Going the Dumpling Distance

One of my most valuable learning experiences to date was getting published in Bon Appetit Magazine. (The article is no longer posted, but the recipes are here, here, here and here).

It was almost a year ago that my recipes went through the hoops and hurdles of the BA test kitchen. I remember nervously opening the email from the editor with the final versions, and being delighted that, while slightly different than my original versions, the recipes remained true to my style and taste. Still me; but with an exclamation point. It’s kind of like when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion got all dolled-up to go see The Wizard of Oz.

What I learned was that my preoccupation with simplifying everything, minimizing ingredients, and streamlining recipes was misplaced. Where I’d held back, their version took a dish one step further. Where I’d thought “that would be overdoing it,” they fearlessly added a step, an ingredient, a twist – with stunning results. The process gave me an even greater respect for those genius ladies in the BA test kitchen, and showed me exactly where I had to shed inhibitions.

A beautiful example of taking a dish “to the max” was the $5 plate of Jade Seafood Dumplings Jean and I shared at Sea last night (to kick off our “sweet yet sophisticated” dinner ‘n’ a movie date). The menu described them as“steamed crab meat & shrimp wrapped in green wonton served with massaman curry sauce.”

What I pictured was a plate of flat dumplings with a little ramekin of dipping sauce. What we got was a plate of plump green globes smothered in a thick, deep green curry sauce, with crunchy bits of dry rice noodle mixed in. The dumplings were tender and juicy; delicate, while still holding their own against the smoky and richly complex flavor of the sauce.

On their own they would have been great. In just the sauce, they would have been heavenly. But the dumplings in the sauce punctuated by the crunchy noodles was a flavor, texture, and overall sensory experience that had me reeling.

As we continued onto a whole fried snapper in tamarind-chili sauce, I confessed “I would give anything to spend a day hanging out in their kitchen, seeing how they make all this stuff.” Jean replied “You know, I feel the same way about music. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when a musician I admire is creating a sound that I really like.”

So, can anyone get me backstage passes? 😉

Sea Thai Restaurant and Bistro
114 North 6th Street, Between Berry and Wythe
Williamsburg

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