I first learned how to make roast duck from an old Chinese chef many years ago and have been working on it ever since. This duck is inspired by the time-honored classic Chinese Peking duck. I wanted a roasted duck that had the same crispy skin with soft, succulent, juicy meat. The ducks are treated in a similar style as Peking duck with a few twists, which takes multiple days to prepare. The duck is marinated with sugar, Chinese wine and a Sichuan peppercorn spice blend before roasting. The duck is then chopped in Chinatown fashion and served over your carb of choice. Definitely a must try!
This dish was inspired by the garlic sauteed snow pea shoots (Dou Miao) found in authentic Chinese restaurants. I especially like the light garlicky vegetable sauce you end up with at the bottom of the plate. I wanted to use a different vegetable that offers more punch and spicy tones, therefore I picked mustard greens. The mustard greens are sauteed with shallots in chicken stock, lemon, butter and Shaoxing wine. Finally the vegetables are topped with soft, spreadable confit garlic. The garlic you find in Chinese sauteed vegetables is usually hard and tossed aside. I wanted the garlic to play an active role in the experience. Spread the soft garlic around before every bite!
Nasu Nibitashi, or Japanese braised eggplant, is a classic dish that I really enjoy. In the classic version, it’s boiled in dashi and served cold or at room temp with a soy dressing. I love eggplant in general so I wanted to add my own personal twist. First, I stuck with the Japanese eggplants, which have a thinner skin and soft meat. The eggplants are confit in olive oil with herbs and garlic until tender. Then they are finished on the grill to add some smoky char before being dressed with a similar soy dressing as you would find in classic Nasu Nibitashi. Finally, it’s topped with bonito flakes to add some flavors from the sea. Unlike the classic, my version is served hot.
Broccolini is a Japanese vegetable with smaller florets and long, thin stalks. It’s a similar to broccoli and is a natural hybrid of broccoli and kai lan. It’s kind of like Chinese Yau Choy but with thinner stalks. Thin stalks are what I was after. The broccolini is first blanched, then marinated with with soy and then finished on the grill to add the char. Finally, it’s topped with pumpkin seeds. I love the flavor of smoky charred vegetables and it’s not something that’s readily available. It’s a natural side dish for our house meats.
Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap. Generally, it’s one of those nightmare dishes that every kid runs away from. The problem with brussels sprouts is that they are usually overcooked. There’s nothing worse than an overcooked brussels sprouts, with its soggy texture and bitter almost ammonia like taste that shoots up your nose, yuck! However, when brussels sprouts are made just right, they are delicious, crunchy and flavorful. I want to restore the reputation of the brussels sprout, as well treat a western vegetable with Asian flair. In this dish, I fry them until crispy. I then toss them with with house made Nuoc Man, a vietnamese dipping sauce that’s sweet, sour and salty at the same time. Finally, it’s topped with peanuts and fresh chilies. The crisp from frying gives it a really nice touch.
I’m Mexican American, so I wanted tacos on the menu! But obviously the taco needs to be Asian. I grew up on Tex-Mex, so i’m all about the crunchy hard shell. For the shell, I form egg roll skins into a taco shape and deep dry them for a nice perfect crunch. The protein is your typical Tex-Mex ground beef, but seasoned with my own house made Chinese black pepper sauce. I just love Chinese black pepper beef, which my mom also used to make at home when I was growing up! The vegetable components are shredded cabbage, cilantro, hot peppers and avocado. The avocado really rounds out the flavors in this dish. Great with beer!
edOn the Menu: Chinese Black Pepper Beef Egg Roll Skin Tacos
You may have noticed that chicken wings are everywhere. It’s the ubiquitous appetizer that almost every casual restaurant, irregardless of cuisine, puts on the menu in some flavor, shape or form. I thought, why not try something different? How about duck wings? Duck is delicious and hardly anyone uses the wings outside of making stocks. This dish is my homage to the underdog. I confit the duck wings for many hours first before tossing them in a sauce made with fish sauce, palm sugar followed by a sugar glaze. The wings are then topped with sesame and scallion with pickled cucumbers as a garnish. It goes great with a beer.
Lettuce wraps are a classic Vietnamese dish. I find them fun to eat because the numerous ingredients in the wrap really pack a lot of different flavors into one small bite. Using lettuce instead of bread keeps it light and fresh. I use a house made Vietnamese pork sausage with herbs, chilies, fish sauce and lemongrass for the protein. Along with the protein is boiled rice vermicelli, lime, fried shallots, cilantro, mint and thai basil, all held together by a fresh piece of lettuce.
For this dish, I took a spring roll, flipped it inside out and turned it into something healthy. The ingredients in this salad are everything you’d find in a spring roll. The salad vegetables are Chinese celery, cilantro, carrots and green cabbage. The dressing is a salted plum vinaigrette made with ume, fish sauce and lime, which is similar to a spring roll dipping sauce. The salad is then topped with fried rice noodles for texture, a la the rice paper skin used to wrap the spring roll. Poached shrimp on the side is optional.