Part of the fun of blogging about food, booze and gardening (and editing a food magazine) is that we get to see the world of food from many different angles. There are plenty of different opinions on food and cooking out there, and with such ready access to media these days, those opinions are easily shared. Perhaps sometimes too easily shared.
A few years back, David Chang of Momofuku fame, made the claim that “fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate. Do something with your food”. This comment (and many other flames) along with some very fine cooking led to Chang’s fame and his current overexposure (Food and Wine Magazine? David? Really? Why not join Bayless and make a Burger King ad? At least someone will see it). And needless to say, some cooks agree with Chang and many (particularly out here in Norcal) clearly don’t.
But it is a good question- when is it better to let the core ingredient lead and when do you need to “do something to it”? Also, when is all that “cheffy” technique just showing off? When is it burying the true flavors of the dish?
Since we grow a lot of our own food, but are happy to use a sous-vide cooker and kitchen torches, we see both side of the argument. But we will share one insight, the more recently the fruit or veggie is picked or pulled from the ground, the less you need to “do something” to it. Just bring out the best of the ingredient. If that means some cooking, great. But if that means just putting it on a plate, that’s fine, too.
And this recipe for fresh shelling peas with spring onions and bacon is a good example. Fresh peas are earthy and sweet on their own. Spring onions (right from the garden if you can get them) are sweet and delicate (and soooo good) and bacon is salty, rich and crunchy. All good on their own, but when you combine the flavors and textures (plus a dash of wine for acidity), you get a perfect dish.
Is this rocket science? Hell no. But this does require a few steps and we are certainly “doing something” to our food. Could we sous-vide the peas, make a spring onion foam and drizzle on some freeze dried bacon crumble? Sure. But why? We do just enough to make the dish sing….any by the way, if the figs are ripe and sweet, just put them on the plate and pass them to us….
Notes Before You Start:
- Shelling peas are best if cooked right after they are picked. If you pick them, or buy them, try and cook them that day.
- Spring onions are soft and sweet and often have less acidity than “storage onions”. If you don’t have your own or can’t get them at the farmers market, try Vidalia, Maui Sweets or Texas 1015.
What You Get: The perfect way to enjoy fresh peas. Good as a side with just about anything.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 20-25 minutes. Nothing hard here but shelling peas takes a few minutes and there are a few steps. Still an anytime dish…when you have peas and onions.
(serves 4 as a side)
- 4 slices of smoked bacon, cut into 1/4 inch lardons
- 4 medium spring onions, thinly sliced
- 3-4 cups of shelling peas, shelled (about 1 – 1.5 cups of peas when shelled)
- 2-3 tablespoons of dry white wine
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon to the pan, cook until brown and crisp, 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan, but keep 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan.
- Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just brown and soft, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the wine to the pan and then the peas. Stir and cook the peas for 3-4 minutes. Crumble half the bacon into the mixture, stir, taste and then season with salt and pepper. Garnish the peas with the rest of the bacon and serve.