Top Chef DC: Restaurant Wars – What Was That Ingredient? [Buddhacation]

maitake mushroom

“Restaurant Wars” is almost always the most popular episode during any given season of Top Chef.  Though the bar has been set remarkably low throughout Top Chef DC, I’m pretty sure that last night’s episode scored the highest ratings to date.  Honestly, it’s been a crapfest of a season … but I watch anyway.  I guess no Top Chef is worse than crappy Top Chef.

So yeah, Restaurant Wars was last night.  Former NYT food critic Frank Bruni added some teeth to the judges panel, but he didn’t bark as much as I had hoped.  The creativity was in the pits and as such, my list for “What Was That Ingredient?” is particularly short and unimpressive.  However, my mom taught me to persevere, so here I am!

Ingredients

Kumquat
A fruit/tree that is indigenous to south Asia and the water it shares the coastline with.  Kumquats resemble oranges and are a citrus.  There are a handful of different kinds, but unlike oranges … you eat the rind.

Maitake Mushrooms
Aka Hen-of-the-woods ‘shrooms, maitake’s are a Japanese mushroom.  However, they also grow here in the states, and quite prolifically at that.  They’re pretty large as mushrooms go and are often grilled.  They are also known for their medicinal value.  That pretty picture above comes courtesy of Kristen Taylor.

Sunchoke
Sunchokes are an underground vegetable.  Kind of alike a potato in form, sunchokes are nutty and often used in salads.  Deep frying them is fun too.

Swiss chard
Swiss chard, or chard for short, is a leafy vegetable closely related to beets. It’s popular in Mediterranean cuisine.

Tubot
A flat fish, turbot hails from areas like the North Atlantic and Black Sea.  It’s fairly lean and flavorful, often filleted, and cooked in a fashion similar to sole.

Umami
It’s a Japanese term that references the savoury flavors one might get as it naturally occurs in many of the foods we eat.  It’s subtle and really requires a much longer explanation.  Thank goodness for them there internets.

See, this stuff isn’t so hard!  Okay gang, that wraps up this week’s “What Ingredient Was That?”  I hope you found this post useful; please feel free to ask about other things or expand on what I’ve said down below in the comments!

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