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Chef's Kitchen

Each month, a guest chef gives us a tip that elevates their cooking or simplifies things in the kitchen; something a home cook might not know. They also provide a recipe that uses the tip, so you can practice at home. Our guest chef this month is Executive Chef Nicco Muratore of the mama restaurant group. Mama restaurant group is based in Seattle and consists of mamnoon, mbar, mamnoon street, street eats, manna, and hanoon. Mama group serves a modern union of Middle Eastern cuisines and focuses on using the best ingredients the PNW has to offer. Each restaurant offers a different experience, while always offering genuine hospitality and excellent food. Whether sourcing produce from local farms, fish from the Pacific Ocean, mushrooms from the Cascade mountains, or meat from the Northwest, mama group strives to support local farming communities and present Levantine cuisine through the lens of the Pacific Northwest.

Executive Chef Nicco Muratore started his culinary career at Fenway Park in Boston. He was introduced to Middle Eastern cuisine by Chef Ana Sortun at Oleana Restaurant and Sofra. After three years at Sortun's restaurants, he joined The Montagu Kitchen in London's Grand Hyatt Hotel. Next was a stint at Danny Meyer's historic Union Square Cafe in New York, before he returned to Boston to join Chef Steven Postal's team at the newly opened Commonwealth, where he spent five years working his way from Sous Chef to Chef de Cuisine. Nicco joined mamnoon as Chef de Cuisine in the summer of 2019 and in 2022 became Executive Chef of mama group, overseeing the culinary teams at all locations. In 2022, he appeared on an episode of Food Network's Chopped and took home the victory in a pickle themed competition.

Introducing acidity and balance into your home cooking, by Executive Chef Nicco Muratore

We all understand that balance in food creates a beautiful harmony between flavors, richness, acidity, and texture. It's that perfect bite where everything works together, and each flavor helps the next one dance on the palette and leaves you wanting more. Cooking with acidity can help you achieve excellent balance in your food! Most people know that adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to a rich sauce will help mellow it out, but what's the secret to understanding when and how to use acidity in your cooking?

At mamnoon, we love to use a variety of acidic ingredients in our food that help bring lightness to a dish, balance out a fatty cut of meat, or add a zing to a dish. Some of our favorite ways to introduce acidity and balance into our dishes is through the use of yogurt, labneh, pickles, lemon and citrus juices, powdered citric acid, vinegars, sumac, pomegranate molasses, and more. As you can see, middle eastern cuisine is filled with delicious pops of acid.

A dish that exemplifies this perfectly is the shish taouk at mamnoon. Shish taouk is a traditional Lebanese dish of yogurt/garlic marinated grilled chicken. This dish is a staple at mamnoon, and we love to change it seasonally and serve the chicken with some tasty local and in-season ingredients.

Each component of this contains a fantastic pop of acid that helps create a light and tasty dish, even though some of the ingredients are on the heavier side.

This dish shines because of the acidic elements in each component. The yogurt in the chicken marinade helps keep it light, while also helping to tenderize the chicken while marinating. The lime brown butter that is drizzled on top of the chicken brings a lovely bright splash of acidity to the grilled meat. The beet toum is a luxurious labneh sauce that brings some acidity to the table, as well as a terrific bite of garlic that is traditionally served with this dish. The freekah salad (cracked wheat), brings crunchy spring vegetables, smokey freekah, and bright herbs to the dish, with a lemony dressing to bring it all together. The addition of pickled rhubarb as a garnish also shines through with bright acidity and a beautiful pop of pink color. Try this dish out next time you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen!

Shish Taouk

Serves 4-6 as a main course


Marinade for chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp salt

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate for 24 hours. Skewer on wooden skewers (soaked in water for 1 hour first) when ready to grill. Grill chicken for 10-12 minutes, or until fully cooked. Once cooked, drizzle the chicken with the lime brown butter (recipe below) and rest for 3-4 minutes before serving.

Lime Brown Butter

  • 1 stick butter browned in a pan until milk solids are toasted and butter has turned a golden brown color.
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste

Brown the butter and let it come to room temperature. Mix the juice of one lime into the butter and season with salt. This will be drizzled over the chicken once it comes off the grill and rests.

Beet Labneh Toum (home version)

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups labneh, or thick-strained Greek yogurt
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp beet powder (optional but makes it beautifully pink and tasty!)

Puree the garlic and olive oil in a food processor (or by mortar and pestle, or finely chopped by hand). Mix with the labneh, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt to taste. Add the beet powder (if using), and transfer to an airtight container until serving.

Spring Freekah Salad

  • 2 cups freekeh (or farro), cooked and cooled
  • 6 large asparagus, cut in small coins
  • 2 Belgian endive, medium diced pieces
  • 1 bunch spring onions, bottoms minced green tops sliced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp salt, and more to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil, more to taste

Mix the freekeh salad in a bowl, adding more salt or lemon juice if necessary. This should have the consistency of a tabbouleh salad, with lots of herbs, bright spring vegetables, and nice acidity from the lemon juice and olive oil. Dress as you like, adding more olive oil, salt, and lemon if needed.

Advanced Garnish Option: Pickled Rhubarb

  • 3 large stalks rhubarb, small diced, leaves removed
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 piece star anise
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 10 each coriander seeds
  • 3 bay leaves

Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices to a pot. Bring to a boil, then turn off. Pour the hot liquid over the diced rhubarb in a glass or heat-proof container. Let pickle for 24 hours before using.

May 2023

1508 Melrose Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
mamnoon street
2020 6th Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

400 Fairview Ave N, 14th Fl
Seattle, WA 98109
446 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

12670 120th Ave NE, Ste 166
Kirkland, WA 98034

street eats
2040 6th Ave (off 6th, between buildings)
Seattle, WA 98121
206-327-9121 ("nadi" means "club")

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