Masa 14 featuring Latin Asian small plates is one of my most favorite restaurants in DC. Several months ago, we took a group of friends to the restaurant who were very hesitant to go as they were worried about “fusion” food being all art and no taste. Did they like it? Well, let me tell you this: At the end of the meal, they have the chef a standing ovation!
At the helm of this very innovative kitchen is Chef Antonio Burrell and I caught up with him recently to entice him to share a recipe, tell me where his gets his inspiration and to share with you all a new and interesting series of events that the chef has in store at the restaurant.
1. I think you are one of the most talented chefs’ in DC. Can you tell me a little about your culinary training?
My culinary training has been self-taught as I worked by way up through various kitchens. As I was learning, I picked restaurants that inspired me, where I could grow and learn different techniques. Some of my previous restaurant experience before coming to Masa 14 includes: Aquavit, Minneapolis, Vidalia and Bistro Bis in DC and most recently before joining Masa, Commonwealth Gastropub also in DC.
2. If you had to pick your two favorite ingredients to cook with, they would be? And why?
Soy sauce & Duck- both ingredients are so versatile and can be prepared in countless ways to create interesting combinations.
3. I am in awe of how you combine flavors and textures. Can you give my readers a few tips on how they can create exciting dishes at home by combining textures?
There are three things that I consider when composing a dish: flavor first then color and texture. I lay out all of the ingredients that will compose the dish and try to envision what element can bring crunch to the dish. Sometimes it is adding an item that complements the dish, but more often than not, I will try to utilize an ingredient featured within the dish and transform it to a second crunchy preparation to add that texture.
4. What inspired you do this new “melting pot” menu? Tell me little about the current menu and the upcoming ones.
We were looking to give diners a unique experience at Masa 14. Many of our guests are repeat customers and it’s great to be able to give them something new and interesting to taste when they join us for dinner. So many guests think about our unique flavor combinations as just fusion- we wanted to show the reasons behind many of these culinary influences and educate guests about how these flavors came together. Lastly, it gives us the chance to test out some new items- if there are favorites, we might just add them to the menu down the road.
Monica’s note: The first melting pot menu focuses on Manila and Spain and how Spain influenced the cuisine in Manila. Trust me, you do not want to miss this one.
Here are some of the photos of the dishes you can enjoy:
(From L to R)
| bangus — steamed whitefish / snow peas / country ham / golden raisins
| lumpia de dizon — pork / shrimp / scallion / sweet chili sauce
| pansit palabok – clear noodles / blue crab / boiled egg / chicharonnes
suman sa ibos — glutinous sweet rice / coconut milk / caramelized mango
5. Do you have one simple recipe that you could share with my readers?
Cucumber gazpacho, this is a springtime favorite that will be going on the menu soon.
2 each cucumbers, peeled, seeded and rough chopped
1 oz red onion, chopped
2-3 Garlic cloves, roasted slow ( use a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to roast the garlic)
.25 oz Challah Bread, crust removed and diced, toasted
1 Anaheim Chilis, fried, peeled and seeded ( I did not fry mine for this recipe – MB)
1/4 cup Pumpkin seeds, fried and salted
2 Tomatillos, peeled, diced and gently panfried
1 Avocados, seeded, peeled and diced
1/2 cup Yogurt
.25 oz Sherry vinegar
2 oz Green seedless grapes
Salt and pepper as needed
5 ea basil leaves
5 ea mint leaves
1. Place all ingredients in blender and process till smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and chill
2. Label, date and refrigerate. When ready to serve, garnish with any of the things below!
Sliced seedless grapes, marinated in sherry vinegar and agave; crab meat seared with shallots and chilled; fried pumpkin seeds tossed with salt and togarashi; diced cucumber, red pepper and Anaheim chili; olive oil.
MB: Many, many thanks to the lovely Soma Rathore of ecurry.com for taking these beautiful photos of the gazpacho.