Topolobampo chef de cuisine Brian Enyart challenged Mike Sheerin, consulting chef at the Three Floyds Brewpub and chef-owner of the yet-to-open restaurant the Trencherman, to come up with a recipe using guaje seeds for this installment of our weekly feature.
Guaje seeds, says Mike Sheerin, are similar to pumpkin seeds. Brian Enyart would agree—but he takes it a little further. "I would say if you were to put black garlic, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and okra together, it would be a guaje," Enyart explained.
The seeds of pods from the acacia tree, guajes can be eaten raw when fresh, but the dried seeds Sheerin used were much tougher. "It reminded me of a stone, actually," he said. "It's hard, when you bite into it, it's a little minerally, kind of grassy." Tasting it took him back to a cupping he did at Intelligentsia where he tasted "this very green coffee from Argentina. So I started thinking about coffee."
His first task, though, was to make the guaje seeds edible, which he achieved by frying them. The heat makes the seeds puff and brings out the sugar in them, which "caramelizes and makes it very pleasant to eat."
"I was still in a coffee mind-set, though," he continues. "One of my favorite flavors with coffee is sugar, honestly. Coffee and beets are a very good combination because there's a little bitterness and then there's the inherent sweetness from roasted beets."
Sheerin didn't end up putting coffee in the dish, but he did use beets, roasting them in a little Robert the Bruce beer "in the spirit of cooking with [Three Floyds] beer." Then he ground the fried guaje seeds, making a powder that he used in a streusel to coat the beets.
Other elements of the dish included smoked whitefish, mustard curry, and bamboo rice, a green rice from Asia that Sheerin compares to jasmine rice. "It has a very vegetal, grassy, kind of slight sweetness." He chose it "mainly just because it was green, but the flavor is quite delicious as well." After cooking the rice, he ground it and rolled it into a small log, sliced it, and deep-fried the pieces.
As he finished plating the dish, he said, "Because it's still slightly sweet, I'm going to add a little mustard green, just to give it a little bit of bite. I do like my greens."
"I think it's tasty," Sheerin said after trying it. "The smoke plays really nicely into the curry, and then the earthiness of the beets and the seeds with a slight sweetness behind it work very well with the curry.
"The guaje seed is definitely earthier and dirtier than the beet, and there's a lot of sweetness coming through with the roasting of it."
Sheerin's one criticism of his dish was that it needed a little more acidity. If he made it again, he said, he'd add a little lemon juice to the curry.
Video by Michael Gebert/Sky Full of Bacon
Fried Bamboo Rice
Bamboo rice (can substitute jasmine rice)
Salt to taste
Oil (anything with a neutral flavor)
Cook the rice in water until very soft. Grind in a meat grinder, roll into a one-inch-wide cylinder in plastic, and chill. Slice into ¾-inch tall pieces. Heat oil to 350 degrees in a deep pot, then add bamboo rice pieces and cook for 1-2 minutes, until golden.
3 T yellow curry powder
¼ cup butter
¼ cup Dijon mustard
Sweat onions in the butter, then add curry powder. Puree with the mustard.
Guaje Seed Streusel
2 cups guaje seeds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
¼ lb melted butter
Oil (anything with a neutral flavor)
Fry the guaje seeds in oil at 350 degrees, then grind using a food processor. Mix with the other ingredients, spread on a cookie sheet, and cook at 300 degrees for ten minutes.
Robert the Bruce beer
Pour a little beer into a pan with the beets and roast at 350 degrees until tender. Let cool, slip the skins off, and use an apple corer to carve out cylinders. Roll in the guaje seed streusel (recipe above).
3 fillets whitefish
30 g sugar
60 g salt
1,000 g water
Mix sugar, salt, and water, and soak the fish in it for ten minutes. Drain, let dry for 20 minutes until a pellicle forms. Smoke for seven minutes, then bake at 300 degrees for about five minutes.
Spoon a little mustard curry on the plate, then place a few pieces of fried bamboo rice on top. Add a piece of fish and couple cylinders of the beets coated in guaje seed streusel. Top with a few mustard greens.
Patrick Sheerin—Mike's brother—executive chef at the Signature Room at the 95th, cooking with hops pellets. One of the four main ingredients in beer, hops are something Mike's been thinking about a lot since he started at Three Floyds. "It's acidic, it's astringent, it's floral, and honestly, I'm starting to grow to love it quite a bit." As for his brother: "Anytime I get a chance to call him out, I do."