On the Menu explores different ingredients used by chefs that may be unfamiliar to diners and cooks at home. Ever see an ingredient on a menu that makes you wonder what it might be and how it is used? In this edition, Chef Ryan Brazeal at Novel (815 W 17 Street) discusses fairytale eggplant and hakurei turnip, two ingredients that diners might spot on his current and upcoming menus.
Fairytale eggplant is light purple with whitish, marbled streaks and originates from Asia. Chef Brazeal uses small sizes of the eggplant in his dishes.
“I get them from farmer Thane Palmberg in Desoto. It is not as bitter as other eggplant,” says Chef Brazeal. “It has a creamy texture.”
Brazeal likes to roast the eggplant. Recently, he served it with roasted red pepper, miso and rice puffs. At home, it can also be marinated and grilled or sauteed.
Hakurei turnip, a small white Japanese variety with a crisp, tender texture, is commonly available in spring and fall. Brazeal sources it from Jim Crum of Crum’s Heirlooms.
“It’s not as firm as other turnips,” says Brazeal. “I shave it and serve it raw or pickle it.”
Sometimes he cooks the skin of hakurei turnip until it turns to ash and uses it as a less bitter flavoring agent. He says, “The turnip has a sweet earthy quality. It adds a layer of depth.”
One example of Brazeal’s use of the ingredient is with grouper cheeks paired with shrimp jam, hakurei turnip and black kale. The dish recently appeared on his prix fixe menu. While the daily menu and prix fixe menu change frequently, hakurei turnip is likely to make an appearance in other dishes this fall as available.
Keep eyes peeled for fairtytale eggplant and hakurei turnip on the menu at Novel. Explore how it is prepared and how it tastes in combination with other ingredients.