Monday, August 04, 2014

Summer Culinary Lab Update

The annual Winston Saugatuck Summer Culinary Lab is in session. It is a time when I develop recipes while working on new cooking techniques with unique and seasonal ingredients. There are a number of new food developments, but after a short trip to Chicago where I dined at Chef Ivan Yuen's Shanghai Terrace restaurant (@ the new Peninsula Hotel) I am playing with Cantonese/Peking cooking. I visited the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong several years ago for a truly memorable experience with Peking Duck, and while I had Abalone on this occasion, it made me think about experimenting with a less intensive version of the classic (which can take 3+ days to produce). Here is what we've got so far:

Crispy Chinese Duck (Faux Peking-Style)

Quantity Produced:  Serves 4-6 as an entrée.

Ducks, Split and Quartered, Skin dried w/ towel                      2 Medium Ducks

Braising Sauce:
Vegetable Oil                                                                                    2 Tablespoons
Garlic Cloves, Crushed                                                       3
Scallions, Cut Large                                                             2
Ginger Root, Sliced                                                              2” Piece
Sichuan Peppercorns                                                          1 Teaspoon
Star Anise                                                                              3
Chicken Stock                                                                       ½ Cup
Soy Sauce                                                                              1 Cup
Brandy or Sake                                                                    ½ Cup
Sugar                                                                                      1 Tablespoon
Kosher Salt                                                                            2 Pinch

Water Chestnut Flour or Corn Starch                              1 Cup
Vinegar, White                                                                     2 Tablespoons
Water                                                                                     6 Tablespoons
White Pepper                                                                       ¾ Teaspoon

Hoisin or Plum Sauce                                                         1 ½ Cups
Scallions, Julienned                                                              2

Preparation Procedure: Preheat Oven 375˚. In a large braising ban heat small amount of oil and brown skin side of duck pieces, 4-7 minutes. When golden, transfer duck to plate. Drain some of fat off the pan, add the garlic, scallions, gingerroot, peppercorns and star anise and cook over high heat, stirring, until the garlic is golden and you can smell the spices, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the stock, soy sauce, sake or brandy, sugar and salt. Boil the sauce over high heat for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add duck to the sauce, cover and bake for 2 hours or until the duck is cooked. While the duck is cooking mix the ingredients for the crust. Remove duck from braising sauce (reserve for another use) and allow to cool. When duck is cool, coat skin side with crust, spreading with a spoon. Allow the crust to dry for 5-10 minutes or as long as overnight. Heat 3” of oil in a large wok or pot, to 350˚, fry duck until crispy and golden 4-5 minutes. Serve with plum/hoisin sauce, scallions and flatbread.

Kinmont Restaurant- Chicago

I eat out a lot, usually when I'm on the road delivering a culinary challenge and looking to sample the local fare, it's one of the few benefits of frequent work travel. What happened to me after visiting Kinmont restaurant in Chicago this past weekend was a first though. Let me say that the place is great, a self-described "sustainable seafood" restaurant that uses a fair amount of local big lake fish (the stuff I grew up on in Michigan) and by-catch (smaller, less marketable fish that often get thrown away by commercial fishermen), they do a wonderful job of refreshing the seafood restaurant concept (seafood platters, market catch on a big chalk board, etc.). If you're in the windy city and in the mood for seafood (or just a great restaurant) I highly recommend Kinmont. Add to which, in reference to the above, the day after I visited I received a voicemail from someone at the restaurant thanking me for visiting. A classy touch.

Kinmont Restaurant

The Kinmont Seafood Platter (Purple Giraffe not included)

Lantern Restaurant- Chapel Hill

I've always been a sucker for "locally sourced, Asian inspired" restaurants (you had me at hotpot), and Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill is no exception. We'll be working a series of events in the NC research triangle over the next year and I fully expect to make Lantern a regular stop. Situated on main street in downtown Chapel Hill, with simple interior decor and a kick-ass al fresco garden, they have a great setting to compliment the solid work happening in the kitchen.

Lantern Restaurant

I had the whole fish (among many other things) at my recent visit, here is my version of what they're doing:

Wok-Fried Whole Fish with Sweet Chile Sauce

Quantity Produced:  Serves 3-4.

Whole Sea Bass or Snapper, Trimmed & Scored                    1/ 4-5# Fish
Waterchestnur Flour or Corn Starch                                       to dredge

Vegetable Oil                                                                           4 Cups

Chile Paste/Sambal Oelek                                           3 Tablespoons
Garlic, Minced                                                                        3 Large Cloves
Rice Wine Vinegar                                                      ½ Cup
Water                                                                          1/3 Cup
Sugar                                                                           2/3 Cup
Salt                                                                              1 Teaspoon
Cornstarch                                                                   1 Tablespoon dissolved in 1/3 cup water
Lime Juice                                                                   1 Lime
Cilantro, Stemmed/Chopped                                       4 Tablespoons

Preparation Procedure-

For the sweet chile sauce combine everything, except cilantro, in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickens. Cool completely and add cilantro. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Heat oil in large wok to 325˚. Coat scored fish with waterchestnur flour or corn starch, removing excess. Carefully lay in hot oil, cook 8-10 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and serve on platter topped with sweet chile sauce.