Baby Carrots. In season. Chop tops off. Leave a few centimeters of stalk. Wash carrots in cold water. Gently peel. Place in a bowl of ice water.
Using beautiful ingredients in a respectful manner is the key to creating good food. You need to be thoughtful. Say you find beautiful baby carrots at the markets and you know you have to cook with them. How do you decide on a recipe or method of cooking them? Do you roast them, boil them, steam them? Do you drench them in sauce or do you leave them bare? Do you chop them up and chuck them in a soup? What do you do with the scraps? Save them? Use them for stock? What is the right way to cook these carrots?
Being thoughtful, you might decide to roast them, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds and serve them as a side. You might compost the scraps or save the peels for a veggie stock. You might blanch them or steam them. You might serve them on a bed of mashed potato with a side of gravy. With thought and care you can serve incredible, simple ingredients easily.
In Jiro Dreams of Sushi Jiro Ono, the 85 year-old sushi master, tells us “In order to make delicious food you must eat delicious food”.
What can I say? If Jiro insists, then I must oblige!
My boyfriend and I recently went to Melbourne’s MoVida Aqui to celebrate his birthday. We had a wonderful night. The restaurant, sister to the original MoVida, offers modern Spanish cuisine and it is to die for. The place buzzes with activity, the open kitchen is packed with chefs and cooks knocking out impeccable tapas without missing a beat. One day I hope to be cooking at this level.
This time round we decide to order every tapa on the menu. My highlight? The Anchoa – an anchovy and smoked tomato sorbet tapa. The mix of salty anchovy and cold smoky tomato ice cream is refreshing and delicious. I also love the Cordoniz, a half quail wrapped in brik pastry, wild mushrooms and morcilla (Spanish blood sausage).
As we munch away I think, this is what Jiro is saying – we need to taste good food in order to know good food in order to cook good food. I need to taste food that I don’t normally taste. Food that is different. That challenges my palate and teaches it new food combinations. I have always shied away from anchovies. I thought they were gross, little, oily fishies murdering my otherwise delicious pizza. How wrong I was. Anchovies, done right, are incredible!
I’m excited to continue my journey of eating delicious food. Where to next? I can’t wait to find out!