In Season: Winter 2020
Sunchoke. Uni. Japanese Snow Crab. These are just a few of the ingredients chefs are using on their menus to showcase the best of winter.
Discover, explore, get inspired. This is In Season.
Japanese Snow Crab
Sekogani, or female Japanese snow crab, is a winter delicacy found on the west coast of Japan that’s in season from November to March. Inside the underbelly of the crab, you’ll find delicious little orange egg sacs. “There are so many ways to enjoy the different textures and flavors of this seasonal ingredient,” says the team at Tsukimi. Find it on their 12-course kaiseki menu.
Sunchoke, aka Jerusalem artichoke, is the versatile root vegetable of the sunflower plant. “When sunchokes are in season, we love to use them on our menu,” says the team at Lazy Bear. “They have a nutty, earthy, slightly tangy flavor, not entirely unlike artichoke but without the bitterness.” Chef Chris makes a one-biter sunchoke-goat cheese tart with purèed sunchoke in the shell and a crispy sunchoke chip garnish.
Oak & Iron
Buddha’s Hand is a uniquely-shaped, highly-fragrant fruit native to Northeast India. At Oak & Iron, the beverage team crafts a Buddha’s Mule cocktail by making a Buddha’s Hand oleo-saccharum, or sugar and citrus syrup. They mix together vodka, clarified lime and ginger juices, soda, and bitters. It’s refreshingly simple yet elegant, and Buddha’s Hand is said to be a sign of good luck in the new year.
Cut open spiny sea urchin and you’ll find five strips of orange uni inside. Though it can be available year-round, some believe it peaks in winter. Harvested from the wild, uni has a custard-like texture and is known for its delicately sweet flavor. “It tastes like butter,” says the team at LUVI. They source it off the coast of Santa Barbara and when it’s in house, they simply pop it open to serve it raw.
Black Winter Truffles
Black winter truffles or black Périgord truffles are prized for their earthy aroma and intense flavor. Harvested in autumn and winter from their natural habitat, truffles are often pulled from the earth, cleaned, and shaved raw directly over a rich pasta, risotto, or scrambled eggs. At Chicago’s Spiaggia, you can find them atop the decadent Risotto Nero or over fresh gnocchi.
Sea Buckthorn is a coastal shrub that grows clusters of orange-yellow berries that are typically in season from September through February. “Native to Norway, the Sea Buckthorn fruit packs an intense tangy and citrusy taste,” says the team at Vann. They pair it with a chocolate ganache so the acidity cuts through the richness for a perfectly-balanced dessert.
The blood orange is a bit sweeter than the classic orange and it gets its brilliant color from a natural pigment called anthocyanin. The vivid citrus is harvested in winter at the peak of ripeness. The team at Brandywine uses it to brighten up a winter pasta with roasted squash, sage pistachio pesto, and white truffles. Blood orange segments give it a perfect burst of color and pop of acidity.
Persimmon is an ancient Chinese delicacy often referred to as the “fruit of the gods.” The golden fruit, which looks similar to a tomato, is in season from October through February. At Berlu, the chefs use it in their tasting menu to transition from savory into sweet. Pictured is the first dessert course: a frozen lime meringue flavored with fresh bay and persimmon.