The 1 Ingredient That Makes Butter Taste Even Better
When a condiment is really, really good, you might remember it just as well as the meal you ate it with. That special spread could be your grandmother’s raspberry jam or the vinaigrette at your favorite salad shop. For us, it’s the seaweed butter at Saison, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco. We ate the salty, briny compound butter with poached spinach at a dinner hosted by Chase Sapphire, and we’re convinced that the three-ingredient, Japanese-influenced accompaniment could make anything (even bitter greens) taste infinitely richer.
To make Saison’s spinach dish at home (recipe below), start with clarified butter, which, similar to ghee, is butter cooked at a low heat to remove water and milk solids. Melt the clarified butter over a water bath, add kombu and wakame (two kinds of edible seaweed you can procure a health food stores), and allow the seaweed to steep in the butter before you strain it and use it to cook the spinach. Top it with caviar (as pictured above) for an even more luxurious experience.
If you have any seaweed butter left over, pair it with your favorite steamed shellfish. We dunked Alaskan king crab into the hot melted butter at Angler, Saison’s sister restaurant, and learned that with a little extra flavor, butter can taste even better.
saison’s poached spinach in seaweed butter
Recipe Notes: Seaweed butter can be used to poach any succulent or green vegetable such as spinach, kohlrabi, celtuce, haricots verts, and asparagus. The same can be applied to poaching fish and shellfish such as turbot, Petrale sole, scallops, and lobster. We also have used it as a component to a sauce, for marbling broths, or simply as a dipping sauce for a spot prawn or crab.
- 2 cups clarified butter
- 15 grams kombu (preferably 3-year aged), cut into short, thin strips
- 7 1/2 grams wakame, dried and cut into 1-centimeter strips
- spinach, washed, stems removed
1. Make the butter. Heat a pot of water over a flame until the temperature reaches 149°F. Rest a mixing bowl on top of the pot and add the clarified butter to melt.
2. Add the konbu to the melted butter and steep for 15 minutes.
3. Add the wakame and steep for 15 minutes.
4. Strain the butter through a cone filter. Reserve and store with a lid until needed.
5. Cook the spinach. Add the seaweed butter to a pot and heat until it reaches 150°F.
6. Add spinach and poach until wilted.
7. Drain butter from spinach and serve immediately.
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(Recipe and photo via Saison, courtesy of Chase Sapphire)