February 13, 2014

Home Cooking: Edward Lee's 'Smoke & Pickles'

I've spent some time recently making some of the recipes from Edward Lee's great new cook book, Smoke & Pickles. Lee, a Brooklyn native, now calls Kentucky home. If he wasn't already garnering national attention, Lee's good showing on Top Chef a few years back, as well as being named a finalist for the 2013 James Beard award for the southeast has certainly made that a reality now. His main restaurant is 610 Magnolia in Louisville.
Smoke & Pickles is Lee's first cookbook and it is an homage to his Korean roots and the southern culture hes has since adopted over the past ten years. I made several recipes from the book last weekend. Pictured above is definitely one of the highlights: a rice bowl (there are numerous rice bowl ideas in the book) with tuna, jalapeno remoulade, hearts of palm, avocado, lettuce, and crunchy pork rinds. Lee's recipe for cooking rice involves browning the cooked rice which brings a nice crispy texture to the rice and this dish. This one is a winner. Cool sushi grade tuna against the warm, crunchy rice and Lee's nod to the south in the spicy remoulade.
Edamame and boiled peanuts in tahini sauce. A fun, addictive snack for your favorite cocktail.
Beef Kalbi with edamame hummus. This dish. Wow. Sure, I've slow braised short ribs all day before, but the sauce here of ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil brought a depth and richness that I look for in this type of dish. Rich and satisfying as slow braised beef can be, but the added Asian flavors brings a new depth. Served with a side of tahini and edamame puree.

Kabocha squash mac and cheese topped with pork rinds and black sesame seed. Pretty decadent rendition of macaroni and cheese. Though, the sweetness of the squash tempers the gooey/salty cheese a good bit. The pork rind topping is an interesting touch and another example of Lee's connection to down-home southern gastronomy.
There's also a quick version of fried rice, which Lee calls southern fried rice due to the inclusion of black eyed peas and the use of a ham stock in cooking of the eggs. An easy and tasty fried rice. Everything I have made from the book thus far has been tasty, including the not-pictured fried trout sandwiches with cilantro-pear vinaigrette. This may sound hokey, but there is a homey-soul satisfying quality that comes through in Lee's recipes. I look forward to cooking from this book again soon. Count me as a fan.

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