Umami-rich seaweed is popping up in the most unexpected ways. It rims cocktails at Chicago's Yusho (one of Tasting Table's picks for the top cocktails of 2012) and is fried into chips at San Francisco's Saison. But at the new Nashville restaurant Rolf and Daughters, chef Philip Krajeck is whipping momoya, a seaweed-and-dashi paste, into butter. As a child, Krajek traveled to coastal Normandy, where seaweed-flecked beurre and brioche were routine table toppers. Now he brings a taste of Normandy to his Nashville breadbasket. If you can't find momoya, no worries: Krajek shared his recipe for a homemade version that we're happy to break bread over.
Recipe adapted from Philip Krajeck, Rolf & Daughters, Nashville, TN
Yield: ½ pound seaweed butter, plus extra seaweed paste
5 sheets kombu, rinsed with cold water
2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1¼ teaspoons sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2½ teaspoons mirin
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ pound butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for serving
1 small baguette, thinly sliced on a bias
1 bunch radishes
1. In a large saucepan set over high heat, add the kombu, soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and granulated sugar. Add enough water to cover the kombu completely. Bring the liquid to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the kombu is very tender, 2 to 3 hours. Strain the mixture into a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the kombu to a blender and add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until a thick, smooth purée forms, adding more cooking liquid as needed. Transfer the seaweed paste to an airtight container and cool completely before using. (Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, ¼ cup of the prepared seaweed paste (or 2 tablespoons of momoya) and the sea salt. Beat the mixture together until combined and lightly aerated, about 5 minutes. Serve the seaweed butter with the baguette slices, radishes and additional sea salt.
*Recipe Note: The seaweed paste can be substituted with 2 tablespoons of the prepared seaweed paste called momoya.