Earlier this month, MICHELIN unveiled the 2019 selection for California—the very first statewide guide in America. At a reception held at the Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, chefs and industry insiders gathered for a live revelation while noshing on bites by Michael Cimarusti (of two-MICHELIN-starred Providence in Los Angeles), Mourad Lahlou (of one-MICHELIN-starred Mourad in San Francisco) and celebrated chef Wolfgang Puck.
Melissa Perello, chef/owner of Frances and one-MICHELIN-starred Octavia, both in San Francisco—and the soon-to-open M. Georgina in Los Angeles—was on deck as well, serving up marinated beef brochettes paired with pickled ramp salsa verde.
"Usually we stock our larder with pickled ramps for the year that we pickle in the spring," adds Perello, "but you could also use pickled or fermented beans, like green beans or Romano beans."
This is fare fit for a beach party. Here’s how to make it at home.
Koji Marinated Wagyu Beef Brochettes with Pickled Ramp Salsa VerdeCourtesy of Chef/Owner Melissa Perello of Octavia and Frances, San Francisco
For the Lacto Fermented Ramps:
12 ounces filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 ounces white ramp bulbs (save the greens for sautéing)
4 ounces white wine vinegar
For the Quick Pickled Ramp Bulbs:
8 ounces white ramp bulbs
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
For the Ramp Salsa Verde:
3 ounces reserved pickled ramp bulbs
4 cups Italian parsley leaves (some stems are ok), lightly packed
2 cup mint leaves, lightly packed
4 whole anchovies
1 medium garlic clove, grated
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Herb Salad:
1/2 cup small pluches fennel fronds
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch bâtons
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, for dressing
Extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing
For the Grilled Wagyu Brochettes:
3 pounds wagyu coulotte flap, fat cap removed (also known as a picanha cut)
1/2 cup koji rice powder (alternatively, you can get rice koji and grind to a powder in your spice grinder)*
Metal or wood skewers, for assembly (If using wood, soak overnight)
1. Make the Lacto Fermented Ramps: Dissolve salt into water to make a brine. In a quart-sized mason jar or similarly sized container (make sure container is sterile—you can do this by submerging it in hot water for 30 seconds), snuggly pack the ramp bulbs. At this point, you can add any spices such as black peppercorns or coriander. Pour brine over ramps making sure to submerge. Close jar with either a fermentation lid with an airlock or a clean piece of cheesecloth held by a rubberband. Let ferment away from direct sunlight for 4 to 6 days—the ideal temperature is 68 to 74˚F. Bubbles forming and rising to the surface will be a sign that it is working. Check after 4 days for level of tartness. Ferment for 2 more days for more funk. When they are fermented to your liking, mix in vinegar and store in fridge.
2. Make the Quick Pickled Ramp Bulbs: Place bulbs snuggly in a jar or heatproof container. Bring vinegar, salt and sugar and spices, if using, to a boil. Pour over ramps and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill until needed.
3. Make the Ramp Salsa Verde: Using a sharp mandoline, shave the pickled ramp bulbs into 1/8-inch rings. Set aside. Alternatively, slice with a knife.
Place the herbs in a bowl of a food processor fitted with a sharp blade. Pulse 6 to 8 times until herbs are quite fine—less than 1/2-centimeter for the most part. Add anchovies and garlic and pulse a few more times until anchovies start to smear. Add the olive oil and blend until it just starts to emulsify. Pour into a container or bowl and fold in pickled ramp rings. If there are any bits sticking out, cover the surface with a little more olive oil. When ready to serve, mix in some lemon juice to taste.
Alternatively, take all of the herbs and pack gently onto a cutting board, tamping them into pile. Chop finely with your knife. When the herbs are almost there, add anchovies and garlic and chop, occasionally tucking any leaves from the outside into the middle until incorporated. Place in a bowl or container and fold in ramp pickled ramps. Add in olive oil, mixing with a spoon.
4. Make the Herb Salad: Wash all herbs, save chives, in a cold water and dry. Toss with chives and reserve with damp paper towel on top to keep fresh. When ready, dress lightly with lemon and olive oil.
5. Make the Grilled Wagyu Brochettes: Check coulotte for any remaining silver skin or excess fat and trim. With the fat side of the culotte on the top of the cutting board and the thin end closest to you, cut the culotte into 1-inch strips. Turn the strips, as one, ninety degrees counter clockwise. The thick side of the culotte should now be on your left. Place first skewer 1/2-inch from the left side and skewer one inch apart. Cut down equidistant between skewers to form your brochettes. It is ok if if the right most brochette with the tapered end is a bit wider than an inch. Place them into a shallow dish or cookie sheet with a lip that is long enough to fit the skewers. Season the skewers with koji, turning each skewer as you season to coat all sides. At the end, you can dredge the skewers in the any remaining koji in the tray. Let sit overnight uncovered in the refrigerator to marinate.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Dust off any caked koji that have formed about the skewers and season with kosher salt. Let come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the tapered skewers on the hottest part of the grill and the fattest ones the furthest away. Turn skewers every 2 minutes until all sides have faced the flame. This should take the culotte to medium-rare. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve off the skewers and generously top with ramp salsa verde and on the side for extra helpings. Garnish with herb salad on top and around.
*This recipe uses Cold Mountain Rice Koji which is ground into a powder in a spice mill. This koji is available at most Japanese markets.
Hero image by Aaron Hutcherson.