“One of my earliest memories of food is smoked fish, and that’s also representative of New Zealand — we’re big on smoking,” explains chef/owner Matt Lambert of New York City’s Musket Room in Nolita. Barely six months old, the restaurant has already earned a Michelin star for Lambert’s inventive spin on classic ingredients and flavors from his homeland.
Case in point: an appetizer of scallops smoked with manuka, an indigenous New Zealand tree. “I had New Zealanders come in and say that the smell reminds them of home,” he adds. But when it comes to composition and presentation, that’s a completely different story. Lambert shreds his mollusks, pulled pork-style, while the rest of the plate goes upscale: compressed pear cubes, spiraled cucumbers and artful dabs of black garlic. Get the full deconstruction below.
1. Maine Diver Scallops | “We sear the scallops before tossing them in citrus, salt and brown sugar. Then they get smoked with manuka chips — it’s also known as a tea tree over there — which you don’t have here in America. I have to get those shipped over from New Zealand. Then we smoke the scallops and shred them by hand — like pulled pork.”
2. Cucumbers | We marinate these in chardonnay vinegar and a little bit of salt. We twist the long pieces into rounds, and the other pieces we twist up into cones.
3. Black Garlic | “We added this for an umami component. The recipe’s a secret.”
4. Compressed Pears | “We compress these with salt and pear juice using an iSi canister. The cells explode, and they go really translucent, which also brings the flavor to the forefront.”
5. Blanched Sea Beans | “We blanch these in water to soften them up a bit, but it also makes them more colorful.”
6. Marigolds | “We use a lot of edible flowers—each one is on a dish for a reason. The marigolds have a light flavor, almost like young coconut that matches the cucumbers and the pears really well.”
The Musket Room, 256 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY, 212-219-0764, musketroom.com