Sesame-ginger seared swordfish steak with sauteed shitake mushrooms, steamed broccoli spears and lemon-truffle risotto.
When I created this evening's dinner, I commented to L that perhaps I should blog tonight about Pride, one of the seven deadly sins that I am pledged to discuss this month. It is a very pretty plate, after all, and I am quite pleased that I made this whole dinner from my own imagination. (OK, I did have lemon-truffle risotto before at a restaurant, but it wasn't as good as this was, and I had it with scallops and something that wasn't broccoli. I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't broccoli.)
Then she took a bite.
"Gluttony," she mumbled around a mouthful, " because I could eat six of these."
So gluttony it is.
We live in a gluttonous society. Everything around us screams "more!" "Super-size it!" "A huge meal for six bucks!" "And you don't have to get out of the car!"
I am not sure whether I would call myself a glutton or someone who is really, really fond of pleasurable nerve responses.
I love food that tastes good. When I find some, I often eat more of it than I should. Often, my definition of what "tastes good" is perhaps more generous than is healthy for my waistline. Some foods, like this evening's meal, taste good because they hit all of the taste buds in a complementary fashion and leave a marvelous lingering sensation on the palate. Some foods, like mashed potatoes and gravy from KFC just taste good because they are salty, greasy, fast, and consumed hours before my period hits. Other foods taste good because they remind me of happy times or loved ones. I have a recipe for boiled chicken breast meat, potatoes and onions in a gravy made from the cooking stock and toasted flour that tastes not much without lots of salt and pepper, but it reminds me of my old French aunt-in-law from many years ago, and I love it. It makes me remember her love, and that can't be bad. Too bad she didn't love me with salads, though.
Food is probably the first thing I ever used to hide or squash my feelings. Sad? Have some ice cream. Hurt feelings? Have a candy bar or a cookie. Lonely? let's cook something!
As I grew older, I found other things to better stifle my feelings of inadequacy in alcohol and drugs, and those were far more efficient (and usually cheaper) than food.
When I got sober, I ran from my feelings in other ways, most of which I have addressed over the years. But occasionally I still revert to food to stifle things when I get too bad/sad/depressed/overwhelmed/etc.
Is that gluttony? I'm not sure.
wikki defines its origins in Latin as "Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or intoxicants to the point of waste..."
Aha. Waste. That was one of the things that originally hit me in my first consideration of the vast and complex concept of sin. It is wasteful.
I would also be inclined to believe that gluttony is harmful. Not to others, generally, although if someone goes hungry because of another's gluttony, that is bad, but gluttony hurts the glutton. We know all too well the price obesity takes on the human body. We also know how costly it is to society when you factor in health care costs, preventable diseases and everything else. It is bad, bad stuff.
But am I willing and ready to give it up? I don't know.
I suppose I can be ready to moderate things a bit. This evening's meal may have looked decadent, but each plate had an 8-ounce piece of fish, maybe a cup of risotto (rice and broth) a cup of steamed broccoli and an ounce of mushrooms. It was low in salt, low in fat and high in those good fish oils that doctors are always talking about. All of the portions are reasonable, and there were no seconds. The fact that it tasted so good made it feel like a forbidden pleasure, but really there was nothing to regret in the whole thing. And it was filling. I ate mine and was full. L ate most of hers and declared herself full. I call that a win.
Is tasting good a sin? Does pleasure come into this, or is gluttony just shoveling food in as fast as possible? I'd like to think that my enjoyment of food, even when I consume too much, is not about gluttony so much as it is about enjoying flavors. I enjoy pleasurable sensations. I like good flavors, I like nice smells, I like a good backrub, I like a beautiful sunset. Those things don't seem sinful. They are using the senses that nature equipped us with.
Who knows. This may all be one grand and complicated justification trip to keep me from attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I've been to those meetings, and I kind of liked them. They often just irritated me, though. I know what it feels like to have food run my life, to have food make my decisions and all that stuff like alcohol did all those years ago. My food does not control me today. Notice that I did not say "any more." Today. For today, I have a reprieve. How or why I don't know, but for now I am ok. I will do the normal recovering drunk thing tonight and thank my higher power for another day of sobriety, and I'll thank him for not letting food run my life today too. It is a gift I didn't work to get, and I am aware of that and am extra grateful. For today I ate mostly reasonable portions of mostly healthy food (ok, lunch was a bust, but supper was fantastic!).
Gluttony has been avoided, though through no real effort of mine. I am grateful.
And now, before I forget what I did and someone asks for the recipe, here it is:
takes 30-45 minutes or so
1 cup aborio rice
2 tablespoons white truffle flavored olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cups chicken broth
juice and most of the zest from 1 lemon
Oil and onions in a heavy-bottomed pan, medium heat to sautee until onions are translucent but not brown. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes. You want the rice to be coated with oil and a little toasted from the heat, but not burned.
Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, making sure none of the rice is sticking to the bottom. Stir frequently until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the second cup of broth and keep stirring. Before you add the third cup of broth, grate the zest into the pot and squeeze in the lemon juice (watch to keep the seeds out!). Then add the last of the broth and stir until it is all absorbed. I started cooking the swordfish when I added the last of the broth. I started cooking the broccoli around then too. If you need directions on how to steam broccoli, you have no business trying any of this. Print out the page and hand it to whomever cooks in your home. And stay the hell away from the stove.
Ginger-sesame-crusted swordfish steak with sauteed shitake mushrooms.
takes about 10 minutes
two 8-ounce swordfish steaks
2 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced.
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a shallow bowl or a plate, combine the sesame seeds, garlic and ginger. Make sure they're mixed around well.
Put the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and turn the heat to medium-high-ish (you don't want the oil to smoke, but you do want the fish to sizzle.)
Rinse and pat dry the swordfish steaks. Drizzle with a tiny bit of the sesame oil, rub it around to coat lightly and dip both sides into the sesame seed mixture and place immediately into the heated pan.
After about four minutes, turn the steaks and put the mushrooms in the pan to cook in the yumminess there. My stove is not level, so I have a convenient corner of the pan where all the liquid goes, so that's where I put the mushrooms. Drizzle some soy sauce (not much - maybe 1 tablespoon per steak and another for the mushrooms) and stir around until the mushrooms are soft and coated in the soy.
After four more minutes, flip the steaks one last time to re-sizzle the part with the soy sauce on it and get ready to serve.
I put the risotto in the bottom of a large pasta bowl dish and placed the steak on top with the mushrooms across it. I then drizzled a TINY bit of the toasted sesame oil over it, arranged the steamed broccoli and called it good.
It looks absolutely elegant, but was really pretty easy. Even cooking the risotto, which takes between 30 and 45 minutes and does require some watching ad stirring, it was not a lot of work. I was able to do some dishes in between the prep steps, and it all came together pretty well.
When dinner was done, Quinn the wonder dog helped with the dishes. Sometimes they like to get up and run off so she has to hold them down to make sure they are scrubbed thoroughly.