David Kinch is both a chef and a surfer. This dish, which he serves at his Los Gatos restaurant Manresa, is inspired by his frequent dips in the Pacific Ocean. He calls it “a winter tidal pool.”
In his book, Manresa: An Edible Reflection, he writes, “California’s tidal pools – with their waves moving over the crevices of rocky coastline, fill hidden pockets with water and marine life before retreating – are what inspire this entree, which evolves with the seasons and our imaginations.”
The dish, which requires five separate recipes before it explains how to garnish it (with “curled scallions, 8 to 10 mushrooms, and 5 to 6 pieces of nori”), is clearly not dumbed down for the home cook. Make one part of it, or all of it (if you can find the fresh abalone and foie gras), or just enjoy the scenery.
In his conversation with Good Food’s Evan Kleiman, he discusses inspiration and pushing boundaries. Listen to the full interview below; if you want more, check out this outtake in which he explains why he never sous vides proteins at Manresa.
a winter tidal pool
From Manresa: An Edible Reflection
| Pickled Kelp |
115 grams (1/2 cup) unseasoned rice wine vinegar
115 grams (1/2 cup) white wine vinegar
115 grams (1/2 cup) water
55 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
55 grams (2 ounces) battera kombu, rinsed in cold water and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips
Whisk the vinegars, water, and sugar together, bring to a boil, and boil until the sugar dissolves. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Submerge the kombu in the pickling liquid, cover, and steep overnight in the refrigerator. The pickled kombu can be made ahead of time and will keep for months.
| Abalone |
1 red abalone, 115 grams (4 ounces), 90 millimeters (31/2 inches) in length
Remove the abalone from its shell and, with kitchen shears, remove the viscera. Rinse thoroughly in lukewarm water to relax the meat. Place the abalone between 2 kitchen towels with the foot side up and pound forcefully with a meat pounder or heavy pan until the foot flattens. (Typically this takes 2 good blows.) Allow it to rest in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.
| Mushroom Gel |
20 grams (0.7 ounce) dried shiitake mushrooms
200 grams (scant 1 cup) warm water
5 to 10 grams (1 to 2 teaspoons) dark soy sauce (koikuchi shoyu)
Xanthan gum (0.6 percent of weight of liquid)
Soak the mushrooms in the water for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Strain the mixture, reserving the mushrooms for another use, and season the liquid assertively with soy sauce and salt. Weigh the seasoned liquid and then transfer to a blender. Weigh out xanthan equaling 0.6 percent of the liquid weight (for example, for 100 grams of liquid, use 0.6 gram of xanthan). While blending on the lowest speed, gradually shear in (see page 311) the xanthan. Continue blending until the mixture thickens, 5 to 6 minutes, and then strain the gel into a vacuum seal bag. Vacuum at 100 percent, without sealing, 5 to 6 times to remove air bubbles introduced during blending. The gel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
| Oyster Gel |
120 grams (1/2 cup) oyster liquid, strained through cheesecloth
0.7 gram xanthan gum (0.6 percent of weight of liquid)
Pinch of edible silver flake
Season the oyster liquid to taste with salt and transfer to a blender. While blending on the lowest speed, gradually shear in (see page 311) the xanthan and add the silver flake. Continue blending until the mixture thickens. Transfer the mixture to a vacuum seal bag without straining, and vacuum at 100 percent 5 to 6 times to remove air bubbles. The gel will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
| Tidal Broth |
1 kilogram (41/4 cups) soft water (low mineral content, for example, Fiji water)
12 grams (0.5 ounce) dried shiitake mushrooms
15 grams (0.5 ounce) dried large kombu
25 grams (0.9 ounce) thinly shaved bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)
30 to 60 grams (2 to 4 tablespoons) white soy sauce (shiro shoyu)
15 to 20 grams (3 to 4 teaspoons) ponzu
Combine the water, mushrooms, and kombu in a large pan, cover, heat to 140°F (60°C), and steep for 1 hour. Remove and discard the kombu. Heat the mushrooms and broth to 175°F (80°C). Add the bonito flakes, stir for 15 seconds, and immediately strain through a chinois (see page 310) lined with cheesecloth or a linen towel. Discard the solids and season the broth to taste with soy sauce, ponzu, and salt. If making ahead, reserve in the refrigerator.
> To Serve
1 to 2 sheets gold nori
Grapeseed oil, for frying
80 grams (3 ounces) foie gras, sliced into 10-gram (0.3-ounce) pieces
8 cleaned sea urchin (uni) tongues
20 New Zealand spinach leaves
20 small Malabar spinach leaves
Green scallion tops, sliced very thinly on an extreme bias and soaked in ice water until curled
1 to 2 bunches enoki mushrooms, stems trimmed to 1 inch
1 to 2 whole yuzu or Meyer lemons
Drain 2 pieces of Pickled Kelp per serving. Warm the Tidal Broth almost to a simmer, so that bubbles form on the bottom of the pan. Toast the nori by waving it over low heat until it crisps and turns a lighter shade of green. Tear the toasted nori into 1-inch pieces. Slice the raw abalone crosswise, as thinly as possible, cutting a few slices for each serving. Quickly stir-fry the abalone with grapeseed oil in a hot pan.
For each serving, place a slice of foie gras in a heated bowl topped with a sea urchin tongue, pickled kelp, and a few slices of abalone. Garnish with a few spinach leaves, curled scallions, 8 to 10 mushrooms, and 5 to 6 pieces of nori. Immediately before serving, add 90 grams (6 tablespoons) of warm Tidal Broth to each bowl. Float several pools each of Mushroom Gel and Oyster Gel on top of the broth. With a Microplane grater, zest yuzu over the entire bowl.