Here is one of the dishes I prepared for the second soil and seed pop up dinner series I have putting on lately. The menu's I do for the soil and seed dinners revolve around ingredients that we have locally and are in season. Eggplant? one of those vegetables where you have a few basic recipes like eggplant parmesan, ratatouille, Soup, "caviar" etc.... Eggplant is not an easy ingredient to make shine and also deal with the natural bitterness of the vegetable. How can you make eggplant different and delicious? The combination of eggplant and miso is not new, and it really works well together. I don't know if that combination has ever been prepared as panna cotta before but I decided that was the approach I was taking. I paired the panna cotta with a red curry gel, shitake "bacon", watermelon rind "kimchi", salmon roe, and roasted peanuts. Finished the dish with soy glaze, fresh thai basil, mint, and garlic flowers. I would say that this was definitely a bit of a risk, since I had never made this dish before, never seen it anywhere else, never heard about it anywhere else, but the reward was big because half of the attendee's said it was one of their favorite dishes of the night. That is really the joy at the end of the evening for a chef or cook. To create something you haven't done before and have it be a hit and not a flop.
Hopefully more creative dishes and soil and seed dinners soon to come. Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy it!
Eggplant Miso Panna Cotta
2 large eggplant roasted (1 tbsp of oil)
1/2 cup blond miso
4 cups of cream
3 1/2 tsp of gelatin powder (4 tbsp water)
1/2 lime juiced
A few pinches of sugar to taste (optional)
Salt to taste
Red Curry Gel,
1 finger of ginger sliced
1 lemongrass stalk sliced
1/2 onion sliced
4 garlic cloves
1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 limes Kaffir lime leaves (if you have them)
2 red peppers chopped
2 cans of coconut milk
4 oz of red curry paste
2 1/2 oz of palm sugar or granulated sugar
1 tsp of fish sauce (optional)
2 tsp of sesame oil
2 tsp of agar
1/4 cup of each fresh thai basil, mint, cilantro leaves
8 oz of shitake mushrooms sliced thin
1 tbsp of sesame oil and 1 tbsp of grape seed oil
salt to taste
Watermelon Rind "Kimchi"
2 cups of watermelon rind julienned
2 tsp of sansho spice
1 tbsp of sambal
1 cup of rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of salt
1 cup of soy sauce (reduced sodium if you have it)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of roasted salted peanuts
3 oz of salmon roe
Garlic flowers, fresh petite mint leaves, thai basil leaves
1/2 cup of minced Fried Garlic
For the Eggplant Miso Panna Cotta,
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. Cut the 2 eggplants in half lengthwise. Drizzle with oil and salt and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment or foil. Place in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Take out and let it rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a pot heavy cream bring to light simmer. Add eggplant pulp and miso to the pot. Adjust the seasoning with lime and salt; then turn off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then in a small bowl bloom powdered gelatin with water. Add a ladle of the cream mixture into the gelatin mixture to melt. Then pour the gelatin mixture back into the cream mixture. Taste again and adjust seasoning if need be and then pour onto a half sheet tray and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
For the Red Curry Gel,
This is basically a red curry sauce with the addition of the agar (for gelling purposes), so if you don't have agar you can simple use the sauce. In small sauce pot on medium heat add sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, red pepper, star anise and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 10 minutes without browning. Then add sugar and red curry paste and cook for 1 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Then add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in your agar and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, add fish sauce and your herbs to steep for 10 minutes. Then discard the herbs, and take out the cinnamon stick, star anise and the ginger and discard. Pour the rest of the ingredients into vita mix and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Adjust the seasoning and then pour into a shallow baking pan. Place in the refrigerator until firm (2 hours). Then take a knife and cut the sauce and place back into the vita mix. Puree until smooth and place in a squeeze bottles until ready to use.
For the Soy Glaze,
Place all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce coats the back of a spoon in a semi-thick consistency. Place in a squeeze bottle and set aside,
For the Watermelon Rind "Kimchi" (Prepared at least 1 day ahead of time)
In small bowl place salt, sansho, and watermelon rind. Mix well. Then place into a preserving jar or similar heat proof container. Place the rest of the ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil pour over the rind making sure it is completely covered. Cover with lid or plastic and set aside it until it comes to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2 ways to make it. First toss the sliced shitake's with oil and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and back until golden brown and crispy (375 degrees for 30-45 min). Second way is simply in a large sauté pan on medium add oil and shitake mushrooms. Cook for 20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a towel and season with salt.
On the plate add red curry gel. Then take out the panna cotta and cut into rectangles. Place on the plate. Add salmon roe, (dice if you prefer) watermelon rind kimchi, shitake bacon, and fried garlic. Finish the panna cotta with fresh thai basil, mint, and garlic flowers. Finish the plate with a drizzle of soy glaze and roasted peanuts. Serve and enjoy! Photo by EYHOP