Liquorice in food? Why not!

This saturday, we got together with a couple of friends to do some cooking and dining together. The theme of the evening was liquorice – or reglisse in french and zoethout in Flemish. All dishes had to contain liquorice somehow.
The first dish was Asian inspired: Tiger prawns lacquered by a soja, honey and liquorice mixture. You mix 20 g of honey with 5 cl od soya and 1 1/2 teaspoon of liquorice powder. Mix the raw, unshelled prawns with the marinade and grill or fry them at high heat. Serve with fresh, diced pineapple and spinach or other green leaves. If you use frozen prawns thaw them first, deshell and dry them before dipping in the marinade.
An easy dish with a subtle but recognizable taste of liquorice. We served it with a cool Gewurztraminer from Alsace, which perfectly suited the Asian characteristics of the dish.The second dish was a magnificent steak flambé in Pernod and served with a potato and chanterelle mash with Persian liquorice added for taste. The steak was served with a warm salad of carrots and fennel and with a sauce based on the juices from the chanterelles, some stock and cream.

It all blended together in an exquisitely subtle taste of mushrooms, liquorice and meat. Commendable! Not least when served with a hearty red Chateauneuf-de-pape 2008.What followed was more of an experiment: a mixture of dry white wine and cream with liquorice powder added, boiled down. You add parsley. In a dish you place half a pear, which have been poached in water, liquorice and honey. You gratinate the dish and serve with slices of a good ripe Camembert at room temperature on top.Not to everybody’s taste but nevertheless also an exciting blend of tastes from the cheese, the liquorice and the pear. It was served with a Passito de Pantellerea, which was not the best choice. Another fortified wine such as a Port, or a Sauternes or even a light red wine, would have worked better.The last dish was dessert. A pear crumble where the pears had been caramalised in butter sugar and liquorice, covered with a crumble dough sprinkled with liquorice – this time italian liquorice pastils crushed to powder. The crumble is baked in the oven and turned upside down for serving.  In particular the caramalised pears and juices of the pears with a sweet taste of liquorice was to die for. An altogether very tasty and almost exotic crumble. It was served splendidly with a red Port and some chipped cream.

All in all an evening which demonstrated the versatility of liquorice. In each dish the added liquorice powder enhanced flavours already present in the dish and added a subtle undertone of earth, sweet-sour and complexity. Personally I will certainly look more to liquorice powder in the future if I need to emphasise some flavours while also making a dish more earth-bound.

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