Learning How to Cook with TC (The Preparation)

So who the heck is “TC” anyway? Good question.

You may remember when I was explaining a little somethin’ somethin’ about salt in a previous post? Well, it was “TC” (or Tony) who told me about it. Please excuse the secrecy surrounding his identity but he’s currently in the process of putting together a very hush-hush operation: he’s opening a restaurant, which specializes in classical Italian cuisine … with a twist 🙂 … and while I’m dying to be the first to blog about his restaurant’s soft opening, I can’t be the one to let the cat out the bag. Not until later.

Anyway … so we have these gatherings every now and we alternate between BBQ and Tony’s cooking. This was his night. But with less than 3 hours of sleep that previous night (from partying too hard), he had not given much thought about what to cook. It was when he was on his way to the supermarket, that he thought he’d preparing the following dishes (with no fancy names to disguise what they really are):

  1. Braised Pork Cheek
  2. Linguine with Clams and Sea Urchin
  3. Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf (which was an experimental dish)

Unfortunately, the braised pork cheek was prepared hours before I had set foot into the kitchen so I did not document the making of that dish.

But without further ado, let’s get started on the preparation for the other 2 dishes. You’ll need:

A couple sweet potatos, some celery, some nice tomatoes, a few pieces of [large] lotus leaves, some glutinous rice, linguine (or spaghetti … whatever tickles your fancy), fresh clams (small ones and big), anchovies, lemon, pork, shaoxing wine (for marinate), copious amount of olive oil, parsley, garlic, white wine, salt, sugar, pepper … the usual condiments, et cetera, et cetera.

The Ingredients ...

The Ingredients ...

The first dish we’re going to prepare … is the experiment dish I was talking about earlier: the Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutonous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf.

Get a grater and start shaving the skin off of the sweet potato and place them in water. Start boiling a pot of water to put the sweet potato in later.

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

You want to cook them slightly (but not too much) because they’re going into the steamer later. So, what is that Tony? Boil them for 3-5 minutes at high heat? I’m lost already.

Boil'em ...

Boil'em ...

Then, throw the lotus leaves into cold water to make them wet. They’re no good in the steamer if they’re dry … or you wouldn’t be able to get the lotus leaf scent to transpire into the food inside.

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

A couple hours ago (omg, my cooking instructions are so not in order!), Tony had already marinated these fatty pork with Shaoxing wine and … umm, something else (I will find out for you).

)

Pork Marinated in Shaoxing Wine, Baby 🙂

Take those sweet potato out when they’re half cooked and start chopping them into thin slices.

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Then, cut the lotus leaves into smaller pieces and place a layer of glutinous rice on the leaf. By the way, the rice should’ve been placed inside cold water for a good half hour so that its easier to cook inside the steamer. Then gently place the fatty pork on the rice, followed by a few slices of the sweet potato.

Time to Wrap it ...

Time to Wrap it ...

Roll them up tightly …

Pack it Tight!

Pack it Tight!

And tie them like so.

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Place in steamer for 45 minutes (?). That was easy wasn’t it?

Next up!

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh clams … these are the small ones. You want the big ones too …

Tomato Concassé

Tomato Concassé

Make tomato concasse on the side for use later.

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Heat frying pan up and place generous amount of olive oil in. When ready (i.e. when the oil is hot enough), throw in the clams and tomato concasse and let it cook for a bit. Remember to stir a bit and let it sit for a minute or so before pouring in the white wine. Put a lid on it and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

) The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

Clam Broth 🙂 The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

After 5 minutes, pour the clam broth into a bowl for use later – don’t pour this away! This stuff is the essence of the pasta dish! Take the clam out and separate clam from shell.

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Meanwhile, start cooking the linguine in boiling water (just water) … I used to have a habit of putting a bit of olive oil in the boiling water so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the pot. Apparently, if you do that, then the linguine forms a layer of olive oil around it and it’d be harder for the pasta to absorb the juice / sauce.

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Anyway, start chopping the parsley …

The BIG Clams ...

The BIG Clams ...

Here, we’re seen cooking the bigger clam … the same process we used cooking the smaller ones.

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Now place the big clams on the plate and add some of the smaller clams that we separated from the shell …

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take the half-cooked linguine from the pot and place them into a frying pan with heated olive oil (and garlic cloves if you wish) and stir …

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Then pour in the clam broth and add a handful of tomato concasse … and cook until al dente 🙂

Mix'em Up!

Mix'em Up!

Mix some more …

And Serve ...

And Serve ...

And place the linguine on the clams that has already been prepared. Add fresh sea urchin on the pasta and serve.

So how did these dishes turn out? Stay tuned for more …

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Tastings Wine Bar in Central

I’ve always wanted to visit the Wine Room at the Sheraton for the Enomatic wine dispensing machines, but I still haven’t had the chance to make that trip across the harbour. Coincidentally, I was introduced to Tastings Wine Bar located in an alleyway on Wellington Street, which also has the wine dispenser I was looking for. Here at Tastings, they had 5 machines! In comparison, Wine Room only has 3 and each machine is capable of holding up to 8 bottles of wine. That’s right! We’ve got 40 different bottles of wine to choose from at Tastings Wine Bar.

5 Enomatic Wine Dispensers at Tastings Wine Bar in Central

5 Enomatic Wine Dispensers at Tastings Wine Bar in Central

There are 3 amounts of pour to choose from: a taste (25ml), half glass (75ml) and a glass (150ml). Prices, obviously, are different depending on which bottle you choose, but the selection is quite vast and caters to a wide range of palette, so there are the relatively more affordable ones (South African and even Lebonese wine) and then there’s wine from Bordeaux (on the far right). Apparently, the wine can be kept for up to 3 weeks in these dispensers but most bottles are consumed on a daily basis, except for the Chateaus, which may take a little longer to consume.

Wine Stock at Tastings Wine Bar

Wine Stock at Tastings Wine Bar

I had a half glass of Opus One from the 2004 Vintage. I’m not an expert on wine (I’m learning), but if memory serves me right, it was a bit oaky and had a tinge of smoked berries. Here’s a description of the ’04 from their website:

The harvest of 2004 ended October 1st with the lowest per-acre yield since 1987. Showing a lustrous dark ruby, the 2004 Opus One presents aromas of violets, cedar, black tea leaves, black pepper and brioche. A soft, creamy entry gives way to a concentrated mid-palate; elements of cassis, toffee and cocoa round out the rich flavors of the wine. Intense.

Varietals

Carbernet Sauvignon 86%
Merlot 7%
Petit Verdot 4%
Cabernet Franc 2%
Malbec 1%

Skin Contact

25 Days

Barrel Aging

17 Months
New French Oak

Tastings was opened in July of 2008 and so its been around for only 7 months. They also offer a decent selection of cheese to pair with wine (and a box or 2 of chocolates as well).

Tastings Wine Bar
Basement, Yuen Yick Building (Close to Tsui Wah in Central)
27 & 29 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2523 6282
Fax: +852 2523 6300

Dakota Prime

THE. BEST. STEAK. EVER. PERIOD.

Yes, it was better than Morton’s Steakhouse.

Yes, it was better than the Steak House at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

Yes, it trumped all my other experiences involving steak.

And yes, the bill also topped the list.

Dakota Prime is not your average Steak and Seafood restaurant. I went there tonight with high expectations (I haven’t had a chance to come back since its grand opening) and the experience had probably exceeded my expectations.

Let’s get right down to business.

We started off with 1.5 dozens of “White Pearl” oysters (I arrived late, so I didn’t make that order and hence, I don’t know where these oysters originated from). They were really fresh … but most importantly, they was paired with a very fruity sauvignon blanc, which the waiter had recommended. I later asked for the bottle (so I can take a picture) and found out it is called Highfield from Marlborough, New Zealand! You can’t go wrong with white wine coming from that region … it almost tastes the same as Cloudy Bay.

Oysters from Dakota Prime

Oysters from Dakota Prime

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

Then came the Dakota Green Salad, which was dressed with the right amount of vinigrette and it also came with fried cheese around it (pictured). Dad had a lobster bisque (pictured). I can’t tell you how that was, but from what he told me, it was damn good.

Dakota Green Salad

Dakota Green Salad

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Dad was on a roll tonight and went for a grilled lobster (pictured) before his steak even arrived. We all dug in and it was really juicy … again, grilled to perfection.

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

And finally came the reason why I was there tonight: 21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at 14 oz or 380 g. Apparently, they’re also branded as “Meyer’s 100% Natural Angus USDA Nebraska Beef”, which is “Fully Traceable From Farm to Table, No Hormones and No Antibiotics” (pictured)

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

My brother had the “Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef ‘Gold Label'” with Bms of 8-12 at 14 oz or 380 g (pictured).

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

The steaks were paired with Cabernet Sauvignon called Unity from Napa’s Fisher Vineyard. Very smoky / oaky, dry and quite smooth (easy to down) and doesn’t leave much of an after taste, which I like.

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

We ordered 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce (pictured) as side dishes for our steaks, but we later found out that these “side dishes” are meant to be shared. They came in a pan and the 1 portion is enough for 2 … (at HK$60 for a side dish, they better be!). We thought they’d be a small scope of Mac & Cheese next to your steak. If you are going to visit the restaurant, here’s an advice: Don’t order 2 of the same sides dishes!

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

After all that, we couldn’t handle dessert so we called it a night.

It was definitely not cheap, but it was very satisfying. For:

  • 18 “White Pearl” oysters
  • 3 glasses of New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 bottles of Voss still water (800ml / bottle)
  • 3 glasses of Napa Valley Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 Lobster Bisque
  • 1 Dakota Green Salad
  • 2 Meyer 14 oz NY Strip
  • 1 Snake River 14 oz Rib Eye
  • 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce
  • + 10% service charge

The damage came to HK$ 5,600. Ouch. But it was so good.

Siu Yeh Rating: 10/10

Dakota Prime
7/F., LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 2366
Fax: +852 2526 3626
Website: www dot dakotaprime dot hk
Email: info@dakotaprime.hk