The always lovely to read Bitten Word held their annual Cover to Cover challenge this week and I was selected as one of their readers to test recipes from the September issue of Bon Appétit. After filling out a short questionnaire, I received my assignment: Seaweed & Tofu Beignets from the chefs at Los Angeles restaurant Alma. The challenge arrived!
Reading through the recipe I saw that I would be making a lime mayonnaise and jalapeno lemon paste to serve with the beignets. Those are quite a few components but they must be worth it, right? I recommend making the mayonnaise and paste first, then taking a break before making the beignets.
Giving this recipe a try (and in sprit of the assignment, following it to a tee) was a blast! It was a process, a challenge and so much fun in the kitchen. Was it an overall winner that I’m going to make again ? Not necessarily… but that doesn’t mean the recipe is a complete loss.
Homemade mayonnaise is always a battle but one worth fighting for till you win. I decided to make my mayonnaise with a hand mixer. Check out the folded towel under the bowl- this helps keep the bowl in one place while you simultaneously drop oil in (one drop at a time!) and mix on high.
The jalapeno lemon paste is utterly delicious. (It’s the bright green condiment on top of the beignets in the photo.) It reminded me of yuzu paste, which I suppose is what it was exactly (only with lemons). The paste is easy to make, cheap and full of flavor. Hands down, it made this entire challenge worth it. I’ll use it in the future with white fish, chicken, on potatos, in salad dressings, as a condiment, on ANYTHING. Amazing. Delicious. Go make it.
The recipe gave sort of funky instructions for getting the lemon flesh. I suggest you cut the ends off of the lemon, with a sharp knife cut the skin and pith off and then slice out the segments. Also, make this paste in your food processor’s small bowl attachment. The small bowl and blade works a lot better with the small amount you are processing.
Finally (!), the beignets… First glance of the recipe told me what I was making is very similar to a tempura batter: not a lot of flour and a heavy dose of club soda. The two curveballs were silken tofu and wakame (seaweed). Silken tofu doesn’t add any flavor or texture, so have no fear. It acts simply as a binding agent and a protein source. The batter yielded light and crispy dough, just how you want a beignet.
Wakame on the other hand was the star – and not really one I was impressed by. You really have to LOVE seaweed to enjoy these. The recipe, as is, doesn’t let you get past all of the wakame and piling it on with lime mayonnaise only highlights what you’re eating.
The verdict – I’ll be making the paste again (recipe highlighted below). And I’ll keep this beignet recipe on hand but omitting the seaweed and coming up with alternatives. My guess is that another chopped, leafy green like kale, cabbage or spinach would be fine substitutes. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time with Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover 2013 Challenge. In fact, I’m totally inspired to try out another crazy, challenging recipe!
Jalapeno Lemon Paste from Bon Appetit
1 large lemon (or 2 small lemons)
- Chop the jalapeno, including seeds. Place in the small bowl attachment of your food processor.
- Zest the lemon. Place in the food processor.
- Cut each end off of the lemon and cut off the skin including the white pith. Cut along each membrane to yield the lemon segments. Place in the food processor.
- Pulse the ingredients in the food processor till smooth. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and press out all of the liquid.
- Place the paste in a small bowl and season with salt.
*This can be made ahead of time, covered and stored in the fridge.