We recently had the great pleasure, while visiting New York City, to have an early dinner at EmpellÃ³n Cocina, a new restaurant recommended by Gavin Kaysen for their creative interpretation of Mexican Cuisine. We were curious about the meaning of EmpellÃ³n and learned that it means “push or shove”, which tells you that this must be an adventuresome chef who wanted to infuse a bit of fun into the atmosphere. Rising Star Chef Alex Stupak has created an incredible menu with offerings that must only exist on his menu, as we have never seen them anywhere else. Guacamole made with pickled Jalapeños, Pistachio Guacamole, instead of the usual corn chips, the guacamole and salsas are offered with Masa Crisps. All seven salsas can be sampled for $15. There were so many tempting selections, but the portions were too generous to try everything on the menu. We shared the Soft Shell Crab Tacos and the Shrimp Tacos after our starters of Pistachio Guacamole and the 7 Salsas, my favorite was the the Smoked Cashew Salsa (with smoked cashews and chipotle pepper).
Chef Alex shared the recipe for the Arbol Chile Salsa – Recipe and below commentary from the Chef:
This salsa lasts indefinitely and improves with age. It is extremely picante and can be used in place of pretty much any store bought hot sauce. We use this salsa on our tongue tacos as well as in our micheladas but it goes well on just about anything.
100 each Arbol Chiles
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Hulled Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 each Allspice Berries
5 each Whole Cloves
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
5 each Garlic Cloves
2 cups Cider Vinegar
1. Remove the stems from the chiles and discard.
2. Roll the chiles between your fingers to remove all the seeds and discard seeds.
3. Place the chiles in a blender.
4. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until they begin to pop and turn a deep brown color. Add the sesame seeds to the blender.
5. In the same skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds until they pop and all turn a golden color. Add the pumpkin seeds to the blender.
6. In a molcajete or spice grinder, pulverize the cumin, allspice, cloves and oregano. Add the ground spices to the blender along with the salt, sugar and vinegar.
7. Blend the mixture for several minutes. It should be quite smooth.