Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab with Three-Grain Risotto & Tiger Shrimp

Yesterday in NYC, it was raining all day. Miserable. Grey. Cold. Rain. It has been spring for the past two weeks and all of a sudden, the polar vortex is back, and winter is coming – again. I was waiting for the rain to stop so that I could go out and buy ingredients for clam chowder but then I thought, clam chowder is so much work and it takes 40 minutes to cook. So I made this instead and it was equally comforting.

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Serves 2.

For the Risotto

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup farro
  • ½ cup steel-cut oats
  • 3½ cups stock (I used a blend of fish stock, dashi stock, clam and mussel liquor)
  • Parmesan, as needed
  • ¼ cup strained Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS chopped chives
  • 12 tiger shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Lemon wedges
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook risotto the old fashioned way or put everything (grains and stock, seasonings) into a rice cooker and wait for that beep. I did the latter since it was a miserable, rainy Monday.

When the risotto is done, set aside, and season shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a pan, heat some canola oil and sear the shrimp. Once shrimp is almost cooked, add the white wine and cover until alcohol has burned off. Remove lid and fold in risotto. Grate in parmesan to your taste, add yogurt and herbs. Taste for seasoning and adjust with lemon juice. Keep risotto warm while frying crabs.

For the Crab

  • 4 soft-shelled crabs
  • AP flour, as needed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Lime wedge

Clean crabs by cutting off their face (I know it sounds so mean), pulling off their aprons (butt flap?), and pull the points of their shell back to reveal their gills and remove those on each side.

Heat oil for frying. Season crabs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then dress crabs in AP flour and tap crabs to remove excess flour. Fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove and place on wire-rack. Squeeze some lime over and lightly season with salt.

For the Finish

  • Arugula
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Toss greens with salt, lime, and EVOO before serving.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon risotto into a bowl, place arugula salad in the middle, and top with crispy soft-shelled crab.

Warm Pear Tart with Spiced Crème Chantilly

This was the final course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people. When I was thinking about what to make, peaches were still in season. Then I’ve done apple tarts so many times already so I really didn’t want to make it again so I settled for pears! But once again, it looks and tasted amaaaazing!

Makes 8-inch tart.

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[100% organic]

For the Tart Shell

  • 100 g AP flour
  • 100 g cake flour
  • 100 g cold butter, small cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 TBS water, whisked

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sift both flours on work surface, mix sugar and salt into it. Using a bench scraper, cut with cold butter (sablay). Create a well, and add the egg-water. Working quickly, compress the dough using the palm of your hand piece by piece (fraisage). Form the dough flat and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Butter the tart mold and place in freezer.

For the Compote

  • 3 large Asian pears peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 50 g sugar
  • 30 g water

Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook on medium-low until slightly chunky and dry, approximately 10-15 minutes. Cool over ice.

For the Garnish

  • 2-3 Bosc pears
  • 50 g butter, melted

Peel pears and cut in half. Remove the seeds and cut the halved pears in half again. Mandolin them but not too thin and rub lemon juice over each slice.

Take the dough out of the fridge and brush off excess flour. Roll dough into a thin layer larger than the tart mold. Carefully place over tart mold and press into buttered mold.

Layer all of the cooled compote into the mold, tightly arrange mandolin pears over the top but do not hang over the edges. Brush melted butter over everything.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F, then turn temperate down to 350°F and continue baking for 50 minutes.

For the Finish

  • 150 g apricot juice
  • 30 g water
  • 20 g sugar

Mix together, reduce until thick, and brush on after tart is slightly cooled, out of oven.

For the Crème Chantilly

  • 300 mL heavy cream
  • 25 g confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients into an iSi dispenser and charge twice. Place in refrigerator.

Serve whipped cream with slice of warm tart.

Shredded Duck Leg Confit in Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut with Crackling & Parsley Chips

This was the third course to my 5-course Friendsgiving party for 6 people.

Last year’s roasted duck legs didn’t turn out so well and I didn’t want to braise them again so I took the classic, ambitious French-route this year, which is why I had to cut a course out because it was too overwhelming for my tiny studio kitchen. It also made sense because why have two soups?

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Confit

  • 6 legs from 3 ducks, Frenched
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 garlic head, minced
  • 12 bay leaves, crushed
  • 12 thyme sprigs, picked and crushed
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 quarts rendered duck fat

Sprinkle a shallow layer of salt and sugar into a shallow glass/plastic container. Scatter with half the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns over the salt/sugar and lay duck legs on top in a single layer. Scatter over remaining herbs, spices, salt, and sugar. Wrap/cover and refrigerate duck for 1-2 days.

After 24-28 hours, pre-heat oven to 225°F. Remove duck from cure mixture and rinse salt off. Pat dry duck and place in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. In a saucepan, gently warm fat until just melted. Cover duck completely with melted fat.

Cook in oven very slowly – you should only see a small bubble every now and then – until the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone. Approximately 2-4 hours. If the duck seems to be cooking too quickly, or the fat begins to simmer, reduce temperature to 200°F.

When the duck is ready, remove from oven and cool in the fat. Once cool, peel skin off and reserve for cracklings. Using your fingers, shred duck meat and store them in the fat. Duck should be completely submerged.

This entire process can be done in advance because the duck submerged in its own fat can store for several weeks.

For the Duck Skin Cracklings

Under a broiler, crisp up reserved duck leg skin from confit process. Season with salt. For extra crispiness, place in a dehydrator.

For the Cream of Mushroom & Chestnut

  • Butter, as needed
  • 6 leeks, white & pale green parts only, sliced
  • 3 quarts packed mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb roasted chestnuts, cut
  • Chicken stock, as needed
  • ¼ lb AP flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a pan, sauté mushrooms to get color and aroma. In a saucepan, sweat leeks with butter and add the sautéed mushrooms and roasted chestnuts. Add enough chicken stock to cover. Season and bring to a boil. Turn heat down for simmering. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, make a blond roux using ¼ lb butter and ¼ lb AP flour. Scoop away little by little of roux and put it in the saucepan until desired consistency and thickness. Add the heavy cream and adjust for seasoning.

For the Finish

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • Salt

Pick parsley leaves and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 1”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Fry until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt.

For extra crispiness, place in dehydrator or 110°F oven.

TO ASSEMBLE

Scoop soup in bowl, place a large ball of shredded duck confit in the center, garnish with skin cracklings and fried parsley. Serve with toasted bread.

Korean Fried Chicken

Before coming to New York, I have never had Korean fried chicken. My coworkers introduced me to Boka and after eating their combo wings and drumsticks 2-3 times every week, we migrated to Monomono and then it just stopped because we got sick of it.

When I came back from Hong Kong last month, the following day at Whole Foods, they had a chicken drumstick sale, 30-something drumsticks for $6!! So I bought two packs and finished one pack two weekends ago during my dinner party. I still have one more pack and although I love my signature fried chicken, I don’t want to make it again so soon. However, I have been craving Korean fried chicken and I’ve always wanted to know HOW they made their chicken so crispy!

… The secret is that they fry it TWICE. DUH! I could have figured that out! You fry French fries twice! Why wouldn’t you do that for chicken?!?!? So I spent yesterday reducing my would-have-been marinating liquid into a glaze-ish-sauce and brining the chicken. I found that the Korean fried chicken in the restaurants were bland under the crispy crust.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to work because it can’t be THAT easy? And you know what, it was THAT easy!!!!

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[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup salt

Bring the solution up to a boil and cool to room temperature.

For the Chicken

  • 20-30 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • Fryer oil

Brine the chicken for at least 2 hours, no more than 4 hours in the refrigerator. Drain chicken and place on paper towels.

Whisk flour, water, and cornstarch together and make a slurry. Add a little more water if mixture is paste-like. Coat chicken in slurry and fry in oil 350°F for 8 minutes. Remove from fryer and wait for oil to reach 350°F again. Fry for the second time for another 8 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or on paper towels.

Brush glaze/sauce on chicken or season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Spiced Apple Hibiscus Granita & Chicory Soil

Before coming back home to Hong Kong, I was told that I should showcase my professional talents to my grandfather.

This was the third and final course to my three-course meal for my family, grandfather, and cousin.

Serves 6.

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[100% organic]

For the Coconut Panna Cotta

  • Two cans 13.5 oz. coconut milk
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 5 gelatin sheets

Bloom gelatin in ice water. Bring coconut milk and sugar to a boil. Squeeze out excess water from gelatin sheets and melt into coconut milk. Stir to combine and once completely melted, strain into a container.

Pour coconut milk in serving cups/bowls and place in refrigerator to set. At least 4 hours undisturbed.

For the Spiced Apple Hibiscus Granita

  • 2 cups apple juice/cider
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise

Bring all ingredients up to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Take off heat and let it continue infusing until liquid is at room temperature.

Strain liquid into a long shallow tray/pan/container and place in freezer for an hour. Remove and scrape the crystallized mixture from the sides of the pan and return to the freezer. Repeat this process every 45 minutes, until completely frozen or for about 4 hours.

For the Chicory Soil

  • ½ cup chicory root
  • ½ TBS AP flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Since this is such a small portion, a food processor or spice grinder may not work. I used a mortar and pestle.

Grind all ingredients together except for zest, and then place in between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll into a flat even layer and bake for 5 minutes at 300°F.

Remove from oven and toss in orange zest and combine well.

*Adapted from Chef Jasmine Shimoda.

TO ASSEMBLE

Fluff granita with a fork to serve. Take panna cottas out from the fridge and scoop a good amount of granita flakes onto the pannas. Top with sprinkled chicory soil.

Chocolate Croissants

My Red Star yeast packets were about to expire, March 2013, next month. So I made croissants, double batch, around 36 of them.

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[100% organic]

  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

Click here for the recipe for my butter croissants.

When you roll out the dough, cut the dough into rectangular squares, not triangles, around 3 inches wide x 3 plus a little more inches in length.

Brush one end of the rectangles with egg wash plus a dash of cream and place a small pinch of chocolate chips on the other end. Roll it up, carefully, and place some pressure on the seam as you roll over it. Transfer rolled croissants to a tray and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush croissants with egg wash and then bake for 35 minutes, or until the croissants are puffed and golden brown. Remove them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before serving.