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Sensi Cooks With Cannabis

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Though it's a herb, cooking with cannabis takes more than just drying, grinding and sprinkling. This lesson was taught to Thursday Food at the launch dinner for The Rock's newest medicinal cannabis house — Sensi. Sensi Medical Cannabis House is under the umbrella of Marigold Projects of which Lloyd Tomlinson is the honcho.

Dubbed “Cannabis and Cuisine”, the three-course dinner was catered by Chef Oji Jaja. Jaja creatively used cannabis infusions in each course and balanced the natural flavours of the herb with those of his ingredients. It takes a skilled cannabis cook to achieve both balance in taste and potency.

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are chemical compounds that are secreted by cannabis flowers. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are just two of the 113 identified cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. CBD is non-intoxicating while THC is responsible for cannabis' psychological effects. Cannabinoid compounds provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, inflammation, nausea and anxiety. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble; therefore, any recipe that includes butter, coconut or olive oils can be cannabis-infused.

However, making cannabis-infused oil/butter requires a bit of CXC (yes, we're ageing ourselves) chemistry. The first step in making cannabis-infused oil/butter is decarboxylation. Decarboxylation (say that three times fast) is a chemical reaction which releases the carboxylic acids from cannabinoids to activate the sensimilla. To decarboxylate cannabis, bake the cannabis at 250°F for around an hour.

Jaja's first course was an organic mixed green salad that comprised CBD oil, charred avocado, grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, smoked olives, microgreens breadfruit croutons, shaved parmesan and passion fruit vinaigrette. The breadfruit croutons were fried in CBD butter, and the vinaigrette was made with CBD oil.

Next in cooking with cannabis is matching foods to a strain's terpenes. What are terpenes, you ask? No worries, we won't leave you guessing.

Terpenes are what gives strains their identifiable scents. Fun fact: the low temperature of the decarboxylation process ensures that the aromatic and desirable terpene characteristics are not burnt away. So, whether it's the orchard grove brightness of Citrus Punch or the earthiness of Marigold (one of Sensi's proprietary strains) ensure, like when using rosemary, oregano or lavender, that the herb's flavours enhance the dish, not work against it. Jaja accomplished this brilliantly with his second course of pan-seared salmon.

A perfectly-portioned salmon fillet was seared in CBD butter, and the entrée was complemented by forbidden rice and quinoa risotto, sautéed vegetables, and a cream sauce that was luscious and velvety.

For many, their introduction to cannabis-infused foods was via a dessert, most likely a brownie. Leave it to Sensi and Jaja to offer guests something more refined than a dense square of chocolate cake (to be clear, we aren't knocking brownies!) Guests indulged in passion fruit panna cotta with mixed berries and CBD brittle. It was so good some guests had seconds.

If this feature has piqued your interest to cook with cannabis, head to Sensi at the Pulse Centre on Trafalgar Road, where the team of well-informed budtenders will be pleased to guide you as you take your cooking to a higher level.