Chef Raymond Jackson's Recipes Using a Japanese Slicer

Chef Raymond Jackson of Alvin & Friends and his Japanese slicer



Photo by Andre Baranowski

In the last 100 years of kitchen design, the general trend has been that, with each new era, the batterie de cuisine has become more complicated. A century ago, chefs in the top restaurants worked with a basic trio of flame, pot, and pan; these days, even an average restaurant cook is skilled in the use of induction burners and immersion circulators. The progress toward greater intricacy is a boon for the kitchen supply stores that profit from every expensive gadget introduced to the culinary repertoire. But for home cooks, the better news is that some revolutionary designers are trying to streamline the gadgetry, taking even the most overwrought of classic tools and making them cheaper and more functional.

An example of modern simplification is the Japanese slicer, which is a light plastic deck with an angled blade embedded in its center. By scraping vegetables down the deck, chefs can achieve a variety of special cuts—from paper-thin slices and juliennes, to grid or waffle-cuts. The slicer, priced at about $40, challenges the classic French kitchen torture device: the mandoline. The stainless-steel mandoline is identical in function to the Japanese slicer, but it bears hinged, gawky arms that prop the needlessly long, heavy deck into a 45-degree orientation. The mandoline also sports tweaky fittings that require constant adjustment, but the kicker is the mandoline’s prohibitive $160 price tag. Predictably, Japanese slicers have now virtually replaced mandolines in professional kitchens.

We asked Chef Raymond Jackson of New Rochelle’s chic Alvin & Friends to show off this innovative tool’s range. Jackson, an Institute of Culinary Education graduate who cooked at Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke before heading up the New Rochelle kitchen, says, “I’ve used a French mandoline. Not only have I seen too many injuries with it, but I prefer the light, compact, easy-to-use portability of the Japanese variety.” Freed from the mandoline’s steely grip, Jackson uses the Japanese slicer all over his menus. Here are four recipes that show off what it can do.

NOTE: You may find the Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer at Chef Central (45 S Central Ave, Hartsdale 914-328-1376), Harris Restaurant Supply (25 Abendroth Ave, Port Chester
914-937-0404), and online at amazon.com.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Serves 6-8

Photo by Andre Baranowski


■  4 large eggs
■  1 qt heavy cream
■  1 cup light brown sugar
■  2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
■  1 Tbsp ground cumin
■  1½ tsp salt
■  1½ tsp black pepper
■  5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8” thick

Preheat oven to 350º F. Generously butter an 8”x13” baking pan. In a bowl, combine the eggs, cream, sugar, and spices. Layer the gratin: slightly overlap slices of sweet potato to cover bottom of dish. Top with some of the cream mixture. Repeat, alternating potatoes and cream, until all used.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 2 hours or until potatoes are tender. A knife inserted in the center should slide out easily. Remove foil and continue to bake until gratin is slightly browned on top. Serve immediately.

Note: Chef Jackson also suggests adding crumbled goat cheese, chopped hazelnuts, pecans, or even a splash of whiskey (he likes Maker’s Mark) to your gratin.

Find Chef Jackson’s recipe for cabbage slaw at westchestermagazine.com

 

Vegetable Chow-Chow

Photo by Andre Baranowski

Serves 4-5

MAKE THE DRESSING
■  1 cup rice vinegar
■  1 cup red wine vinegar
■  3 bay leaves
■  6 black peppercorns
■  2 whole cloves
■  1 Tbsp + 1 tsp red pepper flakes
■  3 whole garlic cloves
■  2 sprigs thyme (you can also use dill and/or rosemary)
■  hot sauce to taste (Chef Jackson uses The Original “Louisiana”
Hot Sauce brand)

Place all ingredients in a non-reactive pot and bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

MAKE THE CHOW-CHOW
■  ½ red onion, cut in quarters then sliced
■  ¼ cucumber, cut in half
■  ½ carrot, peeled
■  1 green tomato, cut in large dice
■  2 jalapeño chiles, sliced

Slice the vegetables. (You may also julienne the carrots and cucumber on the Japanese slicer—according to Chef Jackson, the cut is “is entirely up to your preference.”) Combine the vegetables, then strain the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and place in a non-reactive (glass, plastic, or stainless steel) container. Chef Jackson recommends sprinkling with sea salt. May be held in refrigerator for up to one week.

Note: This spicy, tart salad can be used to brighten fish dishes or add some kick to mixed greens. Says Chef Jackson, “You can use other vegetables—cauliflower or celery work well.”

 

Snapper Fricassee en Bolsas

Serves 4

 



■  4 sheets of aluminum foil, cut into rectangles
the size of legal paper (8 ½” x 14”)
■  4 snapper filets
■  1 zucchini, sliced ¼" thick
■  1 yellow squash, sliced ¼" thick
■  1 red onion, sliced thin
■  1 pint grape tomatoes
■  4 Tbsp capers, rinsed
■  ¼ cup pitted olives (niçoise or kalamata)
■  ¼ cup chopped cilantro
■  ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
■  ¼ cup chopped tarragon
■  white wine, to taste
■  olive oil, to taste
■  salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F. In a medium sized bowl, combine vegetables, herbs, and seasonings. Season filets with salt and pepper and set aside. Crease aluminum foil down center (lengthwise) and place the seasoned vegetables in a small, flat pile near the center of the crease. Place a filet on top of the vegetables. Fold over top half of foil and crimp edges all around to seal package completely. Place packages directly on center rack of oven and allow to roast for 12 to 14 minutes (depending on the filets’ thickness). When done, remove bags from oven. To serve, place bags on plate. Slice bags open from the top (be careful not to be burned by escaping steam), and finish the dish with a generous squeeze of fresh lime.

 

Yucca Crusted Mahi

Serves 4

■  4 six- to seven-ounce mahi mahi steaks
■  1 large yucca, peeled then julienned on Japanese slicer using finest blade
■  ½ cup whole grain mustard
■  salt and black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, season the julienned yucca with salt and pepper (or your favorite spice blend). Season the mahi with salt and pepper, and rub the top liberally with mustard. Press the seasoned yucca onto the coated side of the fish. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400° F.
Place a large, oven-safe sauté pan on medium-high heat; add just enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once oil is hot, carefully place mahi steaks into pan, yucca side down. Sear for two minutes or until yucca starts to brown (check the edges).
Using a spatula, turn the fish over and place the pan in the oven. Bake the fish for approximately 9 to 10 minutes (depending on its thickness). When the fish is cooked, remove it from the pan and gently blot it on paper towels. Serve with either cabbage slaw or chow-chow, below.
 

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