Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
On the website for his upscale Mexican restaurant Empellón Cocina, Chef Alex Stupak claims his food is “informed by authenticity, but not limited by it.” The former pastry chef grew up in Massachusetts, worked at Wd-50, and spent lots of quality time eating in Mexico. And while his flavors at the two Emepllón restaurants are no doubt Mexican (he even brings the heat in an epic seven salsa tasting), I’m sure Stupak couldn’t help but be influenced by the flavors around him in NYC.
Case in point: pastrami. The word is more associated with Jewish delis than Oaxacan cocinas. But Stupak manages to fuse the two flavors into a brand new Mexican-Jewish taco sensation.
The pastrami in question is made from the fatty, tender short ribs. Luscious meat shreds are topped on a bed of pickled cabbage, layered with chopped onions, and a tangy mustard seed salsa. Smoky, peppery, garlicky notes intermingle with the spicy complex salsa which literally bursts with flavor. It was revelatory and delicious!
Stupak stays true to Mexican food, but is influenced by his creative ideas and diverse surroundings. Who knew Jewish Mexican food could taste so good? Somebody needs to take a nod from Stupak and fuse these two flavors more often. How about a gefilte fish ceviche? Anyone? Anyone?
|105 First Avenue (between East 5th and East 6th Street),