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Challenging Element: Strawberry


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Summer and strawberries go together like corn and butter. What we wondered was how well do strawberries and Asian cuisine pair? We intended to find out when offering Edward Schmidt, the “culinary tactician” at Boulder’s Bimbamboo, a strawberry as this month’s Challenging Element. We came back 24 hours later, treated to a Coconut Rice Pudding with a Chili Spiked Strawberry Compote.

Edward Schmidt loves his new job as the head chef at Bimbamboo. After having toiled in the kitchen of the posh Range in Aspen for the past few years, he tired of serving entrées that cost upwards of $70. Bimbamboo, a playful, newish Asian fusion bistro in downtown Boulder, gives him the chance to be creative while serving dishes that cost less than $10.

His vibrant and cheap menu is a delight, offering complex flavors and plating on par with a fine-dining establishment.

Creativity is key to pulling this off, which is why he eagerly took on the strawberry challenge despite admittedly cursing us for five minutes after learning the ingredient he’d be working with.

We couldn’t resist. Strawberries are in season, and we love seeing them in a creative dish. And frankly, we were hoping to prod our victim into making us dessert—a course that no previous chef had attempted since we began Challenging Elements in March.

Thankfully Schmidt bit; the day we swung by for a tasting was a sweltering June afternoon, and we were treated to Coconut Rice Pudding with a Chili Spiked Strawberry Compote.

When creating a dish—for this challenge or in general—Schmidt follows a simple formula. He uses a neutral ingredient serving as a base for one or two forward components. Then he adds a surprise.

With this creation, the rice pudding acts neutral, and compote and cocao nibs (the base of a chocolate bar and his new favorite ingredient) act as the dominating flavors. Yet it’s his clever surprise that is the true highlight.

He spikes his compote with chili flakes that have been stewed in agave syrup.

As you are enjoying the tangy sweetness of the strawberry, you can feel your tongue burn just a little. It takes a moment to realize your taste buds are moving from strawberry to chili.

His rice pudding offers a unique flavor that accentuates Schmidt’s style and serves as a stellar ending to any meal at Bimbamboo. It’ll only set you back six bucks, too.

Taste the Coconut Rice Pudding with Chili Spiked Strawberry Compote at Bimbamboo, 1710 Pearl St., Boulder, through Aug. 7. For info, call 303.442.4575.

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