Following up on the first post, what is Dearborn all about? Founder and chef of Dearborn, Christopher Kong shared, "The focus is on greens, grains and seafood. We don't serve any red meat. So it's very important for me not to serve red meat just because I've worked in fine dining, and there's a lot of wasted food...I wanna try do my part as well to help the environment."
Hokkaido scallop sashimi, freshly grated horseradish, green apples, celery, apple vinaigrette
I can't imagine anyone not liking this chilled sashimi bowl where thick, fleshy chunks of scallops were mixed with slices of green apples; the latter giving a strong hint of Chef's Seattle roots. I heard that this dish will be phased out of the menu very soon though.
Homemade Pea Angolotti - peas, sunflower seeds, tarragon, chives, pecorino
At this point, I was thinking what is this Piedmontese pasta doing here. Then Chef explained that before he even knew how to fry rice, he learnt how to make fresh pasta from his parents. They were the first Chinese family in Seattle to open an old-school Italian restaurant called Perché No since 1992 (that's 27 years running!). Sunflower seeds are added to the pea filling so that the homemade ravioli-like pasta didn't become cloying, then cooked with butter and garnished with pea shoots from the local farmer. The pasta was thin enough that the filling could be seen yet it wasn't flimsy so it didn't break too easily. As usual, I always appreciate nuttiness in a savory dish.
Baby Indian white-striped eggplant, tomato relish, jalapeno relish, puffed quinoa,
With a fondness of eggplants, Chef undertook testing and tasting them in different varieties and colors, all 6 kg of them. And he found the chosen one. The Indian white-striped brinjal was it. Chef then charcoal grilled the "vegetable", removed the skin then glazed it with chicken jus. (Using a chicken jus reduction as a base, it was emulsified with olive oil - a similar method to making mayonnaise). The mini-sized eggplant was topped with tomato and jalapeno relishes, and a side of goma "tahini". I cut into a little of everything, then ate them together in one mouthful. I was a little apprehensive to be honest as I'm not a fan of this nightshade that apparently is technically a berry. This is because like bananas and okra, the cooked squishy, slimy insides are a big turn-off. However, the way that it was prepared here retained its original firmness yet it was not raw. Added to this was the crunchy texture lent by the puffed grains, and sesame seeds. The sesame "tahini" puree on the side completed this dish as without it, it would have been dry to the tongue. I polished this off, miraculously. What an unassuming and underrated recipe.
As one would notice by now, everything one sees (and sometimes may not notice) on the plate has been thoroughly thought of, researched, and handmade by Chef himself. Later on, it was made known to me that even though Chef hosted private dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, he needed the bulk of the week to prepare for the weekend. I can only imagine a one-man show would also have to manage booking enquiries, media requests and social media channels, besides the main focus of exploring local produce and coming up with new recipes for future menu's.
"Fried rice", stock of dried scallops, dried anchovies, squids & prawns, chives
Woohoo. Check out Chef's personal interpretation of organic short-grain fried brown rice that's all-round crispy. The rice has been cooked and dried overnight, and then seared for that extra crisp. Sautéed tiger prawns and baby sotong (aka baby squid) top this squid-ink stained dish. The rice was cooked in seafood stock that Chef made using dried scallops, dried anchovies, squids and prawns. A touch of tangy lemon zest was freshly grated on this too. The pure umami stock deserved an encore.
Sourdough loaf with whipped Australian butter and sea salt
"After working so hard with trying to make Larry and this bread, it deserves a course on its own. I love bread," Chef confessed. Little did we know, we were also celebrating "Larry"''s first birthday. (Yes, "Larry" is Chef's beloved sourdough starter wearing the party hat in the picture.) . As Chef cut through the rustic loaf with that crackling oven-baked crust, the familiar hot-off-the-oven smoke was released signalling "Eat Me, Now!". We slathered on that homemade whipped butter, and there was silence until someone reached out for the next slice, and the next, and the next.
Seared cauliflower, variations of pickled cauliflower, olives, egg yolk sauce
So if you're carnivorous and expect a fatty beef steak by now, you might be persuaded to bite into this oven-baked and pan-seared-in-butter cauliflower "steak". Or, not. But I can tell you, I was quite stuffed and satisfied. Maybe I'm a natural vegetarian (they say people with my blood type usually are), or maybe I'm just open-minded enough to go on food adventures and try the same things but interpreted differently. If I didn't join in this dinner, I would never have known that eggplants could be a very pleasant thing to eat. Selah.
Pulverized dehydrated anchovies was sprinkled over the sizeable floret instead of regular salt, a fact I would not have known until Chef pointed it out to me. The sliced olives added little salty punches with every bite, and eaten together with the pickled vegetables coated in egg yolk sauce spiked with sherry vinegar, it was conjugal bliss in food heaven.
In the last post, check out what we had for dessert.