JGV by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

JGV by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Author:Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 2019-09-04T16:00:00+00:00

Shellfish in Spiced Carrot Broth

I was still smarting as 1986 drew to a close, after Gael Greene had basically raked me over the coals. Although I hadn’t been named personally in her article, it was my work that she had found so disappointing, and I took her criticism very personally. After I recovered from that blow, I knew I had to change. New Yorkers were tired of heavy French food. But that was what I knew. Still, New Yorkers were always in a hurry. I understood. I watched them, observed them.

At the time, I was in the habit of drinking a glass of carrot juice every morning. It was delicious and refreshing. I thought, “Why don’t I use this as a sauce base instead of a stock or a fumet?” It worked, and my career pivoted on that spot. I first went back to my memories of Alsace to refamiliarize myself with the seasoning, and I used carrot cake as my profile, infusing it with sweet spices. But then I thought, “Why not infuse it with the Thai aromatics I love so much, lime leaves and lemongrass and lime juice and fish sauce?”

And I first served the sauce with shrimp, which is how I’ll present it here. But it is also fabulous with lobster. Or it could be a great base for a variety of shellfish, a kind of Thai bouillabaisse.

A whole new style evolved for me from this one revelation. I went crazy with the juices. I paired scallops with zucchini juice; I paired celery juice with Roquefort cheese for a saddle of veal. We revised and reorganized the entire menu, not by appetizers and entrées but, rather, by the new categories I was cooking in: broths, vinaigrettes, oils, and juices.

Forced by criticism into thinking anew, I combined creativity (using the carrot juice in a new way, revolutionary for its time) with knowledge few of my contemporaries had at the time (a deep immersion in the flavors of Southeast Asia); I took this creativity and knowledge and applied my long training in classical French techniques to come up with one new dish, and then I applied this idea to a broader strategy for cooking in general that I knew New Yorkers would embrace. They loved the new food, and many diners would come back simply to see what I had come up with next. They made me push myself to find more and more uncommon combinations. Because of this, I always say thank you to Gael.

This dish is such a simple one, but it’s so powerful and good. This and my entire new way of cooking is collected in my first book, Simple Cuisine, but here I want to walk you through the exact way I cooked it at Lafayette. It remains a dish I’m proud of, one that is so meaningful to me personally. In many ways, I live through the food I cook.

Here I love the way the sweetness of the sauce matches the sweetness of the shellfish; I love the combination of earth and sea and the heat from the Thai chilies.


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