Inter-coursesA Valentine’s Day small plates menu for the grown-ups
This Valentine’s Day people should go against the norm of doing the normal dinners, flowers and candy and instead opt for a more sensual food experience at home, according to Chef Simeon Hall. He encourages people this year to prepare small plates for the evening meal – all with the undertone of aphrodisiacs – and explain each item to their significant other while serving, for a whole new take on Valentine’s Day.
“I think Valentine’s Day nowadays takes on a whole different meaning, so definitely you should invest in treating yourself and the person you’re preparing food for,” said Hall, who is currently working at La Hiki Kitchen located at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, where they offer island-to-table family-style cuisine with locally sourced produce and dishes that showcase the bounty of the island, and where Hall’s hallmark of curing, smoking, ageing, preserving, pickling and slow cooking are on display.
“Aphrodisiacs are for the most part, as mystical as their origins. Aphrodisiacs comes from the Greek word Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. There are writings of such foods, that date as far back as 8 B.C., where the testicles and hearts of alligators were mentioned as a great source of sexual potency. Although science suggests these are all more psychological than physiological, the mysticism is now stronger than ever. Fast forward thousands of years and I am about to share a few recipes that you alone will have to decide whether they ‘do it’ or not for you. If they do work, all I ask is that you name your love child after me.”
A few aphrodisiacs that you may not know about, but the chef guarantees you will enjoy with a little more enthusiasm going forward, that also have some medicinal benefits that are connected to good sexual health he said include pine nuts (high in zinc which is connected to high libidos), asparagus (high in fiber and assists in hormone production), goat peppers (endorphin boost), chai tea (for circulation, heart health), avocado (local pear which from as far back as the Aztecs, avocado was known for its properties that support a youthful appearance), watermelon (relaxes the muscles and is great for blood circulation) and extra virgin olive oil (good for heart health, circulation and hormone production).
“Avocado is one of the oldest recorded aphrodisiacs. If you are any level of foodie, then you know that avocado toast has been all the rage for years now, but no one does it like we are about to with our avocado toast, nine-minute hard boiled local free-range eggs, shaved farm vegetables. Chai tea which is made from several seeds, barks and grains and so is the loaded corn dish that I offer – a Long Island corn, sriracha aioli and coconut panch phoron (Indian whole spice blend which literally means five spices). And we are being very Freudian with this dish – from the silhouette of the corn to the benefits of the toppings. Raw seafood or fish have long been regarded as aphrodisiacs, in fact, just as long as avocados, so, we have taken the old and combined it with the unexpected and new in a snapper tiradito watermelon broth with passion fruit ‘caviar’. This dish allows the ingredients to really shine through. Aphrodisiacs or not, I assure you, anyone you feed this meal to, will certainly be charmed by the dishes you have made for them.”
The chef said he searched high and low for credible information on whether eggs and caviar were considered sensual foods, but to no avail. But he said if you’re spending $100 per ounce on anything, he would say that’s sexy, so by default he added his creamy egg toast and farm-raised caviar recipe.
“This year I believe everything needs to be overhauled. Don’t waste your time cooking for someone undeserving of the sweat and possible knife cuts being in the kitchen entails. And don’t make that same boring menu that everyone does year after year. This year mix it up. Try serving an avocado toast, a loaded seeded corn, raw sensual fish, egg toast and frankly if you still need dessert by then, your dinner has failed,” he said.
While Hall will be busy in the kitchen on Valentine’s Day cooking for those people who still want to take their significant other out to a restaurant, for him Valentine’s Day is another excuse to cook for someone that you appreciate, and who you want to go above and beyond for. And he says it doesn’t necessarily have to be as love-connected as people make it out to be.
“Definitely for me, if I’m going to cook for somebody on Valentine’s Day, then it has to be somebody who appreciates it – somebody who is adventurous, and loves different types of food. Not everybody is going to understand eggs and caviar for dinner. Not everyone is going to want to have a story behind their meal – and if I’m cooking for Valentine’s that’s definitely going to be a part of the experience – not just let’s sit down and eat.”
Whether you prepare his recipes for your significant other, or take them out to dine, Hall said his role is to ensure that everybody has a proper meal on Valentine’s Day.
Avocado toast, 9-minute hard boiled local free-range eggs, shaved farm vegetables
2 thick cuts of sourdough bread
2 local avocados (substitute Haas avocados when locals are not available)
Juice from 1 lime
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 fresh local farm eggs
1 red radish
2 tablespoons grain mustard
1 tablespoon of salted butter
Microgreens for garnishing
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Set your phone’s timer to exactly 9 minutes and 46 seconds and make an ice bath of water and ice to plunge the eggs in immediately thereafter. Gently add the eggs and cook for the precise time for a creamy texture at the end. Submerge in ice to stop the cooking process.
Take an avocado, peel and deseed. Smash with a fork, allowing some texture to remain. Add chopped cilantro and half of the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve by covering with a wet paper towel in the refrigerator. Take the other avocado and slice uniformly to top the tartine. Thinly slice the radish and add to some ice water. This makes it curl up nicely and stay crisp. (This is a Valentine’s Day dinner, so you must work a little more and show off some skills.)
In a skillet, gently melt the butter, then fry both sides of the sourdough. Allow the bread to cool, but remain slightly warm.
To plate: Smear the toast with the smashed avocado then fan the sliced avocado across it. Randomly stick the crisp radish around, insert some microgreens and then top with the grain mustard. Slice the eggs in half and place 2 pieces next to or on top of the toast. Finish the dish with a little plating salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Snapper tiradito, watermelon broth, passionfruit “caviar”
Chef’s tip: To make watermelon juice, simply hand-crush the pulp then strain with a kitchen strainer. Do not add any additional water or buy seedless watermelon as this is usually a GMO product.
½ pound extremely fresh snapper fillet, skin removed
Juice from 1 fresh lime
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
Juice from ½ local orange
1 cup fresh watermelon juice
2 passion fruits (if not available use fresh pomegranate seeds)
Microgreens and edible flowers for garnish
Sea salt to taste
Preparation: (Okay here comes that Valentine’s Day show off here again.)
You will need to slice the fish as thinly as you possibly can. (Thick pieces will be tough and chewy)
Combine the juice from all the citrus and watermelon. Season with sea salt.
Carefully cut open the passion fruit and reserve.
To plate: Place equal portions across two plates. Spoon the citrus watermelon juice over the fish. Add the passion fruit pulp on top and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt. Add some microgreens garnishes and even edible flowers. You can also garnish with a few heirloom cherry tomatoes. Serve chilled.
Long Island Corn, Sriracha Aioli, Coconut Panch Phoron
Chef’s tip: Corn is seasonal so if you cannot find any local corn ensure that you buy fresh organic corn from your local market. Panch Phoron is a traditional Indian cuisine topping. I’ve put a spin on it and will definitely have some leftovers for a next time.
2 whole fresh corn, husk on
1 chopped garlic clove
Juice from ½ lime
1 whole fresh lime
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sriracha
¼ cup sweet paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup sweet coconut chips
¼ cup toasted white sesame seeds
¼ cup raw black sesame seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup toasted coriander seeds
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup toasted fennel seeds
½ cup of your favorite cheese, I use queso fresco, a Mexican style cheese
Mix the garlic, lime juice, mayo and sriracha and set aside. Next combine the two peppers and set aside. Just before serving you will quarter the whole lime and dip in halfway into the blended spice powder to later squeeze across the dish. (Remember all chili peppers are considered aphrodisiacs).
Mix all the remaining seeds and spices along with coconut for the toppings.
Wash the corn and cook in boiling unsalted water for about 6 minutes according to the size. Remove and drain, and then carefully remove the husk while keeping it attached. Remove all the corn “hairs” then open the corn like a package sitting inside the husks for a creative presentation.
To assemble: Add the hot corn in the husk to a nice plate. Bathe it with the sriracha aioli. Add the cheese, the chili dipped lime and serve.
Creamy egg toast, with farm-raised caviar
Chef’s tips: Splurge and buy organic brown eggs if you cannot readily get local farm eggs. You cannot pair caviar with regular conventional commercial eggs. Always remember that eggs love green onions, cracked black pepper, sea salt and butter and this dish makes use all of these.
8 farm fresh organic eggs
5 tablespoons butter
2 slices of thick cut sourdough bread
10 stalks of chives
2 ounces of high-quality caviar
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and brown both sides of the bread.
Unlike any other scrambled egg preparations, start with a cold heavy bottom pot. Add the eggs and 4 tablespoons of butter. Do not pre-beat the eggs or add the salt. On a gentle low heat, mix the eggs slowly until they become creamy and evenly cooked. The trick to doing this is to be patient and to remove the pot from the stove every 25 seconds or so, so that the eggs cook slowly. Also remove the eggs about 25 seconds before they are soft cooked as the heat from the pot will continue to cook them after. To finish add the chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining butter.
To plate, add eggs to butter toast, top with caviar and add pieces of chopped chives and serve.