Spaghetti nero with dandelion greens, shrimp, squid, tomato jelly, and tom kha broth /

 Telephone brand agar agar / Tomato jelly fingers

I guess I’m going coco loco this week. I returned recently from a trip to Germany and Switzerland, where I ate my fair share of wurst, schnitzel, and spätzle. So it figures that I’m craving spicy, tropical foods to counter all of that farmer fare.

This dish is a hybrid between the Italian spaghetti nero di seppia, a spicy seafood pasta, and Thai tom kha, a coconut milk based soup. The final product didn’t quite match the idea in my head, which was to make the already stunning squid ink pasta even more visually satisfying. I originally thought of using salmon roe instead of the tomato jelly, but it’s almost impossible to find good quality, fresh roe at any of the markets here. Eventually I arrived at the idea of gelling tomato juice with agar agar to mimic the appearance of roe. I wound up pouring the gel into shot glasses as a mold, which I easily could have turned into bloody mary jello shots (I will save that idea for another day, in less dignified company). The lemongrass and galangal infused broth turned out to be too heavy for the dish. If I were to try this again, I might look toward curry laksa as a template.

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