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Texas Kitchen: Brian Light’s carrot tartare recipe

Chef Brian Light's carrot tartare (left) features pickled bitter melons. Photo by Amanda Light

At Ronin, the name of husband-and-wife owners Brian and Amanda Light’s downtown Bryan restaurant and their nearby farm, the menu offers an ever-changing selection based on their freshest harvest.

The 15-acre farm provides everything from fresh eggs to guinea fowl to herbs, as well as the carrots for Executive Chef Brian’s carrot tartare.

Chef Brian Light.

Ronin Executive Chef Brian Light runs the downtown Bryan restaurant with his wife, Amanda. Photo by Ryan Price

Brian, who was born in Venezuela and spent his formative years there as well as in Colombia and Houston, says he often heard his maternal grandmother say, “Every family needs a chef.”

He’s worked in the culinary industry around the world since he was 16, but he gets his best cooking inspiration from the family farm. “We focus on the seasons and use what is available for as long as it is available,” he says.

This carrot appetizer is a recent addition to Brian’s repertoire. It’s best to source the ingredients from a farmers market whenever possible, he adds. “Almost all the ingredients will be fresher and closer to their source, and you will end up with a better-tasting meal.”

Carrot tartare


Serves 2–4

  • 4 large carrots, peeled
  • 1½ teaspoons chives, minced and divided
  • ½ teaspoon dill, minced
  • ½ teaspoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 chile manzano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon pickled bitter melon
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard flowers, diced
  • Strawberries, about 15–20, diced
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Country bread (homemade or store-bought), for serving


Sprinkle carrots with 1/2 teaspoon chives. Add dill and parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap carrots in parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Roast at 350° for 45 minutes. Cool the carrots and then dice; mix with remaining ingredients. Serve with toasted country bread.

Pickled bitter melon


  • 3 bitter melons, sliced lengthwise and white pith and seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar


Place bitter melons in boiling water and blanch. Cool in an ice bath and strain. Place in bowl with jalapeño and garlic. Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, pour over bitter melons, jalapeño, and garlic. Cool, slice into thin strips, and then strain; can be refrigerated up to 3 months.

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