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SummerSalad3web

Umeboshi

A few of you have been asking me about an accent called Umeboshi. I would like to give you a little more information about this ingredient that I have been using in several of my newest dishes.

Fifteen years ago, while living in Japan, I was eating according to macrobiotic principles. One of them was to eat one umeboshi per day, for digestion purposes and salt supply. This year, the beginning of the stone fruit season conjured up memories from that time, so I decided to use it in my cuisine.

Umeboshi is Japanese for dried plum. It is the central area of Wakayama that is the most renown for its production of ume and umeboshi, though the fruit – ume – is cultivated in Asia, and is known both as Chinese Plum, or Japanese Apricot.

The salted fruit looks like this :

Umeboshi can take on various appearances, from smooth to very wrinkled. Usually they taste salty, and are extremely sour due to high citric acid content.

At Baumé, we use it either as an accent or as a condiment. As you know, I like to explore ingredients, transforming them into various forms, and looking for uncommon directions. Below are some of the dishes that contain umeboshi. Let’s see if you can spot it on these plates…

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StuffedTomato-2

Tomate Farcies – stuffed tomatoes

Of all the produce that taste best in season, none are more inspiring than ripe, soft, juicy and sweet summer tomatoes.  With their silky skin, meaty flesh, soft pink juice, and the generous array of colors and shapes they offer, summer tomatoes are nothing like their winter counterparts. Now is the time to take advantage of their delectability, to be creative and incorporate them in as many dishes as possible.


There is a very traditional and rustic French dish called tomates farcies (stuffed tomatoes) that inspired me a few weeks ago. In the original recipe, firm red tomatoes are cut, cored and stuffed with meat, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, aromatic herbs.  My new recipe, Tomates Farcies, takes a playful and unexpected twist on the stuffing. When served, the tomato looks like it has only been boiled and peeled. Only when our guests cut it do they discover “la farce”. In French this word has two meanings- stuffing and joke- which both apply here.
As for the stuffing itself, it is a lightly salted fish mousse. Its light texture and medium firmness make each bite smooth and subtle.

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62degreeEgg-2

62 degrees

A couple of weeks ago at Baumé Restaurant we installed a new Menu box that is located to the left of the entrance door. In that box we display the tasting menu options and the list of ingredients being currently used, a list that changes constantly with the farmer’s market’s offerings. If you read the list, you might be surprised to see a 62-degree egg. Why 62 degrees? Is it a cold or a warm dish? Which temperature scale are we talking about? Those are the questions that most of our clients ask, and that I am past due answering in this blog.

62 degrees (Celsius) is known as the temperature at which the egg white is cooked. The egg yolk does not start the cooking process until it reaches 68 degrees. So, by cooking the egg at 62 degrees, we keep the egg yolk liquid, nice and warm, and cook the egg white to a creamy, soft texture that melts in your mouth.

If you think that this recipe is only available to us thanks to modern cuisine and the tinkering of  foodies/chemists, you may be surprised to learn that this cooking technique has been used for more 1500 years in Japan and is called “onsen tamago”. Onsen tamago are eggs, slow cooked in hot springs, that were and still are served with local condiments. Sometimes natural resources are a great source for cooking inspiration!

We use the silky and smooth egg as a base for multiple variations such as an artichoke cream and prosciutto, ratatouille, etc. Bon appétit!

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Accents1

Accents

I’ve been repeatedly referring to accents in past posts, and you may actually be wondering what that’s about.

Accents are subtle notes or personal touches that are present in almost every one of my recipes. They help reveal, nuance or enhance other flavors. They bring balance to textures, brighten ingredients, or give more depth to flavors. They can also please the eye. In other words, they are endless possibilities to perfect a recipe.

Are they easily recognizable on a plate? Although they’re a little more visible than spices and condiments, they are ingredients or preparations that, added in small quantities to the dish, reveal themselves mainly to the palate. They are usually prepared separately, sometimes ahead of time. They can be dried vegetables or fruits, seasoned bread crumbs, a personal version of aioli, etc.

To give you a better idea, let’s take a few examples. At Baumé’s, we use a tomato powder called “crutomat”. The taste of the powder is called “umami” popularly referred to as savoriness, and can be compared to concentrated vegetable broth. It adds tart, acidic and sweet flavors which reveal the meaty qualities of either fish or meat. It can also be added to other accents such as our “olive dirt”, a combination of several dry ingredients that we serve with our “dorade royale” (gilted seabream). Another example is the verbena aioli, a citrusy version of the classic garlic mayonnaise that counterbalances the sweetness and crispiness of the summer vegetables with astringent flavors, in a creamy base. And the creamy texture of our 62-degree egg is enhanced by breadcrumbs seasoned with garlic (among other ingredients).

These are just recent examples that vary almost on a daily basis. Accents are to a cook what new notes are to a composer’s music sheet. They’re a noticeable part of the whole although they represent a very small portion of it.

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