Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Recipe: Tate's Panko Crusted Opah

As promised here is budding Chef-to-be Tate Edward’s recipe for his Panko Crusted Opah that he served when I was visiting Honolulu recently.










PANKO CRUSTED OPAH ( Moonfish) 4-6 Servings
4-6 good sized Opah fillets
Spread:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 loose Tbl fresh chopped dill
1-3 cloves minced garlic depending on how much you like garlic, I use about two.
1+ Tbl(s) Sriracha brand hot chili sauce, just how hot do you want it adjust to your taste if it gets too hot add a little more mayonnaise.
salt and pepper to taste but go a little light on the salt, a pinch of each is good.
Seasoned Panko breadcrumbs:
3 cups Panko breadcrumbs ( if not available store-bought seasoned breadcrumbs will do)
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano crushed
salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
1. mix together the ingredients for the spread and let sit in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes
2. place tin foil on a cookie sheet or half sheet pan and lightly spread with olive oil
3. sprinkle salt and pepper on the foil and place Opah fillets on foil place them together on pan as if making one big fillet then salt and pepper the fillets
4. take spread and cover fillets generously
5. take seasoned Panko or regular seasoned breadcrumbs and cover the fillets, pat then add more if needed, there should be no spread showing.
6. place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness of fillets) check for doneness by touch (should be slightly firm but with some give) or with a fork in the middle fillet cover hole with crust. If crust is browning too quickly cover with foil. If not quite done, place back in oven and check again in about five minutes… if crust needs additional browning broil quickly for no more than two minutes—taking care that crust does not burn!
7. EAT!
This recipe goes well with salmon and any fish that has a rather high fat-content.

ALOHA! AND GOOD EATING
Tate Edwards

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dunham Winemaker Dinner at BOKA

BOKA Kitchen & Bar, Seattle

Recently, I got invited by dear friend Kathy McLean, and daughter [and lawyer-to-be] Chelsea –who used to work for me at The Beach House at Purdy to a Wine Tasting dinner at BOKA (an acronym for Bold Original Kitchen Artistry) restaurant in Seattle.
Our mutual good friend and award-winning chef, Monique Barbeau, was also invited. [Monique was voted Seattle's Best Chef by the readers of Seattle magazine, April 1995. She was also voted Best Chef of the Pacific Northwest by the 1994 James Beard Awards.. and worked for celebrated New York City restaurants: The Quilted Giraffe, Le Bernardin and Chanterelle, 1985-1989]. There are rumors that Monique may be planning to open her own restaurant in the Tacoma area, rumors that I hope become reality.

We had been planning this dinner for literally months but unfortunately, this nasty winter weather conspired to keep Monique in Sun Valley, as she was unable to get out of town due to blizzard-like conditions.

In her place, Kathy invited another Kathy [McGoldrick] who had just returned, the day prior, from a fabulous-sounding trip to Thailand, Laos & Myanmar. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to her as I had recently returned from a trip to Thailand myself, and was eager to compare notes.

The Winemaker Dinner was purchased by Kathy McLean at a charity auction.

The meal was planned around the wines of celebrated Walla Walla winemaker Eric Dunham, of Dunham Cellars, and his wines were MUCH better than the so-so meal. He has developed a cultish following-- with several of his wines selling out before their release. Below are my tasting notes of the food & wine:


…from their website: “BOKA boasts a team of passionate and talented culinarians led by Executive Chef Angie Roberts dedicated to a vision of “Bold, Original, Kitchen Artistry”.

1st Course
Dungeness crab salad, with celery root remoulade, and blood orange gelée
This was paired with a delicious buttery 2006 Chardonnay “Shirley Mays” Columbia Valley that thankfully had not been over-oaked, and had nice acidity to cut through the richness of the crab. It had a wonderful fresh green apple flavor that was a good match to the salad. The blood orange sauce did not interfere with the wine, but I felt the remoulade sauce a tad salty.

2nd Course
Tuscan Bean Soup
Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis Vineyard, 2004, Columbia Valley
This was a gutsy pairing on the part of the chef, I mean—who drinks cabernet with soup? I was afraid that the acidity from the tomatoes would throw the wine off. But it worked. This is what is fun about a Winemaker Dinner for me, to confound expectations, and make you re-think what it is you are tasting. The corona beans in the soup were a little tough (HINT: always soak dry beans over-night in salted water, which will help soften the bean’s shell when it cooks the following day). The drizzle of basil pistou worked with the wine too.

3rd course
Butter Poached Sole with risotto, black olive oil, and paddle fish caviar
Syrah, Lewis Vineyard, 2004, Rattlesnake Hills
Another gutsy match-- a bland fish like sole (did I mean to say delicate?) with a big richly structured cassis flavored wine. This syrah was immense and DELICIOUS.
To further emphasize the blandness of the fish-- it was poached in butter-- so the fish had no caramelization to add any depth of flavor to the fish itself. The "black olive oil" was delicious and tasted great with the syrah, but the risotto was mushy [WAY over-cooked], and also bland—needed salt. The caviar was good by itself but I didn’t see why it was on the dish. Plus for a tasting-- the portion was immense. Thank goodness it didn’t taste very good so I wasn’t tempted to finish it. Also the dish was only lukewarm, as it must have taken too long to plate-up in the back because of all the extra garnishes.

4th Course
Braised Lamb Shank, creamy polenta, fennel confit, Niçoises sauce
Syrah, 2002 Columbia Valley
The braised shank of lamb seemed like a good marriage to the syrah, but I would have rather had the 2004 with the lamb as it seemed bigger than the 2002 which with a little bottle-age has allowed the wine some time and was perfectly structured. This wine would have better matched the fish. Again the portion for a tasting was too huge. Several of us groaned when we saw the portion, but the lamb was delicious, if only the polenta had been hot (a problem with every course) and better seasoned. Anytime your mouth says “bland” the dish needed just a sprinkle more sea salt to bring the rich polenta into focus. The fennel confit added nothing to the dish, it appeared like onion scattered on top of the lamb, but had been cooked so long it was devoid of any identifying flavor. The Niçoises sauce was good-- the olives again working with the wine…but I thought it odd that 2 sauces in a row would be olive-based.

5th course
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
Semillon Ice Wine, Double River Estate, 2005, Walla Walla
Even the crème brûlée was too huge, but it was delicious so I ate the whole thing!
The wine was spectacular. Thick & syrupy it tasted of pears, apricots & honeysuckle flowers. A great match!

Over-all the Wines were superb, the food only so-so, the company—Stellar.

Kitchens need to remember that food should be presented simply so that it can be plated fast enough to not lose its heat before it makes its way through the dining room and to the waiting guests.

The dining room of BOKA is very hip. Gorgeous imprinted off-white leather chairs. Cozy booths. Dramatic painted bamboo “still-life” in the middle of the room. Very chic. I would go back, (I bet on a slow Sunday night they might not have had enough help in the kitchen to plate the food). The menu was gutsy if not entirely successful, but I would go back to try several of their “small plates” and starters to see how they do when a famous winemaker is not at the table!

http://www.dunhamcellars.com/

http://www.bokaseattle.com/

http://starchefs.com/MBarbeau.shtml

BOKA
kitchen + bar
1010 1st Ave Seattle, WA 98104(206) 357-9000

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Mai Tai

One of my goals on my recent vacation in Hawaii was to discover who made the best Mai Tai, and I set about my quest in earnest my first day.

After checking into my Hotel, I walked the couple blocks to Waikiki Beach, and spread my beach towel near the blue-green Pacific, gentle waves lapping at the pearl-white fluffy sands in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel-- affectionately known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”.

The famous hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places located at 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii.

One of the first hotels established in Waikiki it opened its doors February 1, 1927. The hotel harkens back to Hawaii’s turn-of-the-century glory days.

My friends had told me they make the best Mai Tai in the world.
(I also found out that they also claim the creation of the Shirley Temple cocktail). Steps from the beach the hotel's Mai Tai Bar offers a breathtaking view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Circular in shape, the bar seats 20 with additional seating provided on the Terrace.

After a couple hours lolling in the tropical sun, and a few dips in the warm ocean, I needed something to quench my thirst. I packed-up and headed to the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian.

I took a seat at the bar, white sand still clinging to my toes, no shirt on. (Happily no signs anywhere saying: No Shirt No Shoes No Service).

I immediately explained to the bartender my sources had told me that they made the best Mai Tai in the world, and was that true?

He said yes they did. The Bartender was happy to talk about their recipe and to tell me their secret: “Most places use pineapple juice as the base. We use orange juice, and fresh lime juice and a little simple syrup". A large container of this juice concoction sat on the bar counter which the bartenders were continuously dipping into. Small cooing doves were also trying to get into the juice and the bartenders were continuously shooing them away. I thought to my myself how the Health Dept. would never allow us to serve food or drink so unprotected from "contamination".

The Bartender went on to explain: "...we also add a splash of Orgeat syrup [OHR-ZHAT] (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange-flower water. It has a pronounced almond taste).

"...start with a full glass of ice cubes.. The light rum goes on the bottom. Add the juices. Pour that in next. Finish with a float of the dark rum. We use Bacardi light on the bottom and Myers Dark on the top. We always make ours pretty strong. It helps to have a good kick to it"

The drink was delicious and strong, and sweet without being cloying (the orange juice supplying more acid than would pineapple juice). The drink was garnished with mint, a maraschino cherry, a wedge of pineapple, and a beautiful orchid.

The bartender brought a huge bowl of complimentary cocktail nuts, which made me thirsty for a second Mai Tai.

I ordered mai tai’s around the island-- but I kept coming back to the best at the Royal Hawaiian. Most were made with pineapple juice and orange liqueur (cheaper triple sec) which as the bartender explained, made the mai tai too sweet. When you start with the best as your baseline you quickly learn that it is worth the price—cheaper drinks can be had—but sometimes cheap is too expensive a price to pay!

By the way--always ask if they use fresh pineapple juice in any drink you order in Hawaii. If they answer that their pineapple juice comes from the bar “gun”--do NOT order it.

I also like Patron & Pineapple juice. But after my first pineapple juice out-of-the-gun experience, I never ordered pineapple anything again without asking first.

Even canned pineapple juice tastes 1,000 times better than the fake flavor that comes from the gun.

The Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian-- inches from the fluffy white sand and the blue Pacific-- with Diamond Head looming in the distance, is the ultimate Mai Tai experience.

Mai Tai RECIPE
- 1 oz Myers Dark Rum
- 1 oz Bacardi Light Rum
- 2 oz fresh squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
- Dash Orgeat
- Dash Simple syrup

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ramen Update Honolulu

When I decided to get out of Tacoma for a few days and chose Oahu versus Los Angeles, I was immediately thinking about the delicious ramen noodle shops I had discovered in previous trips, and was hoping my favorite would still be there--as it was rather dingy, and I had heard Waikiki had undergone a major renovation with a corresponding influx of high-end clothing boutiques that appeal more to the Rodeo Drive crowd and less to the International Marketplace tourists looking for souvenir T-shirts “7 shirts for $20”.

The famous / ubiquitous ABC Stores that sometimes seem to be 3 to a block, are still there, but I also noticed that upscale retailers like COACH seem to be on almost every block also—appealing to high-end consumerist Japanese fashionistas that flock to the area (the weak American dollar proving ever more alluring).

But lo and behold-- right next to the most fashionable stretch of high-end shops on Kalakaua Ave Waikiki's fashion mile of luxury brands -- Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Yves St. Laurent, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, sat my favorite Waikiki ramen shop –thankfully dowdy as ever-- Ezogiku. (You can also find it by simply walking down the sidewalk west from the International Marketplace until you see the long line of people standing waiting to get into the place). Or stop when you smell the delicious aromas wafting out the door carried by the gentle trade winds down the street.

Ezogiku is located on the Mauka side of the street (toward the mountains) as the locals would say. It is worth the wait. Most of my visits I was the only Caucasian in the joint, so I knew I had hit pay-dirt. One visit, a Japanese tourist who wanted to practice her English skills struck up a conversation with me while standing in line and seemed genuinely amazed that I liked ramen! When I told her how many times I had eaten there in my brief stay she giggled and put her hand over her mouth—a custom I also observed later when, after the meal, all of the Japanese used toothpicks to clean their teeth but by carefully and shyly covering their mouths with the other hand. Out of deference I adopted that style myself so as not to offend.

I ate there several times during my 12 day visit. It is delicious and laughably inexpensive. You can get a huge bowl of Sapporo Ramen with 4 different styles to choose from: (I tried all 4 over the several visits) Shoyu [soy sauce flavored], Curry, Miso, or Shio [light soy].

Sapporo RamenTheir 3-item Special will get you a giant bowl of steaming noodles with your choice of fried rice or California Roll, and 4 pieces of fantastic gyoza (potstickers).

All for $8.59 plus tax!

It is way too much to eat so I usually took the fried rice home to the hotel and put it into the refrigerator in my room for a tasty cold rice breakfast the next morning before heading out to the beach.

The service is fast if not professional. There are a few tables inside but it is more fun to sit at the oblong counter, with the servers working inside the corral. Each time I came in I always seemed to get the same middle-aged server with the plastic hibiscus flowers in her hair. And each time I tried to ignore the fact that she always brought me my water by holding onto the rim of the glass. Trying to circumvent this by ordering a Sapporo draft beer I was still frustrated by her clinging to the rim of the frosty mug. The next time I succeeded by ordering a bottled beer.

It has been said in Tokyo to find a delicious ramen shop that there are three criteria:
--it must be old, crowded, and dirty.

Ezogiku scores on all 3 !

Ezogiku
2146 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 926-8616

Open Hours: 11am-midnight
http://ezogiku.com/
Seven locations around Honolulu and Waikiki, Vancouver BC, and Tokyo

Sunday Dinner in Kahala

Tate EdwardsMy last night in Honolulu, my dear friend Yuriko McPhail, who owns the Honolulu Baking Company, called to ask me to dinner before my 10pm flight back to winter weather. Her bakery provides all the baked goods and sandwiches for all the Starbucks in Hawaii --and since there are 56 Starbucks, you can imagine how busy her bakery is! Her younger son, Tate Edwards, is in culinary school and is an aspiring chef. Her other son, Keegan Edwards is ranked #5 in the world of professional surfers (and was my daughter Mariel’s “boyfriend” in grade school in Aspen, CO before they moved to Oahu). Keegan is rehabbing a bad leg injury he suffered while competing in France. (I didn’t even know they surfed in France did you)?

Yuri told me that Tate had read on this blog my love for ramen, and wondered if I would like to try his favorite ramen spot before I got on the plane?

Would I ever!

Yuri and Keegan EdwardsThe previous Sunday I had been invited to their gorgeously comfortable home in the Kahala area near Diamond Head. Young Tate was busy preparing a wonderful meal for 9 of us, as Yuri showed me around their beautiful home filled with exotic tropical flowers, and fabulous local art.

Tate prepared a mildly spicy Hawaiian Opah (Moon fish) with a delicious crispy breading (that I forgot to get the recipe for—still need that Tate). He told me he was upset that there wasn’t any salmon, but I would much rather have a local fish and the Opah was wonderful. Yuri’s husband Dean owns the Jamba Juice franchises in Hawaii and Guam and just opened the first P.F. Chang’s China Bistro in Honolulu with a second location opening in 4 months in Waikiki. Dean was in charge of grilling the filet mignons. There was a tasty salad with local lettuces from Nalo Farms (nestled at the feet of the majestic Ko'olau Mountains in Waimanalo. Waimanalo also has a beautiful state park and one of the most beautiful beaches to spend a day sunbathing and swimming in the gorgeous blue green waters).

Scalloped potatoes & steamed asparagus completed the wonderful meal. The Opah was so delicious I had to get seconds. Dessert was a trio of sorbets: mango, coconut & raspberry.

Left to Right: Dean, Keegan Edwards, Yuri, Gordon NaccaratoPerfect.

It would seem Tate has a promising culinary future ahead of him.

The trade winds kicked up and Yuri went upstairs to grab a sweater.

“A sweater?? …but it’s 74 degrees,” I protested.

“I know”, Yuri replied… “chilly.”

Honolulu Baking Company
523 Ahui Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-5303
808-596-2556, Fax 808-597-8415
E-mail HonBakCo@hawaii.rr.com

P.F. Chang’s
http://www.pfchangs.com/
1288 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 596-4710

Jamba Juice Hawaii
32 locations on all 4 islands
jambahawaii.com

Nalo Farms
41-574 Makakalo Street
Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795
http://www.nalo-farms.com

Goma Tei Ramen

Goma Tei Restaurant
When I arrived at Goma Tei, I was a bit disappointed to see that it was located in the shopping mall at Ward Center, a little further west from the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Normally I would never eat at a mall restaurant unless starving, (ok maybe an Auntie Anne’s Pretzels once a year) but the promise of good ramen made me hopeful. It felt like it took 15 minutes to find a parking space in the cramped old parking structure, and I thought I was going to be late to meet my friends the parking was so bad.

Another bad omen—when I walked up to the restaurant, the place looked too new, upscale and fancy, and there was no line out the door. Worse yet--when I walked in the door-- I could also see that it was spotlessly clean. Not a good sign. I was fearful.

I hadn’t seen a menu yet but already it had failed 3 out of the 3 criteria (old, crowded, and dirty). But it smelled wonderful. Tate and his mom Yuri were waiting along with the fabulous June who works with Yuri at the Honolulu Baking Company. June has an enigmatic smile and infectious laugh that implies she knows all the secrets!

When I asked Tate he explained the “Tan Tan” style of ramen meant that it was a Chinese Szechuan-style, the broth mildly spicy and fragrant with sesame oil. Richer than the cleaner lighter Japanese style ramen broth. Tate and I both decided to order the Tan Tan with the char siu Pork. “Char sui” is a meltingly tender version of roast pork, not the firm, sweetened Chinese-style barbecued pork colored with red food dye & ketchup we find here in pork fried rice.

Char Siu Tan Tan RamenWhen the ramen was served, I immediately knew it was going to be good. The stock was dark and authentic looking; the waitress told us it was made from roasted chicken & pork bones. And I mean authentic in the sense that it appeared hearty and homey, slightly oily-- in a good way-- and tasted rich and soulful.
Notice the rustic wooden spoon—a nice touch.

The Ramen was garnished with gai lan (Chinese Kale/broccoli) and several slices of char sui, hiding the abundant soft chewy noodles beneath. The broth had just the right amount of heat for a brothy soup, and the sesame oil was used with restraint. So many times I have tasted an Asian-inspired dish ruined by too much sesame oil.

I told Tate that when you cook with sesame oil to think of it as a condiment to be used sparingly: “Pretend, I told him, that you are using an eye-dropper when you add sesame oil to a dish. Then you won’t over-do it”.

We also tried Goma Tei’s curried fried rice with chunky carrots; tonkatsu a Japanese deep fried pork cutlet ( "Tonkatsu" comes from the word "katsu" meaning cutlet and "tonkatsu" meaning breaded and fried cutlet); gyoza; and ban ban ji chicken which was poached slowly in ginger and garlic in the Chinese style and very silken-textured.ban ban ji chicken
It was served on a bed of slivered salted cucumber in a sprightly vinaigrette that tasted of rice vinegar. Yuri thought the cucumber "looked old", but I thought it was like a wilted pickle--and anyway it tasted delicious!










Gyoza (potstickers)The gyoza i.e. potstickers [photo to right] were delicious with their dipping sauce.
Gyoza are beguiling in the same way as crème brûlée –the wonderful textural contrasts of the crisp-sided dumpling with the opposite soft noodle side--the same way the crisp burned sugar contrasts with the silken custard of a brûlée.

The other similarity is that they both make me smile when I eat them.

The delicious food was washed down with ice cold Kirin drafts (bottled).

I know you might not want to “spend” a night in paradise to have dinner in a mall, but believe me this place is worth the cramped, antiquated (and frustrating) parking garage hassle.

Thanks Tate for the great tip!

Very “ono” [delicious] as they say in the islands.

Is onolicious a word?

GOMA TEI
located at Ward Center - 1200 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Phone: 808-591-9188

Goma Tei ramen features authentic Japanese noodles with assorted pupus and ice cold beer. Specialties include Tan Tan Ramen, Cold Noodle, their version of Hawaii’s famous Teishoku [Plate Lunch] & and assorted pupus.