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Tim Chambers

Looking for one more element to make a new dish "pop"

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Hello,

I am currently working on a dish to run as a special at the upscale modern Mexican restaurant that I work at. The dish, as of right now, is this:

Green bean salad with sherry crema, shaved zucchini, and heirloom tomato vinaigrette. The zucchini is sliced super thin and layered out on the plate. I drizzle with vinaigrette and place the green beans (dressed in sherry cema) in the middle, on top of the zucchini. There are also diced heirloom tomatoes and shallots sprinkled around the zucchini.

My boss said that it was all really good, but that it needed something more. Something to really make it pop. Any suggestions?

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Something crispy, crunchy, spicy, salty, fatty...Just been reading through the Momofuku book and the thing that comes to mind is a twist on chicaron.

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if you just want an accent and not another full out element to the dish , you could go a few directions with herbs or greens.. arugala or cress would give a bit of pepperyness, parsley is always bright, taragon goes really well with green beans.

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Green beans are often accompanied with toasted slithered almonds. They give texture without adding more flavour components. You've got enough flavours there already,

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I was thinking along the line of fatty, salty and crispy meat. Chorizo rounds or some type of crispy jamon, prosciutto etc.

Porky, spicy goodness.

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Is the zucchini salted and allowed to rest for a few minutes before plating; a little pickled, perhaps?

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Like the almond ideas, but how about toasted pine nuts instead?

I'd be very careful with pine nuts. Know your source, and know just what nuts you're getting. Many of the nuts on the market can cause a bitter aftertaste that's very unpleasant. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/07/02/128273771/pinenuts-may-be-to-blame-for-that-bitter-atertaste

If you want nuts, go with good Marcona almonds.


Edited by Shel_B (log)
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Definitely something crunchy - seems like all your components so far are relatively soft (except maybe the green beans?). Smoked almonds sounds great.

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I lean toward candied pecans. You can make them as sweet/spicy/savory as you want to fit the dish. Put 'em on whole or crumbled.

Dried cranberries or some more Southwestern berry/fruit is a thought too.

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Parmesan, mixed with chorizo spices, turned into a crisp if your looking for vegetarian.

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Parmesan, mixed with chorizo spices, turned into a crisp if your looking for vegetarian.

Parmesan is not vegetarian

https://www.vegsoc.org/saycheese#.UdrpP8u9KK0

There are vegetarian Mexican cheeses that are made into crisps.

I do not see how this dish represents Mexico or understand its motivation. That might help with suggestions.

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If you are executing well, your veg should provide sufficient 'crunch'.

I would suggest some Cilantro or Vietnamese Coriander.

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I like the smoked almonds idea, but I would not go sweet with them. Or you could smoke some of the tomatoes. Chervil or tarragon and a little salty cheese would be great too.

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Parmesan, mixed with chorizo spices, turned into a crisp if your looking for vegetarian.

Parmesan is not vegetarianhttps://www.vegsoc.org/saycheese#.UdrpP8u9KK0

There are vegetarian Mexican cheeses that are made into crisps.

I do not see how this dish represents Mexico or understand its motivation. That might help with suggestions.

First, thank you for the suggestions everyone.

Second, Parmesan is vegetarian, it just isn't vegan.

Third, this dish was inspired by "Calabacita con crema," a Mexican dish in which zuchinni and other vegetables are cooked in milk and crema, and often tomatoes. I'm changing up the elements a bit, and serving it cold, but the flavor is still there. Just because I'm not making a taco doesn't mean it's not authentic. I would recommend checking out some of the leading chefs in Mexico, such as Enrique olvera. He does a lot of modern things like this where he will play around with classic Mexican dishes


Edited by Tim Chambers (log)

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Parmesan, mixed with chorizo spices, turned into a crisp if your looking for vegetarian.

Parmesan is not vegetarianhttps://www.vegsoc.org/saycheese#.UdrpP8u9KK0

There are vegetarian Mexican cheeses that are made into crisps.

I do not see how this dish represents Mexico or understand its motivation. That might help with suggestions.

First, thank you for the suggestions everyone.

Second, Parmesan is vegetarian, it just isn't vegan.

Third, this dish was inspired by "Calabacita con crema," a Mexican dish in which zuchinni and other vegetables are cooked in milk and crema, and often tomatoes. I'm changing up the elements a bit, and serving it cold, but the flavor is still there. Just because I'm not making a taco doesn't mean it's not authentic. I would recommend checking out some of the leading chefs in Mexico, such as Enrique olvera. He does a lot of modern things like this where he will play around with classic Mexican dishes

The Vegetarian Society disagrees. Authentic Parmesan is made from cow rennet. Don't take my word for it - check with vegetarians. Click the link above.

I have eaten lots of Mexican, including many tacos. I just wanted to know what you were thinking to make suggestions. The sherry was a bit confusing.

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Just about all tasty cheese is traditionally made with rennet, a coagulant enzyme complex obtained from an animal's stomach, and Parmesan is one. Vegetarian versions are available.

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I think the other traditional ingredients are onion, garlic, chicken stock, and sometimes corn, coriander and/or poblanos. Maybe you could work with one of those, perhaps with a trendy presentation like a dehydrated powder or a fried crisp, rather than just adding it to the other vegetables? Dehydrated corn is commercially available I believe. If the dish is supposed to be vegetarian of course the chicken is out - otherwise maybe a jelly made with chicken stock.


Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)

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I agree with what ranchgordo said in the book thread - corn, chiles, and beans are important primary flavors of Mexico. There are lots of other flavors I associate with Mexican cooking. Some are what Plantes Verdes mentioned, but I would sub cumin in place of coriander. Add to it achiote, jalapeños, serranos, habaneros, orange, mango, lime tequila, mezcal, epazote, peanuts, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, tomatillos, queso fresco, queso anejo, cotija, queso quesadilla, guajillo, ancho, chile de Arbol, jicama, and others I am probably forgetting.

Assuming that your tomatoes are fresh (not cooked), I'd personally consider adding charred grilled yellow corn to your diced tomatoes (I am finding it at farmer's markets near me) and maybe a sprinkling of raw finely diced serranos. Raw poblanos would not be my choice here. I think I personally would leave out the sherry, and maybe experiment with a touch of mezcal (smoky) or tequila instead. I am not an expert on cream, but the Mexican versions I've had are different from what one buys in local grocery stores. It might be important to use the Mexican crema.

This would get crunch and smokiness in, which others seem to like.

BTW, Rick Bayless suggests this dish is an "unbeatable taco filling," so perhaps it could serve as an authentic vegetarian main with some added tortillas.


Edited by Ttogull (log)

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I'm also thinking if it's a starter a little bit of brightness/acidity from something like a pickled onion or capers.

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I'd add something unexpected! If it tastes light cover it with few drops of fresh lemon juiсe and serve with cranberry or raspberry sauce. That will add more colours and smell.

Or if you think that berries don't go good with tomatoes than use a bit sweet banana sauce. And do not mix this all. Let your visitors experiment and share their experience and take part in creating Perfect salad. :smile:

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Maybe add a little jalapeno, cilantro and lime to the tomato/shallot mixture to punch it up.

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