Monday, May 13, 2013

Sous Vide Recipes: Whole Beetroot with Ginger, Pumpkin Seeds & Sesame Oil

Last Friday's conversation with a colleague:

"Hey, do you want some beetroot?" There was loads of beetroot.
Me: "OK, what will I do with all of it?"
"Sous Vide it." I'll think about that, chef.

My adventures with beetroot were limited up to now. Just an addition to salad, sometimes grated to make a dip. So the suggestion to sous vide it by @itsachefslife sent my imagination sailing. I had made a quiet decision that I preferred sous vide-ing food items which don't have their own oils or fats such as fish, lean meat, vegetables and fruit. The controlled slow poaching seals in the little juices they have and concentrates them. With conventional cooking things like duck legs or pork bellies hold their own, they have enough jelly to keep self-basting. But with our beets, sous vide turns their deep fuchsia flesh into some kind of wonderful.

I trimmed the leaves off and divided my beets into two: batch one were unpeeled, seasoned and drizzled with olive oil; batch two were peeled and thrown in with grated ginger and balsamic vinegar. Both were kept whole. In they went for three hours.

Wallpaper magazine: eat your heart out. The unpeeled glistened with ferocious appeal and were sweet and fragrant.

Those soaked in ginger and balsamic produced the most alluring jus: sweet, savoury and a subtle warmth from the ginger. Beautiful texture and with gentle bite, they were more like poached fruit than root vegetable and I believe would make an unconventional dessert.

I had mine with crushed and toasted pumpkin seeds (another obsession) and other than having this as a side, I imagine them as an elegant starter. Or even with goat's cheese and dark chocolate ganache.

I'm already looking forward to another ingredient in abundance.

Sous Vide Whole Beetroot with Ginger, Pumpkin Seeds & Sesame Oil

Serves 4 (as a starter)

4 whole beetroot
4 inch ginger root, finely grated
2 large pinches of sea salt
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of brown sugar
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Sesame oil, to drizzle
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1. Trim the tops of the beetroot (keeping the leaves for salad if you wish), peel and leave whole. Place in the sous vide bag along with the ginger, salt, sugar, balsamic vinegar and drizzle in the olive oil, then vacuum seal.  Place in the Sous Vide Supreme for 3 hours at 82 degrees C.
2. When just about ready, toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan. When they start popping, remove from heat and leave to cool. Leave a few whole, crush the rest in a pestle and mortar (or smash in a food bag) until it resembles fine crumbs.
3. When the beetroot is done, remove from bag and plate with both crushed and whole seeds as a "topping".  Drizzle with sesame oil, the poaching juices and enjoy.

These are great eaten both warm and cold and my top tip would be to serve as a starter with cold soba noodles, small cubes of chilled silken tofu and peppery rocket. All dressed with more sesame oil, mirin and light soy sauce.

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