Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Burn those veggies!!!

I read a short article today in a nice little cooking book (Chef's secret - Insider techniques from today's culinary masters). This is a book full of cooking tips but, unfortunately, many are self evident and others requires tools only available in a professional kitchen. Sometimes, however, the reader can find simple and efficient tricks which save time and/or add flavour to whatever they are cooking.

One of those tricks was proposed by chef J. Bryce Whittlesey and involved a blowtorch and a tomato. Most of us learned to peel tomatoes by blanching them in water first but this guy suggest to use a blowtorch to slightly burn the skin of the tomato instead. I tried this trick on a tomato and it worked perfectly and actually left more of the tomato flesh raw; unlike blanching which invariably cook a layer of flesh under the peel. It's a fast and easy way to make a tomato concassé without having to boil a whole pot of water and preparing a cold bath.

I tried the same technique on a green pepper and it also worked perfectly. I burned the skin of the pepper and a few seconds later I was able to peel it using the back of my knife and my fingers (a spoon would have worked even better). This technique did not produce the typical roasted pepper but not a skinless crunchy raw pepper either... I bet that most of the pepper's typical 'raw' flavour is found in the skin but that the intense but very short heat produced by the blowtorch did not have the time to cook the pepper.

I was very happy with the final product and especially by the time saved... I usually never skin small batches of peppers or tomatoes because of the time involved by using the 'traditional' method. Since I own a blowtorch, I'll start using in the kitchen more often then the rare occasion when I am making cremes brulees!


MagicTofu said...

Oh yeah, i forgot to mention that you should wet your wooden cutting board to avoid burning it; aluminum foil won't help protecting it since it melt under the heat of a blowtorch.

MagicTofu said...

I've been thinking about this technique this morning... I'm convinced one could skin very small pieces of tomato or pepper using this technique, not only the whole vegetable/fruit. This open the door to very neat creations such as a brunoise made of peppers of different color (which could be added to a beurre blanc and served over fish) or kicked-up salsas and salads!

Anonymous said...

Now I undertand why out cutting boards are all charred.

MagicTofu said...

I'll try to keep using only one cutting board when using the torch. But FuFu, you must admit it was worthwhile though!