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What's Up Magazine

The Dish: Bison Fusion Tacos at Metro

Aug 09, 2011 10:20PM ● By Anonymous

Chef Ype Von Hengst has made local bison (from Gunpowder Bison Trading Company in Monkton, Maryland) a feature on the menu, offering it as an option for multiple types of burger, as well as for the tacos featured below. Chef Von Hengst touts the benefits of bison—it’s extremely local and healthier than boneless, skinless chicken breast—and throws in a personal note: “Plus, I loooove the taste!”

What’s Up? Annapolis: Tell us about your culinary background.
Chef Von Hengst: I grew up in a very small town in Holland, surrounded by dozens of farms and fresh food. After high school, I completed my apprenticeship as chef in Germany. Not long after, I went to the Hotel Restaurant School in Holland and stayed in the Netherlands until 1976. I wanted to try something different, so I moved to the United States and became the executive chef for Rockefeller Center in New York City. My next move was becoming the corporate chef for the Restaurant Associations. During my time in the United States, I held executive chef positions in North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and New York, working for organizations such as the Stouffer’s Hotels, Hilton Hotels, and Radisson Hotels.

WUA: Describe the culinary influence present in your dishes.
CVH: Right now, the main push and focus is on fresh and local—fresh and local ingredients from farms surrounding the Washington, D.C., metro area. Within that concentration, I love working with fresh herbs and spices rather than using a lot of salt. I love to work with fresh ingredients that are either natural or organic, so they have a cleaner taste without antibiotics. My specialty dish would be anything with Vietnamese or Chinese flavors.

WUA: How often do you add new dishes to the menu?
CVH: Approximately twice a year, we create additional items for the METRO menu.

WUA: What is your favorite food? Least favorite food?
CVH: My favorite food incorporates Asian flavors, which would include Thai cuisine and Chinese food—I love those the best! My least favorite food is raw oysters, yet, another favorite of mine is fried oysters.

WUA: Do you watch any food TV? What’s your favorite show?
CVH: I watch all of them! Whether it’s someone eating the biggest hamburger or a contest to see who can eat the most food, I love them all. My favorite ones are Iron Chef and Chopped. I think it is important because every time you watch them, you learn something.

WUA: What’s your favorite local ingredient?
CVH: My favorite local ingredients are soft-shell crabs and basil.

WUA: What’s more important to you: Local or organic? (Or neither?)
CVH: Local is more important to me, because often times the local foods already have the organic attributes without having the certification—so you get two in one.

WUA: What makes this dish special to you?
CVH: It’s a marriage of concepts—incorporating the best of all worlds. It’s a combination of local ingredients, Asian flavors, and based on a Mexican concept.

WUA: Are there any special cooking techniques/ingredients/utensils/cookware used for this dish?
CVH: In terms of preparation, it is one of the easiest, tastiest items you can make. You can really dazzle your friends and family when making this dish, leaving them with the impression that you have all of these cooking skills without actually having them. That’s the key to food—take a few ingredients, make a great dish and have people enjoy it. In terms of ingredients, incorporating the aspect of the fresh and local bison is important. This is a meat that is just as healthy—if not healthier—than chicken because it has lower fat, and it has a tremendous amount of antioxidants.

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Bison Fusion Tacos

2 small tortillas
2 ounces Napa cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons bottled Thai Peanut Dressing
3 ounces bison meat, chopped
2 ounces carrots, julienned
2 ounces edamame
2 ounces cilantro, chopped
2 ounces scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons mango salsa (recipe below)
A dollop or drizzle of sour cream

Sear the chopped bison meat in a pan over high heat. Heat both sides of the tortillas in a pan to get it soft and pliable (or put them in the microwave for 10 seconds).

Line the middle of each tortilla with one tablespoon of peanut dressing. Top it with the cabbage, carrots, and edamame, and then place the bison meat on top of that. Sprinkle the cilantro and scallions on top of the meat, and then spoon the mango salsa on. Drizzle sour cream on top. Fold the tacos up and enjoy!

Mango Salsa
Makes 1 cup of salsa

2 mangos, diced
1 ounce jalapeno pepper, diced
3 ounces red bell pepper, diced
3 ounces scallions, chopped
1/8 cup honey

Mix together in a small bowl.