Posts Tagged ‘cilantro’
Posted Monday 23 April 2012on:
I have a fading memory of my uncle making dumplings (餃子). I don’t remember where or when the family gathering was and I don’t recall eating them but there is a faint image of his nimble fingers deftly pleating the wrapper, patiently making dozens for the dinner party. An exchange of emails with my father confirmed my uncle’s dumpling skills.
The lovely Kimberly was my companion at the Handmade Asian Dumplings class at The Pantry at Delancey. I had intended on snacking on a Jersey salad at Delancey prior to the cooking class but had forgotten the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead we perched on the azure stools on the deck at The Pantry and chatted.
Located behind Delancey, The Pantry has a herbs and vegetables garden.
A custom made timber table is the centrepiece. The space is practical and welcoming, a celebration of countryside kitchen and communal dining.
Blushed tulips in a mason jar, bottles of olive oil in a vintage crate and local jams, preserves and jellies (Deluxe Foods) were some of the provisions for sale.
Dumplings mise en place prepared by the volunteers.
A glass of sparkling Rosé was a refreshing apéritif.
We munched on crispy wonton skins and spongy tofu cubes (豆腐泡) as appetisers.
In America via Malaysia and Australia, Kathleen Khoo was our teacher. She was an affable lady with an cheerful persona. On the menu were ‘water dumplings’ (水餃), Japanese gyoza, deep fried wonton (炸雲吞) and siu mai (燒賣).
Kathleen demonstrated how to make a basic dough and an egg dough. ‘Just like pasta’, a dumpling dough is formed with flour, water, egg and a pinch of salt. Once combined, the dough was kneaded quickly and firmly until silky and pliable. The dough was then rested before flattening into wrappers.
We paired up to make a basic dough and an egg dough.
Kathleen explained some of the Asian ingredients such as shredding only the green parts of the Napa cabbage as the whites have a high water content.
A tray of condiments included hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), mirin, sake, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil (芝麻油) and Shaoxing wine (紹興酒). A splash is enough as the condiments are pungent.
As our dough rested, we emptied the various containers of the mise en place and stirred the components together for each of the fillings.
You can buy packets of dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores and supermarkets but it is easy, economical and healthier to make fresh ones.
Water dumpling wrappers can be made in a tortilla press. We learnt to do it by hand with a narrow rolling pin. The egg dough was rolled in a pasta machine.
Being organised is essential to successful dumplings. The surface should be lightly floured, spoons or chopsticks to portion out the fillings, corn starch for dusting the wrappers, a basin of water to seal the dumplings, and cotton tea towels to cover the wrappers and dumplings to prevent them from drying out. The rested dough was rolled into a sausage shape and cut into inch wide lumps.
A vibrant green, sprigs of coriander were roughly chopped as garnish.
Sauces in earthy shades were poured.
My first handmade dumpling!
The water dumplings were crescent parcels of minced pork, shredded Napa cabbage, aromatics and seasoning. They were boiled, tossed in a store bought spicy dumpling sauce and adorned with coriander. Thick and doughy, the slippery dumplings were meaty.
The crimped edges of the Japanese gyoza were fun to make. These sturdy morsels of minced pork and prawn chunks were seared in a non-stick pan and steamed in stock. Golden bottomed and translucent, the juicy and robust gyoza was my favourite.
Wontons were folded into nurse’s caps, deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I prefer wontons boiled in a broth ladled over noodles.
Siu mai, an open dumpling that is a staple dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶), were a dexterous challenge. Traditionally made with twelve pleats, I maxed out at seven! The siu mai were plump bites laced with the distinct flavours of shiitake mushrooms.
Bunches of Chinese cabbage were quartered and steamed as a side. The first bamboo basket was too wilted but the second was just cooked, the stalks crunchy and the leaves tender.
Dumpling making is the perfect rainy weekend activity!
Posted Thursday 29 March 2012on:
I was thrilled that the first Little Taste of the Dahlia this year was duck. I’ve never cooked duck at home and was keen to learn the basic skills of the game.
With crimson walls and amber lights, the Dahlia Lounge had a sultry feel. The dining room was set for the evening service.
The event was held in the private dining room, divided by sliding opaque glass panes.
Dahlia Lounge menus were creatively recycled as booklets with the duck and wine menu printed on the back, and blank pages for notes.
Beverage director Adam Chumas matched the duck dishes with 2008 Château Grande Cassagne Grenache Syrah Costières de Nîmes (right) and 2009 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling (left).
Groups were seated at round tables and couples at bar tables. Our attention centred on Tom Douglas and Dahlia Lounge Chef Brock Johnson. The employer and employee was an entertaining pair. Duck has been on the menu since Dahlia Lounge opened more than two decades ago. It’s Tom’s favourite ingredient and he ‘would pick Chinese barbecue duck (烤鴨) over Texas barbecue any day’!
Pekin duck is native to China and Muscovy duck originated from South America. Restaurants cannot serve wild game and local ducks can be expensive. There was a discussion on the definition of local. Tom explained that the animals may be farmed locally but the butchering and packaging are often centralised. It may be branded and marketed as meat from Willamette Valley but the reality is it was processed in California.
A jar of duck liver mousse was sealed with rhubarb jelly. I spread a thick layer of the silky mousse on a slice of bread. Its intense, rich flavour was heightened by flecks of sweet jelly.
Tom commentated while Chef Brock demonstrated how to confit a duck leg, an ancient method of preserving. Rubbed with a herb salt as a dry brine overnight, the leg is then rinsed, submerged in rendered duck fat and slow cooked in 180°F for twelve hours. A five pound duck yields two to three cups of fat. It can be strained, frozen and reused.
The second course was duck confit with duck fried potato. A tumble of shredded meat was atop a halved fingerling potato.
Chef Brock expertly separated the breasts from a whole duck. The skin was scored, seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme, and pan fried on medium low heat. Tom emphasised it is better to err on lower heat. One of the ‘lost techniques of cooking is warmth’, once the stove is off, the residual heat will continue to cook. Rest for at least ten minutes, sprinkle with fresh thyme and the duck breast is ready to serve.
Dolloped with cherry preserve, the slice of Muscovy duck breast had a sliver of crispy skin attached.
Dahlia Lounge roasts an average of thirty ducks on the rotisserie per day. The Dahlia duck is stuffed with aromatics, wing tips clipped and trussed in slits of its skin. Tom recommended 425°F for half an hour and 325°F for forty five minutes in a home oven.
Our final course was the famous Dahlia duck bun. Similar to the versions at Momofuku Seiōbo and Wild Ginger, the tender duck was wedged in a soft bun with mandoline cucumbers, a squirt of hoisin sauce and a spring of coriander.
My appetite was subdued by a bout of laryngitis but the duck morsels roused my palate!
I check the Tom Douglas website regularly for new events. They’re only advertised online and sometimes tweeted. I noticed the chaats from Bombay pop up dinner by Devarshi Patel listed a couple of days after I returned from Australia. I made a purchase immediately as the first one, Thrilla in Manila pop up dinner by Herschell Taghap, was popular.
In a moment of jet lag induced silliness, I panicked when the event sold out in less than a day and I thought I would be having dinner by myself. Thankfully I realised I had sensibly paid for two tickets and invited Shirley to join me in the frivolity.
I love that Seattle is lit by twinkling fairy lights twisted around the branches of deciduous trees during the festive season. I paused to appreciate this multi-coloured beauty in the Terry Avenue Building courtyard.
Chaats are traditional Indian street food and the specialties of Chef Dev’s pop up dinner were from Bombay (Mumbai).
An artfully blurred photo of Chef Dev, courtesy of the dimly lit dining room at Ting Momo. A genial and humble man, Chef Dev explained the composition of each of the dishes and spoke with the diners.
We were welcomed with a glass of masala chai, a soothing blend of herbs and spices brewed with tea.
Masala papad, pappadums topped with red onions, cucumber and cilantro, were shared appetisers. Thin and crispy, the sturdy pappadums were broken into shards to scoop up the tangy diced mix.
Curiously plain in appearance, the panni puri were three puffed crackers with a quenelle of masala potato. Gently tap the puffed crackers with your fingers or the back of a spoon to deflate, fill with a glob of masala potato and a squirt of tamarind water or herb water. These were fun to eat by hand!
Chaas, a savoury version of lassi, was our second beverage. The iced cumin and green chilli yoghurt drink had a peculiar aroma and tasted like a diluted tzatziki.
In a floral rimmed bowl was dahi wada. A ground daal fritter was seasoned with yoghurt, paprika, toasted cumin and chutney.
All the courses thus far have been eaten with a spoon. Next was wada paav, a potato sandwich flavoured with chutneys and wrapped in a page from a magazine.
Chef Dev detailed how he tried several times to learn how to make the bun at a bakery in India. The Dahlia Bakery staff assisted with the recipe and the bun was fresh and soft. A combination of three chutneys were spread on the potato patty. The spicy sandwich was the highlight of the meal.
Next was ragda patties. A mound of chickpeas and white beans, and a dollop of chutney hid a potato cake.
The last savoury item was misol paav. A square of toast soaked in the legume sprout stew.
And finally, dessert was gaja ka halva. A distinctly orange mass of shredded carrot and cardamom pudding was fragrant and mildly sweet.
Sincere thanks to Chef Dev for introducing us to chaats! A meat version of the chaats pop up dinner was mentioned for spring.
I walk through South Lake Union several times a week. The neighbourhood is busy during the week, especially on the Westlake thoroughfare from Whole Foods to Harrison. I noticed the construction site on the corner of Harrison and Terry many months ago and didn’t know it was Cactus until recently. I love the pink window frames!
Next to the trio of Tom Douglas restaurants in the Terry Avenue Building and opposite Portage Bay Café, it is an emerging dining hub. The eateries already do brisk business on weekdays but foot traffic is minimal on weekends.
Cactus is located in an elongated room with a high ceiling. A bar is at the entrance and the dining room splits to the right and left. A private function room is on the mezzanine level. Floor-to-ceiling glass filters in natural light and patterned cylindrical lampshades are elegant and muted in contrast to the colourful furnishings. Chairs were painted and upholstered in azure, lime, saffron and copper.
We were seated at a booth on a quiet Sunday lunch service. Hand painted motifs featured on each wooden table. The modern and vibrant space is welcoming and cheerful.
Mango agua fresca, a fizzy beverage of agave nectar, fresm lime, mango, mint and sparkling water was refreshing.
The other Cactus restaurants are in Alki Beach, Kirkland and Madison Park and each has a unique logo which is printed on the serviettes.
We nibbled on salsa, guacamole and corn chips while we perused the menu. The salsa casera, homemade salsa, was appetisingly piquant.
A basket of warm corn chips was plentiful for the bowl of guacamole. Avocado, cilantro, lime, onion, serrano chillis and pico de gallo mashed together as a chunky dip.
Mr S selected the fajitas with grilled skirt steak. A plate of condiments and warm flour tortillas accompanied the sizzling skillet of Spanish rice, cumin black beans and caramelised onions. There is a rustic charm in wrapping ingredients and eating it by hand.
There are two tacos per serving and the kitchen kindly accommodated my request to mix and match. Spanish rice and cumin black beans were requisite for a Mexican meal.
On a house made white corn tortilla, the pescado had a fillet of battered fish, coriander and pasilla coleslaw, pico de gallo and buttermilk crema. A little soggy, the flaky white fish absorbed the tangy flavours that were tempered by the squirt of buttermilk crema.
The second taco was carnitas Yucatecas, Carlton Farms pork in achiote marinade and roasted in banana leaves, caramelised pineapple, Cotija cheese and red onion escabeche. It is a delectable combination of tender meat, sweet pineapple and pickled onions.
Flan is a one of my favourite desserts and this three milk Cuban flan is one of the best I’ve tasted. The sepia toned custard was poised in a puddle of sticky sauce. It was firm, smooth and creamy, topped with a vanilla speckled layer of caramel.
Cactus is a welcomed addition to South Lake Union!
An ornate room is lined with columns and features a marble bar. Brightly lit with a high ceiling, bar tables surround the perimeter.
Gin Garden is at the back, wrought iron gates open to an urban oasis. A glass roof is partially covered by bamboo which filters in natural light.
Lush green plants grow along the exposed brick walls and the gentle splashes of the fountain amplify the tropical ambience.
The menu is split into Thai and Australian. Thai classics included beef salads, stir fries, curries and noodles. Lamb, burgers, fish and chips, schnitzel and pasta were categorised as Australian.
A maître d’ seats diners and from there it is self-service. You order and pay at the bar, and pick up the meals on rattan trays when the electronic pager beeps and buzzes.
I had a lovely lunch with an ex-colleague. In between conversations, we enjoyed our plates of pad see ew. Stir fried in a sticky soy sauce was a generous serving of rice noodles, chicken, carrot, snow peas, Chinese broccoli and egg garnished with chilli. A wedge of lemon and sprigs of coriander freshened the meal.
We whiled away a couple of hours in the greenhouse, reluctantly exited into the spring rain.
I had a question mark next to the Mobile Food Rodeo on my calendar as Mr S was returning from a three week work trip on the same day. I hesitated when the lovely Carol offered me a spare ticket but Mr S assured me he would be sleeping off jet lag so I happily accepted.
It was cool and cloudy as we joined the queue just before midday. VIP ticket holders were to have an extra hour before general admission but they were delayed by the fire marshal inspection and thus had a cascading effect on us. Hungry and windswept, we finally entered just before one o’clock.
A barren bitumen block enclosed by a barbwire fence, about a dozen food trucks ringed the perimeter and there were a couple of canopies with stacked hay bales for seating.
The bright graffiti on the Skillet Street Food van greeted us.
Next to the petite Whole Foods truck was Maximus Minimus, a pig with attitude in sunglasses!
Our first food truck was Curry Now. By the time we got our wristbands, I was shivering and in need of sustenance.
We shared a small chicken curry with rice and topped with cilantro. We ate this quickly and appreciated the spiciness.
Street Treats was adjacent and we peeked at the menu. Although tempted by ice cream cookie sandwiches we opted to purchase a salted brown butter crispy bar for later. We split this in the car and it was a sticky treat of sweet nuttiness.
When we were outside the line was moving steadily until we paused at Fusion on the Run. We noticed a menu leaning against a window and were intrigued by the coconut ginger chicken bánh mì.
As we were waiting for our bánh mì, a guy picked up his tacos order. On the left is ono, kalua pork with mango salsa and surfer sauce. The other two are KV fusion, marinated short rib with cilantro and onions.
A crusty baguette was filled with julienned and pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, cilantro, sesame seeds and coconut ginger chicken. Each bite of the bánh mì was crunchy and juicy, the sour vegetables tempered the richness of the marinated chicken. This was the highlight of the Mobile Food Rodeo!
By now the crowds have at least quadrupled since we got in. Groups were huddled together, balancing plates and trays while standing. Those perched on hay bales were elbow to elbow.
We continued our rotation and walked by Lumpia World, Where Ya At and Kaosamai. After the bánh mì, we skipped burgers, sliders and sandwiches at Bistro Box, Buns on Wheels and Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff.
The pig shaped chalkboard at The Box caught our attention! A recent addition to the fleet of local food trucks, they’re based in Kirkland.
We ordered a pork belly hum bao each and these were speedily assembled. Slow braised in soy and mirin, a generous slice of pork belly with a scattering of coleslaw was wedged between a steamed bun. The fresh and zingy slaw was a textural contrast to the yielding pork belly and the soft bun soaked up the tasty marinade.
A band entertained the crowds and later, Mayor McGinn appeared on the stage and a cupcake eating contest was held.
The sun had emerged and the atmosphere had livened up. There were some long queues so Carol lined up at Bigfood and I went searching for fries.
I was keen to try poutine, the Québec specialty. Surprised by only a handful of people lingering at Skillet, I joined the short queue just in time for the announcement that they were sold out.
Disappointed, I returned to the area where Bigfood was parked and caught a glimpse of the Happy Grillmore menu. Yukon gold fries with garlic and Parmesan? Yes please!
Unfortunately I was defeated by the wait time. The two chefs were cooking at a frantic pace but they were limited by space. The size of the event overwhelmed the charm of food trucks.
A jungle themed food truck, Bigfood also had a long queue but we were determined to try their grilled flatbreads.
On the left is sasquatch, spicy pulled pork shoulder with green mango chutney and coleslaw. On the right is yeti, braised beef with curried fruit and coleslaw. Colourful ingredients rested on fluffy flatbreads with perfect grill marks! These were tender and luscious, the grilled flatbread was a sturdy utensil for the shredded meat and fruity condiments.
And finally, a red velvet muffin. We scraped off the buttercream and halved the dense and buttery muffin.
Another new food truck, Snout & Co. has ‘soulful food from Cuba to South Carolina’.
As we exited, we were thankful that we arrived early and mostly avoided queuing by the dozens. Hopefully the organisation will improve for next year but it is a fun event to sample the diverse food trucks of Seattle and Portland.