Looking for thoughts on savoury uses for vanilla

I've just returned from Madagascar with a large bundle of vanilla pods. For the equivalent of about US$5, I got a bundle of 30-40 pods. Yes, that's more than I'd normally use in a lifetime, but I thought only if I had so many and paid so little would I branch out and try something different with them.

I'm not really looking for baking tips, and yes, I know you can put them in sugar. I'd like to know if anyone has some thoughts/experience in using them for savoury dishes. Is it possible to use vanilla in a savoury dish without it becoming cloying? I've googled a few vanilla chicken recipes from the region, but wondering if any food52ers have other thoughts. Thanks!

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9 Comments

Couldn't B. March 28, 2012
One of our favorite chicken dishes is a balsamic vanilla chicken. It is easy to make but delicious enough I often make it for company. I always make 1 1/2 times the sauce in the recipe because that is the best part!

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/vanilla-balsamic-chicken-10000001173777/
 
linzarella March 27, 2012
One of the best pasta dishes I've ever had was a pumpkin gnocchi with scallops and vanilla bean sauce.
 
susan G. March 27, 2012
The Spice Book (Morris and Mackley) says "Vanilla is one of the distinctive ingredients in creme de cacao and Galliano" -- DIY?
Also "Vanilla is used as a pick-me-up and an antidote to fevers. ...also...aphrodisiac qualities"
Just want to cover all the bases!
 
pierino March 27, 2012
Another thought. A friend of mine sent me some "fleur del vanille"; sea salt with flecks of Madagascar vanilla (I guess a similar idea to the sugar thing). Anyway it's great sprinkled over fresh, summery melon slices.
 
la D. March 27, 2012
Vanilla beans are classically used in a sauce with lobster. I know I've seen it on Top Chef- maybe consult one of the Top Chef recipe cookbooks? Also, you might find some ideas in Amanda Hesser's Essential New York Times cookbook. Or Chef Marcus Samuelsson's cookbooks. Vanilla also pairs well with squash and pumpkin- roasted or used in risotto. Maybe if you think of flavor pairing with ingredients, an idea will come to you!
 
pierino March 27, 2012
I agree with la domestique. Vanilla and lobster match quite well.
 
Maedl March 27, 2012
What a nice problem to have! I googled 'savory vanilla recipes' and found lots of intriguing hits--enough to make me consider a trip to Madagascar!
 
Tarragon March 27, 2012
Salad dressing! There is a wonderful recipe on the Food52 website, from Dynamo, that is a seafood salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette. To find it I would search for shrimp and vanilla and the recipe should come up.
 
babytiger March 27, 2012
I've had a shrimp ravioli dish at a restaurant that had a vanilla white sauce. It was quite good.
 
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