On this episode of ‘Improv Kitchen,’ chef Nyesha Arrington receives a cooking challenge from Pierre Serrao, co-founder of Bronx-based food collective Ghetto Gastro. He asks that chef Arrington recreate something similar to one of his signature dishes: a roasted breadfruit gnocchi, served with a tomato dashi and cooked in a shiitake and kombu broth.
“I really feel like this dish is something that you could relate to because you spent time in the Caribbean,” says chef Serrao. “Also, I know that you’re good and you’re nice with the Asian flavors. Play with it, have fun.”
Chef Serrao emphasizes that the signature part of this gnocchi dish is the smoky flavor that the breadfruit brings. With her local stores being out of the ingredient, chef Arrington decides to substitute it with malanga, a root vegetable in the taro family, which she has never worked with before. She wraps them in foil, dry roasts them, and then smokes them. When they’re done, she mashes them down, and mixes in tapioca flour, garbanzo bean flour, salt and nutmeg, and shapes her gnocchi.
Chef Arrington then makes her sauce out of smoked tomato water, coriander, cardamom, tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and a splash of coconut milk. “That will be a really nice beautiful way to kind of make this island vibe I’m going for.”
After boiling the gnocchi and finishing their cooking time in the sauce itself, chef Arrington plates the dish adding garnishes of cilantro and basil.
“This is literally a global mashup on a plate,” says chef Arrington. “We’re taking this idea and inspiration of a classic Italian dish, being the gnocchi and the technique, and we merge it with fruits and vegetables from the islands.”
“It’s so bright and so happy. When I eat this it makes my soul happy.”