Victor Casanova uses ginger oil for this tonno crudo—ahi tuna, coriander seed and lemon
salt—on the menu at Culina.
Guard’s ahi poke, which is served with
hijiki seaweed, miso emulsion and an
avocado purée. Peanut oil is served with
Hong Kong style steamed fish, while
Persian lime oil, with its citrus/floral flavor,
brings life to Guard’s hamachi crudo.
For frying, Guard reaches for vegetable oil.
His favorite choices for baking are canola,
peanut, walnut, olive and corn oils.
Sessoms has been using alternative oils
for 12 years. One of his favorites is the
pumpkin-seed oil he first tasted in Austria
and now makes himself. “In Austria, they
often dress salads with pumpkin-seed oil,
which has a dark green color and a very
pungent flavor,” Sessoms says. “If you
know the taste of toasted pumpkin seeds,
that’s exactly what the oil tastes like.”
WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?
At Table, a 48-seat bistro-style restaurant
in Asheville, N.C., chef/owner Jacob
He likes pairing his oils with the fruit, nut
or vegetable from which they are derived.
“When you do that, it really hits the palate in a
different way and makes the dish come alive.”
OIL INFUSION TIPS
“Explore and play around with oil
infusions,” says Jacob Sessoms, chef/
owner, Table, Asheville, N.C. “Heat a
spoonful, see what it tastes like and what
it reminds you of, and consider how you
can pair it with other flavors. Before you
get started, though, do some research
on the temperature flashpoint of each oil,
remembering that a high-flashpoint oil is
used for cooking, while a low-flashpoint oil
is used for dressing.”
The process of infusing oils is so simple
that the possibilities are endless, says
Victor Casanova, chef at Culina, Modern
Italian at the Four Seasons Los Angeles
at Beverly Hills. “Try anything, from fruit
to spices, and you’ll find you can create
really unique flavored oils.”
By playing around, you can see what
works, says Shea Gallante, chef/owner,
Ciano, New York. “Infused oils are a
simple and inexpensive way to get some
good end results. They keep well, and
they can really enhance a dish.”
He serves radicchio salad with hard-cooked
egg, creme fraiche, radish, toasted pumpkin
seeds, salmon roe and pumpkin-seed oil.
Another favorite is argon-seed oil, which
Sessoms uses as a garnish for a roasted
cauliflower dish served with Marcona
almonds, capers, raisins and ras el hanout.
“Argon oil is also known as Moroccan
almond oil, and it’s derived from a nut
tree in North Africa,” Sessoms says. “It’s
a thick, rich oil, dark-green in color, and
carries a wonderful earthy, nutty flavor.
When I pair it with roasted cauliflower and
ras el hanout, it brings a lovely tagine-like
characteristic to the dish.”
Macadamia nut and lime oils enhance ahi
poke at TAG Raw Bar.
Most nut oils have a low flashpoint but
a potent flavor profile. Sessoms uses
hazelnut oil to carry flavor to his artichoke
salad, which is served with hazelnuts and
shaved aged goat cheese.