Perlemoen, Kohlrabi and Sea Lettuce at The Kitchen at Maison

Words: Jess Spiro

If you haven’t been to visit The Kitchen at Maison, then now is the ideal time to go. The restaurant, commanded by chef Arno Janse van Rensburg, has just launched a refreshed new menu and it’s a celebration of refined techniques and unusual, local ingredients, all while maintaining a restrained and simple tone.
Chef Arno is no stranger to public acclaim, as The Kitchen at Maison has been awarded a spot in the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards Top 20 for 3 years running. But this new menu is bigger than any award, it’s more personal than any other has been. Staying true to himself and his surrounds, chef Arno has put together a truly special meal.

As if one ever needed a reason to get out to beautiful Franschhoek, here is another one. The menu, while exciting, may not be around for too long as each dish is inspired by local and seasonal ingredients and can change at any moment. Put together your own tasting menu of sorts, by trying a number of dishes and revel in the full experience.
Crush: What was the inspiration behind the dish?
Arno: I took a minimal approach to the design of this dish, purely because abalone has such a unique flavor and texture. Keeping all ingredients a whitish color so everything looks similar, the texture of the fermented kohlrabi is also slightly more chewy than the fresh application, making the textures very similar to the abalone. The sea lettuce is dehydrated and ground into a spice and mixed with seasoning, to make a seaweed salt. This is to elevate the ocean flavor and aroma.

Crush: Can you tell us a bit about where your Perlemoen is sourced from – this is obviously a controversial ingredient.
Arno: We only used farmed abalone from Hermanus. You also need a license to sell the abalone in the restaurant, and this is a very timely process to go through.

Crush: Kohlrabi is not an ingredient we see often, can you tell us a bit about it and its flavour?
Arno: It has a peppery flavor when used very fresh, almost radish like. It also has the texture of a radish. The leaves are quite cabbage like in flavor. We use two applications of kohlrabi, freshly sliced as well as fermented with salt.

Perlemoen in a Lemon Dressing with Kohlrabi and Sea Lettuce Salt

Serves: 4
Difficulty: a little effort
Prep time:  45 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes (+ overnight)

100 g fresh kohlrabi
1 g salt
250 g cleaned Perlemoen, sustainably sourced (see note)
a handful (10 g) of sea lettuce

Lemon dressing
1/3 C (80 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) honey
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 C (250 ml) canola oil
1 tsp (5 g ) xanthan gum
salt and pepper

Start this recipe about 3 days before you wish to serve.

Peel and halve the kohlrabi. Finely slice, using a mandolin if you have one, or a very sharp knife. Sprinkle with salt and place in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You’ll know when it’s fermented when tiny bubbles form and it has a slightly acidic smell, it must not smell rotten though – if it does, throw it away and start again with a clean container.

Vacuum-seal the Perlemoen and sous vide at 68 °C for 10 hours.

Preheat the oven to 120 °C. Wash the sea lettuce extremely well under running water – at least three times – place on an oven tray and dry overnight in the oven. Once dried, pop it in a blender and grind to a powder.

Lemon dressing
Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, honey and mustard in a food processor, and then slowly add the canola oil. Turn speed to high and blend in the xanthan for 2 minutes. Taste and check seasoning.

To Serve
Slice the remaining kohlrabi on the mandolin.
Remove the perlemoen from the vac-bag and toss in the lemon dressing.
Plate up the fermented kohlrabi, as well as the sliced fresh kohlrabi and top with the perlemoen. Sprinkle with the sea lettuce powder and serve.

Important Note: Ensure that you’re only buying farmed perlemoen from a sustainable source by checking your fishmonger’s license.

To make a reservation for this special new menu, call  021 876 2116 or visit the website for online bookings. | Facebook | Twitter

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