Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Redmond

Mark Bitterman is championing the salt renaissance. The owner of The Meadow and author of Salted hosted a dinner class at Lisa Dupar Catering a couple of weeks ago. At home we have small containers of Australian and English finishing salts and a large jar of French salt for brining, pasta water and roasting. I’m a cautious salter but I have learnt to embrace how sodium chloride is transformative in cooking.

Adjacent to Pomegranate Bistro, the catering kitchen is a labyrinth of stainless steel, storage and commercial sized accoutrement.

Catering staff has a view of the restaurant through square panes and vice versa.

A seven course tasting menu paired by Mark Bitterman and Lisa Dupar.

Rimmed with carbonated black takesumi bamboo salt, a spicy Bloody Mary apéritif greeted us.

Rows of tables were orientated to the preparation area where chefs plated our food.

Mark was as charming and engaging as I remembered. He spoke with passion and humour about the history of salt, and the composition and flavour profiles of our samples.

Coral coloured and glistening, the salmon was cured by being pressed between two Himalayan pink salt blocks. The gravlax had a firm texture and was absent of the sliminess that sometimes afflict cured fish.

Soft slices of house made bread were smeared with butter and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The sweetness of the butter accentuated the moist crystals and delicate crunch.

A trio of flake salts, clockwise from top right: Black Diamond from Cyprus, Murray River from Australia and Halen Môn Gold from Wales.

The pretty flake salts were savoured on rice cake with carrot, avocado and black sesame salad. A flat disc with a crispy edge, the plain rice cake was perfect for comparing the salts. I love the elegance of Murray River flake salt, a parochial favourite. The charcoal pyramids of the Black Diamond was bold and earthy. From Anglesey, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the oak smoked salt had an intense aroma.

The highlight of the evening was Juan’s chilli relleno with Molokai red salt. A popular family meal at Pomegranate Bistro and Lisa Dupar Catering, a whole poblano pepper was roasted, stuffed, battered and deep-fried. Garnished with guacamole and tomato sauce, the cheesy filling laced with the heat of the pepper was rustic comfort food. From the volcanic clays of Hawaii, the mineral elements of the Molokai red salt brightened the chilli relleno.

Blushed strips of Painted Hills beef were on a bed of mashed celeriac and topped with threads of sweet potato. The luscious sel gris complimented the meatiness.

A bowl of Kauai guava smoked salt.

Dessert was burnt caramel cheesecake with salted pecan crust adorned with fresh blueberries and a white chocolate curl. Unfortunately this was too salty for me.

Mark recommended flake salt, fleur de sel and sel gris as the foundation set for the pantry. Which salt to use? Consider if the intent is chemical, seasoning or visual. The final advice was ‘don’t grind salt’!


There is a popular Malaysian eatery in Sydney with queues on the footpath day and night. We time our meals at Mamak to avoid the crowd by dining early or late. Mamak is famous for their roti. The street frontage has a wide window with a view into the kitchen where chefs efficiently stretch and twirl the pale unleavened dough. It is oiled and seasoned, cooked on the searing griddle where it blisters and colours, and morphs into flaky bread.

We haven’t had Malaysian cuisine since we’ve been in Seattle and I suggested dinner at Malay Satay Hut when we were in Redmond on a weeknight. Located in the Overlake East Shopping Centre, a familiar ‘congee, noodles, rice’ neon sign greeted us.

We walk through a thatched hut entrance into a spacious dining room. A bamboo roof shaded the bar.

A large poster of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur decorated the wall.

A whiteboard listed many specials. The gung pao frog legs and Milo ice piqued my interest!

Photos of Malaysian ingredients introduced the menu.

Singha, a Thai lager, was a refreshing contrast to the strong flavours of the food.

We ordered several dishes to share family style. Roti telur, slivers of sautéed onions were folded in golden layers of roti and dipped in a bowl of curry.

The restaurant’s namesake and signature appetiser, the satay chicken was a highlight. Slathered in chunky slurry of satay, the skewered chicken was tender and smoky. The cucumber nuggets emptied the satay bowl.

Half a Hainanese chicken was served with chilli and ginger sauces. Poached in stock, the boned poultry was fragrant and succulent.

String beans and shelled prawns were stir-fried in belecan (fermented shrimp paste). A peculiar umami taste, the beans were vibrant and the prawns toothsome.

A mound of coconut fried rice was studded with prawns and onions, and flecked with egg. The generous portion was light and aromatic.

To me Malay fare is synonymous with char kway teow. In a miniature wok was flat rice noodles tossed with bean sprouts, chives and egg. Supple strands intertwined with threads of vegetables.

Salt and pepper squid is an Asian staple. Crusted in a delicate batter, the pieces of molluscs yielded to bite, and was spiked with chilli and green onions.

I’m pleased that the original Malay Satay Hut is in Seattle!

I read the Modernist Cuisine blog post on Mayuri on the morning of the October Seattle Foodies lunch. I mentioned it to my dining companions at Café Juanita and Carol suggested that we drive to Redmond since we were already on the Eastside. I was curious about this Indian grocery store as I haven’t been to an ethnic supermarket in Seattle except for Uwajimaya.

In a neighbourhood shopping mall, Mayuri has a distinctive red and blue sign. A family business, Mayuri means peacock in Hindi and they also own restaurants of the same name in Bellevue and Bothell.

The inviting aromas of the Subcontinent greeted us. The compact store had aisles of dried herbs, spices, pulses, grains, flour, condiments, snacks, frozen goods, fresh produce, kitchen merchandise and pantry items.

Packets of dal, split lentils, peas and beans, were on sale.

Red baskets contained dried herbs and blended spices such as fenugreek, cumin and garam masala.

Jars and tins of ghee, clarified butter, were stocked in a variety of brands and sizes.

Shelves were laden with tapioca chips and other fried snacks.

Plastic boxes and cylinders dispensed the staples of grains, pulses and flour in bulk.

The fruit and vegetable section had fresh garbanzo beans.

Plentiful of okra and Thai chilli were sold by weight.

Bunches of fresh herbs were at the bargain price of ninety nine cents.

Mayuri is where to shop when cooking Indian cuisine!

My third trip to the Eastside in a week was for a cooking class with Lisa Dupar. In the kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro was held at PCC Redmond and I had the lovely company of Kimberly.

PCC Cooks is to the left of the entrance, a room with a gleaming modern kitchen and several rows of tables and chairs for attendees.

This was my first PCC Cooks class and I had registered on the day the autumn schedule was published a couple of months ago.

A Southern native who has been living in Seattle for three decades, Lisa Dupar is the owner of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro. She is an IACP Julia Child First Cookbook Award winner for ‘Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro‘.

We were welcomed with a mug of warm mulled sangría, a spiced alcoholic beverage that evoked Christmas memories.

There were three cameras with three screens above the kitchen to view the demonstration.

Lisa was a delightful and successful woman with catering and restaurant stories to share. As she was making Jerry’s muffaletta mix, she told us about her children finally saying ‘I don’t like hairy fish’ after many pizzas with anchovies. Traditionally layered into a muffaletta with the bread soaking in the juices, Lisa served this with white corn tortilla chips. One of her cooks, Jerry from Louisiana, gave her a jar of the olive salad mix for Christmas one year and this was how she ate it!

On the bottom right of the screen is a simmering pot of aromatic chicken brine with blue agave syrup, bay leaves, garlic cloves, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley and lime zest.

Radiant in chef’s red, Lisa laughed about being ‘out of kitchen shape’. Her comment reminded me of the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain returns to Les Halles as a line cook.

As Lisa added salt to the chicken brine, she explained she’s using natural salt. She recently attended a salt class with Mark Bitterman at The Meadow in Portland and was shocked to learn that kosher salt is a desiccant and a manufactured chemical. She has rid her 14,000 square feet commercial kitchen of kosher salt! 

Next on the menu was a Mexican chopped salad with chilli lime vinaigrette. As Lisa was blending the dressing, she explained that a neutral oil will absorb the seasoning. Many of the components in dressings are natural preservatives so can be refrigerated for at least a couple of weeks. She recommended ‘smelling everything you cook with’, especially liquids to avoid rancid oil.

Crunchy with diced apples, cucumber and jicama, and raw corn, the salad was vibrant and appetising. The recipe can be seasonally adjusted. For example, radish and pear would be autumn additions or substitutes.

As Lisa carved the blue agave lime roasted chickens, she reminisced on a staff trip to Quillisaskit Farm. She was candid about her chef’s guilt. She loves to cook but dislikes slaughtering animals. When she expressed her apprehension, the farmer asked her ‘are you the mechanic for your car?’

‘Cooks are like carpenters’, tools are personal and about the ‘hand feel’. Lisa was at an event with The Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau, and he was asked about his favourite knife. His response was ‘a sharp one!’

Brightly coloured bell peppers were roasted and stuffed with black quinoa. As she was splitting the bell peppers and spooning black quinoa, the fennel in the stuffing returned Lisa to her time in Switzerland. She noticed Italian dishwashers munched on fennel for digestion as they worked.

A seasoning salt recipe is included in the booklet and Lisa purchases her spices from MarketSpice. She had inherited her grandmother’s spice rack, an anecdote on how our approach to food has changed since then!

The main course was roast chicken on warm tortilla, bell pepper stuffed with quinoa and Juan’s jasmine rice. The dishes are hearty and rustic, a representation of Southern comfort food.

Dessert was ginger molasses cookies sandwiched with Coconut Bliss. These cookies are so popular that they have been nicknamed ‘crack cookie’ but to her family, they’re ‘typo cookie’. There was a mistake for the flour measurement in the first edition of the cookbook and each copy was patiently corrected by hand with a Sharpie!

Lisa emphasised the importance of resting the dough. Each batch of flour is different and the protein has to be activated. As she scooped the batter and rolled the dough balls in cinnamon sugar, she happily recalled foraging for mushrooms with a friend. Chanterelles and morels haven’t been cultivated. She also mentioned catering for President Obama and the Secret Service chef being in the kitchen!

These cookies were indeed delicious, a lovely balance of spices and sweetness. The ice cream sandwich was pre-made and we sampled cookies out of the oven which were soft and gooey on the inside.

With a hint of Southern lilt, Lisa was charming and gracious. I look forward to a meal at Pomegranate Bistro soon!

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