A beautiful vegetable salad with full-flavored mushrooms, Mexican herbs, and a crunch of Arame popcorn.
By Julia Sherman
I suppose it would be obvious to say that when I travel, I spend most of my time wandering through food markets, asking questions about the local produce and culinary customs, putting things in my mouth and taking pictures. But, even more valuable than this brand of aimless exploration, is this experience of shadowing a local chef as they make their way with purpose through their local haunts, shopping for an event or maybe the ingredients for a salad? Last week, I had the pleasure of doing just that with musician, thinker, chef and Mexico City native, Hugo Duran.
Hugo has had many lives and traveled the world, and is now back in his hometown, putting together private events, initiating pop-ups and collaborating with designers to rethink the way we brand, prepare and think about some very traditional Mexican ingredients. Hugo took me to a host of his favorite markets, and we even ate ceviche at the specialty Mercado de San Juan, before going off to make his own version (there’s nothing like pre-gaming for a vegan meal with some corvina sashimi fed to you straight from the fish monger’s hands). From the market we went to a friend’s design firm, where Hugo unpacked his backpack full of knives, cutting boards, his apron and mortar pestle, and we prepared our salad with a view of the city.
Though the intrigue of this recipe is that it is indeed vegan, this marinade would work beautifully with a firm flesh white fish to make a more classic ceviche. Hoja Santa is a commonly used Mexican herb that can be found at your local Mexican grocer, if you are lucky. It has a slight anise flavor and is lovely and bright. If you cannot find it, use a pinch of fennel fronds. Sea beans are fabulously crunchy little succulents that taste of sea brine, and can be found at your specialty grocer.
I am an artist and a photographer, but when I am not making art in my studio, I am growing my own vegetables, eating salad, and feeding salad to my creative friends. I find people whose work I admire, I cook with them, share a meal, and take their photo. Like me, all of these influencers in their respective fields use their kitchen as a creative sanctuary, a place where they can “make something” that is easily shared with others.