The Peached Tortilla: It’s totally peachy
Get Peached–meaning to be flavored smitten–is particularly apt if you’re in an experimental mood when it comes to food. Personally I think you always learn a lot about cooking when you venture outside your comfort range. By doing so either once in a while or really even more often, no telling what you’ll discover.
That’s one reason why I enjoyed chatting with Eric Silverstein who first started cooking from his Austin, Texas food truck, The Peached Tortilla and now runs a restaurant with the same name. He recently wrote “The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food from Tokyo to Texas” (Sterling Epicure 2019; $16.99 Amazon price).
A former attorney who decided to pursue a different career path by merging his passions of food and business. Eric was born in Tokyo, Japan. There he was heavily influenced by Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian cuisine and then, moving to Atlanta, Georgia at the age of ten, he learned about traditional Southern cuisine. These divergent flavors and cuisines serve as the backdrop for The Peached Tortilla’s menu.
The recipes are Asian versions of American south and Italian food—fried chicken and arancini—those fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella. If you think of it like that, you can see the possibilities of melding the the three. When I asked Eric for recommendations for readers just getting use to Asian/American/Italian fusion cuisine, he suggested the Umami Chicken because it is a best seller at his restaurant. He also suggested his deep-fried risotto balls stuffed with pureed kimchi and mozzarella cheese because he never met a person who didn’t love them.
“They are so easy to just pop in your mouth, and the fusion element makes the kimchi approachable,” he says.
Kimchi is a Korean dish using salted and fermented vegetables (typically cabbage) that also has chili powder, ginger and other spices. It’s very similar to sauerkraut but spicier and without the vinegary tartness.
He’s adapted his recipes for home cooks. For example, with the Unami Fried Chicken, he calls for par-baking before frying as it’s difficult to control the temperature of a deep fryer at home. By doing that there’s still the crispness of fried chicken without the complications of temperature control.
The following recipes and accompanying photos are reprinted with permission from The Peached Tortilla © 2019 Eric Silverstein. Published by Sterling Epicure. Photography by Carli Rene / Inked Fingers.
Unami Fried Chicken
For the Marinated Chicken
1 cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce
6 cloves garlic
1 (3 ½-4 pound) chicken, broken down into 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 whole wings, and 4 pieces of breast (breast is split)
To Make the Marinated Chicken
Puree all the ingredients, except for the chicken in a blender. Marinate the broken-down chicken in the fish sauce marinade overnight in a large airtight container or resealable bag.
For the Batter
1 ½ cups rice flour
Whisk the rice flour and 1 ½ cups of cold water in the mixing bowl and set the batter aside. The consistency of the mixture should be thick enough to heavily coat the back of a spoon.
As the batter sits, the rice flour will slowly separate from the water. So make sure to whisk the batter right before you dip the chicken into it.
- quarts vegetable oil
Place the pieces of chicken on a baking sheet. Set the oven to 350⁰F and bake the chicken for 30 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature of the chicken while it is in the oven to make sure it reaches 165⁰F. It’s best to take the temperature of the thickest part of the breast, since this is the thickest cut of meat you are cooking off. When the chicken is at temperature, remove it from the oven and set it in the refrigerator to cool. You can remove the chicken from the refrigerator when it is cold to the touch.
Once the chicken has cooled in the refrigerator, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350⁰F in a medium-sized pot.
When the oil is at 350⁰, coat the parbaked chicken in the rice flour batter and then place the chicken in the hot oil. The rice flour batter should be thick enough, so it does not run off the chicken. If the rice flour batter has been sitting for a few minutes, make sure to give it a stir right before you dip the chicken in the batter.
Let the chicken cook in the oil for 2-3 minutes. It should turn a robust brown. Do not let the chicken get too brown or dark.
Remove the chicken from the oil and place it on a cooling rack with a rimmed baking sheet underneath it for 2 minutes before serving.
Serves 5-8 / Makes about 30 balls
5 cups chicken broth
1 ¾ tablespoons butter
¼ small yellow onion, diced
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Kimchi, pureed
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Sriracha
In a medium-sized pot, warm the chicken broth over medium heat. Keep it warm over extremely low heat.
Add the butter to a wide, round pot and stir it over medium-low heat, until it starts to melt.
After the butter has melted, add the diced onion to the pot and sauté it in the butter until it becomes translucent. Season the sautéed onion with salt and pepper.
Add the Arborio rice to the pot and sauté it until it has browned.
Ladle or spoon the warm chicken broth into the rice mixture over the medium-low heat. Start by adding ½ cup of the chicken broth at a time, stirring the rice until it absorbs the broth. This is a similar process to making risotto.
Once the broth is absorbed, add more broth to the rice. Continue to cook the rice and add the broth until you have used all the broth. The entire process should take about 45 minutes. At the end of the process, the Arborio rice should be cooked al dente.
Place half of the kimchi, Parmesan, mozzarella, and sriracha in the bottom of a large baking sheet. Add the cooked Arborio rice to the baking sheet, then cover the rice with the remaining kimchi, mozzarella, and sriracha. Stir the mixture together with a heatproof spatula. The cheese should melt from the heat of the rice.
Refrigerate the mixture, uncovered, for 3-4 hours or preferably overnight.
1 cup, all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
2 quarts vegetable oil
½ cup Wasabi Mayo (recipe included below)
½ cup Sriracha Mayo (recipe included below)
Place the flour, eggs, and panko into separate mixing bowls or shallow vessels. Line them up to create an assembly line.
Moving from left to right, dredge the rice balls in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then roll them into the panko. By the end of the process, the balls should have a nice panko coating.
Heat the 2 quarts of oil in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet. Once the oil reaches 350⁰F, drop the kimchi balls into the hot oil. The balls should turn golden brown after about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. If the balls start to get a little bit dark, remove them from the oil. If the internal temperature is hovering around 100⁰F, place them back in the oil for another 25-30 seconds or until they reach an internal temperature of 140⁰F.
When the rice balls are done, transfer them to a plate covered with a paper towel.
To plate the dish, top the Kimchi Balls with a little Wasabi Mayo and Sriracha Mayo.
Makes 1 ½ cups
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared wasabi paste
¾ tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk them together. Store the mayo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Makes 1 ¼ cups
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Sriracha Sauce
½ teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
Heavy pinch of salt
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until they are well incorporated. Pour the mayo into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.