Coolinary New Orleans Restaurant Month with Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen

Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen

 

Coolinary New Orleans

During the month of August, experience cuisine that delights your palate and is an integral part of the history and culture of New Orleans.  This annual culinary tradition features specially priced prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus.

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"Tumblin' Dice" Tuna & Watermelon Skewers

--Chef Chris DeBarr/Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of fresh Yellowfin Tuna
  • Watermelon
  • 4-inch wooden skewers
  • Ground fennel, anise, or fennel pollen
  • Ras al-Hanout Moroccan spice blend
  • Kosher, or coarse sea salt

Tropical Glaze

  • Sweet chile garlic sauce
  • Pickapeppa Mango Spicy & Gingery Sauce
  • Splash of mango juice

Garnish:

  • Black sesame seeds, toasted
  • Aleppo chile pepper

Instructions:

Begin by rubbing the tuna on both sides (which should be cut into slabs about the height of a dinner fork or maybe a bit thicker) with the ground fennel, the spicy Ras al-Hanout blend, and just a few sprinkles of salt.  Turn a sturdy skillet to medium-high heat.  When the skillet is heated, add grapeseed oil, or a cooking oil that can best deal with high temperatures -- in other words, not extra virgin olive oil.  Sear quickly on both sides, approximately 30 seconds per side.

You want rare, just seared tuna.  Let cool 4 minutes, or chill ahead of time before assembling for your guests.  Cut the tuna into cubes about the size of a dinner table spoon, not a robustly sized soup spoon, mind you.  Cut the watermelon into the same size cubes.  The fun of the dish is that the tuna and watermelon are similar in their rosy pink hues, but texturally & taste so differently that they enhance each other: the tuna becoming meatier, the watermelon juicier & more refreshing, especially set against the spice rub & tropical glaze.  This contrast in textures is why we dubbed the dish after the Rolling Stones song that Linda Ronstadt sang to a huge hit, "Tumblin' Dice."

Skewer the tuna & watermelon cubes in an alternating pattern.  These won't be grilled so you can prepare them one hour ahead for entertaining, so long as your watermelon don't "bleed out" of juiciness.

The glaze can happen in different directions: I recommend equal parts of sweet chile garlic sauce (my brand preference is Mae Ploy) and splitting the mango component between Pickapeppa's terrific mango hot sauces with a splash of mango juice.  But I have also used a mango habanero pepper jelly made by Pepperland Farms from Pontchatoula as a principle element with the Mae Ploy.  The idea is to come up with something sticky, sweet, exotic, and not too spicy but not too fire breather hot.  Have fun concocting your own glaze!

Put a little bit of the glaze on a plate.  Twist a skewer of the tuna/watermelon to sop up a little glaze all around.  Repeat until all skewers are glazed.  Sprinkle each skewer, as desired, with black sesame seeds and the mild, fruity heat of Aleppo chile powder.

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Rebellion Crabcakes with Curry Succotash

Ingredients:
***I decided to use leftover rice as the sole breading/binding agent for our crabcakes because a) doing Asian fusion we sometimes have leftover rice, b) I have a few friends with the dreaded celiac disease, and it's made me more aware of cooking without breadcrumbs, and c) turns out to be delicious!

We use Jazzmen Louisiana jasmine rice at Rebellion, but anytime you have some extra rice instead of making a stir fry, give these crabcakes a whirl! They're very low fat, too!

  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • Approximately 1 cup to 1 1/3 cup leftover rice
  • Ground ginger, fennel/ anise, white pepper, sea salt
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade, then cut once into mince

Instructions:
As you put the crabmeat into a bowl, pick through it again for cartilage.  I use all the juice to moisten the rice.  I typically add the spices to the crabmeat, but this isn't a really heavily spiced dish.  We don't want to obscure the great flavor of Louisiana blue crabmeat, and you can always check at the end with a test mini-crabcake seared to check seasonings.  To chiffonade basil, roll the leaves into a cigar, slice very thinly.  You can't mince basil like parsley without bruising it, so I cut the fine ribbons of basil one more time to make them minced, toss with the crabmeat & spices.

Add the rice, tossing well with the crabmeat.  You should be able to tell there's enough rice to hold everything together once you can make a cohesive patty in your hand.  Usually, I find that if I briefly rinse my hands before making this style crabcake, it's easier to form the classic crabcake patty shape.  Four ounces will be large enough per serving as an appetizer, if you're making 'em for a crowd and need to weigh each crabcake for consistency.

That's it, no egg nor mayonnaise, no cream, no breading of any kind!  Made properly, they hold together like champs and sear off in a way that enhances the rice, resulting in a new way of thinking about Louisiana crabcakes.  After all, this is rice country down here in the bayous!!

You sear off each crabcake in a medium-hot skillet with a little bit of oil, typically about 2 minutes per side.  We often send each crabcake into a warm oven for an additional 3 minutes at Rebellion, but if you're cooking them as soon as made, you can skip this step.  The crabcakes could be seared 4 hours ahead for a party, then re-warmed in an oven if that made entertaining guests easier!

To make the succotash, my spice level is that similar curry to the way a grandmother might make a curry chicken salad.  I think everyone in The South understands our kind of Mississippi Masala, and while at the restaurant I use a specific bean-friendly garam masala I source from International Gourmet Market, to each his/her own.  We're talking comfort food here, not trying to make authentic Bengali or Punjabi regional curry, but I always say, "Follow your culinary Muse," and play around with it, explore seasonings like Bengali panch phoran five spice seed blend or genuine curry leaves.  You'll find your curry comfort food level!

Start by seasoning the minced onions and celery in a large skillet.  Once the vegetable soften, add your spices strong enough to carry through the incoming corn & lima beans of classic succotash.  I will say I'll save my celery leaves, finely sliced, for the very end of the dish; but whether you use a bland curry powder or an exotic melange of spices, just remember that the succotash is the landing pad for your delicate crabcakes, so don't make the succotash too overwhelming in spices.  It's all about accentuating the great crabmeat flavor!

At Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen, we use a basil aioli for the sauce.  If you're already comfortable making aioli, you won't need a recipe.  Our aioli features some roasted garlic and handfuls of basil, with a little K-Paul's Seafood Magic to go with the salt pepper, lemon juice, and is based on a 5 egg yolk batch that yields almost 2 quarts of basil aioli. If you've never made from scratch aioli, try mixing basil pesto to taste with Blue Plate Mayo & a squirt of lemon juice & good dash of Creole seasoning as a decent cheater method!

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For more information about the Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen, please visit their website.

For more information about COOLinary New Orleans Restaurant Month, please visit their website.