From Ruhlman’s Twenty, Michael Ruhlman, Chronicle Books, 2011.
I can’t wait to have more time to examine this book and try out some of the techniques in it. It is a book of techniques that Ruhlman claims the mastery of which will give a person a solid foundation for their cooking. Some of the techniques sound to be more like ingredients as areas covered are such as salt, onions and sugar. Others are clearly techniques: poaching, braising and grilling. And then there are a couple of unusual ones: thinking and water. They all make perfect sense as techniques when you examine them closer under Ruhlman’s eye. Each of the techniques comes with recipes which illustrate the use of the particular technique.
I began my lessons with Ruhlman by trying out the raw zucchini salad to see the effect of salt.
Two zucchini were cut into julienne strips and placed in a colander. They were sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt (a lot I thought). They were tossed and then given another teaspoon of salt (seemed like heaps too much). They were left to stand for 20 minutes.
While the zucchini were standing a type of dressing was made from finely chopped shallot, finely chopped garlic and lemon juice.
The zucchini were now given a shake in the colander to remove any moisture which has formed. I had a taste of a strip and it was a bit on the salty side so they were given a very quick rinse and then patted dry. They were placed in a bowl, some olive oil was added together with the lemon mixture. The salad was tossed and garnished with chopped walnuts and a little chopped basil.
The salt, to my amazement, had given the zucchini a different texture. They had become somewhat limp but retained a crunch to them. The flavour of the salt and the lemon were refreshing. I would never normally eat zucchini raw but the salt soak had brought about a change that made them totally edible. I will certainly go back to having them this way as a salad vegetable.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔