Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lunch at Le Bernardin

Today is my birthday. Last year on this day, I also wrote a post about my birthday celebration the year before at Le Bernardin. That was the first time I ate at such a high end restaurant with my entire extended family, and it was needless to say a very memorable night that we still regularly refer to today. I had the luxury of revisiting Le Bernardin recently for lunch, and it was a much more low-key experience, and the perfect place for overdue get togethers and business gatherings. I must commend the staff for impeccable service and their knowledge of every dish and product that comes out of their kitchen. This is what you call proper training. Now on to the fishes...

The highlight of my meal was the creative spin on surf and turf. Who would want a steak and lobster when you can get a roasted bone marrow topped with sea urchin?  It's as mouthwatering as it sounds and even more delicious than it looks. It seriously is the best from the land paired with the very best from the sea. Nothing beats two totally different ingredients that are equally buttery, aromatic, and rich. Seriously the work of a master. 

We also ordered a baked red snapper a day in advance. This is prepared for a party of 2, but I do wish they did not fillet it for us because there is definitely so much leftover that we did not get to savor. Either way, it was simple and fresh. Exactly how seafood should be. It was served with an herb infused olive oil and a side of perfectly prepared roasted stewed vegetables. A meal cannot get more simple yet more elegantly complex. 

Please enjoy the photos, and I wish you a very merry holiday season! 

The very memorable bubbly plates

Compliments of the house: salmon tartar

The first page of the menu

This is why I love French restaurants. BREAD PARADISE.
Clockwise from top left: Sesame, poppy seed, sun dried tomato, baguette, focaccia, and pretzel

Surf&Turf: Roasted bone marrow and sea urchin
with pickled onions, capers, and bacon crisp

Ultra rare seared yellowfin tuna with marinated fennel, basil, and capers
Charred octopus "a la plancha" with green olive and black garlic
emulsion, sundried tomato sauce vierge
Whole baked red snapper in fresh herbes de Provence-salt crust

The filleted red snapper served with herb infused olive oil 

Crispy black bass with roasted shishitos and kabocha squash "ceviche
with Peruvian Chica sauce
Byaldi gratin

Dark chocolate parfait with candied Marcona almonds, dulce de leche, and milk sorbet
Le Bernardin 
155 W 51st Street
New York, NY

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Food Science final project: Chive Pancake with Shallot Sesame Dipping Sauce

So I just finished my classes for the semester, and my last assignment was a presentation on my research paper on a functional food: garlic. I'll just spare you the details and tell you to EAT MORE GARLIC. And scallions, chives, leek, and onions. This family of plants are called alliums, and current research shows that eating these will reduce your risk of contracting cancer, heart disease, or sicknesses in general. Yes, those are bold claims, but I really do believe in the power of garlic. Plus it makes your food smell so aromatic! Life would be bland without alliums. 

Here are some interesting mythology, folklore, and history about garlic: 
  • There is an Islamic myth where after Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic arose in his left footprint and onion in the right.
  • Those following the steps of the Buddha* are warned to “refrain from eating [the] five pungent plants [onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives] of this world. If these five are eaten cooked, they increase one's sexual desire; if they are eaten raw, they increase one's anger.”
  • During the first Olympic Games in Greece, garlic was used as an ergogenic aid. 
  • In China, onion and garlic tea have been used to treat fevers, headache, cholera, and dysentery. 
  • In India, garlic has long been used as an antiseptic for cleansing wounds and ulcers. 
  • During the two world wars, garlic was also used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene. In addition to these uses, it has also been associated with treating bites, intestinal worms, and even tumors. 
*Yup, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the following recipe is not "vegetarian." 

At home my mom always makes chive omelets, and I always order seafood pajeon when my family eats out, so here is a recipe that puts the two together! In this experiment, various relatives of the Allium family will be used in a modern vegan** take of the Korean pancake, pajeon, served with a Chinese Hakka inspired dipping sauce. Pajeon is an appetizer that is typically prepared with squid and scallions or with kimchi. 

In this recipe, there will be a combination of garlic chives and scallions, which are used widely in Eastern Asian cooking. The dipping sauce draws insight from a traditional Hakka sauce used for steamed chicken. The Korean pajeon dipping sauce typically consists of soy sauce and vinegar, however this flavorful Southern Chinese sauce is traditionally prepared with soy sauce and sautéed shallots. This rendition will also include some aromatic rice wine, sesame seeds, and raw garlic and scallion tails. 

-          1 cup white flour
-          1 cup water
-          ¼ tsp baking powder
-          1 cup garlic chives, chopped
-          1 cup scallions, chopped
-          ½ cup onion, chopped
-          1 red pepper, chopped
-          1 chili pepper, chopped
-          3 tbs canola oil
-          4 tbs soy sauce (low sodium)
-          4 tbs rice wine
-          1 tbs canola oil
-          ¼ cup shallots, chopped
-          2 cloves of garlic, minced
-          1 tbs sesame oil
-          2 tsp sesame seeds
-          2 tsp scallion tails

1. Mix together the flour and the baking powder. Add the water and beat in the egg mix until there are no lumps.
2. In a large pan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat with chili pepper.
3. Once heated, mix in garlic chives, scallions, and red pepper. Once slightly browned, pour in the batter. The batter should cover the entire bottom of the pan.
4. Pan-fry the pancake until the edges are visibly cooked. Then carefully flip it over and cook the other side. Pan-fry both sides until golden brown.
5. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Heat the canola oil and shallots in a small saucepot over high heat. Once browned, add the soy sauce and rice wine. Turn to low heat and simmer until it comes to a boil. Then remove from heat and mix in the garlic and sesame seeds. Top with scallion tails and set aside.
6. Once the pancake is cooked, remove from heat and divide into eight slices. Serve with the sauce on the side.

**If this weren't a vegan recipe, I would include an egg and use half milk instead of water. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Le Jardin at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong

Christmas is creeping up on us this year, and I am so fortunate to be returning back to Hong Kong for the holidays. Last year on Christmas Day, I dined with my family at Joel Robuchon's Le Jardin in the Landmark. Le Jardin offered us a private dining room, while L'Atelier has bar seating around an open kitchen that is more appropriate for more intimate occassions.

What I really admire about Joel Robuchon is the great attention toward detail. Each dish was not only visually aesthetic, but also clearly required a lot of labor. His use of seasonal ingredients, presentation of plates, and decorative atmosphere clearly made this a very modern and delicious Christmas feast.

I would recommend dining at Le Jardin for any special occasion. The service is impeccable (even more impressive than usual because you're in Hong Kong), the tasting menus are thoughtful, and if you're not in Hong Kong, you can easily visit any of other Joel Robuchon's restaurants in major cities around the world. He's even making a return back to New York City!

Le Amuse Bouche

Le Saumon: Norwegian salmon tartar with caviar and homemade crispy potato waffles

Le Bouillon de Volaille: thick chicen broth with black truffle, duck confits, and chestnuts

Le Butternut: Butternut squash soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and black truffle
Le Homard: Maine lobster fricassee on mushroom spelt risotto with yellow rice emulsion
La Dinde de Bresse: Bresse turkey stuffed with foie gras and black truffle over stewed chestnuts and fennel

Le Choix de nos Patisseries

Selections from the dessert trolley

Les Fromages

Le Petite Four

Le Jardin at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
15 Queen's Road West
Hong Kong

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dinner party, Friendsgiving: Sundried tomato pesto pasta tossed in arugula

At this point in life, I feel like pot lucks are becoming more and more of a thing. It's an effort free, budget conscious way to get all your friends together, and it's the perfect excuse to get everyone indoors for a winter season gathering. Given that, you need to keep a few things in mind to be the perfect pot luck guest. 

1. Come prepared. Try to bring as much as you can to serve your dish. Not every host will have an endless supply of serving dishes and large bowls. 
2. Let the host know ahead of time if you will need to use any kitchen appliances. That way you will know if it makes sense to make yet another oven-dependent dish or if you could just go stove top. 
3. There are many more things to contribute to a potluck than just a cooked dish. Offer to bring dining utensils or wine and beer. ...assuming not everyone volunteers to bring wine. 

Having that said, when I attended Yuri's Friendsgiving last weekend before the holiday, I made a fruit salad with persimmon and pomegranate seeds, and Michael decided to bring a pesto pasta salad (because he couldn't find tomatoes or mozzarella in Harvard Square). And yup, neither of our recipes had to be heated up. 

Can you spot my winter fruit salad?

Sundried tomato pesto pasta tossed in arugula  
1 box pasta (we used fusilli)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
8-10 garlic cloves, chopped
3-5 tbs olive oil 
4-5 tbs pesto, to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt, to taste

1. Boil the pasta in a pot of water seasoned with salt and garlic powder. 
2. In a pan, stir fry sundried tomatoes and chopped garlic until slightly brown. 
3. Take off heat and mix in the pesto. 
4. Place in the pasta and mix until even. Add more olive oil if desired.
5. Right before serving, mix in the fresh arugula! 

✓ vegetables
✓ fiber
✓ monounsaturated fats

- Next time I will mix half of the pasta with whole wheat pasta to get some whole grains in the mix.
- Feel free to use a mesclun mix if arugula is too strong for you. 
- I didn't have any at the time, but I would recommend adding some cherry tomatoes for color and flavor as well! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My new Thanksgiving staple: Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

As I was standing at the cheese counter in the supermarket last week, I tried to recall if macaroni and cheese was an actual Thanksgiving staple, or if I just always included it in my Thanksgiving because I love mac and cheese. It wasn't until I saw a shelf lined with Thanksgiving goods such as cranberry sauce, pie crusts, pumpkin filling, and Kraft mac and cheese that I realized that maybe I'm not the only American that needs this creamy carby cheesy goodness on this holiday. 

For the past few years, I have always made a macaroni and cheese. I've done crab meat, panko crust, truffle oil... more than enough variations. Most years it came out too dry or it just didn't have the right cheese taste. However, I think I have finally created the perfect concoction of cheeses, and to make it more festive, I added a pair of lobsters! 

Prepping the winter fruit salad with a Chinese pear
Mashed yams! My favorite Thanksgiving dish by my grandma.
The oven packed and ready. Can you spot my Darth Vader brussels sprouts?
James' deliciously dangerous foccacia. Recipe coming soon!
Thanksgiving dinner or Chinese wedding?

Apple cider sangria station

I used my apple crisp as filling for a pie!


Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
12 oz. hollow pasta (I used lumaconi)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
4 cups milk (I used 1%)
8 oz. fontina, grated 

8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz. mascarpone
1/2 tsp paprika 

1/4 tsp black pepper
8 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks (I bought 2 1.5lb lobsters)
optional: ⅓ cup minced chives

1. Boil 2 lobsters in a stock pot with water until cooked (about 10-12 minutes for a 1-1.5lb lobster). Allow to cool before taking out the meat. 2. Preheat oven to 375°. 
3. Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked about 80% through depending on the label instructions. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. 
4. Melt butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. 
5. Remove pan from heat and stir in fontina, cheddar, and mascarpone, along with the paprika and pepper. Add reserved pasta to cheese sauce. Stir in the lobster. 
6. Transfer mixture to a 9" x 13" baking dish and sprinkle with chives. 

7. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

Note: Lobster optional but highly recommended.