The Manresa cookbook from the three- star restaurant of the same name in California is a beautiful, inspiring and thoughtfully written book. I read it cover to cover and frequently flip through it to read various parts every so often. Chef David Kinch got my attention when he was featured on a season of The Mind of A Chef on PBS especially the episode about how he builds a menu. It’s fascinating stuff to me. I had not cooked anything from the book until now though.
It immediately captured my attention when I saw the picture and read the name. Norinade? What the hell is that. This is basically a dish of potatoes and cheese, but Norinade just had a nice ring to it. It’s a play on the traditional tapenade, the Provencal dip made of mashed up olives, capers and anchovies. Instead of olives though, chef Kinch makes it with seaweed, specifically nori sheets like the ones used in sushi rolls. It is deep black in color, looks like tapenade but tastes very different with brightness and sea flavor. It perfectly accentuates the freshly made curds and dense potatoes.
To make it I simmered shallots, garlic and onions in plenty of olive oil before adding minced toasted nori sheets and allowed the mixture to cool and infuse. I drained the solids and minced them very well to a chunky paste before loosening with the reserved oil and seasoning with soy sauce and Champagne vinegar. The idea is to get a sharp and pungent mixture so that only a few drizzles are enough to add a kick of umami flavor.
The potatoes are cooked in two ways. First we have the soft ones. I used a mixture of colors of small specimens. These are simmered in salted water with aromatics (garlic, thyme, rosemary…) until tender. I then peeled them and tossed in a little oil. The other batch is cooked in very little water but plenty of salt in a pressure cooker for only a few minutes. This makes them very soft, seasons them and does not allow them to absorb a lot of water. I then tore them to rough 1-inch pieces and let them dry on a plate in the fridge uncovered. When ready to serve the potato chunks are fried in oil to get lovely crispy nuggets.
It is so easy to make a simple fresh cheese at home that I always wonder why I do not make more of it. Just mix in some whole milk and a little cream along with a tablet of rennet (or liquid rennet drops) and gently warm to about 180 F or so. Do not boil it or the enzyme will deactivate and not work properly. When the curds form a solid mass, let the mixture sit for another hour, then strain into a cheesecloth. The longer it sits in the cheesecloth to drain the drier it gets. This one sat for about 20 hours and was the texture of firm ricotta. I also reserved the whey that was produced since it is effectively the sauce for the dish. Whey is a great medium to cook in as well, like braising some pork in it for example.
The whey goes in a small pan with lemon juice and some salt. Using my stick blender I frothed it up very nicely as it warmed up and added in a couple of tablespoons of butter. For the larger sized potatoes I cut them in half and the others remained whole. These got warmed up gently in the microwave and were the first items to go on the plates. I divided up the crispy potatoes next and 5 or 6 nuggets of cheese in each bowl. Then I sauced with some of the Norinade and the frothed whey mixture. A final garnish of thyme leaves finished the dish up.
2 thoughts on “Manresa: Assorted Potatoes, Curds and Whey, Norinade”
Very original dish. I am very curious to try it. I make fresh curds once in a while, but I use vinegar or lemon juice instead of rennet. It seems strange to me that the enzyme would survive being heated to 180F, as an enzyme is a protein that I expect to denature at such a temperature. I also don’t heat the milk over 180F when I make curds with acid either because boiling the milk destroys the fresh flavor.
I do go the vinegar/buttermilk in milk route very frequently to curdle milk and make ricotta for example. I also never boil the milk. Rennet is definitely the more flexible way to go if you want to make different types of cheese though. Depending how you treat it you can go from very soft all the way to squeaky firm curds. It is essential if you want to try your hand at making mozzarella (I have a post about it around here afew years back). As for the temperature, you are right and I was skeptical as well with such a high temperature. When i use rennet, i warm the milk to maybe 80F and then pitch the rennet and then let it sit for a few hours to do it’s thing. As is the case in most instances when I am approaching a recipe from a prominent chef/book for the first time and see something odd I initially almost always say “why not? let’s try it this way first” (unless the instruction is obviously an error of course). Maybe he has a good reason or some new texture he is going for….It definitely worked and my best guess is that he wanted a quick set. So the rennet went in BEFORE the milk was heated and did it’s work as the mixture warmed up curdling the milk into a good texture before being denatured and the heat being shut off at 180F. Next time around i might try making the cheese using lower temperatures and see if i like it better. I really loved the combination in this one and will apply it in different dishes. It’d be great to see your take or spin on it.