Cooking with Chef Nathaniel Day

The Transfiguration Dish

t1I had another wonderful session with Chef Nathan Day in the studio a few weeks ago, this time exploring food, and life.

In his own words – ‘The basic idea behind this dish was to feature the 3 forms that all life in the universe will go through.
We have the freshly born, living, elements such as radish & alfalfa sprouts, ripe black plum & avocado; death comes in the form of coconut oil deep-fried agedashi tofu & Japanese pumpkin; and lastly, rebirth, via fermentation, by way of the miso dressing & 4 different types of pickles – cucumber, beet, lotus root & eggplant.
An interesting, tasty, and healthy, meditation on the transformations of life.’ ~Chef Nate

I’ll share images, with little nutritional nuggets, on my own blog; while Chef will speak more in depth on the health benefits, on his own blog, Personalchefcincinnati.com – here.
Below are his loose recipes, as this is more of an assembly style dish with only a few preparation steps/components.
This is also the kind of recipe that one could swap in, say, sweet potato instead of Japanese pumpkin, or use any sprout you may have on hand, likewise, use peach or apple, in place of plum.

Thank you, once again, to ceramist Bethany Rose Kramer for making the gorgeous, moody, textured dinner plate for our finished recipe.
You may remember this post or this post on her.

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Miso Citrus Dressing 

1 tablespoon Red miso paste
6 Tablespoons of fresh citrus juice.  We used half grapefruit and half orange.
Whisk into a small bowl and taste.
Adjust with a little more juice or miso if need be to fine tune for personal taste.
‘This simplistic dressing is oil free and will do your body good.  Miso is a fermented food with many health benefits and amazing nutritional value. It contains minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper, protein & omega 3 fatty acids, as well as, phytonutrient antioxidants that are produced during the fermentation process. These components are anti cancerous, and free radical scavengers.’ ~Chef Nate

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‘Fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles, yogurts, miso & more are beneficial as they produce friendly bacteria known as probiotics, which are good for aiding digestion and supporting an overall healthy gut. We live in a very anti-biotic (against life) world.  Yes, we should eliminate bad bacteria and sterilize things, but we should strive to simultaneously include good bacteria in order to function optimally.’ ~Chef Nate

Chef Nathaniel’s Pickling Method

Start with a large glass jar, or ceramic crock, at least 4 or 5 inches in length.
Pour boiling water in to sterilize your container.  Don’t use chlorinated water, or anti bacterial  soap, as this will kill many of the good bacteria that you want alive.
Rinse off your veggies (cucumbers, eggplant, lotus root, whatever you want to pickle) and place them in the jar, leaving some space on the top.
Add spices (I love using garlic cloves, peppercorns, dill, coriander, and/or fennel seeds.)
Pour brine over your pickles – made by combining 8 tablespoons of kosher salt to 8 cups of clean water – next, add a quarter cup of vinegar.
Do NOT cover with a lid. You may tie a cloth over it. Keep the pickles submerged in the brine, undisturbed and in a cool place for 25 days.
Put them in the refrigerator when finished to stop the fermentation process.

Elements of the Dish

Small handful of sprouts, we used radish & alfalfa.
5-6 slices of plum.
2 or 3 slices of avocado.
A few thinly slices rounds of shallot
Slice the tofu into blocks, and dry them thoroughly with towels.
Cut the pumpkin into cubes.
Coat each block of tofu and pumpkin with a very fine layer of potato starch, and brush off any excess starch.
Fill a wok with enough coconut oil to cover the tofu and pumpkin, and heat.
Drop the tofu and pumpkin pieces into the wok, turning until cooked through, but without over browning.
Assembly

On a plate, arrange the sprouts, plum, avocado towards the top, following with the browned tofu and pumpkin, followed with the fermented pickles.
Scatter shallots.
Season with maldon salt, to taste, and drizzle with the miso citrus dressing.

Serves 1
Vegetarian, Vegan
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