10 Mar 2017
At this point in the meal we're past the crest of rich courses, and done with the first palate cleanser. This is the final savory course - a comforting hot soup to sip on and wind down. Sprouted lentils, pickled scallion, and crispy rice add interesting textures and flavors to a fragant dashi broth flavored with onions. The broth gets a rich umami flavor from kombu and dried mushrooms, saltiness from soy sauce, and sweetness from onions and mirin. The dish is finished with beads of rendered duck or beef fat, which do miracles for the "professional" feel of the dish. All credit for this dish goes to David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos - I saw this dish prepared on Mind of a Chef and knew I had to make it for myself.
I've made this dish with a variety of onions - torpedo onions, an interesting variety with an elongated bulb, and the ones used in David Kinch's preparation, and also with wild spring onions that looked good at the farmer's market. Use the best-looking onion variety available to you - chances are it will be great.
The original recipe calls for puffed buckwheat, which I had a surprisingly difficult time procuring. I substituted a crispy rice cereal (yes, basically rice krispies), which held their texture and worked perfectly well. The lentils soaked for 12 hours, and then covered for an additional 36 hours, to let them develop tiny sprouts and a nice texture despite being uncooked - you'll need to plan the time accordingly (unlike me - if you scrutinize the photo you'll notice I ran out of time to soak/sprout properly)!
For 4 servings.
1 cup lentils, mixture of green and Le Puy
1 cup crispy rice
1 tsp rendered duck or beef fat
1 qt water
1 sheet rausu kombu
5-7 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 torpedo onions, or mixture of wild spring onions and shallots
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt