Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mr. McLee??

One of the great things about America is the melting pot of cuisines. I can take liberties to mix cultures in ways that can only be found in this country.

I have been a fan of Korean food every since my good friend Tommy Lee took me to a fine-dining Korean establishment, and I am lucky to work down the hall from Kimchi Bistro; good Korean is hard to find in NYC, let alone on Broadway.

I have been dreaming up ways to incorporate it into other cuisines but it wasn't until I was perusing the "fresh sheet" of available local ingredients from my produce company that I made a real connection. I could combine the flavors of kimchi with the traditional Irish cabbage and boiled potatoes dish.

I didn't have time to ferment my cabbage, and to be honest, I wanted to maintain freshness, so I found a recipe that was quick (considering the alternative) and easy, starting by salting chopped napa cabbage and allowing the water to leach out over several hours. I Then pureed garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, chile flake and fish sauce to make a dressing that mimics the flavor of kimchi very well.

For the "boiled" potatoes I steamed purple and red bliss potatoes and cut them into large chunks to keep with a more traditional shape, of which I sauteed in clarified butter to order, adding the "kimchi" at the end just to warm it through.

To balance the spice I needed something on the sweet side, so I took advantage of the season and slowly roasted Walla Walla onions for a few hours and then pureed them with a rich chicken stock. The final product is so interesting and complex you won't believe that it's ingredients are just these two simple things.

Finally, for my protein I needed something that is versatile yet lends well to a little sweetness, and wouldn't you know it? My good friend pork tenderloin is a perfect fit! Oven roasted to a perfect medium-medium well; it made for a perfect finale to the dish.

With summer burning bright and fast I had to keep with the watermelon theme before it got away from me.

The idea for this week's drink special was spawned from last week's dinner special, because towards the end of a very busy Friday night I decided that it was the perfect time to use some leftover watermelon to make what the my latino amigos call agua fresca or, in this case, a cool watermelon drinkfor well deserved co-workers on a hot, bustling night.

This week, I ordered a new one: a huge melon weighing in at about 13 pounds, yielding around a gallon of strained juice, about a third of which has already been consumed on half price wine night; no telling what the rest of the week will bring...

I made the first one for example by muddling three leaves of basil with ice until broken up enough to suck the herb through a straw and then I brought it up to about halfway with silver Bacardi rum and topped it off with the watermelon juice.

What a refreshing treat!!

With Love,