This amazing method of cooking carrots comes from the utterly fantastic Lucky Peach Magazine, a quarterly journal of food and writing. It’s a recipe by David Chang, one of my culinary heroes, and comes from an article in the latest ‘Chefs Edition‘ where he challenges a few cooking techniques.
I’ll get to the carrots in a bit, but in this article, which is superbly written by Peter Meehan, Chang says ‘We’ve got to talk about it in the Chefs Issue. About not always blindly following culinary dogma. Especially blanching. And stocks. Boiling stocks is so stupid. And olive oil is a scam for idiots.’
He puts forward a great argument for all of the above with Mark Bittman, and it’s an excellent read.
I love it when chefs re think a culinary method. Like when Heston made ice cream with dry ice. A simple and small change to an existing way of doing things, and boom, you have something so much better.
I knew immediately that I wanted to test this technique as I really get the notion that blanching vegetables in water before finishing them off in the pan is weird. Im not sure if I totally agree with Chang’s philosophy about never blanching vegetables, because a quick blanch for some dishes (salads) can take the much needed raw edge off, but cooking carrots (or vegetables in general) in their own juice makes so much sense. The flavour intensifies and they are completely delicious.
David cooks up these carrots in fresh carrot juice which has been fortified with kombu to add fantastic umami flavour. He’s very big into adding umami. I followed it to the T, and like with most chef recipes there is always going to be some butter and salt.
Cooks notes ~ He doesn’t specify how big the piece of kombu needs to be, just indicates one sheet, and since the sheets available here are massive, I cut about a 15cm square piece off. I scrubbed the vegetables with a hard bristled vegetable brush instead of peeling them as per the recipe, and its quite amazing how clean they become. No more peeling for me. The peels contain loads of antioxidants so why take those away. Its also a waste. I squeezed the juice myself in my juicer and it takes about 6 carrots to yield a cup. You will need to cook the carrots in a frying pan with a lid.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed carrot juice
- 1 sheet kombu (I used about a 13cm x 8cm piece)
- 1 - 2T butter
- 4 carrots scrubbed and roughly sliced on the bias (I kept it fairly thick)
- salt to taste
- In a small pot, heat the carrot juice with the kombu (lowest setting and allow it to steep for 20 - 40 mints. I let it simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on and then allowed it to cool and seep for the remainder of the time.
- Melt the butter in a wide pan with a lid and once the butter has stopped bubbling add your carrots. Add a large pinch of sea salt and toss it all around to coat the carrots. Add the carrot juice and cover the pan.
- Continue to cook the carrots until done to your preference, giving the pan a shake now and again or stirring. They should be cooked around 6 - 8 minutes - or longer if you prefer softer.
I have not included the steeping time in this recipe
As the carrots were just finishing cooking, the juices started sticking to the pan and created this exquisite caramelised sticky paste. I couldn’t stop myself scraping every last carroty morsel off.
I loved reading the magazine so much I decided to subscribe. Paying R185 ($18) for an edition is a little steep. I read every word of this edition and cant wait for the next to arrive in my postbox.
I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.
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