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#foodbeast Features FOODBEAST Restaurants

This Chef Is Taking Next Level DIY Techniques To Create Innovative Dishes At LA’s Freshest Sustainable Seafood Shop

“Here, check this out. I’ve been fermenting it for over a year now.”

I was hesitant at first, eyeballing a container in front of me that was filled with a stimulating funk that introduced its presence to my olfactory senses no different than DMX barking in a megaphone to wake me up at 5AM — in a good way, if you would believe it.

Chef Brandon Gray, culinary director at Cape Seafood & Provisions in Los Angeles, CA, is next to me, beaming with pride at the concoction he was offering. Here at Cape Seafood is where Gray treats the shop’s sustainable seafood expertise as the playground where he plays with, and ultimately perfects, all of the concepts and techniques constantly swimming in his head. The majority of which center on a common thread of making whatever’s old, delectably new. This is curing and fermentation at its absolute finest and most madcap.

Surveying my surroundings I noticed shelves of various jars containing a motley selection of brews and mixtures that could very well have been potions and elixirs, spawning a scene that was more kooky laboratory than polished kitchen. I drag my gaze through each container and marvel at their contents: vibrant clouds of resonant substance swimming in liquified clouds, mellifluous compounds of suspended matter, and labeled unidentifiable goods that dated back months.

Intrigued at how a chef actually put the same amount of time into one food item that it takes for babies to develop social skills, I tasted a few drops of the intoxicating stuff and was blown away by the complexity and unique brininess that had registered onto my palate.

“It’s fish sauce! I used the heads and the guts that you normally throw away in the trash. I thought, ‘Hey let’s do something with this’. So I did a little bit of research on that, and found out that if you throw a little salt on top of it and let it sit for a year and strain it after, you get fish sauce. It’s all about being respectful of the product and not being wasteful.”

There’s a flash of passion in his eyes that was more flame than glint as he said all of this, to which I urged him to highlight further. If one of his fermentation techniques involved a one year commitment, I couldn’t wait to hear more about what other seafood sorcery he could wield and what drives and influences such a dedicated approach to food.

“There’s just so much knowledge out there in the world. The more you read the more you find out about the history, this that and the third. That’s what I love about food. It’s like there was one idea that was right here, but it could’ve started thousands of years ago, and that interests me,” Gray gushed.

 

 

 

It’s that concentrated curiosity that leads to Cape Seafood as a hub for not only the freshest sustainable seafood in the city, but also some one-of-a-kind techniques and processes that Gray applies to everything, from salting and curing fish in-house to composing bottarga from scratch and then even making his own katsuoboshi — the traditional Japanese boiled, cured, fermented, and smoked bonito fish, a task that’s a daunting DIY affair for any seasoned chef. He even does a pastrami-cured salmon that serves as a fine ode to Langer’s. Fiercely creative dishes like these help define the spirit of what’s going down at Cape Seafood and draw attention to the level of detail and labor that goes into creating something new and re-animated, if you will, from processes that literally hinge on aging and time.

Speaking on the process of fermentation, Gray discloses, “I think you ultimately have to follow some blueprint, but it’s about adding a special ingredient to make it your own. For preserved lemons, most people just use salt and some spices, but for the preserved lemons I’m doing here, I thought ‘Why not boost it up a notch?’ So why not lemon verbena inside of preserved lemons? It just gives it a very unique taste. That’s what I think every chef wants to do, make a product that everyone knows about but wants to put their own little spin on it.

But the surprising scene-stealer is a rich, pungent Bengali chutney that serves as the unlikely star component to his irresistible fish tacos that have the likes of Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer coming back on the regular.

 

 

“We make that base, it’s called kasundi, a Bengali chutney. It’s got a lot of Indian spices like turmeric, chili powder, mustard seeds, jalapenos, ginger, garlic, and you stew this mixture for four to five hours and you get this fortified, thick paste. Then we mix it into creme fraiche as the spicy crema for the tacos. It’s beautiful, it’s spicy, it’s sweet and kind of vinegary as well.”

At the heart of the year-long fish sauces and DIY katsuoboshi that’s created with painstaking detail and care is a respect for ingredients that takes inspiration from Japanese culture and the artisanal crafts that Chef Gray grew a fondness and respect for.

“They take so much passion in one ingredient and try to perfect it. There can be one guy making soy sauce for his entire life and it’s been in his family for hundreds of years. There’s something so beautiful about that. You can have a menu that has thirty items on it but you run the risk of consistency. But when you stick to your nuts and bolts and stick to one thing and do it right every time, perfectly, there’s something beautiful to that. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

That chase for perfection is quite idiosyncratic really, especially in the culinary world where stellar reviews, Michelin Stars, and glowing accolades define success, since ultimately it’s imperfection that is the catalyst to a lot of the creativity behind the dishes we fawn over and immortalize on our Instagram and news feeds. This in turn creates a quest for chefs like Brandon Gray that is continuous, one where the essentially fruitless search for perfection becomes a process that churns out their passions in the form of one of a kind food we conclusively crave.

And as Chef Gray vividly illustrates, “Cape Seafood is a passion project. It’s like I’ve got the keys and we’re just taking it on a journey. We’re on PCH just flyin’ down the road man.”

 

Photos: Peter Pham

Categories
Features Packaged Food

This Is How Worcestershire Sauce Was Invented

You might recognize Worcestershire sauce as the ingredient to many dishes. It’s found in Caesar salads, chilis, stews, marinades, and even cocktails. You may have even seen the fascinating process in which Worcestershire sauce is made. Have you ever wondered, however, how the popular condiment came into existence?

Step into our time machine, strap yourselves in, and let us play you the soulful stylings of Brian McKnight as we take a trip back at one to discover the origins of Worcestershire sauce.

If the name Lea and Perrins sounds familiar to you, it’s because you may have seen it labeled on many bottles of Worcestershire sauces in the United States. Well these two gentlemen are credited as the inventors of Worcestershire sauce.

According to Josh Chetwynd’s book How The Hot Dog Found Its Bun, the origin is shrouded in mystery.

In 1837, the two chemists created a tangy new condiment that they believed would be a hit among ship stewards going on long voyages. John Weeley Lea and William Henry Perrins convinced them to pack their new “Worcestershire” sauce in barrels as it was believed to be much more resilient to spoiling than other perishable condiments at the time. It was even used by gold miners far from England in the desert wasteland known as Northern California.

People would throw it on oysters, beef dishes, and even eggs.

The origin behind the recipe, however, may as well be a lost grain in the sands of time.

You see, Lea and Perrins were very particular about with whom they shared their popular sauce recipe with. In fact, 150 years after Worcestershire sauce was introduced, only four people actually knew how it was made.

The creators, however, would tell a fantastical tale to their employees on how the sauce came to be. Whether or not this was rooted in truth, has been a subject of discussion for years.

Legend goes, a nobleman from the country of Worcestershire named Lord Sandys approached the two pharmacists with a peculiar request of recreating a similar flavor to the curry he experienced in his time in India serving as the governor of Bengal.

Lea and Perrins set to work, trying their best to recreate the combination of flavors that the nobleman had requested. Unfortunately, they came up short with a sauce that was pretty potent and pretty inedible. They left behind a barrel of their failure sauce where it was forgotten, until months later where a clerk had found it. Upon tasting it, the clerk discovered that the sauce had an excellent taste to it — having fermented for months unnoticed.

While the tale is pretty cool, there are some historical inaccuracies with this origin. Brian Keogh points out in his book The Secret Sauce – A History of Lea & Perrin that there were no historical records that Lord Sandys was ever in India, much less the governor of Bengal.

A similar, more plausible story, says that a Worcestershire author by the name of Elizabeth Grey visited the wife of Lord Sandy. Upon hearing the Lady Sandy’s craving of curry powder, Grey recounted a recipe she got from her uncle who had been a former chief justice in India. Grey even recommended to up-and-coming chemists to try and recreate that curry recipe.

Any guesses who those two might be?

The facts are that the exact origins died with Lea and Perrins. We know it was introduced in 1837 and we know the creators came up with some pretty fantastic accounts of how it came to be. Since the sauce tastes so damn good, we’ll give the enigma a pass.

Today, among all the hip new condiments, Worcestershire sauce is still wildly popular. You can find it in recipes for Sloppy Joe, Bloody Mary, steak, burgers, and even crab cakes.

“My dad throws it on everything,” said fellow Foodbeast Brayden Curtis.

When asked if the Curtis household had any more bottles we could use for stock photos, he replied:

Sorry man, I think we’re out.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss News Restaurants What's New

Blink And You Might Walk Right Past One Of The Best New Restaurants In The Country

There’s a restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard, in Los Angeles, CA, that has a single table and no signs out front to signal it’s not an abandoned property. Unknown to most of the people passing by it, this location is actually a James Beard Award semifinalist for the Best New Restaurant In America.

According to Uproxx, Baroo experiments in fermentation cuisine influenced by Korean, Italian, and vegan cooking.

Baroo-Ext-UR

In total, the restaurant only has TWO employees: head chef Kwang Uh and his business parter/college friend/sous chef Matthew Kim.

Baroo offers dishes like the Noorook, seemingly out of a space opera, as this creation is made with fermented purple grains and topped with pickled onions and a cheese dusting. Ben Esch of Uproxx compares the texture of it to that of risotto.

Shockingly, the prices are said to cost less than a dining experience at the Cheesecake Factory. The Noorook itself, though high-end in aesthetics, only costs $12.

Noorook-01

If you’re ever in the area, and feel just a bit adventurous, keep an eye out for Baroo. The restaurant’s aesthetically stunning menu and bold flavors shine through its unembellished doors, hiding in plain sight.

Photos: DOYLE ESCH | UPROXX

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Tastemade/Snapchat

10 Things You Might Not Know About Fermentation

Fermentation is a glorious chemical reaction that converts a carbohydrate/sugar to alcohol or acid. Our founding father, George Washington, was so down with fermentation that he owned his own whiskey distillery. The waste his distillery produced was used to feed his pigs, which had to have made the best tasting bacon. If you’re short one presidential distillery, but want to learn more about fermented goods, keep reading.

1. Fermentation increases the nutritional value of raw produce.

lacto-fermentation-861551_640

In addition to the ramped up vitamins and minerals, fermented vegetables carry friendly bacteria and live enzymes. These cultures are beneficial to both your digestive and nervous system while protecting our bodies from harmful bacteria and other toxic substances.

2. Ancient Chinese people may have fermented the first alcoholic beverage.

beer-barrel-956322_640

A blend of rice, honey, and grapes, a 3,000 year old beverage was discovered in clay pots from 7000-6600 BC. Corrosion sealed the pots over time, preserving the beer-wine hybrid for modern scientists to analyze. Dogfish Head Brewery recreated the drink in 2005, with the help of the researchers, and it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009.

3. Kefir gives you a good night’s sleep.

strawberry-drink-1411374_640

Not to be confused with the actor from 24, this protein-rich drink contains tryptophan. That’s the same amino acid causing you to yawn after that turkey dinner. Bonus: a serving of this milk-based pro-biotic provides 20% of the daily calcium you need.

4. Soy sauce is a pain in the ass to make.

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The sauce you dip sushi in takes months to produce. Its brown hue occurs during fermentation, when a chemical reaction of fungus and grain converts soybeans to simple sugars, amino acids and proteins.

5. Sourdough was more valuable than gold.

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That delicious bread bowl we eat clam chowder out of was an integral part of the Gold Rush era. Alaskans would literally sleep with the dough to keep the yeast in it alive. San Franciscans enjoy their bread so much, their 49er mascot is named Sourdough Sam.

6. Kimchi is the national dish of South Korea.

kimchi-709607_640

Commonly found in KBBQ cuisine as one of many banchan dishes to munch on while grilling, a custom (read: non-stinky) version accompanied Yi So-Yeon, the first Korean astronaut in space. When stored properly, a jar of kimchi can last for a couple of years.

7. Tempeh is tofu’s kick ass cousin.

tempeh

Photo Credit: FotoosVanRobin
While both are made from soybeans, their similarities end there. This Indonesian meat substitute has a better texture, making for tasty versions of fried chicken and tacos. The Swedish Department of Food Science even found a way to create this vegan-friendly protein without soybeans (with a blend of oats and barley) in regions where they can’t thrive.

8. Dosas are basically fancy crepes.

dosas

Photo Credit: Roland

A fermented batter of rice and lentils, this popular South Indian snack is delicate and paper-thin when grilled properly. It’s the country’s answer to sliced bread, often stuffed with pickles and flavorful chutney sauces. To eat it like a local, put down the fork and knife and get your hands in there.

9.You can wear kombucha.

SCOBY_mushroom

Photo Credit: Lukas Chin

Microbial cellulose is the scientific term for dried kombucha culture, the “living,” tea-based beverage. A leathery texture, cellulose can be manipulated to create seamless clothing. Not bad for a fizzy and protein-rich drink that’s been around for over 2,000 years.

10. Sauerkraut helps you poop. 

sauerkraut-655062_640

This bland-looking, German condiment is best known as a sausage topping. The shredded stuff shouldn’t, however, be mistaken for the pickled variety: the only ingredient mixed with cabbage is salt. Unpasteurized kraut carries the same kind of healthy bacteria found in yogurt, helping with both digestion and constipation.

 

Categories
Tastemade/Snapchat

9 Facts About Fermented Foods That You Probably Didn’t Know

Fermentation is a glorious chemical reaction that converts a carbohydrate/sugar to alcohol or acid. Our founding father, George Washington, was so down with fermentation that he owned his own whiskey distillery. The waste his distillery produced was used to feed his pigs, which had to have made the best tasting bacon. If you’re short one presidential distillery, but want to learn more about fermented goods, keep reading.

1. Fermentation increases the nutritional value of raw produce

preserved-vegetables-fb

In addition to the ramped up vitamins and minerals, fermented vegetables carry friendly bacteria and live enzymes. These cultures are beneficial to both your digestive and nervous system while protecting our bodies from harmful bacteria and other toxic substances.

2. Ancient Chinese people may have fermented the first alcoholic beverage

a98a1103-03a8-4e4b-ea7e-8236a7f1b5ee

In what was a blend of rice, honey, and grapes, a 3,000 year old beverage was discovered in clay pots made in 7000-6600 BC. Corrosion sealed the pots over time, preserving the last batch of the beer-wine hybrid for modern scientists to analyze. Dogfish Head Brewery recreated the drink, Midas Touch, in 2005 with the help of the researchers, and it won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009.

3. Kefir gives you a good night’s sleep

kefir-grains-1024x684

Not to be confused with the actor from 24, this protein-rich drink contains tryptophan. That’s the same amino acid causing you to yawn after that turkey dinner. Bonus: a serving of this milk-based pro-biotic provides 20% of the daily calcium you need.

4. Sourdough was more valuable than gold

Artisan-Sourdough-Bread-Tips-85-900x600

That delicious bread bowl we eat clam chowder out of was an integral part of the Gold Rush era. Alaskans would literally sleep with the dough to keep the yeast in it alive. San Franciscans enjoy their bread so much, their 49er mascot is named Sourdough Sam.

5. Kimchi is the national dish of South Korea

kimchi-4

A true staple in Korean cuisine, a custom (read: non-stinky) version accompanied Yi So-Yeon, the first Korean astronaut in space. When stored properly, a jar of kimchi can last for a couple of years.

6. Tempeh is tofu’s kick-ass cousin.

tempeh

While both are made from soybeans, their similarities end there. This Indonesian meat substitute has a better texture, making for tasty versions of fried chicken and tacos. The Swedish Department of Food Science even found a way to create this vegan-friendly protein without soybeans (with a blend of oats and barley) in regions where they can’t thrive.

7. Dosas are basically fancy crepes

Masala Dosa

A fermented batter of rice and lentils, this popular South Indian snack is delicate and paper-thin when grilled properly. It’s the country’s answer to sliced bread, often stuffed with pickles and flavorful chutney sauces. To eat it like a local, put down the fork and knife and get your hands in there.

8. You can wear kombucha

lee-biobomber-jacket

 

Microbial cellulose is the scientific term for dried kombucha culture, the “living,” tea-based beverage. A leathery texture, cellulose can be manipulated to create seamless clothing. Not bad for a fizzy and protein-rich drink that’s been around for over 2,000 years.

9. Sauerkraut helps you poop

14852461299_a82ef3c397_b

This aesthetically bland, German condiment is best known as a sausage topping. The shredded stuff shouldn’t, however, be mistaken for the pickled variety: the only ingredient mixed with cabbage is salt. Unpasteurized kraut carries the same kind of healthy bacteria found in yogurt, helping with both digestion and constipation.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Capri Sun’s New ‘Clear Bottom’ Pouches Help You Spot Mold Before You Drink

caprisun

Capri Sun, the everykid’s go-to spirit in the metallic blue pouch, also happens to be free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. And while this would normally be a good thing, it also means the drink is notoriously susceptible to mold. Thanks to a nifty new packaging update, however, both kids and parents will be able to see the contents of the space-age juice bags before they come anywhere near their or their children’s precious mouths.

Beginning this month, Capri Sun is introducing a new clear-bottomed juice pack, along with a new tagline that lets folks know they can “See the goodness before it’s gulped.” According to Ad Age, the update came after about a year of development and plenty of concern from parents on social media over the safety of their children’s juice drinks.

“The level to which things are accentuated in social media, it really changed the way we wanted to engage with moms,” Greg Guidotti, a senior director at Kraft Foods, told Ad Age, “We’ve spent a lot of time speaking to the consumer-response groups. We want to offer empathy and offer it with transparency.”

Of course the mold, which develops from the normal process of fermentation due to Capri Sun’s preservative-free formula, is said to present little to no health risks if consumed. Still, better safe (and not totally grossed out) than sorry.

Picthx Capri Sun

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

DID YOU KNOW: Apparently, Finding Mold in Capri Sun is Normal

capri sun

Almost nothing can turn a stomach quite like finding mold in your supposedly good food or drink. Many mothers are discovering this quease-worthy fact when approached by their children who claim their Capri Sun tastes funny. The fruit drink beloved by elementary schoolers and praised by parents for lack of preservatives has a small kicker, fermentation. The promise of no preservatives allows for the possibility of fermentation, as well as mold to grow, if air find its way into packaging.

This surprising little fact is mentioned on the packaging itself, stating that the mold is not harmful to your health, physical health that is. The same cannot be said for the mental aversion you’ll have after sucking up a glob of delicious mold. (Excuse me, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth) Chances are you’ll never come across this phenomenon, but just in case you pop a straw into the pouch and it tastes a little off, no need to chance your mental state by playing scientist, just throw it away.

H/T + PicThx Snopes