Welcome to The Hot Dish, a new series that delves in to the making of the dishes of the moment.
[All photographs by Nick Solares]
Telepan Local chef de cuisine Joel Javier created the fried watercress with chili oil and cashews as the result of a happy accident. Javier came to Bill Telepan's eponymous restaurant as a sous chef around six years ago with prior experience at Bouley and Aquavit already under his belt. Last year Javier took a sabbatical to Europe where he staged at St. John restaurant in London, at Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid and, inspired by Telepan's long term commitment to the greenmarket movement, served as a chef volunteer for World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. He became the chef de cuisine at Telepan Local upon returning from Europe, although the dish preceded his initial departure.
The dish came to be because of a shipping error. The kitchen at Telepan ended up with several boxes of watercress too many one weekend. Javier started playing around with it and eventually concocted the dish that would find its way on to the opening menu at Telepan Local. He admits that it "sucked" the first time he tried it, but after experimenting with it for a bit, he perfected the technique for frying the watercress without it becoming lumpy and soggy. He paired it with a chili oil vinaigrette spiked with paprika and cayenne pepper and added toasted cashews to complete the dish.
Here is a look at how Javier fries watercress.
- The raw ingredients: cashews, watercress, canola oil, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, Sriracha, lemon juice, flour, corn starch.
- To make the chili oil, the paprika, chili power, and cayenne pepper are added to a mixing bowl.
- The dry ingredients are mixed with water to make a thick paste.
- Canola oil is added and blended in. The mixture is allowed to steep overnight to fully infuse the oil with the spices.
- The next day, the oil is strained and ready for use.
- To make the vinaigrette for the watercress, the chili oil is mixed with Sriracha and lemon juice.
- Once blended, toasted and chopped cashews are added.
- To prepare the watercress, the large stems are removed.
- The trimmed watercress is then thoroughly soaked in egg whites and then tightly squeezed to remove as much excess liquid as possible.
- The watercress is then added to a three-to-one mixture of AP flour and cornstarch.
- The watercress is thoroughly dredged in the flour mixture.
- After being dredged, the chef shakes as much of the flour off as possible.
- The watercress is deep fried in 350° canola oil for around two minutes.
- After frying, the excess oil is shaken off and the watercress is seasoned with salt.
- The cashew and chili vinaigrette are spread on a plate.
- The watercress is then arranged on top.
- After a final drizzle of the vinaigrette and a sprinkle of chopped nuts, the dish is ready for the table.
- Fried watercress with chili oil and cashews.
· All Coverage of Telepan Local [~ENY~]