Eric Gower found a calling in food as an economics writer living in Japan. Now he's a private chef in San Francisco, and the author of three cookbooks.
The Breakaway Cook: Recipes That Break Away from the Ordinary
(William Morrow) focuses on flavor. Call it simplified fusion - fewer novelty pairings, more sensible seasoning.
Whether sprinkling maccha salt (sea salt and powdered green tea) on poached eggs, braising duck legs with pickled plums and plum wine, or pan-frying flank steak with an Indian-inspired spice crust, his global approach to flavor is inspiring.
Here's a mild starting point.
(Makes 3 to 4 servings)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 star anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 pound ground lamb, beef or a combination
1 large egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh mint leaves, shredded fine
Heat the broiler and in a small dry skillet on medium heat, toast the coriander and star anise until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a grinder, add the cinnamon, and pulverize to a fine powder. (Sift out any coarse bits.)
In the same pan, on medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Saute the onion and spices until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses; saute 2 minutes more.
In a bowl, mix the meat, onion and egg. Form 3 or 4 portions. The classic is sausage-shaped kebabs (on skewers) but patties are fine. Dust with salt and pepper.
Cook kofta in a broiler pan, close to the heat (within 5 inches) until well crisped, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip and broil the other side, 5 minutes more. Top with mint.