Timothy Griffin is the director of culinary innovation at Kona Grill, an upscale casual grill based in Scottsdale, Ariz. The menu runs a number of eclectic offerings, including the Umami Flatbread with charred mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan, white miso-glazed crust and bonito flakes.
There’s also the Macadamia Nut Chicken, served with house-mashed potatoes, miso charred broccoli, shoyu cream and a pineapple-papaya marmalade.
We asked him to share a flavor trifecta that demonstrates creative, unexpected flavor play. Griffin answered with roasted beets, yuzu juice and an intriguing, unusual ingredient: sal de gusano, or worm salt (toasted and ground agave worms, chile and salt).
“I think that combination of ingredients balances each other nicely,” he says. “The roasted beets have a sweet and earthy flavor that the yuzu balances with its acidity and floral qualities, yet doesn’t overpower the beet flavor. The sal de gusano balances with the salt, and then you get a little earthy, smoky heat from the chiles.”
Griffin says this trifecta would work well in a salad or bar bite. “I think it would do very well served cold, but it might be interesting to look at the flavors in a warm application, such as a beet gnocchi,” he says.