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Jul 26, 2014
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By the Book: Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy’s Uchi Salad

March 6th 02:03pm, 2012

I love Top Chef. With each new season, my sister and I are convinced that this season is the best yet and that there will never be a contestant better than our current favorite. Top Chef Texas was no exception. From the beginning, we were fans of Paul Qui, executive chef at Uchiko, a Tyson Cole restaurant in Austin, Texas. Maybe we are biased: We always root for the Asians. Or maybe it was because his food always looked awesome. Or maybe he just wasn’t crazy like Heather Terhune, who seemed to pick on Beverly Kim to no end. Needless to say, we were thrilled that he won, and I was inspired to cook out of Uchi, The Cookbook – a book documenting the dishes at Cole’s renowned Austin restaurant, where Qui started his career.

The book is beautiful with big photographs of the restaurant, the staff and the food. You can tell from perusing the book that Cole is thoughtful about every step of a dish – from a hand-written chart about what flavor profile combinations work well together to sketches of the dish when it was first conceived to gorgeous photographs of the finished product. The book is for those who are more adventurous in the kitchen, since some of the recipes are difficult to execute. But it does offer helpful tips to the home cook who is not as familiar with Japanese cooking as well. For example, in the sushi chapter, Sushi 101 offers several tips on how to eat sushi (the purpose of that pickled ginger, how to spot nitrate-laden fish, etc.) as well as advice for enjoying sake (Hint: It’s best cold.). There’s also a section on sushi rice: the proper way to make it and how to sidestep common errors. Nearly every recipe in the book lists ingredients by weight instead of volume, so you’ll want to grab your kitchen scale before cracking it open.

I chose to make the Uchi Salad from the Daily Specials section of the book. Cole largely attributes the creativity in this chapter to Qui.

This isn’t your traditionally dressed salad. Instead, the lettuce leaves are treated like chips: seasoned and then dipped into a spicy, creamy edamame dressing. As with any simple dish, quality ingredients are important. At Uchi, Cole uses hydroponic romaine from a nearby Texas farm. Likewise, try and use the best lettuce you can find if you plan to make this dish at home.

The final product was a nice twist on salad and the perfect hands-on dish for a dinner party. But frankly, that dressing would be delicious as a dip with pita chips, spread on toast or used as a sauce for fish. Try it on your favorite snack food. I bet it’s great.

Uchi Salad
Baby romaine salad with edamame and jalapeño dressing

This was a challenge I posed to Paul Qui. I wanted something interactive on the table for the customer in much the same way chips and salsa are at a Tex-Mex restaurant. So, I asked for something like a salad that was clean and healthy but that you could eat with your hands. We came up with this sauce, with roasted jalapeños and edamame, and hydroponic romaine that we get from a local farm called Bluebonnet Farm.



For the edamame-jalapeño dressing:
9 oz. edamame, shucked
2½ oz. peeled garlic, roughly chopped
1½ oz. peeled shallots, roughly chopped
2 to 4 oz. vegetable oil (as needed)
2½ oz. jalapeño
1 oz. Sushi Zu (recipe follows)
2 oz. water (as needed)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine edamame, garlic, shallots and vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Sweat the mix until ingredients become translucent. Strain and reserve oil. Place 2 or 3 whole jalapeños on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Let jalapeños cool, then peel and seed. Place vegetables in a blender along with the remaining raw jalapeños (seeds included). Start with a small amount of water, and purée, slowly adding more water. Add Sushi Zu. Emulsify by slowly adding the reserved oil while blending. Consistency should be about the same viscosity of mayonnaise.



Sushi Zu
2 oz. kombu seaweed*
8 oz. rice wine vinegar
8 oz. sugar

*Kombu seaweed may be found at Asian markets. (Note: I found it at Local Harvest.)

Wipe kombu with wet paper towel until all salt sediment has been removed. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a small sauce pot over medium-low heat until sugar has dissolved. Let the kombu steep for 10 minutes before removing. Refrigerate Sushi Zu for later use.

For the bell pepper piperade
6½ oz. yellow bell pepper, rough chopped
3½ oz. peeled shallot, rough chopped
1½ oz. peeled garlic, rough chopped
3½ oz. olive oil
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch paprika
Pinch finely chopped parsley

Combine the first 5 ingredients and sweat vegetables until tender. Add paprika and remove from heat. When mixture has cooled down, add chopped parlsey. Reserve at room temperature for later use.

Salad
1 head baby romaine lettuce
Fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Assembly: Rinse and towel dry whole lettuce leaves. Place lettuce leaves, stem down into two shot glasses, creating a bouquet-like arrangement in each glass. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt on the leaves. In another small vessel or cup, partially fill with edamame-jalapeño dressing. Spoon a small amount of the room-temperature piperade on top of the dressing to finish.

Have you ever eaten a dish from a former Top Chef contestant, either at his/her restaurant or one you made at home? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Uchi The Cookbook.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Sally, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a copy of One Girl Cookies, which we also review on page 31 of the March issue of Sauce. Sally, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew!

By Meera Nagarajan

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5 Responses to “By the Book: Tyson Cole and Jessica Dupuy’s Uchi Salad”

  1. Jen P Says:
    March 6th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Yes! Last year I ate at Aria in Chicago, where this season’s Beverly Kim is chef. Really wonderful meal (excellent sommelier too!).

    I’ve also eaten at Top Chef Master contestant Tim Love’s LOVE SHACK plenty of times. I’m from Texas originally, and am planning a visit to Uchiko next time I make it back to the lone star…

  2. Cherie Says:
    March 6th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I’ve eaten at Stephanie Izard’s Girl and the Goat. It’s an awesome and innovative menu!

  3. Jennifer S Says:
    March 7th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    When I was in Atlanta taking my Certified Specialist of Wine exam, we treated ourselves to dinner at Kevin Gillespie’s Woodfire Grill. It was amazing!!! We had the 7 course tasting menu. The pork belly was heaven! The next day we had lunch at Richard Blais’ Flip Burger Boutique! Such a cool place!

  4. Kimberly Says:
    March 7th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I too have dined at Kevin Gillespie’s Woodfire Grill in Atlanta … and I too thought the pork belly was heaven! My colleagues and I enjoyed a 5 course tasting menu, and I can’t recall a single dish I didn’t like. It’s definitely a must visit in the ATL!

  5. Sauce Magazine Blog » Blog Archive » By the Book: Stéphane Reynaud’s Poulet Tout Simplement Says:
    March 13th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    [...] now, we’d like to congratulate Jennifer S., whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won her a copy of Uchi The Cookbook. Jennifer, keep an eye out for an [...]

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