Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Note on Mash

We learned this from John, and I think he learned it from Richard. It's a kind of pesto, but made with a bitter green from the endive/radicchio family like pan di zucchero or radicchio; lately we've been using the galia endive because it's at its peak. Frisée makes a divinely creamy mash. The suribachi is the ideal tool for making mash, and though it takes a bit of work, the result is well worth it, since it can accompany a bloody piece of meat as perfectly as the most ascetic vegan fare.

You smash a garlic clove and grind it up with some olive oil, then add an ume plum or two and keep grinding. Then some pine nuts, toasted if you have time, and then the shredded greens and some more oil. Lemon juice is grand, and truffle oil takes it to a higher place, but pretty much everything besides the garlic, greens, and oil is optional. The bitterness is smoothed a bit by the ume and oil, and it is a cleansing addition to any plate- try it and see how it cuts through fatty meat, or enhances pretty much anything. You can easily find a suribachi at your local Asian market or online. We use the food processor all the time, but this brilliant variation on the mortar and pestle is just the ticket for a coarser, more rustic preparation, and allows you to get it just the way you like it. Plus, it's nice to move sometimes when you cook, and the bowl makes a pleasant ringing sound while you grind.

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