Top Chef DC: Covert Cuisine – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

Clarifying Oxtail bouillon

As we collectively suffer through one of the worst seasons of Top Chef, I find myself about a week behind on “What Was That Ingredient?”  While you might be expecting a recap of tonight’s show, I’m actually going to write that in a bit … so check back tomorrow. 

Truth be told, my writing time over the past week and change has gone towards some cooking.  So while I’ve been able to jump out to lots of restaurants, I haven’t had time to fill y’all in.  But all that is really just filler for this post.

You see, I just don’t have that much to say.  The contestants are kind of lame and the show is starting to go duller than one of my kitchen knives.  Still, there were a few “ingredients” of note, so let’s not waste any more time.  One potentially superfluous note: I kind of spaced during the episode, so I might have missed an ingredient or two.


Black Garlic
Black garlic is straight up garlic that has been fermented.  It’s popular in Asian cuisine and gets a bit sweet (on account of the fermentation).

A consommé is a clear soup … no big deal right? Wrong!!! You basically take some proteins, mix it with a stock, then filter the hard stuff out.  What you’re left with is a highly potent but difficult to execute take on soup.  The fat from the proteins congeals and is removed prior to serving (often multiple times over).  In the picture above, the glass on the left is not clarified, while the one on the right is.  Oh yeah, see: Ruhlman!

Jícama, pronounced Hick-A-Ma, is a Mexican vine.  In cooking, the word jícama generally refers to the plant’s root.  In this case … it’s a yam bean or Mexican turnip.

Ramps are one of those vegetables that you probably know but may not realize.  It has a ton of aliases, but it is essentially a wild leek.  It is a times referred to as a spring onion or wild garlic.  As you may have guessed, they are in season during the spring.

A soubise is a rich sauce made when you combine béchamel sauce with puréed onions and a bit of cream.  The name has also been borrowed for use with dishes that get topped with the creamy onion sauce.  Yup … that’s it!

Okay gang, that wraps up this last week’s “What Ingredient Was That?”  I hope you found this post useful; please feel free to ask about other things or expand on what I’ve said down below in the comments!

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