National Opposite Day is January 25th, and I decided to celebrate by serving opposite pairings for dinner.
Since I’m into tasting and grazing, the first opposite that comes to mind is “small plates” versus “entrées”.
I usually prefer to order a few small plates instead of an entrée when I go out to eat so I can taste more than one dish. When I eat out in groups we usually like to mix it up, ordering a combination of small plates and entrées and then sharing them around. A group of six can taste a large portion of the menu that way. I attribute this methodology to the Chinese and the Spanish.
Chinese “dim sum”, meaning “hearts delight,” refers to a food service usually occurring on Sunday mornings at some Chinese Restaurants in the U.S. If you have a sizeable Chinatown near to your home, you’ll find good ones there, but I’ve run across excellent dim sums in some small and unexpected places. At a dim sum, tons of tiny and delicious bite-size morsels of stuffed meats, dumplings, or sticky buns are kept warm in steamers and wheeled on carts from table to table. Diners select those they want. Most small steamers contain six bite-sized servings of a dish like pot stickers or shrimp toasts. Selections are place on a lazy Susan in the table’s center making them easily available to everyone seated there. I learned the hard way to grab fast when I see something (usually everything) I want. Companions wielding a mean pair of chopsticks have left me sans my share when I didn’t move quickly! And I always use a fork so I don’t lose advantage.
The Spanish employ a bar service called “tapas” that is similar in concept to dim sum, but worlds apart in flavor complements. Tapas are sophisticatedly spiced tidbits that pack a big taste punch. They come in appetizer-sized and priced servings, so one person can nibble on between 3 and 6 choices. A group of six content to share can sample close to an entire list! Tapas restaurants have popped up all over the American landscape, and the expanded “small plate” sections on menus make the concept available in lots of other restaurants too.
I came up with some basic food opposites that make good small plates. They are:
You can see pictures of many of the dishes I mention in the original post here.
I’m going to use the following dishes for my Opposite Day Dinner pairings:
Raw and Cooked
I’m not a big fan of sushi, and although I love a good tartar I don’t trust my ability to obtain fresh enough ingredients to make one myself. Ditto with oysters even though a raw bar and some Rockefellers would make a nice treat. So I decided to give some veggies a raw and cooked creole treatment. I’m pairing a raw veggie platter and a remoulade dip with a ratatouille. I use a brown remoulade based on creole mustard, vinegar, and horseradish rather than the hotter red type. The veggies on my cold platter match those in the ratatouille—red and green bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
Sweet and Sour
Cole slaw is my choice for this category. I’ve got a delicious sweet coleslaw recipe in both of my Easy Weekly Meals touchscreen cookbooks that I’ve made available here for a few days only. So grab it fast! But my favorite by far is a new and really interesting one using some Meyer lemon juice and a surprise spice. It’s in the Hearts of Palm Pork Trio from my new A-La-Carte Recipe Ensembles, and has received rave reviews!
Hot and Cold
This category is rich with options that can be served as both hot and cold dishes, including vichyssoise which can be made either hot or the more common cold and many shrimp dishes. I make a mean cedar planked salmon that works well when served both hot and at room temperature, and that will make the cut, too. But I’m most excited to use my Easy Basil Pecan Pasta solo dish from my A-La-Carte Recipe Ensembles. It is delicious when served either hot or cold, and contains a gluten free option.
Salty and Sweet
Crunchy edges around the soft centers of Baked Garlic Chipped Potatoes can be made with any baking potato, so I’m making a couple sweet and a couple salty and white. These whole potatoes, sliced into pull-apart chips, are always a winner. And they too can be found in the Solos section of my A-La-Carte Recipe Ensembles.
Two other food opposites bear note:
Organic and Nonorganic
Organic in a general sense means food produced under conditions without sewage sludge, synthetic chemicals, irradiation, or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). Where meat is concerned the term refers to meats coming from animals free of GMO or animal by-product feed, antibiotics, and hormones. Organic eggs must be laid by free-range or cage-free chickens. Organic foods are almost always pricier than nonorganic, but all the research indicates it is money well spent.
Nonorganic foods are those not claiming the organic label and its safeguards.
Preservative Free and Preservative Infused
Food preservatives can be as basic as salt, which has been used for thousands of years to keep foods in an edible state. Many items purchased in grocery stores, especially canned, frozen, and pre-packaged ones, contain preservatives to give them a longer shelf life. Lots of the preservatives used in foods have been associated with health risks. So people like me prefer to eat the freshest, most chemically-free foods available.
So I’ve kept the ingredients in my Opposite Day dinner pairings both organic and relatively preservative free.
Another way to have fun with food on opposites day is to cook a fusion-type recipe where you make dishes of a particular cuisine using foods associated with one or more different cuisines. Examples of this are my Chinese Tostadas in which I create the shells from crisp-baked won-ton wrappers and mix together Mexican and Chinese toppings; and Quesadillas using traditional Mexican tortillas with French brie and some ingredients found in other European cuisines. Both of these can be found in Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go. It’s not just for moms! If you’re busy, it’s for you, too.
Or create your own menu using some other opposites, like:
And be sure to let us know what fun ideas you come up with for Opposite Day foods!
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals