The Dish: Chef Jason Vincent

Chef Jason Vincent’s food career began at the local pizza joint as a 15-year-old in Cleveland. He’d go on to a more serious food education at the Culinary Institute of America and at top restaurants in Spain and New Orleans.

When he broke out on his own four years ago, he was named Food & Wine magazine’s best new chef. But then, at the height of his game, he stepped away to become a stay-at-home dad. Last summer he returned with a bang, opening Giant in Chicago.

Here are some of Vincent’s signature recipes: 

Giant’s sweet and sour eggplant

Yield: 2 qts.     

Special equipment

Large, heavy-bottomed pot for deep-frying

Wide heavy-bottomed pot for marinade

Thermometer that reads up to 400F

Non-reactive container to marinate

A gram scale that reads up to 1kg

Wooden spoon

A fry basket or spider to remove eggplant from hot oil

Cheesecloth

Ingredients

Japanese Eggplant, sliced 2” thick, 500g

Sweet yellow onion, sliced 2” thick, 160g

Plums, just ripe, halved with the pit removed, 250g

Garlic, sliced thick, 50g

Lemongrass, just the tender part, sliced thin, 7g

Ginger, minced, 27g

Scallion, green and white, sliced thick, 13g

Fresh thai chili, whole, in cheesecloth (don’t substitute dried), 11g

Gochujang, hot, 66g

Soybean paste, fermented with mushroom, 24g

Rice wine vinegar, 230g

Sugar, 138g

Chinese hot mustard powder, 16g

Tamari, 40g

Fish sauce, 14g

Sesame oil, 3g

Green coriander (or fresh cilantro leaf), 15g

Peanut oil for deep frying (substitute any canola or vegetable oil if you like)

Directions

1. In a wide, heavy bottomed pot heat a few tablespoons of the peanut oil until it is almost smoking.

2. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and scallion all at once.

3.Let it sizzle for a few seconds and then move it around briskly (so cheffy) with a wooden spoon. Don’t let it burn or else a puppy will die.

4. Add the soybean paste and gochujang and continue to not kill puppies.

5. Once it smells deep and caramelized add the rice vinegar, sugar, and hot mustard.

6. Whisk all of the ingredients together and add the sachet of the chili. Bring to a boil.

7. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens noticeably.

8. Turn off and let rest.

9. Fill another pot 1⁄4 of the way with oil and heat to 350F.

10. In batches, being very careful not to boil over, fry the eggplant and onions until golden brown.

11. Remove them from the oil and place directly into the marinade.

12. Once all of the eggplant and onions are in the marinade, transfer to a non-reactive dish and let come to room temperature.

13. Add the fish sauce, tamari, sesame oil, and coriander/cilantro.

14. Remove the sachet of thai chili and give it a good squeeze to get all of the juice out of it.

15. In a small skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil and cook the plums, cut side down, until the are almost black. Cut them into a large dice and add to the eggplant.

16. Let sit for a few hours before serving.

17. If refrigerating, make sure to let it come to room temperature before serving.

Mollie’s Biscuits

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1⁄4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1⁄4 pound butter

3⁄4 cup buttermilk

Directions

1. Whisk together dry ingredients

2. Cut in the butter

3. Add buttermilk to bring it together

4. Shape dough into ragged balls (ha!)

5. Roll out on a floured board 3⁄4” thick

6. Brush with melted butter and bake in 400F convection oven for 16 minutes

Whiskey Smash

Serves one

Ingredients

Rittenhouse rye 2 oz.

Lemon, one thick slice

Ginger, one thin slice

Mint, four large leafs

Demerara syrup (1:1 dem:hot water), 1/2 oz.

Lemon juice 1/2 oz.

Bitters, dash

Directions

1. Muddle together sliced lemon, ginger, 3 mint leafs, syrup

2. Add lemon juice and whiskey. Shake with ice.

3. Double strain over ice.

4. Garnish with mint and bitters.