nice variety of dishes in it! Great entry!

The Midniter
Jul 9, 2001

You did a really good job on all of this. I'm not a huge sweets person but your dessert looks particularly dank.

Regarding the marinade, next time make more of it. When the pork has come to temp on the grill, brush them all with another layer of the fresh uncooked marinade to punch up the flavor.


Jan 10, 2009

I really want to post goatse. I wish I had 10bux

Congrats on a first ICSA entry! I'm intrigued by the tea, that's pretty cool.

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