Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘pork

I have a love-hate relationship with the food truck pod in the Amazon precinct. In a car park on Harrison near Fairview in South Lake Union, there is a diverse selection of food trucks on rotation on weekdays. I love that there’s a location for the mobile eateries in the neighbourhood. I hate that the crowds idle on the footpath. I’m in the area several times a week and it’s an obstacle course to hustle through the blue badge coterie.

I’ve noticed some trucks position their windows towards the car park so the queues are away from the street. Others park their trucks at an angle to maximise the space between their vehicle and the footpath. I appreciate the pedestrian friendly effort!

On the day of the Feast on the Farm dinner, Shirley and I enjoyed a frybread lunch from Off the Rez.

Frybread is a Native American specialty and we both ordered the combo of two Indian tacos and one sweet frybread. On the left is chicken chilli verde and on the right is pulled pork. The frybread was a golden puff, a fluffy pillow for the taco toppings. A sturdy container for the meats, the frybread soaked up the marinade and had a lightly chewy texture.

The Indian tacos were garnished with coleslaw and sprigs of coriander. Braised in beer, the chicken was drizzled with a rich crema sauce. Smoked for ten hours, a honey bourbon barbecue sauce was stirred in the pulled pork. Both were tender and strongly seasoned, an unctuous introduction to frybreads.

Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, the sweet frybread resembled a doughnut minus the hole. It was ethereal, so delicate and similar to Greek loukoumades and Italian zeppole.

The Nutella version of sweet frybread was a sticky mess, the viscous hazelnut chocolate dripped down the side.

Off the Rez has affirmed my liking for food trucks!

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Chinatown-International District. I’m sceptical about this hyphenated neighbourhood in Seattle. It was eerily quiet on Chinese New Year (農曆新年) last year. The streets were devoid of people and absent of colour. There were no red lanterns, no auspicious posters and no lion dances. It was a forlorn hour as I wandered up and down King Street.

In contrast we were greeted by a cacophony of sounds at Dragon Fest last month. Dull drums and sharp cymbals reverberated through the crowds as the nimble lion pranced and leaped. We were there for the $2 Food Walk to sample the multicultural eateries. Sea Garden (一定好) was last on our list and their salt and pepper chicken wings were a highlight.

I return for weekday lunch the next week and shared four items between the three of us. The walls were painted a drab olive green, and the dining room was furnished with laminate tables and wooden chairs.

Thickened by corn starch, morsels of tofu and shiitake mushrooms were suspended in the savoury bowl of complimentary soup.

A tangled mess of egg noodles were crispy on the bottom and topped with brown sauce. The pork and bean sprout chow mein (肉絲炒麵) was a hearty and toothsome dish.

A neon orange, the sweet and sour pork (咕嚕肉) was sticky and bold. Chunks of tender pork were tossed in a sugary and vinegary syrup.

These six crescents were deep fried prawns (炸蝦球). Similar to beer battered fish, the prawns had an airy coating and were dipped in plum sauce.

Last was eggplant Sichuan style with minced meat (魚香茄子). Silky and spicy, its richness was tempered with plain rice.

The Chinese name of Sea Garden aptly translates to ‘certainly or definitely good’.

Face masks and hair nets are synonymous with Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) in Sydney. Cooks are in silent huddles in the open kitchen, kneading dough and pleating dumplings (餃子). The public display of food safety is commendable but I feel awkward staring at the staff.

The signature spectacle is also at Din Tai Fung in Bellevue. Patrons can watch each step of the dumpling making process as each dumpling is rotated through several pairs of hands. Sans face masks and hair nets, brows are knitted in concentration and nimble fingers pinched and pressed.

Located in Lincoln Square, Din Tai Fung has a modern and spacious dining room. You may have to queue for a table during peak times but the maître d’ is excellent at estimating the wait and you can while away the minutes learning the art of dumplings!

Our group of four were seated in a comfortable booth. Each table has a condiments tray with bottles of soy sauce and vinegar, and a jar of chilli sauce.

The laminated menu has photos for reference and you can tick the items on the order sheet. Sweet and sour spareribs (排骨) whetted our appetite. More sweet than sour, these unctuous morsels were coated in a sticky marinade.

Famous for their soup dumplings (小籠包), ten xiao long bao were steamed in a bamboo basket. Dipped in vinegar to balance their richness, the delicate dumplings were savoured for their liquid centres.

Beneath the cloudy broth were prawn and pork wontons (雲吞). A popular meal with noodles in Cantonese cafés (茶餐廳), the silky wrapper encased a meaty filling. It was simple comfort food.

My favourite dish at Din Tai Fung is the spicy prawn and pork dumplings. Boiled wontons were tossed in a luscious sauce, each mouthful pungent and fiery.

Slippery strands of egg noodles were stir-fried with Napa cabbage (黃芽白), spinach and prawns for a toothsome plate of carbs.

Garlicky batons of green beans were bright and crunchy.

Dessert was a mango smoothie with tapioca pearls. An icy, fruity blend, it was a refreshing beverage.

And they have dessert dumplings too!

I don’t remember where and when I’ve eaten Taiwanese food. The only dishes I know are oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and ‘three cup’ chicken (三杯雞), both of which are common in Cantonese style restaurants.

Facing East was recommended by several people and our group of four gathered for a weekday lunch. I paced up and down Bellevue Way between 10th and 12th checking the numbers and had to call for directions. Similar to Tamarind Tree, Facing East is located in a mall with no street frontage.

A small dining room for a popular eatery, the space is modern and bright.

The glossy menu is categorised into snacks and sides, rice and noodles, chef’s specials, and desserts. Service was polite and we let our waiter guide our order.

On a wooden tray, the oolong tea (烏龍茶) was ceremoniously rinsed and poured. A petite ceramic teapot steeped the leaves and a miniature jug was enough for four tiny cups of oolong tea. Hot water refill was in a stainless steel thermos to quench our thirst.

First was Taiwanese pork burger. Reminiscent of the famed Momofuku pork bun, this is a comparable version. A snowy steamed bun was agape with a slab of pork belly, pickles, peanuts and sprigs of coriander. It was a decadent combination of meaty, fatty, sweet and sour.

It was National Fried Chicken Day so we had five spice fried chicken with basil. Lightly battered, the tender morsels were garnished with crisp Thai basil leaves and sliced pickles.

Portions of Painted Hills short rib were tossed in an appetising black pepper sauce. Pickled pearl onions tempered the richness of the succulent beef.

A modest size bowl of spicy pork stew with rice was savoury comfort food.

A mound of green beans sautéed in garlic was crunchy and sweet.

I have added Facing East to my list of quality Asian restaurants in the Seattle area!

All of Tom Douglas‘s restaurants are in our neighbourhood. Seventeen months in Seattle and we’ve dined at each of them except for Palace Kitchen. Every time I walk by I remind myself that we must have a meal there. And I finally did last week! Located on the corner of 5th and Lenora, it is adjacent to Palace Ballroom and in the midst of a couple of construction sites.

At the centre of Palace Kitchen is the bar, and two dining rooms are to its left and right. Window panes slide open for fresh air on warm nights and natural light filters in on long summer days.

A jewel toned goblet of strawberry lemonade was garnished with a lemon twist. A second beverage of sour cherry fizz was tart and minty.

Shirley and I shared three courses. First was ‘plin’, a Piedmontese style ravioli, filled with roast pork and chard. The pinched pasta were in a puddle of sage and parmesan butter. I spooned the fragrant sauce over each of the cute al dente morsels. Next time I’ll order a side of bread to mop the plate!

Palace Kitchen is famed for their applewood grill. The chicken wings were golden and sticky, laced with an intense smokiness. A sea foamed coloured coriander cream tempered the succulent poultry.

A vibrate mound of lettuce was studded with spicy garbanzo beans, fava beans, chopped boiled egg, drizzled with herbed dressing, and dotted with sliced radish. It was a healthful salad, spicy and crunchy.

Our second salad was compliments of Chef Dezi. Fava beans from Prosser Farm were grilled and tossed with ‘extra virgin’ (first press) fish sauce, ricotta salata, mint, radish greens and marinated peppers. The charred pods of tender beans were exquisite, a luscious contrast to the peppery greens.

An oval dish of silky orange blossom panna cotta was topped with seasonal strawberries and a brittle pistachio wafer.

Tiered discs of malted chocolate milk cake and cream were paired with shards of cocoa rice crispies and a quenelle of chocolate crémeux. A decadent treat, this was malty, chocolaty, and redolent of Milo and chocolate crackles.

I shall not wait another seventeen months before I dine at Palace Kitchen again!

We had intended on going to Oxford on our first day in London. But alas, the weather conspired to confine us to indoor activities. Our umbrella gallantly shielded us from rain and wind as we waited for The Wolseley to open for breakfast. Thanks to Paola for the recommendation, the eggs Benedict, croissant and classic English (eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, black pudding, tomato and mushroom) were superb. So much so that we returned with a Canadian and a French on our last morning in the Old Dart!

Dried, warmed and nourished, we strolled to The National Gallery and shuffled with the crowd to admire the mastery of Cézanne, Constable, Monet, Turner and van Gogh. We ordered a canvas of Monet’s The Thames below Westminster and had lunch at The National Dining Rooms while it was printing. A ‘proudly and resolutely British’ restaurant by Peyton and Byrne, chef Simon Duff ‘seek out, celebrate and transform the finest British regional produce into exquisite modern dishes that represent the best of Britain’s abundant food treasures’.

A contemporary design, the mirrored restaurant shimmered. The main dining room has a view of Trafalgar Square and the café area is adjacent to the entrance.

Peyton and Byrne branded lilac tins lined the shelves.

Sweet treats were displayed on the counter, colourful swirls of icing on cupcakes contrasted with mounds of green salads.

I quenched my thirst with a freshly squeezed orange juice.

The smoked haddock, salmon and Parmesan pie was hearty fare. The flaky crust encased a creamy filling with morsels of fish, reminiscent of the Scottish specialty Cullen skink. A side salad of leafy greens and celeriac remoulade was the requisite vegetable serving.

My traditional pork pie was crimped and cold. A warm dough made with lard, the hot water pastry was thick and rich. A dense pink mass, the pork had the texture of spam but had a delicate flavour perfumed by herbs and spices.

The leaden clouds dissipated and silver beams illuminated our afternoon walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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!


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