January 2011

Kürbiskernöl

recipe by SANG YOON

SARAH
TAYLOR

MAREN CARUSO

Sourcing the best of the best is essential when you’ve built a reputation for explosive flavors and impeccable, deceptively simple preparations. Sang Yoon, chef-owner of über-gastropub Father’s Office in Culver City, is an uncompromising seeker of top-of-the-line ingredients.

So what culinary component heads up his list? Well, pumpkin-seed oil. Yoon says the highest quality of the condiment comes from Styria, in southeast Austria. Kürbiskernöl—as it is known in German—is a rich green-brown color and tastes distinctively, deliciously nutty. Touting the oil’s “amazing complexity of flavor,” Yoon recom­mends it as an addition to sweet, earthy roasted beets, an ideal winter side. The rich elixir may also be deployed as a drizzled accent on soups, pastas and risottos and as a player in dressings and marinades.

Given its myriad uses and unique flavor profile, not to mention its reported health benefits—it is said Kürbis­kernöl acts as an anti-inflammatory—it’s no surprise that the Styrians lovingly refer to pumpkin-seed oil as green gold. So, like Father’s Office, accept no substitutions—look for 100 percent Styrian pumpkin-seed oil. But keep it cool, as it loses its luster when exposed to high heat.

ROASTED-BEET SALAD WITH PUMPKIN-SEED-OIL VINAIGRETTE

2 bunches baby beets (about 8)
Baby lettuces (mache or red oak)
Fresh goat-cheese crumbles

Heat oven to 375. Rinse beets, removing the greens. Wrap each in foil and place in a shallow pan or sheet. Roast 45 minutes to 1 hour, until easily pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and either slice or cut into half-inch cubes.

Vinaigrette
3 ounces sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce pumpkin-seed oil

Whisk all ingredients. Marinate roasted beets with vinaigrette at least 3 hours, then remove beets and set aside. Toss baby lettuces with vinaigrette to taste and spoon prepared beets atop greens. Garnish with goat cheese and lightly drizzle on pumpkin-seed oil.