Vegetable “Caviar” and “Couscous”

A salad of Israeli couscous featuring a cucumber "caviar".

I’m on the fence about this one. The Eleven Madison Park cookbook contains a few vegetable preparations variously called “caviar” and “couscous”. They are uniformly tiny pieces of vegetable that are seasoned and dressed. The consistency is achieved either by meticulous knifework, or in the case of veggies like broccoli, by paring off the very tips of the florets.

On the one hand, I appreciate the beauty, the display of fine knifework, and the using up of trim. Especially for broccoli, the “couscous technique” is an example of parsing or deconstruction that lets you appreciate a specific part of a specific vegetable.

On the other hand, it’s minced raw vegetables, and to employ the terms “caviar” and “couscous”, even with playful quotation marks, is definitely a case of over-promise under-deliver.

In the photo above I precisely minced the trim created from those weird satanic cucumber curls. It crossed my mind later that it might have looked cool to instead dice the trim to the exact dimension of the couscous itself and mix it in with the real couscous.