MOZZARELLA WITH A CITRUS SPARK | In lieu of tomatoes, mozzarella also pairs well with citrus fruits and a hint of lavender oil.
Debuted my new NOPI cookbook by making a quick adaptation of one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: the burrata with blood orange, coriander, and lavender seeds. According to Yotam Ottolenghi, customers come to NOPI for this dish alone and they sell about 1,000 each month!
However, much to my frustration, I struggled to find good quality burrata today at Citysuper (a high-end supermarket in Hong Kong). Nor was I able to source for blood oranges. Consequently, in lieu of burrata, a good quality buffalo mozzarella had to suffice. And in lieu of blood oranges, a regular orange had to do.
So what exactly is burrata? First, let’s be clear and stress what burrata is not. It is not mozzarella. While made from buffalo milk, burrata is not buffalo mozzarella. You will know the difference between the two when you taste it (warning though – you may not turn back to buffalo mozzarella after tasting the rich inner creaminess of a high quality burrata).
The outer shell is pure mozzarella, moulded like a a pouch, while the softer inside oozes a delicate mixture of mozzarella and cream when the ball is pulled apart.
In greater detail, mozzarella is what’s called a pulled curd or pasta filata cheese, which means that it’s formed from the elastic curd of fresh milk, still warm and straight from the vat. Burrata is made of that same stringy cheese, but is formed not into a solid ball, but into a little hollow pouch, which is then filled with fresh cream and soft stringy bits of curd, the ritagli, or rags, remaining after mozzarella making. It’s all tied off at the top, and then wrapped in the fronds of an Italian plant called asphodel (a relative of the leek).
Perhaps much of the confusion between the two stems from tradition, whereby the cheesemaking process for burrata stemmed from mozzarella – i.e., burrata was made in order to rescue the little scraps of mozzarella di bufala that were leftover in the cheesemaking vat.
Nonetheless, originating from the Puglia region of Italy, Burrata is in its own class entirely – you will know the second you taste it.Burrata is second to none and worth seeking out but a buffalo milk mozzarella can be used as an alternative.
Buffalo Mozzarella with orange, coriander seeds and lavender oil.
Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 2-3 as a side
- 1 large mozzarella/burrata ball (150g)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon clear runny honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried lavender
- 1/4 small clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
- 1 blood orange or 1 large sized orange
- 5g basil leaves (shredded or hand torn) or micro-basil leaves
- Coarse sea salt and extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Place oil in a small saucepan with the honey, lavender, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer on medium-low heat and remove at once. Set aside to cool.
- Use a small paring knife to trim the tops and tails off the orange. Cut down the sides of the orange, and follow the natural curve to remove the skin and white pith. Depending on the size of your orange, slice into 6-8 rounds, ~0.8cm each, and remove the pips.
- Divide the orange slices on a clean white plate, slightly overlapping. Place burrata/mozzarella ball alongside. Spoon the coriander seeds and lavender oil over the cheese and orange, top with the shredded basil leaves or the micro-basil left whole. Lightly drizzle with some additional extra high quality extra virgin olive oil and serve.