A cabbage or a turnip? Or both? Kohlrabi (or turnip-rooted cabbage, German cabbage) is a bit different from other vegetables. It’s the swollen stem of a plant. It looks like a turnip, but it actually grows above the ground, hence the leaves and the fairly thick skin. Kohlrabi is not the most popular of vegetables, probably because it requires rather long cooking and the taste is a bit bland. The good news is that when you prepare the kohlrabi in a hot oven, you will have an easy to peel and very tasty vegetable. Its flavour is sweet, it comes with a touch of spiciness and its texture is a real surprise: juicy and crunchy! The thinly sliced and lightly coated kohlrabi in combination with pickled dried radish is a great vegetarian starter, one that you will remember.
Sake or Wine Pairing
Best choice is a mild, dry, floral sake but a glass of white wine is also a good idea. Go for a Pinot Blanc or a German Grauburgunder. In general a white wine with medium body and aromas of ripe white fruit and flowers.
What You Need
Light and Normal Soy sauce
Pickled Dried Radish
What You Do
Set your oven to 200˚ Celsius or 390˚ Fahrenheit. Transfer the kohlrabi to the oven without wrapping it in foil, so ‘as is’. Leave it for 60 minutes. Now turn your oven to 235˚ Celsius or 455˚ Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the kohlrabi is slightly charred (see picture). Let cool, transfer to the refrigerator and use the next day. Start making the dressing by adding light soy sauce to a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of mirin and a teaspoon of rice vinegar. We also add a teaspoon of normal soy sauce to give the dressing a bit more oomph. Remove the skin of the kohlrabi (be generous) and thinly slice the kohlrabi, either with a mandoline slicer or with a cheese slicer. Now it’s time to improve the dressing: combine small slices of kohlrabi with the dressing, taste and keep adjusting (soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar) until you’re happy. Coat each slice with the dressing, plate up and serve immediately with the chopped pickled dried radish.
Obviously Breast of Duck is great when combined with an orange sauce (or even better, with Mandarine Napoléon). Or combined with a Green Pepper Sauce, or with hoisin, soy sauce and five-spice powder (as used for Peking Duck). We combine the duck with fresh ginger (a bit spicy, but since the ginger is cooked in the sauce it will be very mild), yuzu (citrus fruit originaly from Japan, Korea and China) and sweet mirin and soy sauce. The cabbage comes with tamari and sesame oil, so this dish is full of wonderful flavours. Have we mentioned the pickled cucumber?
You could combine the duck with white wine, provided it has lots of character, for instance a Gewürztraminer. A red wine is the more obvious choice: a rich, warm Carignan will do nicely. The wine needs to combine with the richness of the dish and of course the sweetness of the soy sauce and the mirin. Duck is somewhat sweet in its own right and the sauce amplifies this. The wine should be fruity (plum), spicy and definitely not too woody.
What You Need
2 Small Breasts of Duck or 1 Large One
Soy Sauce (we prefer the version with less salt)
What You Do
Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the refrigerator. Leave in the refrigerator for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold. We want crispy fat, so we need to fry the meat relatively long. In order to get the right cuisson, we start with cold meat (so not your normal room temperature). Fry the duck in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 12 minutes on the skin side. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 2 minutes on the other sides. Remove from the pan and cover with aluminium foil in such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover meat. You may want to remove some fat from the pan. Add some water and a generous amount of grated ginger (let’s say 3 – 4 centimetre), stir, add mirin and soy sauce. Keep warm. Add liquid from the duck to the sauce. After 10 minutes or so the ginger should be soft and the falvours integrated. If not, just give it a few more minutes. Remove the breast from the foil and slice. Make sure that any liquid left is added to the sauce. Quickly stir the sauce, add a bit of Yuzu to bring acidity to the sauce, heat a bit more, dress on a plate and put the slices of duck on top of it.
Oxheart or Chinese cabbage
Whole Grain Rice
Grate the cabbage. Fry in a warm skillet in some olive oil. Add some tamari. Taste and adjust if necessary. Before serving add some excellent sesame oil. In parallel cook the rice and add some chopped pickled cucumbers to the rice.