It's made of few parts as you can see on the photo above. Bottom section is made with eggnog and touch of milk and cream. Top is made with Conjure cognac, Bailey's, cream, milk. On the top, I shaved some white chocolate on top. Creamy, rich, simple, and delicious.
One of the fruit which makes me think of fall is definitely apple. Apples are inexpensive but very delicious. There are so many different varieties, nobody can't hate it and there is always a variety you love.
This is my second fall dish of 2010.
Apple - caramel, peanuts, black sugar
Apple was cooked sous vide with fall spices and also encapsulation of fresh apple juice served with peanut brittle, molasses, black sugar from Okinawa, thyme, rosemary, maldon salt.
Fall has finally arrived. As we say in Japan, fall is a season of appetite. All I can think of is good food such as chestnuts, pumpkins, foie gras, duck, warm fall spices, to just name few.
Anyway, my new dish: Pumpkin - Flavors of autumn.
As season changes, nature shows us its different face. Leaves are changing colors and starting to fall quietly onto ground, winds are getting cooler and colder, air is getting drier, and days are getting shorter.
I created a custard with pumpkin. In the process, I also steeped various fall spices such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, eucalyptus, bay leaf, and sassafras. Also, I added few drops of vanilla and grains of smoke powder to add more complexity to just an ordinary custard and as a result, I ended up with this creamy custard with aromas like a bold red wine, meaning as you eat it your olfactory would keep finding new aromas in every bite.
I like organized geometric shapes. Very simple, but modern and luxurious. However, I really like shapes and colors which nature creates for us. Trees, flowers, sky, rocks, etc. They give me so much inspirations in daily basis. My mission also on this dish was to integrate those two elements into one dish. Simplistic square as a base. Complex colors and shapes which remind you of nature such as soil, grass, fallen brown leaves, dew. I am not going to list all the things I put on top since that will be pretty long. Small bite, packed with fall flavors and colors. I like this dish a lot personally and I hope all you chefs and foodies as well.
End of the season is right around the corner. I am sure by now all people are getting tired of seeing tomatoes. However, at the same time, part of me is always miss previous season as much as I am happy to welcome next season. Therefore, I just wanted to create a tomato dish before the season is over.
Heirlooom tomato, heart of palm, radish, spring onion, cerignola, castelvetrano, cilantro, olive oil, maldon salt, basil.
Chicken legs were seasoned with salt, sugar, pink peppercorn, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, bay leaves, black peppercorns and they were confit sous vide with chicken fat. Pull all the meat and seasoned with chicken fat, chicken jus, mustard seeds, dijon mustard, dill. Rolled up and chilled and sliced. Procedure is very similar to making a head cheese.
I also made this smoked walnut powder with handful of ingredients so that it just looks like a dirt but once you taste it, it actually is very complex in terms of taste and texture. Another elements of this dish are whipped mustard and Cyprus gray salt, dill leaves, nasturtium leaves.
I wanted to serve pork with German flavors. Sauerkraut puree, wilted mustard green, braised mustard, dill, maldon salt, maple syrup granules. There are little bits of all 5 tastes on this plate and very well balanced when eaten all together. I might try to figure out different presentation with this dish and see what else I can do with mustard green in terms of flavors and texture manipulation.
Chicken livers and tenders are rolled up in a leg. Cooked sous vide, chilled, sliced portions and breaded and deep fried. Served with caramelized onion puree, egg yolk powder, potatoes, rye bread crisps, dill, basil, maldon salt.
It seems like a plain classic gnocchi, however, it's not. It's made of milk and thickened with kuzu starch aka Japanese arrowroot. It is most frequently used in Japanese traditional pastry. It's definitely one of those very unique ingredients and starting to get a lot of attention by numerous chefs from all over the world especially Spanish chefs which include Ferran Adria and Andoni Luis Aduriz. Texture is very interesting. It's very soft and creamy and therefore, my original idea was to make a "mock mozzarella" and make like a caprese salad but I will play around with it and see what else I can do. This time, I served this milk gnocchi with super sweet local tomatoes, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil and cyprus lava salt which not just gives it seasoning but also texture and color.
Peanut butter. When I hear this word, I automatically associate it with American cuisine even though I am not sure where it was originally invented. My wife likes peanut butter a lot. I don't have too much experience working with this ingredients especially since I am not a pastry chef but recently I have been doing a good amount of desserts once I look at photos and notes I have taken recently.
Peanut butter custard, banana cream, dulce de leche, peanut butter powder, puffed rice brittle, maldon salt
Coffee is one of my most favorite drinks for those who don't know me well but I literally drink coffee all day long. Therefore, I have done few coffee related dishes before, but I think this is best of coffee dishes I have done yet.
This time, I made the coffee gelee really soft so that it will instantly melt as soon as it hits your tongue and back to liquid coffee. Other components are ganache paint, cinnamon fluid gel, whipped milk, milk foam, coffee soil, vanilla panna cotta.
Nowadays, slow food, buying local, organic produce have grown much more than it has ever been in minds of consumers here in the United States as well. I like seeing these things and supporting local farmers who work so hard to produce all these wonderful vegetables and fruits. No pesticides, No miracle grow, No big machinery. It takes extra care, time, and attention because of it. Therefore, I have always had a huge amount of appreciation for these hard working farmers so that we can use these wonderful produce in our restaurants, hotels, and etc.
Fresh seasonal produce which grown are just simply delicious and full of flavors. Also, very strong aromas which I can smell from blocks away. Where I live now, everybody's harvesting fresh produce now and market is filled up with vibrant colors and wonderful aromas. Not to forget the nutritional value as well. These are REAL vegetables, REAL fruits, unlike those others which are full of pesticides, chemical to prolong the shelf life, wax to make it shine, and etc.
Today, I went to Central Market to look for a raw milk because I wanted to make mozzarella from scratch but the stand didn't carry them today but they assisted me to go to this another store outside of market. I was like hmm I have never heard of this place but I walked to the direction which I was told and ended up with this little shop few blocks away from the market. Espressly Local... Sounds promising and there are signs for local produce, dairy and such. There were sages growing and thyme was flowering. I walked into the store and I was surprised by how much varieties of items they carried. I picked up raw milk and other produces there. At the register, I started to talk to this nice lady who seems to manage the shop. I told her that I am a chef and about what I do and my culinary philosophy and such. She was so excited and started to tell me about all the produce in the store like " we just picked these this morning"," my mother just hulled these peas", "I grow these, I grow those", " Look at these kohlrabis". She knew exactly where everything came from, how they were grown from produce, dairy, chickens. It was very interesting to listen to her tell me all the things about her vegetables and fruits which she produces proudly.
As a chef, I definitely need to be rethink about these vegetables and fruits which are grown by hard working farmers with their love and care. Center of the place doesn't necessarily have to be meat, fish, foie gras. Let these flavorful ingredients shine.
To everyone at Expressly Local, Central Market, I am very thankful and truly appreciate for your support and letting me use all these flavorful and beautiful fruits and vegetables.
I think skate is one of the underrated fish. This fish was a challenge for me since I am a huge fan of organized, geometric shapes but you know how skate wings are shaped? they are flat, thick on the one end and thin on the other end. Hmm.... What I did this time to create an uniform shape was to roll it from the one end to the other after applying transglutaminase on the inner surface of the fish. Afterward, I put it in a sous vide bag and seal it and let it rest and let TG to do its job. I cooked it sous vide and sliced against the grain of the fish. Take a look at the surface. ( See the image above) I was pretty happy with the end result both doneness and appearance. Maybe next time I will try to make them little bit smaller in diameter and even throughout starting from first slice until the last slice. I served it with more traditional and spring flavors: fennel, artichoke, dill, radish, lemon, parsley, pearl onion and etc.
I like corn. I actually like corn a lot. In Japan, people even put them on pizza as a topping pretty frequently. I bought these local fresh corn and I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I like them pretty much in anyway too from soup, salad, grilled, raw, cooked....however else you can cook them and I started to realize how versatile they can be prepared. hmm... On this plate, I tried to capture the freshness and the sweet flavor of corn and present the versatility of this wonderful ingredient.
I made fresh raw corn salad, reconstructed corn(corn caviar.. whatever you want to call them), pop corn, crunchy corn bread, corn paper and corn air.
It's Tuesday which is one of the days of week farmer's market in downtown opens. Especially since weather has gotten so much warmer in this area and plenty of rain, all the produce are looking fantastic. I was walking into the building and I can already smell the strawberries. So fresh. So sweet. As a chef, there was no way of no getting this. As I stand in the corner of the farmer's market, I started brainstorm a dish with this wonderfully aromatic and delicious produce. Rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, mint........ lavender, fruity e.v. olive oil.... I'll go from here. I bought a single stalk of rhubarb and lady over the counter was looking at me weird..... but I just don't need a whole bunch. I just wanted to get one and use it up for this dish and eat it within 1 hour after purchase. I am fast walking home and thinking I can't wait to work with these fresh produce.
I used strawberry and made a smooth sheet. Strawberries were so sweet that I didn't almost need any additional sugar. I only added very minimum. Rhubarb, fresh cut strawberries, lavender flowers, pulverized e.v. olive oil, balsamic fluid gel, spearmint, honeysuckle flowers, and vermouth foam. Most of these are from the market except for only few things. Few days ago, my wife and I went to state park and found those honeysuckles. It smells so sweet. We could smell them in the woods from so far away.
I tasted the whole dish together. It was great. All the wonderful local produce are just at their peak. Sweetness of strawberries and sourness of balsamic vinegar. Different textures. Aroma is so floral, fruity, minty.
I wanted to take a classic dessert and modernize it. This is my take on creme brulee. It's white since there is no egg in this recipe, however, texture is just as creamy and decadent as classic creme brulee. Instead of caramelizing sugar in traditional method, I placed caramelized spun sugar around it.
Mackerel is definitely one of my favorite fish. I grew up eating a lot in numerous preparations which include raw, sauteed, broiled, braised and more. This time I cooked it very gently in sous vide and I served with a lot of delicious things which I think go very nice with the fish: tomatoes, saffron, lemon, basil, etc. As it gets warm in my area, I see these flowers blooming, and trees are coming back to life. So many ideas and inspirations.
This is my take on cold bean salad. Cannellini beans, black beans, basil, lemon, black olives, pistachio, cucumber. I will probably take this in the near future one more step further and more ingredients to the plate such as tomato and red onion or maybe ramps since it's in season now.
All the sudden new idea popped in my head and I decided to take it furthermore to increase its potential flavor and taste. Originally, I was just going to take those instant ramen noodles from package and crumble them up and season with salt and pepper. I tasted it. It was ok.... What if I add more traditional Asian flavors to this. I made powder of duck fat and sesami oil and added that to the mix. Also, I decided to smoke the noodle before crushing them. As you can see in the picture, I didn't crush them into fine powder but instead I kept some small pieces with curves and curls because I think those shapes and texture gave more character to the finishing product.
I am sure what is this?? would be the first thought in the mind of most people. This is called Mitarashi Dango and it's a classic Japanese sweets. Dango is somewhat similar to mochi in texture but not as "chewy" or "stringy as in fresh warm mozzarella". It is made from rehydrated mochiko or sweet rice flour. I use one by Koda Farm. It's a popular brand when it comes to sweet rice flour. My grandma even uses this brand. Anyway, mitarashi dango almost always comes on skewer and grilled on Japanese grill and dipped into sweet soy sauce for several times until it takes on the flavor of sauce. It's really popular street food as well whenever there is a festival or some sort of event, you will most likely to find this.
This time I tried on a deconstruction or modernization of this Japanese classic sweets. Dango was prepared in a traditional method. The sauce, I made it very simple but instead liquid form I used some hydrocolloids to make it into a thin sheet and I draped over dango. At the end, I added some smoke foam onto the side to add extra smoky aroma which it will get if it had been grilled over charcoals.
I don't think I have done too much of Japanese food but this was pretty fun. This dish brought back so much of my childhood memory. I definitely need to do this more often.
As a chef, I get a lot of inspiration from numerous sources which includes books, internet, blogs and such. Recently, I went to Chicago to do one week stage at Alinea. I learned so much by doing, cooking, watching, hearing, and eating. This particular dish was inspired by Sturgeon dish at Alinea.
Crispy deep fried Sweetbreads are served with ingredients which I associate more with spring and even slightly to summer. Tomato, rhubarb, lemon, olive, basil, extra virgin olive oil, orange, bloody dock. Some of the ingredients are manipulated to give more interesting and different textures and some are kept simple to retain its integrity.
Butternut squash, almond, encapsulated brown butter, purple fingerling potato chips, truffle maldon salt
This dish was made past winter. Since I took some time to take some photos and the room being cold, Brown butter actually solidified inside, but it's actually supposed to be liquid warm brown butter when this is served.
Appearance and texture of bread are manipulated into various forms. Bread puree, crispy pane fritto, crispy bread sheet, burnt bread pudding. I also rolled up a bread sheet after it was dehydrated and closed both ends and made inside hollow and afterward, I injected with honey. I also added butter onto this plate as well. Who doesn't like bread with butter? Pulverized brown butter and pliable butter.
Since a lot of people around me were talking about 2012 and such, I thought of doing a dish based on that idea. Broken glasses, unbiodegradable clear materials, rusted metals, broken concrete, dirt, soil and between these thing, new plants are starting to grow.
Ever since I have started studying culinary art, I have been looking ways to improve my skills and gain as much knowledge as I can in a daily basis in order to become a better chef. Becoming a chef was the dream I have had since I was little. I requested to take any culinary related classes starting as early as elementary school in Japan. Cooking has always been my passion and my life. It is what I was born to do. I believe chef is what I was born to be.