Round 2...candy! Oh boy. I don't know about you, but I've never cooked with candy before. As Bruno and Geoffrey Zakarian pointed out, it's hard to know how candy will cook. Will it melt? Hold its shape? Curdle?
I once tried to brûlé gummy bears and it was a disaster. The heat seems to toughen the gelatin, making an impossibly tacky bite.
So instead of opting for licorice, gumdrops, or jelly beans, which contain mysterious ingredients with unknown properties, I used clean and simple lollipops. Sugar, flavoring and coloring. Not ideal, but not horrifying either.
We weren't allowed to make desserts (too easy), so my mind immediately went to Korean food. Korean food is actually pretty sweet, but it's tempered by salt, spice and funk. No one-note sweetness here. I called on my go-to flavors: miso, soy, ginger, garlic and sesame (the same flavors that are in one my most popular recipes of all time). I chose pink lemonade and lemon lollipops, thinking that citrus flavors were better than, say, cherry or grape (gag).
Once I knew how I'd feature the surprise ingredient, I worked from there. What works best with sweet and spicy marinated beef?
Bibimbap! Concepting the rest was easy. I'd adapt the classic Korean rice-and-veggies dish with my own spin. A quick pickle added some brightness and crunch, toasted quinoa with nori contributed an earthy, umami base (and mimicked the delicious burnt rice in the bottom of a stone bibimbap bowl). I also made a miso-egg emulsion, a hollandaise-like sauce that nods to the raw egg that is traditionally stirred into bibimbop.
The recipe below is sequenced for a tight 30-minute cook. There's no wasted time waiting for things to cook. But if you want a saner experience, then you can always make each component one by one.
1/2 cup of sugar -- ground-up citrus candy or actual sugar
1 small onion
8 cloves of garlic
1 ping-pong-ball-sized knob of ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 Scotch Bonnet chili
1 lb thinly sliced top sirloin
1 cup red quinoa
10 sheets of roasted seaweed
3 baby cucumbers
1 tablespoon salt
Miso Egg Emulsion:
4 egg yolks
1 heaping teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons black sesame seed
¼ cup chopped chives
Rinse quinoa and place in pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil on high, then cover and simmer on low until nice and fluffy. The "tails" of the quinoa should be sticking out. (This didn't happen during my episode... perhaps because the stove was so hot the water boiled off too quickly and/or the quinoa was old and took longer than normal to "bloom".)
For the marinade, blend the onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili. Place in saucepan and reduce on medium-high.
For the miso egg emulsion, blend the egg yolks, miso, rice vinegar, chili powder and butter.
For the quick pickles, slice the cucumbers and radishes with a mandolin on the thinnest setting. Salt and let rest.
Slice the beef and place it in the reduced marinade. While the beef is cooking and picking up the glaze, toast half the quinoa in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the other half of the quinoa, add sliced nori and reserve.
Assemble your plate. Squeeze out the excess water from the pickles and place. Add the toasted quinoa with nori and Korean candy beef. Pour miso egg emulsion on top, or serve on the side. Add chopped chives and black sesame seeds.
RELAX because that was an intense 30 minutes of cooking.