Charred, Browned, Blackened: The Darkish Lure of Burned Meals

A terrific kazandibi, the Turkish milk pudding, requires a very scorched backside to satisfy its scrumptious potential, the milk pushed to the identical shade as a fire-licked marshmallow. Any dessert that depends on a contact of burned sugar, from flan to crème brûlée, will go limp and lifeless if that caramel is cooked too frivolously. And there are few primal delights just like the burned ends of a barbecued brisket, crisp-edged and fierce with smoke.

Mr. Gonzalez, 34, who was raised in San Diego by mother and father from Jalisco, Mexico, first toyed with burning when he cooked at El Rey Espresso Bar & Luncheonette, a restaurant on the Decrease East Facet that developed a cult following whereas he was within the kitchen.

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Tomatillos being charred for Mr. Gonzalez’s mole.

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Cole Wilson for The New York Instances

He says Mexican delicacies has taught him how incorporating a burned vegetable or fruit, like onion or citrus, into vegetarian dishes will produce a critical, nearly meatlike depth of taste.

His mole, cooked down with charred tomatillos, onions and oranges, relies on the flavors of his youth, plumped up with the physique and sweetness of dried apricots and plums. He deploys it in small quantities to accentuate a bowl of hominy in broth.

“A buddy advised me it reminded them of a stew their Jamaican grandma used to make, however there are individuals who nonetheless don’t get it,” Mr. Gonzalez lamented. He has tweaked the dish a number of instances since Lalo opened, hoping to search out an viewers for the mole’s intense flavors.

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Mr. Gonzalez attracts inspiration from conventional Mexican moles to make his personal at Lalo.

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