This dish was inspired by a small plate that a chef sent out one hot night almost thirty years ago. It was one of those things where the chef was being thrifty, but I would have paid gladly for this great combination of cool crunch and silky, nutty flavored sauce. As it was, the waitress brought me out 2 more servings.
3/4 -1 pound of broccoli stalks (reserve the florets for another use)
1/2 cup of bon-bon sauce (recipe below)
2 tablespoons salt
You will also need a tray of ice, 1-2 tablespoons salt, and a bowl big enough to hold the cooked broccoli chunks in a bath of ice water.
Trim the bottom of the stalks, and then peel them.
Cut the broccoli stalks into cubes, either 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. The volume of water should be at least double the volume of broccoli. This will ensure the water remains at a boil when you dump in the broccoli. When the water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Make an ice-bath. Empty at least one ice tray into a bowl large enough to hold the broccoli, plenty of water, and the ice. Add water enough so the broccoli will all be submerged.
Add the broccoli pieces to the boiling water and cook for 2-4 minutes, or just until broccoli is no longer entirely raw. Bite into a piece – it should have changed color and taste cooked, but still be crisp.
Immediately pour broccoli into a colander to drain and quickly rinse with cold water. Then, submerge broccoli pieces into the ice bath and stir until the broccoli is quite cool. Drain and dry the broccoli, and then refrigerate.
When ready to use, place the broccoli pieces on a small plate and drizzle with bon-bon sauce. If you wish, serve individual salads with a small pyramid of stem cubes and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, or thinly slice scallion tops.
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen
BON BON SAUCE
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (I like Kadoya black sesame oil best)
4 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
1-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup water
1-3 tablespoons of red chili oil (optional)
Put the peanut butter and sesame oil into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and half the salt over the peanut butter, and mix in with a sturdy whisk. Add half the water and start to stir. Once that is worked in, whisk in the rest of the water until sauce is blended and smooth.
Taste for balance. You may need to add more salt, sugar, and/or sesame oil. Adjust as necessary, and stir to a nice smooth paste.
If you want to add chili oil, add a little at a time, tasting to reach desired heat.
Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This will keep 1-2 weeks.
- This is a sauce for Bon-Bon Chicken Salad, but it is equally delicious as a dip for vegetables or for topping grilled pork or chicken.
- It is also great for dipping cold shrimp into, and makes a great bowl of noodles. Just heat some chow-mein style noodles with some vegetables, and top with the sauce. Be sure to leave a little water on the noodles so that the sauce thins out a little and heats up.
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen