You could say Los Angeles chef Josef Centeno is multilingual when it comes to food. His restaurants Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston and Bäco Mercat trail-blaze Mexican, Italian, and Spanish cuisines, respectively. The latest player in his growing list of super popular downtown LA restaurants is Ledlow, firmly rooted in American fare. Considering all this — and the fact that Centeno grew up on rib eyes and barbecue in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas — it makes perfect sense that the dish he’s prepared today is a cultural mashup.
This crispy deviled-egg salad brings together American and Thai influences. Handfuls of fresh herbs, celery leaves and baby parsley form the base, along with an assortment of seasonal peppers — from serrano and hatch chiles to sweet bell peppers. Sugar snap peas and smoked tasso ham add depth of vegetal and savory flavor. Puffed rice and Virginia peanuts provide the final crisp accents. The finished affair is a perfect blend of sweet, heat, and crunch, which Centeno likes to match with a chilled glass of frothy, fennel-infused whole milk.
Think infused milk sounds crazy? Try it! It's easy to prepare at home. Just add your desired flavoring ingredient — be it an herb, a spice, or a vegetable — to a pan with some milk. Bring it to a gentle simmer, then immediately let it cool to room temperature. Finally, strain out the solids, chill your milk to the desired temperature, and serve. In addition to Centeno’s fennel milk idea, you could try a cardamom-infused milk with a spicy curry. Because as Centeno puts it, “Milk doesn’t always have to go with just dessert.”
Photography by Maren Caruso