Monday, July 25, 2011

Nostalgia for Dinner

Back in our early 20’s, my friend Stacey and I would go out for drinks, believing ourselves to be both the coolest and hottest girls that ever were. We would put on our “going out” get-ups and order Cosmopolitans and bask in the knowledge that we would never be wiser or more worldly than we were at that moment. (Hey, we all go through it.)

Too cool for school...

Our wallets were pretty tight at that point, and there were plenty of options for frugal 20-somethings in Providence. Thayer Street comes to mind – back then, it was pretty awesome. But remember, we were “So Cool.” So our destination of choice to start an evening of festivities was usually Neath’s on South Water Street. We loved that we knew of such an upscale spot. We loved that we drank martinis and ate actual culinary creations instead of slugging back beer and pizza. But on our limited budget, we usually stuck to an appetizer and a drink or two before we moved on to - well, cheaper pastures. Our most favorite, favorite appetizer was the grilled bread with coconut scallion dipping sauce. Conversation would all but stop when this dish arrived. We dropped the “cool” act and ate with reckless abandon.

Long after Neath’s closed, Stacey and I would still occasionally reminisce about the luscious, sweet sauce, contrasted with the salty, grilled bread. And then it happened. The heavens parted and Edible Rhody published Neath Pal’s recipe for this venerable dish.

On a recent girl’s night, with Stacey at the helm for this one, we made the grilled bread with coconut dipping sauce and were so giddy while eating it that it was almost as though we were 21 again. Though we had traded our Cosmo’s for a simple Vino Verde, and our “staying in” get-ups leaned a little more towards the comfortable, we couldn’t have been more anxious to dig into the dish we remembered so fondly. And miraculously, it was just as good as we remembered.

So here it is, with slight modifications...

Grilled Bread with Coconut Dipping Sauce

1 baguette
3 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
4 cups coconut milk
¾ Tbsp palm sugar
(Since we did not opt to pay through the nose for palm sugar, we did a little research and discovered that a mixture of brown sugar and maple syrup do just fine. About 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/4 Tbsp of maple syrup, blended)
1 ¼ tsp nam pla (fish sauce)
2 Tbsp scallion, sliced

Slice ½-inch pieces of baguette on a bias. Brush slices of baguette with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Grill or toast baguette slices until golden brown on both sides.
(Grilling was not in our cards on this particular evening. We baked the slices in the oven and they worked just fine, though grilling is preferred.)

Make the dipping sauce in a saucepan. Bring the coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. (Upon tasting, we added a few drops more of nam pla and a scoche more maple syrup.)

Add scallion slices and spoon over grilled baguettes. Serves 6.



Anonymous said...

Wow! That looks really, really tasty--now I want a martini and a plate of this in front of me. :)

Kate Lowther said...

This stuff is dangerous. You will eat it all!