We had too much broccoli at MoPho. We needed to do something with it, and we wanted to create a dish that made broccoli stand out. Most think of broccoli as mundane; we wanted our guests to go home after dinner and dream about our broccoli. We wanted to make broccoli something to crave.
Brassica season and citrus season coincide, and traditional Italian cooking calls for charred brassicas finished with citrus. My time in Italy influenced this dish, but we subbed in Southeast Asian ingredients. Instead of Calabrian chilies we used saté paste, instead of ricotta salata, we used fermented tofu.
When you puree the entire citrus zest, bitter pith still attached, the puree ads a significant layer of bitterness to the roasted garlic vinaigrette. Chefs often avoid bitter flavors in American cuisine, but people celebrate bitterness in the cuisine of Europe and Asian. I love this dish’s smoky, bitter char balanced against the bright citrus notes.
- 2 heads broccoli
- ½ cup canola oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Bitter Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- Cured Kumquat (recipe follows)
- 6 basil leaves, torn
- Preheat a grill or cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.
- 2. Cut broccoli into florets, cutting down the stem so that a long piece of stem stays attached to each floret. Coat broccoli with oil, and season well with salt.
- 3. Char broccoli on grill or in grill pan until it is just barely al dente in the center.
- 4. Arrange broccoli on a platter, and drizzle liberally with Bitter Citrus Vinaigrette. Sprinkle with slices of Cured Kumquat and torn basil. Serve immediately with spoons for sharing.
- ½ shallot, minced
- ½ finger ginger, minced
- ½ clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- ½ head garlic, roasted and peeled
- ¾ teaspoon fermented bean curd
- ¾ teaspoon peanut butter
- ¾ teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon Saté paste
- Rind and juice of ½ orange
- 1½ cups canola oil
- 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Sugar, to taste
- In a Vita-Prep blender, place shallot, ginger, minced garlic, vinegar, garlic head, bean curd, peanut butter, red pepper, Saté paste, orange rind, and orange juice. Blend on high until mixture is completely smooth. Reduce speed to medium, and slowly pour in oils. Once all ingredients are fully incorporated, season to taste with salt and sugar.
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 kumquat
- In a Vita-Prep blender, place sugar, red pepper, and salt. Blend on high until granules are reduced to a fine powder.
- Slice kumquats into ¼-inch-thick rings. In a plastic container, place a layer of kumquat slices. Sprinkle slices with a layer of sugar mixture. Place another layer of kumquat down, followed by another layer of sugar mixture. Repeat procedure until all of slices are stacked and covered with sugar. Wrap container in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to cure.
Charred Broccoli Salad