Something "Wonderful, Exotic, and Delicious ?

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Looking for ideas. Each year some buddies and myself cook at a local church fundraiser cookoff with 9 categories. Over the years we've won our fair shre of first place trophies there in almost all categories except pork ribs and the  open category.Categories being

Fajitas, cabrito, chili, cowboy bread (Pan de Campo), carne guisada, beef ribs, pork ribs, charro beans, open?.

Open means anything you think will wow the judges enough to win.  Previously we've done 2nd and 3rd's with shrimp and seafood type dishes and each year it seems the the 1st place dish is always some sort of seafood, usually shrimp and ? I guess the judges are plenty full of grilled and qued food by the end of all the other categories that a seafood dish is a welcome refresher or something like that.

Been thinking of making something seafood but instead of just one dish would like to make a "meal" with a small appetizer, the main,  and some sort of dessert in hopes of taking it up  a notch above the other entries.

Alas I am not a seafood expert and by know means an experienced chef so I'm hoping someone here can help point me in the right direction.

Was also thing of some kind of exotic french ?? that may stand out better than seafood 9french seafood?) but just an idea.

Any ideas welcome.

Thanks

QT
 
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Not quite to sure what you mean by out of the running. As 4 up here in Kingston. On. Can. My most popular cooking classes are Asian Cuisine, which also includes Indian Cuisine. Primary factor are the ingredients and flavor combos, along with health concerns. Macrobiotic diets along with Ayurvedic cooking are believed to be healing foods and the science of nutrition, enables people to enhance the quality of their lives.
 
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Eastshores wasn't arguing against Asian, Taj. Just asking if they were suitable for that particular competition.
 
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Quetex, I'm intrigued by what you mean by "exotic French". Being French, nothing French is exotic to me, but if you detail a bit more what you have in mind maybe I can give you a few pointers?
 
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My own personal bias-  try lamb, different and sooooo tasty. Cut some lamb chops or tenderloin into cubes, season w/ salt pepper and grill. Serve in pita/naan or other flat bread w/ tomato wedges and tettuce and some grilled onion. Top with a yogurt mint sauce like tzatziki or garlic sauce like scordalia (if too garlicky cut w/ yogurt.) BDL's recipe for scordalia is in this thread- I use a whole head of garlic but I dig lots of garlic.
 
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Cioppino, is a wonderful flavorful dish with a great presentation. The dish/seafood stew will have a seafood tomato base with shrimp, clams, mussels, salmon or Halibut with a wedge of garlic bread............This dish will impress, and is a seafood lovers delight.....one of my favorite dishes to make and eat out.....................The best...........ChefBillyB
 
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What about doing a play on certain norms for one of your dishes? I've been thinking lately about a sort of southern US meets Asia for a bbq'd pork tenderloin with hoisin braised pork belly, smoked bok choy, curried peach puree, and a spicy peanut sauce. Mostly ingredients that are very familiar in the south, but presented with an asian flair- just something to think about.

As far as a seafood course to open with... What if you did a sort of hot and cold duo of tuna or hamachi tartare and seared foie gras, cognac reduction, kumquats, some kind of grilled bread or toast, and maybe a smoked red onion marmalade. Something a bit unusual like that could help separate the men from the boys in a competition like that.
 
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Quetex,

I would be looking at a main of fruit de mer (recipes on net).  I've never even attempted to make them, but it seems if you get your cooking times right for the different seafoods, it looks really great.  You just want to dive in and get eating :)  That way it is seafood but not oriental so as to stand out from the crowd.

It is a lot of work, so I'm not sure if a starter plus a dessert would be achievable, if you have a time limit.  Maybe a cocktail drink of some kind......just a thought.  Oh hey - you could do an oyster shooter as starter - easy to make and takes very little time.  Gets the judges in the mood for more :D If you insist on a desert, just a palate cleanser, say a sorbet which you can do ahead of time (if you are allowed).
 
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Quetex, I'm intrigued by what you mean by "exotic French". Being French, nothing French is exotic to me, but if you detail a bit more what you have in mind maybe I can give you a few pointers?

 LOL, /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  "Something wonderful,exotic, and delicious!" When I was a used car manager we put in alot of hours, like 14 to 15 a day six days a week. Wife stayed home to raise our boys as we're old fashioned. She used to call me around 5pm and ask "what would you like for dinner honey?". Tired of eating out all the time at work and wifey not really knowing how to cook much I used to long for just something different and good (delicious). So my answer to her used to be oh I dont know, "something wonderful exotic and delicious", it was just a saying for me and as I was thinking about what to call this thread it just popped in my head, he he.

My wife was a spoiled brat growing up and couldnt cook an egg when I married her. She's come a long way but she doesnt like to cook, its just a neccessity of life for her and as we all know when theres no passion theres no love and nothing special about the food.
 
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One quick idea is start with a ceviche as the app, a crab and scallop ( or shrimp, or lobster, or ?? ) quiche as the main. Still thinking about an appropriate dessert.

mjb.
 
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As far as the contest everything must be prepared and  cooked on site. Nothing like ice cream or melty would work as it will sometimes sit in a covered tray for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes before its judged. Turn in time is at 12:30 sharp. We can start anytime we like as long as it is turned in on time. Keep in mind that it is an outdoor event and all equipment and ingredients must be brought to the event. Being outdoors can be challenging because of the time of year. Usually a nice 40-50 degree weather but we've had years where its a blasting artic blast cold weather and years when its raining cats and dogs or or high winds or any combination of the above and nonehteless the show must go on.

Turn in time is at 12:30 sharp and the entry may sit in a tray as long as 45 minutes before being judged.Keep in mind
 
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ohhh, after looking and reading it about 20 times,the fog has cleared.What competition are we talking about? Wonderful, Exotic and Delicious, It's got to be roast beef on a kaiser with mayo, butter, mustard and chocolate milk.
 
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Quetex; "...Was also thing of some kind of exotic french ?? ..."

Quetex, to me, the spanish sounding dishes you mentioned in your first post already sound quite exotic!

Exotic french and quick appetizer;

- Cuisses de grenouille, or, in your money, frogslegs... yummie. Fry in a hot pan, then add chopped garlic and parcely.

- Escargots de Bourgogne, or, snails served in their little house; also basically with garlic-and-parcely-in-butter mix, cooked in the oven.

Mains;

- all kinds of stews such as coq au vin (can be made with chicken), boeuf bourguignon, my own flemish carbonades flamandes...

- gigot d'agneau persillé; very "pink" roasted lambleg, around 15 minutes before the end of the roasting time, cover with a small layer of french mustard, then cover again with a mixture of freshly made breadcrumbs and chopped parcely. Serve with gratin dauphinois ; potato slices, garlic, cream, you know it.

Dessert;

- clafoutis; popular pie baked with no crust. Mostly clafoutis au cerises (with cherries) but can be made with a lot of other fruit.
 
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Any one who cuts lamb chops into cubes for a sandwich, should be shot.
And then cubed up.
Wonderful, Exotic and Delicious, It's got to be roast beef on a kaiser with mayo, butter, mustard and chocolate milk.
Is this really your idea of exotic?

Quetex, maybe you can do a "tour" meal. For instance do a tour of Asia, with Thai lemongrass soup, followed up by Szechuan style beef, and finished with steamed walnut dumplings. Of course you could do a tour of the Mediterranean, or of the Caribbean. Or anywhere else in the world. This diversity might help wow the judges, so long as the menu is well thought out.
 
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With regards to Indian cuisine, you could do a seafood curry as you mentioned seafood being really popular on this particular leg of the competition. There are quite a few seafood curries that can be considered delicate but still extremely flavorful/aromatic. The flavors of shrimp/crab paired with coconut, cinnamon, fenugreek, chiles, cardamon, etc. are fairly exotic. Add in fresh grilled naan bread, it may give you something to really stand out.
 
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Any one who cuts lamb chops into cubes for a sandwich, should be shot.

It's not like it's the last lamb on earth, this ain't the ark. Now if I had two lambs fight each other in a pit and ate the loser, then you could shoot me... I suppose if I wanna set my money on fire in the back yard that's my prerogative. Unless there's a no burning ordinance :). Lamb chops are a broad category, I wouldn't suggest buying butterfly rib chops, but shoulder or leg chops are cheap (comparatively) and not as pretty. BTW I'd be okay w/ being shot, but only if you let me finish my lamb "sandwich" first.

For the purposes of a cooking competition, the real question is what do the judges like? If all the previous winners are seafood, go that way. Split grilled lobster tail is pretty and tasty. Top w/ a ketjap manis butter if you wanna go asian. Love Tyler's lemongrass soup idea.
 
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