Daniel Patterson's restaurant, Coi, has developed a series of dishes all called "Earth and Sea," each celebrating the unique flavors that come about when the rocky, western coastal landscape meets the Pacific ocean. This version in the Coi cookbook features a silky tofu mousse topped with earthy thickened broth, pickled turnips, yuba, and seaweed. The key component of the dish is enhanced dashi—a blend of vegetable and mushroom stocks that is spiked with kombu and katsuobushi just like the traditional Japanese stock. After straining the dashi, it is thickened with agar, transforming it into a broth that is halfway in between liquid and gel. It's the perfect texture in which to suspend seaweed and yuba, giving the dish an appearance of an underwater photograph.
Today, we'll break down the process for the dashi, and tomorrow will finish up with the mousse and accompaniments.
Why I picked this recipe: The photograph of the dish in the book looks like magic. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could pull it off at home.
What worked: Combining earthy mushroom stock with salty, savory kombu and katsuobushi is a smart move, making for the most umami-rich stock I've ever tasted.
What didn't: I had a hard time getting the agar-thickened stock to blend smooth in my blender. It mostly sorts itself out when the broth is re-warmed (stay tuned for tomorrow's post), but the struggle was a bit disconcerting. If you've got a high-powered blender, use it.
Suggested tweaks: If don't care to make both stocks from scratch, you could probably get away with using a high-quality store-bought vegetable stock. Make the mushroom stock from scratch, though, as it is the primary flavor component in the final broth. If you're making the vegetable stock, the recipe easily scales in half to make a more reasonable quantity. You can find kombu, katuobushi (or bonito), and agar powder in Asian grocery stores. (There really aren't any substitutes.)
Reprinted with permission from Coi: Recipes and Stories by Daniel Patterson. Copyright 2013. Published by Phaidon Press. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:makes about 1 quart, plus extra vegetable stock
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:4 hours
- Vegetable stock
- 500 g onion, charred
- 500 g onion dice
- 375 g carrot dice
- 375 g fennel dice
- 300 g celery root dice
- 200 g leek dice
- 7 g thyme
- 12 kg water
- Mushroom stock
- 750 g fresh baby shiitakes
- 20 g dried porcini and other wild mushrooms
- 2 kg water
- Mushroom dashi
- 600 g mushroom stock (see above)
- 200 g vegetable stock (see above)
- 20 g kombu
- 16 g katuobushi, shaved or grated
- shiro dashi
- 4 g agar
Vegetable stock: To char the onions, cut them in half and blacken on a plancha, a flat-top (cook them on aluminum foil so they don't stick to the surface), or a gas burner. By char, I mean blacken the cut side, but not completely, about half to two-thirds of the surface.
The vegetables should be cut in relatively large pieces so they don't break down too much, and so that they release their flavor slowly and completely. Combine all of the ingredients in a stockpot and simmer until the flavor is sweet and concentrated, about 3 hours. If it's too dilute, none of the recipes that use it will work, because they rely on the sweetness of the stock to balance the acidity. If it's too concentrated, the flavor can get overcooked and tired.
Mushroom stock: Combine all the ingredients and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours, until the flavor is clear but not overly concentrated. Strain through cheesecloth set into a strainer and cool in an ice bath.
Mushroom dashi Heat the vegetable and mushroom stocks with the kombu to just below a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the katsuobushi. Cook for 2 minutes, then pull from the heat and let stand until flavorful. Strain through cheesecloth, then season with salt and shiro dashi to taste. Generally speaking, using more katsuobushi for a shorter time gives a fresher, more delicious flavor. After a while it starts to taste dull and fishy.
While still hot, separate half of the liquid and add the agar. Bring to a boil, whisking rapidly. Transfer to a metal bowl sitting in an ice bath. Cool completely, then blend until smooth-this will thicken the broth, causing it to linger on the tongue, making the taste more powerful. Cool the other half of the broth separately.