Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fusion of Food


Nuclear fusion? Fusion power? Jazz fusion?

How about... fusion of food.

As a chef, there are two pathways that one can undertake in order to further his or her culinary career: remain at a restaurant and work from the bottom of the totum-pole: commis to executive chef, or work at a plethora of different restaurants in order to learn and gain an understanding about different types of cuisines. I chose the latter with the purpose of furthering my culinary knowledge, honing my skills and learning from seasoned chefs.

Thus sparked my passion for fusion food... a marrying and blending of different cultures via the medium of food. I recently executed a private dinner with the following three-course menu:

1) Roasted beet salad with chive buds and nori dried seaweed
2) Yellowtail Hamachi with edamame puree, pickled mango and nori dried seaweed
3) Chicken medallions with edamame/cilantro puree, hearts of palm, micro greens and demi-glaze

Three-courses. Asian/American with French-inspired techniques.

Oh, the possibilities!

First course.
Roasted golden beets. No, not canned. In order to roast beets, simply scrub purchased beets to remove the dirt. Toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place on baking sheet and cover with foil. Allow to roast at 400 degrees F until tender with a knife (beets generally take longer than one would think to roast... the smaller the beet, the faster the cook speed). Small/medium beets will take about 30 minutes to roast properly.

When tender to the knife cut, remove from oven and allow to cool briefly. While the beets are still warm, carefully remove and discard the skin (easier to remove when warm, as opposed to cooled completely). Slice beets into shapes/slices/chunks (depending on how you chose to present the beet on the final plating). Place cut beets in a clean bowl and drizzle with sesame seed oil, salt, touch of cayenne pepper, sprinkle of lemon juice and sesame seeds. Allow the beets to marinate in the sesame seed oil for about 10 minutes. Before serving, place chive buds in the marinade as well in order to season the garnish. The dried seaweed nori can be cut with scissors into thin strips.

Presentation... place the beets and chive buds in the center of a white plate. Allow the chive buds to interweave between the beets, creating a nest of buds. In order to increase the volume, carefully stack a few of the beets/buds atop one another. Add thin slices of dried nori in "random," but appropriate openings. As the chef, you are an artist... be creative, yet also discerning when to stop adding to a plate. Simple, clean lines are encouraged.

Second course.
Remember that nori dried seaweed? This ingredient from the first course will be carried into the second course. This will aid in "connecting" the dishes into a composed meal, as opposed to singular courses.

Edamame puree - place 2 cups of frozen edamame (shelled) into salted water. Bring to a boil, then allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Drain, then place edamame in Vitamix/blender and allow to puree. Drizzle sesame seed oil (about 1/4 cup) while the edamame are in the blender - this will help to "thin" the puree, as well as to incorporate the subtle sesame seed flavor. To finish, add 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp heavy cream, pinch of cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Final consistency should be relatively thick, but not too chunky.

Pickled mango - Bring 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp white vinegar, juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 tsp sea salt to boil. Dice mango, then place into clean bowl/jar. When water boils, carefully pour over mango. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Yellowtail Hamachi - sushi grade... slice thin!

Presentation - dollop a spoonful of edamame puree on a white plate, then run the back of the spoon through the puree, across the plate. Place a trail of the pickled mango on the plate, then carefully stack the raw Hamachi atop the mango. Dust the Hamachi with the dried nori and place a few edamame beans and microgreens around the plate.

Third course.
Chicken medallions with edamame/cilantro puree, hearts of palm, micro greens and demi-glaze

The third course also uses the edamame puree; however, I added fresh cilantro leaves to the puree in order to add a subtle change of flavor.

Chicken breast medallions - flatten the chicken breast with a meat-pounder (can use a pastry rolling-pin). Spoon a small amount of the edamame/cilantro puree into the center of the flattened chicken breast, then wrap tightly into a tight roll. Use culinary string to keep chicken breast rolls together. Season the outside of the chicken rolls with salt and pepper, then sear atop the stove on a saute pan with almond or walnut oil (the nut oils provide another element of flavor to enhance the chicken). Place in 400 degree F oven and cook for about 8 -10 minutes (for smaller breast rolls). The rolls will cook quickly because not only were they flattened to be thinner, but they were already seared on the stove. They will be ready when no longer pink from within. When cooled slightly, carefully cut into medallions... the edamame/cilantro puree will shine in the middle of the medallion.

Hearts of palm - marinate with sesame seed oil, salt and pepper.

Presentation - Dollop a small amount of edamame/cilantro puree on a white plate, then use the back of the spoon to run through the dollop and create a line. Place the chicken breast medallions close to the line of the edamame/cilantro puree, then top with marinated hearts of palm, and micro greens. Finish with a quick drizzle of demi-glaze.

Et, voila. Three courses, fused together with complimentary ingredients from around the world.

Not too shabby.

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be." - Abraham Maslo


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