aleatory cooking and Beethoven à la mode

Last night was good for chance cooking. My wife bought tilapia fillets that she then had no appetite for and left them to me. My first thought was to sear each side and make a garlic, butter, and white wine sauce. Serve with a side of some veggies and homemade garlic bread. Simple, but good.

Well, she left out some dried wild yam soba noodles on the counter. When I saw them, the dish came together. The wild yam noodles reminded me of these weird, little sweet potato cubes we had in the freezer. Why would anyone ever need such a thing? I hadn’t had the courage to ask, but looking for them I came across some peas (which I like frozen—peas and spinach both) and then I found an open bag of edamame (soybeans). Soba noodles and edamame seemed like a natural pairing.

(Possibly boring recipe follows, but remember I posted about forgetting these things. Maybe this will help. You could skip to the part below where I briefly discuss a current prepossession with Beethoven’s late string quartets.)

First, I boiled the edamame and sweet potato cubes for about 5 minutes while the soba (in a different pot) went a little longer. Not very long though, since I knew I was going to stir-fry the noodles in a pan later. I love dried pasta to be al dente. That texture is everything to me. I drained all three and kept them in a colander. Next, I breaded the fillets with a little panko and pan fried them with a little butter and bacon fat. Removed them from the pan and left the crunchy bits. Added a little more butter. Added three cloves of garlic (you could add less—-I love garlic). Then added the edamame, potatoes, and noodles. Stir fried for a minute or two and then deglazed with a little white wine. Salt and pepper to taste. Plated the fish on top of the noodle mix.
With few expectations going in, this proved a nice dinner.

(Recipe over. On to Beethoven.)

Lately, between injections of Stevie Wonder and Funkadelic, I’ve been obsessively listening to Beethoven’s late string quartets. I had heard that this was some of the most beautiful music ever written and I’ve found it every bit of that and more. And while irony has seemed to clog many hearts, I’m happy to admit that I’ve been moved to tears by art (films by Kurosawa, canticles of Hildegard von Bingen, etc. Tears full of something beyond sadness or joy. And something completely different from the tears and head scratching produced by ICP’s “Miracles,” which is blissfully un-ironic. But I digress…)

I feel like an idiot championing something like Beethoven. “You know, like, wow, have you heard of this guy? He’s really good.” I’ve always been more into folks like Stravinsky, Bartok, and even Stockhausen. Anyway, this music was new to me and incredible, particularly the string quartet in a minor, Op. 132, 3rd movement. You can watch/listen to it in two parts here:

(If you’ve made it this far, you don’t want to skip part two! This music is way better than any blog post.):

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