Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Part of Ep. 1805 Basil and Landscape Lighting

Chef Wave Kasprzak, co-owner of The Dining Room at 209 Main in Monticello shares some great basil recipes including Thai basil shrimp and a basil bread salad.

Premiere date: Jul 21, 2010

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
We're at the demonstration kitchen at Carr Valley Cheese in Sauk City. And we are here to cook basil, now that we know how to grow it. I've with Wave Kasprzak. He is the chef and co-owner of the Dining Room at 209 Main in Monticello. Marvelous restaurant, you guys have a wonderful reputation. And 2010 also celebrates the publication of your first cookbook.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yep, it's a book about not just recipes of the restaurants and my cooking classes but it's about the people who make the restaurant run. All of our employees, our guests.

Shelley Ryan:
It's going to be a bestseller, I want a copy.

Wave Kasprzak:
I hope so.

Shelley Ryan:
Well, we're focusing on basil, so what are you going to do?

Wave Kasprzak:
I'm going to do three dishes today. First we're going to do a salmon hash salmon and fennel hash with fresh basil. So we're going to do a little cooking of the basil. And we're going to add that right at the end so we keep that freshness of the basil, not overcooking it.

Shelley Ryan:
So it's an herb that we don't add at the beginning.

Wave Kasprzak:
Otherwise you can kind of lose your flavor of it. The second dish we're going to do is an Italian bread salad, so we'll use the basil in a pesto-type dressing.

Shelley Ryan:
Okay.

Wave Kasprzak:
Some Cannellini beans cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives. And then the third dish is a Thai curry coconut shrimp. And we're going to use Thai basil which has quite a bit stronger flavor. We're going to start with our salmon hash. So we're going to get some oil in the pan. I've just got vegetable oil, but whatever type of oil you want to use is fine. Whatever your favorite is, like olive oil. Get that hot. We're going to start with our vegetables. We've got some sweet red peppers onions, garlic, and some fresh fennel, also.

Shelley Ryan:
Let me grab the fennel, because this isn't something that everybody grows. This is bulbous fennel, rather than the herb fennel.

Wave Kasprzak:
Right.

Shelley Ryan:
And I hate to say it has a licorice flavor because I don't care for licorice, but it has kind of an anisey, licorice taste. I love it.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, and I think it goes well with the basil because they've got some similarities in their flavor. So we will start with our onions and some of our pepper. And our fennel. Some fresh garlic.

Shelley Ryan:
That works in anything.

Wave Kasprzak:
Absolutely.

Shelley Ryan:
When I try that, it goes all over the counter.

(both laugh)

Wave Kasprzak:
That'll happen. We'll let the vegetables cook for just a minute or two. Then we're going to add, I've got some potatoes that I've already cooked ahead of time, just simmer them in a little water because if you put them in raw, they won't cook all the way. We're starting to get a little bit of color on some of our onions here and our fennel. So they're starting to cook a bit. Now we're going to add our potatoes.

Shelley Ryan:
Are they fork tender, is that how you decide they're pre-cooked enough?

Wave Kasprzak:
You just don't want to get them so they're falling apart. They should be able to hold together. And then we will add our salmon. So this is going to take probably another four or five minutes just till the salmon's cooked through.

We can start on the dressing for the bread salad. And that is going to entail a little bit of garlic. I've got some chopped garlic here already. And basil leaves. I toasted some pine nuts, just so they get a little color just over some low heat. That will help bring the oils out a little bit.

Shelley Ryan:
So you're making the pesto.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, and it's not really a pesto. It's more of a pesto-style dressing. And then we're going to put a little flat-leaf parsley in there, also.

Shelley Ryan:
And this is in the pesto dressing?

Wave Kasprzak:
Yes.

Shelley Ryan:
Okay.

Wave Kasprzak:
And some fresh lemon juice. We're going to add a little bit of rice vinegar.

Shelley Ryan:
For a very light dressing, okay.

Wave Kasprzak:
A little more acidity. And we're going to give that...

Shelley Ryan:
This is a wonderful toy, by the way. I have one of these.

Wave Kasprzak:
These are amazing. (food processor whirs) Now we're going to add our olive oil. And also a little grated parmesan.

Shelley Ryan:
Oh, that smells wonderful. One of these smells wonderful already.

Wave Kasprzak:
So there's the dressing. We'll give that a taste. See what you think.

Shelley Ryan:
It tastes like summer.

Wave Kasprzak:
Mm-hm, I think that'll work really well.

Shelley Ryan:
That's beautiful.

Wave Kasprzak:
I'll take a look at our hash again here.

Shelley Ryan:
Now, what makes you say that the salmon is close to done now?

Wave Kasprzak:
It's starting to flake apart a little bit. A lot of times people ask me how do you know when fish is done? Like we had said earlier, overcooking or undercooking, the easiest way is just to take a piece and break it open, I think.

Shelley Ryan:
And it's flaking.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, it's flaking real nice. Still a little pink in the middle. We'll give it maybe another minute. So, we've got our dressing for our bread salad. Now, we're going to add all of our other components. I've got some cucumber. I've got it peeled and seeded. That's a personal preference. If you want to leave the seeds in, that is absolutely fine. We've got some nice grape tomatoes. Some kalamata olives and that'll give it a little bit of saltiness.

Shelley Ryan:
One of my favorite flavors.

Wave Kasprzak:
I love 'em. And some Cannellini beans.

Shelley Ryan:
Oh, that's an interesting addition.

Wave Kasprzak:
And then we've got our toasted bread. We've got it toasted so it's a little crunchy, and this is going to give the salad some really nice texture, so you get that crunchiness. We're going to add our dressing. This is nice kind of just by itself. You can serve it over some greens if you want. We can add our basil to the hash. I've got some nice fresh basil there. And we'll hit it with a little salt and pepper, also. And just the heat...

Shelley Ryan:
It's going to finish cooking on its own. That's the trick to remember.

Wave Kasprzak:
There's our salmon hash. And then on to our final dish, which is our Thai curry coconut shrimp.

Shelley Ryan:
This is the one that has me intrigued.

Wave Kasprzak:
So I've got some nice sized shrimp. I always like using big shrimp.

Shelley Ryan:
I see those are wonderful looking.

Wave Kasprzak:
Always pretty impressive. These are really nice ones. It's one of the best inventions ever. They're called "easy-peel" shrimp. The back of the shell is already slit and the vein is taken out.

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, I was going to ask about that. That's the part that always intimidates me.

Wave Kasprzak:
And it's not fun, usually, peeling shrimp.

Shelley Ryan:
So these just...

Wave Kasprzak:
And the shell just comes right off. I've got another one down here.

Shelley Ryan:
And you're leaving the tail on?

Wave Kasprzak:
Just leave the tail on. It's mostly just for aesthetics. So we've got our shrimp.

Shelley Ryan:
The only reason I ask that is the very first time in my life I had shrimp we got done eating and my dad said, "Where are your tails?"

(both laugh)

And I said, "What tails?"

Wave Kasprzak:
They're gone.

Shelley Ryan:
Didn't know I was supposed to avoid that. We're going to start again with a little bit of oil.

Shelley Ryan:
You always heat the pan up first and then put the oil in.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yep.

Shelley Ryan:
Okay.

Wave Kasprzak:
And then we'll add our shrimp.
Shelley Ryan:
And how do you know when shrimp are done? I know when they start to curl is one hint.

Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, when they start to curl, and again I'll just open them up when they're still a little translucent on the inside. And then again, that residual heat will finish them.

Shelley Ryan:
And they turn pink, right?

Wave Kasprzak:
We will add our garlic. Some of our pepper and onion. Here's our Thai curry paste. You can get Thai curry paste in either red or green. Red is a little spicier. It's very different from an Indian curry. It's Thai curry. It's got garlic and chiles, and usually some ginger in it. I love it, it's a great ingredient. And some fresh lime. This is our coconut milk.

Shelley Ryan:
And that's readily available these days.

Wave Kasprzak:
That really is, which is great. I really like using it. You don't have to add any outside thickeners to your sauces, so it's real nice. So now, we're going to add our lime juice first. And this will give it a little bit of acidity. And then we'll add our curry paste and that will give it some heat.

Shelley Ryan:
Now, you're adding maybe two teaspoons, it looks like?

Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, about that. Give it a stir.

Shelley Ryan:
Try to break that up in there, okay.

Wave Kasprzak:
A little bit of soy.

Shelley Ryan:
And we will have these recipes on our website, thank you.

Wave Kasprzak:
And then our coconut milk. This is kind of nice because, like the hash, it's all in one pan with the sauce. Just bring that to a boil and we'll add our basil right at the end, and be ready to dish it up.

Shelley Ryan:
That smells wonderful.
Wave Kasprzak:
Yeah, I really like cooking with curry paste. I don't know, it just has such great flavor.

Shelley Ryan:
And coconut milk has become one of those things that's always in my cupboard.

Wave Kasprzak:
Mm-hm. Here is our basil. I'm just going to turn that heat off, give this a quick stir. And we're ready to plate that, also.

Shelley Ryan:
So we've got three dishes using basil in completely different fashions. We've got the salmon hash, cooked with the basil. We've got the bread salad, and a Thai dish with the Thai basil.

Wave Kasprzak:
Oh, I love this. There you are.

Wave Kasprzak:
And a big thanks to Carr Valley for letting us cook here. Thank you, Wave.

Wave Kasprzak:
You bet, thank you very much.

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