The Hunt

Coming back from shopping on Thursday we heard an NPR interview with René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. In case you have been living under a rock, these guys knocked Ferran of el Bulli off of his high horse of ::drumroll:: The Best Restaurant In The World!

This particular discussion was about how Redzepi’s team conceptualizes a new dish. One dish, “Blueberries in Their Own Environment” was born out of a suggestion that they look around on the ground to find inspiration and accompaniment for the blueberries. The final dish included wild thyme, wood sorrel, and pine.  Pretty crazy, right?

There’s an X parallel here. This is not much unlike how our dishes come together. Sometimes two ingredients may be perched next to another on the shelves or in a bin. At first they may not seem a well-matched pair, but through the creative process they can become harmoniouslike chickpeas and bananas to make our Green Banana Hummus, or tamarind and cabbage to make our Sweet and Sour Braised Krautthere is a natural connection between even seemingly incompatible ingredients. It’s all about looking at them in the right light.

Last week we were searching for a fish dish for Pop-Up. Since the idea of Pop-Up came our way two years ago (thanks to our friend Lisa) we’ve been fantasizing about taking over a hot dog joint or fried nasty house and selling deep fried red snappers with ridiculous hot sauce; squirt, and that’s it. We had already had the guys at Fresh Farms clean our striped bass from MD.  Then, underneath the piles of ice peeked the bright red eye of a Nicaraguan Lane Snapper. After a quick consultation, we decided that our guests could more than handle taking down a whole fish. That was it for us. Dirtbag style, we returned the “Stripahs” and gripped ten of them Nicaraguan beauts. While we were waiting for them to be cleaned, we were perusing the immense produce section. Robust and bold, the callaloo caught our eye. We recalled callaloo being a staple green in Jamaica and immediately made the connection; why not make straight up traditional fried red snapper Jamaican Style.

Now, this market is frequented mostly by Greeks, Filipinos and Eastern Europeans, not so much West Indian peeps, so finding callaloo there was more than a little random.  Even more random was that we’d just whipped up a batch of habanero and fresh ghost pepper sauce from our finds at Green City Farmer’s Market that morning. Coincidence? Absolutely, and one we were more than happy to take advantage of.

So the final dish came together in the most unexpected of ways: whole fried snapper marinated with ginger, allspice, thyme and habanero (jerk style); braised callaloo with smoked rib meat, garlic; rice salad with pineapple, green mango, coconut. All in all, this was an entrée that made you feel like you were “right near da beach, mon.”

 

snapper, callaloo, "liquid jesus" hot sauce

 

So, it was kinda cool to hear chefs from the “best restaurant in the world” talking about a process similar to our own. It makes sense too, you’ve got to allow yourself to think outside the box and let the ingredients suggest themselves to you if you want to create a memorable dish.  Like DJ Qbert said in the movie Scratch, “It’s like you’re the instrument and the universe is playing you.”

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