This dish was inspired by a dish I glimpsed while watching a video about Coi restaurant in San Francisco (talk about fleeting moments). It was a vibrant green puree topped with cauliflower and baby broccoli and some kind of broth, so I did my own take featuring a pea puree, a mushroom dashi broth, and pickled cauliflower for an interesting and acidic twist. Much like my previous cucumber appetizer, it's a very green and fresh dish that's a great way to start a meal.
6 baby broccoli florets, stems trimmed and leaves picked
For the mushroom dashi:
1 quart water
1 sheet kombu
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tsp soy sauce + more to taste
For the pickles:
2 large cauliflower florets
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
For the shaved cauliflower:
1 large floret cauliflower
Finishing salt such as Maldon
Herb leaves and fronds such as baby broccoli flowers, parsley, chervil, and dill
Several hours or up to 1 day in advance, prepare the pickles: break the cauliflower florets into bite-sized chunks and thinly slice the shallot. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, and pour over the vegetables. Refrigerate until needed (the flavor will be better after at least 24 hours). You will have more than 2 servings of pickles, but it is difficult to make less.
Prepare the pea puree in advance, and reheat just before serving. You can do this in a microwave, or in a container set in a water bath heated to 140F.
Prepare the mushroom dashi (you can do this in advance and reheat when needed): Bring the water and kombu up to a simmer for 15 minutes, without letting it come to a boil. Remove and discard the kombu, and add the mushrooms. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat, add the soy sauce + more to taste, and simmer for 15 more minutes. Strain and set aside. (This will make about 3 cups - you'll have extra.)
Prepare the baby broccoli: Set a steamer basket over water, bring it to a boil, add the baby broccoli and season with salt, and steam until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drizzle with a few drops of lemon juice and set aside.
Prepare the shaved cauliflower: shave the cauliflower floret thinly on a mandoline. You will lose some of the floret to crumbles, but be left with a few thin slices you can use. Set aside.
To plate: spoon about 2 Tbsp of the warmed pea puree into the center of a bowl. Place 2-3 baby broccoli florets on the puree, followed by 2-3 pickled cauliflower pieces and some slices of the pickled shallot. Place the herbs and baby broccoli flowers on top of the vegetables, and sprinkle with a pinch of the finishing salt. Pour in enough mushroom dashi to surround the puree (you can do this tableside for a fancy flourish. Tip: pour onto the side of the bowl to avoid disrupting the puree or vegetables), and finally finish with a few beads of olive oil.