Weird Combinations | Morel, White Chocolate & Dill
Weird Combinations is back this week with MOREL, WHITE CHOCOLATE and DILL. It know it sounds gross, but when made into a sauce with dashi, garlic & shallot it pairs beautifully with crustaceans. So far I’ve tried crab, lobster * langoustine — I think it would also work with prawns & crawfish.
I first experimented with this on Chopped because my episode was chocolate themed. (See my Girlboss essay for a recap of that day.) I think this trio works because the earthy/musty note of morels tones down the almost sickly-sweet scent of white chocolate, and dill provides an herbal backbone to the dish. By itself, the sauce feels a little like smelling freshly unearthed root vegetables while eating saltwater taffy. It is vaguely sweet, but predominantly savory; as I’ve tweaked the ratio over the years I’ve reduced the white chocolate so the overall dish could rely more on the oceanic sweetness from the seafood. All together, I find it to be an ideal version of “surf and turf” — visually it represents the sea, but the first thing you smell is mushrooms and fresh herb.
Why does this combination work? It appears dill, crab and mushrooms all share the hydrocarbon decane, while dill and crab also share undecane. In The Flavor Matrix, one of crustacean’s main aromas is “butter, cream” which makes sense to complement the unctuous nature of white chocolate (its flavors are mostly milk & vanilla, not of cocoa) and mushrooms pair well with milk & cream (and share a compound with cheese) — so it appears that this combination fits better in the framework of shared compounds than the last of octopus & blackberry.
To recreate this sauce: Sauté some shallots and garlic until lightly caramelized. Add rehydrated & chopped dried morels (roughly the same amount as shallots + garlic combined), plus white chocolate (approx. 1/2 of morels) and melt. Add dashi broth and whisk together to form a creamy consistency. Let simmer 30 min. until morels have given their flavor, adding more water or dashi to maintain liquid consistency. Add fresh dill (approx. same amount as morels) and let cook until colors dull. Season with salt & fermented white pepper. Strain and reserve.