Octopus, passion fruit vinaigrette, patatas bravas, pickled chayote, fermented beets.
This dish was created as a playful exercise around physical and chemical transformations. Cooking being either a physical transformation, a chemical transformation, or both. For this dish about transformation we have chosen to showcase the octopus. The animal with the highest capacity of transformation of all animals.
5 types of transformations are highlighted within this dish include: - Fermentation: transformation from microorganisms. - Pickling: transformation through the acidity of vinegar. - Emulsions: temporary emulsion (vinaigrette) and permanent emulsion (aioli). Transformation of two liquids that would normally not mix together. - Frying: transformation of starches (partial crystallization after gelatinization). - Dyeing: transformation of the color of the octopus by pigmentation from beets.
The way we address the octopus is perhaps unconventional: we strip it naked! The octopus is cleaned and frozen for a couple of days. Freezing helps tenderize it, by breaking the fibers inside the octopus.
After thawing, the octopus is boiled for one hour. With a little water, herbs, spices and aromatics. Including lemongrass, laurel, kaffir lime, red onion, coriander seeds, cardamon, star anise, fenugreek, garlic, cloves, allspice and black peppercorn. It is then shocked in an ice bath to help break down the skin. The tentacles are cut from the body, then skin and suckers are fully removed from each tentacle. Striped naked!
The final step is placing the tentacles in a puree of beets and letting them in the fridge for 8 hours. This allows the pigments in the beet to transfer to the tentacles and dye them.
Passion fruit vinaigrette
Passion fruit pulp is blended with olive oil and fresh mint leaves. Creating a bright acidic vinaigrette emulsion. This is an example of a temporary emulsion. The acidity of the vinaigrette helps cut into the taste of the octopus, making for a balancing and contrasting flavor.
This aioli is an example of a permanent emulsion, like mayonnaise. When we do an aioli we like to use chickpea water (aquafaba) instead of egg yolk. This makes the aioli vegetarian/vegan, with less cholesterol and eliminating any risk of salmonella contamination.
Raw chayotes are pickled with rice wine vinegar, ginger, sugar and turmeric. This keeps them crunchy, but changes their color to a bright yellow and enhances their otherwise blank taste with notes of ginger and the acidity of the vinegar. It totally makes them shine.
Yellow beets are lacto fermented, with salt and turmeric. Red beets are also lacto fermented, but with the addition of ginger and orange peels. Both fermentations transform the texture and taste of the beets.
The turmeric increases the flashy yellow color of the yellow beets. While the ginger / orange peels add new layers of taste to the red beets. Making them taste almost as if they had been mixed with orange blossom water. A very surprising and satisfying result.
Our take on a classic spanish dish served in most tapas bars. We use potatoes with high starch content. As their name suggests they have higher starch contents and a little less water.
When deep fried, the sudden high heat turns moisture on the potato’s surface into steam. Which causes bubbles and that familiar sizzle. Water at the center of the potatoes rushes-out to the surface, to replace what has been lost. This does two things: it gets rid of most of the internal moisture, and it allows only a small amount of oil to be absorbed on and near the surface.
As frying continues, starches on the surface absorb the surface moisture and expand. The surface seals so oil cannot enter and any remaining moisture gets trapped inside. This produces a crisp potato with a dry interior.
Patatas bravas get their name from this sauce. The salsa brava is spicy… only for the Braves (‘bravas’). We make a classical spanish brava sauce, with tomato, garlic, onion and smoked paprika. But we add a local twist to it by substituting the sherry vinegar with Madeira wine vinegar.