Culinary Arts Project

Asian Influences, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum and Togarashi – Day 45


  • The later you add your eggs to fried rice, the ‘stickier’ it will be.
  • The Maitre D’s most important role is to make sure customers don’t all order their food at the exact same time.
  • Yuzu juice rocks!!!!

I was nervous about today, because while Alton and I were only responsible for coleslaw, it had to be Asian influenced – and other than throwing together soy, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and sake, I’m not that familiar with Asian cooking. Since we were using two types of cabbage (green and purple), I decided we would do two different slaws: one green oriented that would be sweet, and one purple oriented that would be spicy, both with the julienned carrots. We had already sliced the cabbage and mixed them, so first on the agenda was separating back out the cabbages and then creating the sauces. We were lucky that it wasn’t that frantic today, which gave us time to keep tasting the sauces till we were happy with them.

Me and my new favourite juice - Yuzu juice
Me and my new favourite juice – Yuzu juice


Alton with our two slaws pre-mixing
Alton with our two slaws pre-mixing

For the sweet(ish) sauce, I based it on Elaine’s suggestion on the blog yesterday: we used rice vinegar, Yuzu and lime juice, honey, canola oil, pepper flakes, a few drops of sesame oil, scallions. I thought it tasted great. Chef Ben said, taste it on some cabbage – this was good advice, because it tasted quite different. He recommended putting some soy in it, which I was trying to avoid, because that would make the green cabbage look a little brown, but I did it anyway. Next time, I’d just add salt.

The namasu line
The namasu line
Chef Ben working the fried rice
Chef Ben working the fried rice

For the spicy one: we pureed a beet in rice vinegar (to get some real purple color going), ginger, garlic (raw), red pepper flakes, togarashi spice, lime juice, soy sauce, and canola oil. We certainly got it tasting spicy and yummy, but it really wasn’t sticking to the cabbage that well. We tried some dry mustard, but still no joy. Chef Ben said try Lecithin (a yellow powder), but it didn’t work that well. In our debrief he said that he had meant to say Xanthan gum powder. Both of these are chemical names I’m used to seeing on ingredients, but not in recipes – but apparently chemicals are used in top restaurants. Lecithin and Xanthan gum apparently work as thickeners without affecting the taste. Togarashi is a mixture of spices, which tasted like cheap msg’d spices – it wasn’t that amazing.

Chayote - you learn a new squash every day.
Chayote – you learn a new squash every day.
The charcuterie gang
The charcuterie gang

Also on the line today was stir-fried rice, fried pork cutlets, namasu (pickled carrots and cucumbers), and repurposed beat salad & bean/barley salad. After lunch, we prepped for tomorrow. Here I was introduced to a new squash – a Chayote, that looks like a weird pear, but tastes pretty raw. Apparently it is a subtle flavor, which we’ll fry up and serve with a ‘subtle’ sauce. Jess is team leader on this, so it’s up to her how we’re cooking them.

Off to grab some bread, and then home to write the culinary costing home-test.

2 replies on “Asian Influences, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum and Togarashi – Day 45”

Your slaws sound pretty tasty.
Maybe next time a bit of white miso with the Yuzu, instead of soy.
Salty and extra umami.
I’ll let you know where to get big bottles of Yuzu in TO when we get together.
Togarashi is great on fries with Kewpie mayo!

Can’t wait to see you at Christmas!

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