June 24, 2013
Excitement You Can Taste
Summer has arrived. In my opinion, there is nothing better on a hot summer day than spicy food. Interestingly enough, the greatest spicy cuisines come from very hot regions such as Southeast Asia, Central America and North Africa. Some studies show that eating spicy food on a hot day helps cool the body down because it stimulates sweat. For the Fress menu this week, I am preparing a spicy soup which is inspired by a classic Magheb relish, called Ajouk, found in Encyclopedia of Jewish Food (EJF).
According to EJF, Ajouk is traditionally a spicy and chunky mashed vegetable relish similar to chutney. The most common vegetable used for this recipe is eggplant, but other tender squash, like zucchini, are also commonly used. Chutney is fantastic for two reasons; the texture is silky yet chewy, and the flavor is both spicy and sweet. At this point, I imagine you are wondering why I am making a soup to represent a recipe for a relish. Soup is a great way to incorporate a variety of flavors and textures in one bite. I am making an Ajouk-inspired spicy summer squash soup, garnished with pickled mustard seeds. The base of the soup is smooth in texture with a spicy and sweet flavor. The pickled mustard seed garnish adds brightness and texture with their unique flavor of vinegary and sweet mustard and the pop of caviar pearls. Pickled mustard seeds are one of the few ingredients that can make anything more fun to eat.
I write this blog because I am determined to bring new excitement to one of the greatest cuisines of all time, Jewish food. For those of you that find it difficult to be inspired by a written recipe, I urge you to come to Fress, the popup restaurant that my wife and I have created at the Wine Expo in Santa Monica. There, you can taste the food that is created for this blog, and I am confident that it will excite your palate.
"Ajouk" Summer Squash Soup
2 lbs Zucchini, diced
1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.
Pickled Mustard Seeds makes 1 ½ C
1 C Yellow Mustard Seeds