Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Want Food: Is it Broccoli or is it cauliflower?

The first time I had Romanesco broccoli (cauliflower?) was at a meal early on in Momofuku Ssam Bar's existence. As is always the case at David Chang's houses of pork, there weren't a ton of options on the menu for our intrepid eater Daniel, so among the small plates that we ordered to share was Chang's take on this cruciferous veg. Having never seen one before, we were shocked by the bizarre appearance of what appeared to be the mutant offspring of broccoli and cauliflower, with a little Spiny from Super Mario Brothers thrown in for good measure. But when we tasted it, we were even more surprised. It was delicious. Crunchy with a slightly subtler, but nuttier taste than its more traditional brethren.

Since moving to California, I see them all the time in the grocery store and have started incorporating them into the veggie side dish rotation. My favorite preparation of late, is a little number I like to call briny, salty Romanesco. Okay. I just made that up. But it's yummy. Here's the dish:

Briny, Salty Romanesco

-1 head of Romanesco broccoli
-a splash of olive oil
-a clove of garlic
-a Serrano pepper (optional)
-a tin of flat anchovies (in olive oil)
-a few teaspoons of capers
-a handful of pine nuts
-red pepper flakes

1. Chop the Romanesco into small florets. Finely mince the garlic and if using the Serrano pepper. Tear apart the anchovies into small bits (reserving their oil for later.)
2. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil on medium. Cook the garlic until tender. Add the Serrano and Romanesco. Pour on about half of the oil from the anchovy tin.
3. After about three minutes, add the anchovies and capers. Stir occasionally.
4. Once the Romanesco has started to brown, throw in the pine nuts and red pepper flakes. Continue to saute until you have tender Romanesco with delicious brown bits at the end.

Enjoy. I served it alongside a New York strip steak with a plum, red wine reduction a few weeks ago, and the flavors were great together. Then I ate the leftover broccoli cold from a Tupperware while standing by the refrigerator. Either way, delicious.

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