In our first partnership class with Locol, Chef Daniel Patterson, co-founder of both Locol and The Cooking Project, taught us how to make a deceivingly simple, yet delicious chicken soup that’s fit for any weeknight meal. We also learned how to balance salt, fat, bitterness, and acid in a salad-making exercise. Check out the simple soup recipe at the bottom of this page!
Locol in Uptown Oakland actually closed its doors from 4-5pm just for our class! We hope to do more classes in their professional kitchen soon!
First, we chopped up a bunch of ingredients for the soup, including chicken thighs (bones removed), carrots, ginger, garlic, cabbage, onion, and tofu. Then, we browned the chicken on the flat top and added into a large pot. To the pot, we added the onions, garlic and ginger, and let that get nice and soft. And then added water and red miso, which is fermented soy paste, available at most grocery stores. We also all got to try the miso by itself. It’s pretty salty and full of flavor. Lastly, we threw in the rest of the veggies we chopped up, put a lid on it, and moved onto our salads lesson.
To begin the salad session, we did a side-by-side tasting of several different types of lettuce and radicchio. Starting off with romaine, which has a nice mild flavor. We moved up to endive, which has a denser texture and slightly more bitter. Then, we tried a few different types of radicchio, which Chef told us originated in Italy, where it used to grow in the wild. These radicchio were super bitter and kind of spicy.
Then, to learn about how salt, fat, and acid balance this bitterness, we had a salad-making competition. Split into groups of four, the first group made salad with just hearts of romaine. The second group had a combination of romaine and endive. The third group combined romaine, endive, and red radicchio, and the fourth group had a salad with just two types of radicchio.
Chef explained that seasoning food is about balance. Taken from the Coi book:
Salt pulls up acidity, pushes down sweet and bitter. Acidity pushes down salt, sweet and bitter. Bitter balances sweet. And sweet softens salt and acid, mutes bitter.
So, we experimented with different levels of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and pepper, by consistently tasting, until we figured out the right balance. Each salad required dramatically different amounts of each ingredient. For example, the romaine-only salad, (romaine being the least bitter of the lettuces), needed only a little bit of oil, cheese, vinegar, and salt. However, the radicchio-only salad, required more white wine vinegar (acid), and fat (cheese and oil), but not much salt to create the best tasting salad.
In the end, I think we all enjoyed the salad with the combination of lettuces the most. It had the most variety and texture.
Thanks chef for all the tips!
Quick Chicken Soup
5 tablespoons cooking oil (olive oil or vegetable oil are ok)
5-6 chicken thighs, bones removed
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of ginger, minced or grated
3 yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup red miso
1 whole cabbage, julienned
4 carrots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 package firm tofu, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
Prep all ingredients that above that need chopping.
Chop chicken thighs into 2-inch cubes. Brown them in a medium stock pot for about 5 minutes until nice and browned on all sides.
Add onions to the pot and stir with chicken until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant. Add red miso and add water until it fills half the pot, about 6 cups, depending on pot size. Stir until miso is incorporated. Add in cabbage and carrots and bring to a boil.
Add tofu, bring to a simmer, then cover for about 30 minutes. Pull out a carrot, try it to see if it’s done to your liking. If so, taste the broth, and add salt to taste.