"This is a riff on a dish we had on the Alinea opening menu that involved beetroot and smoking cinnamon," says Grant Achatz. "Brown spices and beets are a proven combination, but the kid in me wanted to involve some whimsy. During my childhood I hated the spicy cinnamon chewing gum known as Big Red, but as an adult I enjoy it. I basically replicate that sensation with the simple addition of chilli - I use dried Korean chilli threads. Here we turn the eating utensil, in this case the cinnamon skewer, into the equivalent of an incense stick that you eat from."
- 2 small beetroot, trimmed
- 40 gm sea salt
- 6 cinnamon quills (the longest you can find), split lengthways into skewers
- 12 uncooked prawns, peeled and cleaned
- Grapeseed oil, for brushing
- Torn mint, to serve
- Finely grated grapefruit rind, to serve
- Korean chilli flakes, to serve (see note)
- Juice of 4 pink grapefruit
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 50 gm white sugar
- 50 ml soy sauce
- Pinch of Korean chilli flakes (see note)
- 1For grapefruit glaze, strain juices into a saucepan, add sugar, soy sauce and chilli, and simmer until a light syrup forms (45-50 minutes). Cool to room temperature.
- 2Meanwhile, combine beetroot, salt and 2 litres water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until a knife inserted into the beetroot withdraws without resistance (25-30 minutes). Drain, cool to room temperature, then peel and cut each beetroot into 6 wedges.
- 3Heat a grill to very high. Carefully skewer a piece of beetroot on a cinnamon stick, followed by a prawn, then brush with grapeseed oil and season to taste. Repeat with remaining beetroot and prawns. Grill, turning once, until prawns are just cooked through (2 minutes each side), then dip in grapefruit glaze and let the excess drain off. Arrange on a platter, scatter with mint, grapefruit rind and chilli flakes, ignite one end of each cinnamon quill with a blowtorch (optional) until they start to smoke, then serve.
Korean chilli flakes are available from select Asian grocers and [Herbie's Spices].