Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Crab’s New Shell

There is something about springtime that signals the profound passing of seasons in the culinary world. One of the highlights of this rite of spring is the advent of soft-shell crab season.

Harvested on the East coast from late May through late August, the crabs move inshore to be refitted for their new outfit! More scientifically, every year they shed their hard shells and migrate to the safety of the warm shallow waters where the new shell hardens up. Although our local Dungeness crab undergoes a similar process, the location of the Dungeness crabs during this period is not predictable and thus they are not harvested during the soft shell phase.

This perennial event is eagerly looked forward to by those in the Seattle culinary scene. The preparation we use at Wild Ginger is a classic from Vietnam. Soft shell crabs require slightly more prep work due to the fact that you must prepare a light crust prior to final cooking but the end result is well worth the effort. The objective with any ultra-fresh seafood product is to enhance versus overwhelm. The traditional Southeast Asian bouquet of shallot, fish sauce garlic and lemongrass are a natural fit with this dish.

Should you not wish to take on triple whammy of shopping, cooking & dishes, you would be well advised to seek out these flavorful delicacies at Wild Ginger. We’ll be featuring them on our menu Wednesday thru Saturday, from now until August.

However, for those who desire the pleasure of dining in the comfort of your own home here is our recipe:

Wild Ginger Soft Shell Crab - Serves Four

4 Soft-Shell Crabs

Live crabs are the best but they're not always easy to find. To select the tastiest, use your nose. When fresh, they smell clean and astringent, like sea mist. To clean them, hold the crab in one hand, and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the front of the crab, about 1/2 inch behind the eyes and mouth. Squeeze out the contents of the sack located directly behind the cut you just made. Rinse and pat dry.

For the Crust

1 cup peanut oil

1 ½ cups rice flour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

2 eggs

For the Sauce

1-1/2 Tbl thin sliced shallot

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 Tbl finely sliced lemongrass

¼ cup chicken stock

1 Tbl fish sauce

1-2 tsp sugar (depending upon taste)

1 tsp black pepper

Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Heat oil in a large sauté pan until it reaches 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt and pepper together. Beat eggs in separate bowl. Immerse cleaned crabs in egg mixture. Drain slightly then roll into flour mixture. Pan-fry crab until golden brown (use caution as oil may splatter). Drain on paper towel. Remove all oil from the pan except one tablespoon. Fry shallots in this oil on medium high heat until golden, then add garlic and lemongrass, stirring constantly until fragrant, about one minute. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, sugar and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference. Place crabs in pan and gently turn to coat with sauce. Plate and garnish with rough chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Meet Executive Chef Jacky Lo

Jacky Lo's unlikely journey from a Hong Kong business school to a chef at Wild Ginger is the kind of story every teen would like to impress upon their parents. A middle of the road business student, Jacky pleaded with his family to let him quite and follow his gut instinct, quite literally, to learn how to cook.

Jacky says the majority of his culture doesn't understand the need to attend school to learn how to make great food. Against this notion, he insisted this was what he needed to do. Jacky came to America in 1994 and honed his expertise before landing at Wild Ginger and The Triple Door in 2009. His unique blend of traditional practices and modern techniques makes him a perfect fit for our eclectic concept.

Jacky married his girlfriend of 12 years, Maggie, in 2006, and these days they care for two beautiful children. His family is his solace outside the kitchen and he strives to spend as much time with them as possible. When asked if he enjoys activities other than cooking and being with his family, Jacky smiles and simply says, "No."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dim Sum Brunch at The Bravern in Bellevue

Saturday 11:30 am to 3:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm until 3:00pm

Originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of "yum cha" or drinking tea. Teahouses sprung up to accommodate weary travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation.

In the west, dim sum came about as a natural result of 19th century Chinese immigrants - most of who were from the Canton region - settling on the East and West coasts. Some gourmands believe
that dim sum inspired the whole idea of "brunch" - combining breakfast and lunch into one large midmorning meal. It is true that the word brunch only came into existence in the late 1800's.

Wild Ginger at The Bravern continues the tradition with our own weekend Dim Sum brunch. Please join us and experience the custom for yourself with a menu that explores Cantonese dim sum and breakfast specialties from throughout Southeast Asia and North India.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Announcing 2009 “Confucius Says” Red Table Wine

We’ve just bottled our new Confucius Says red wine that was created for us by àMaurice Cellars in Walla Walla. We’re really excited to be partnered with àMaurice Cellars on this project because they are one of our favorite wineries, and Anna Schafer (owner/winemaker) along with Kathleen and Tom Schafer (owners) are some of our favorite people in the world. 2009 Confucius Says is the second wine made especially for Wild Ginger and The Triple Door. The first is 2008 Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Stablay (Wild Ginger Cuvée) made by Ernie Loosen, utilizing all of the Riesling from the best section of the famous Graacher Himmelreich vineyard in the Mosel Valley in Germany.

2009 Confucius Says is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc and 28% Merlot. The grapes come from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, and the Wahluke Slope AVA. After it has some time to settle, we will be selling it by the glass and bottle in all three of our restaurants. You should expect to see Confucius Says on our lists by mid to late June, until then, here’s a sneak peak at the label . . . I bet you didn’t know how Confucius felt about wine!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Setting the Scene

Since opening on July 29, 1989, Wild Ginger has set a new standard for Asian cuisine in the Northwest. We offer authentic recipes from the Pacific Rim countries lying between India and Japan: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, South China and Vietnam. Signature offerings such as Fragrant Duck, Seven Flavor Beef, Ginger Martinis and Mango Daiquiris have marked Wild Ginger’s indelible presence as a Pacific Northwest dining destination. Local and national food critics and Northwest residents have consistently rated Wild Ginger as among the very finest Northwest restaurants. The New York Times wrote: “...this is perhaps the most provocative, and fun, restaurant in Seattle.”

After years of travel and research into traditional Asian cooking, owners Rick and ann Yoder conceived the founding principles of Wild Ginger: fresh quality products, cooked to order and served professionally in a casual, warm atmosphere. It is a concept that is deceptively simple, but involves a complex balance of Asian cooking, stylish decor and professional Western service standards. Executed with panache, these principles have made Wild Ginger what the Puget Sound Business Journal has called: “a rare and wonderful bird.”

Wild Ginger has been reviewed or featured in top ten lists of national publications such as Gourmet, Bon appetit, Atlantic Monthly, People, Conde Nast Traveler, Money Magazine, Forbes RYI and The New York Times. The well respected Zagat Guide has noted Wild Ginger as Seattle’s most popular restaurant since 1997.