Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apicius' Pine Nut Sauce

First, everyone please check out my friend Dominic Galante's Blog, Historias Apodeixis,  which you can access by clicking on the link over there on the right! It is really interesting and covers lots of cool stuff so can give you a break from reading only blogs on ancient foods.

Second, lets cook more dishes by Apicius! This is an incredible dish from Apicius' ancient Roman cookbook that is originally specified to go over hard boiled eggs. However, once I had cooked it at this restaurant I used to work at back in Montana and so the recipe had got put into the box of recipe cards and then I went out on tour with the band. When I got back weeks later, the sauce was on the special sheet being served with scallops! Turns out Dominick, my boss and great friend who will be discussed further later, had no idea the recipe was 2000 years old but just thought it looked really good and should go with seafood! I agree with Dominick that it tastes great with seafood.
Apicius' Pine Nut Sauce
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt or dash of Thai fish sauce
pinch of black pepper
1) Toast your pine nuts. I like to do this either in the oven, but it can be dangerous because you can forget. So, I recommend using a saute pan on low heat and lightly dry roast them.
2) Put them into a mortar and pestle.
Then grind them up to an oily powder
3) Now in a mixing bowl, or in the mortar itself if you have a nice big one, combine the honey, vinegar, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Instead of salt, one can use thai fish sauce because it is basically garum, the fish sauce Romans put on everything, and that is what is actually specified in the recipe. 
4) Whip with a wire whip or fork until it is homogenous. A blender works quite well if you have one.
Now you have one good sauce. And, honey and vinegar do not go bad - so it will last quite a while in the fridge. For scallops, I like to sear the scallops in very hot olive oil and then add some of the sauce to the pan for the last bit of the cooking process. Just enough that the sauce gets hot. The sauce is strong, so a little can go a long way. 
Really this sauce can be served with anything, hot or cold. What you can notice about this sauce is that it is a sweet and sour sauce and really the ancient predecessor to the modern Italian sauce, agrodolce. 

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