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Roasted Cucumbers, now in Soup!

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One of the central philosophies of Dirt Candy is that every vegetable needs to be pushed out of its comfort zone. We’ve gotten so used to cooking each vegetable in a certain way that we don’t see how much more they have to offer. Take cucumbers. Mostly we eat them raw in salads or little sandwiches, but they have so much more going on than that. So I roasted them and that’s when I realized that they were the perfect vegetable for a hot and sour soup.

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A few months ago I was messing around with roasted cucumbers and wound up turning them into a broth. The first result of this experiment was my cold cucumber soup over the summer. But really, I was holding my best idea in reserve until the weather changed. When I had tasted that roasted cucumber stock for the first time I was blown away by how Asian its flavors were. It was dark and rich, tasting of shoyu and mushrooms with a deep umami flavor I hadn’t found anywhere else. I was pretty blown away that cucumbers, a relatively common and dismissed ingredient, were suddenly giving up one of cooking’s most desired tastes with little more than changing how I cooked them.

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Once I had this broth, and once the weather changed enough for a hot soup to be viable, I had to figure out what to do with it. One thing I’ve discovered at Dirt Candy is that most people like creamy, thick soups. On the other hand, I prefer soups with deep, complex broths and that’s a tougher sell, but this roasted cucumber broth was too good to hide behind other ingredients. Since clear broths occur more in Asian soups, and since this already had the bitterness of hot and sour soup (which you usually have to add back in with other ingredients) going hot and sour was a no-brainer.

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So, hot and sour soup it was. Like my scallion pancakes, I needed to update the recipe, and that took a lot of work. I love that fresh moment of garlic you get in soup, so I sauteed some garlic in sesame oil and that became the spine of the dish, a little undercurrent that runs through it.

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Cucumber and sesame are a natural pairing, so instead of putting tofu into the soup, as is traditional, I made little medallions of black sesame paste which has a stronger, darker, more powerful taste.

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Because hot and sour soup is full of wood ear mushrooms
I julienned a bunch of them for my soup. They’re the
dark strands you see in the center of the plate.

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I alternated the medallions with bits of cucumber jelly, since it looks pretty in the bowl and it breaks up the texture. Believe it or not, texture is one of the most important things in soup and if you can keep everything from becoming one, big, mono-soggy mass your soup is going to wind up having a bigger party in people’s mouths.

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I also added in fresh cucumbers, which underline and push forward the taste of cucumber hiding deep in the roasted cucumber broth.

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And, finally, I put in some cucumber rice crisps because why not? And on top are micro-cucumber greens for freshness. The result?

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A deeply deconstructed hot and sour soup made with the amazing flavor of roasted cucumber.

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Tomato $13
tomato cake with smoked feta,
yellow tomato leather, herb puree

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll$10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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