Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Deification of a Chef

From time to time, following a schedule that only the editors know, a food and wine magazine will fall madly in love with a chef.

Remember Paul Prudhomme?  Every piece of meat or fish in America was blackened until no one could stand it.  Thomas Keller and his French Laundry dominated the headlines for a long time and whether it was the exquisite food itself or the fact that Keller was getting $200 a plate (I think) doesn't explain it. 

The newest deity has been crowned by Food and Wine and he is 36 year old Corey Lee, a Korean-born, American-educated chef.  He currently runs Benu, San Francisco, and will be opening Monsieur Benjamin, an "Americanized French bistro."  Lee does have impressive credentials - he's worked at Daniel (as in Boulard,) Lespinard as well as the French Laundry and Per Se.

The January issue is running several of Lee's recipes and Food & Wine welcomes visitors to its site. 

Pork Kimchi Dumpling Pancakes caught my eye because I love Kimchi (and am the only person I know who does.)  Deconstructing the recipe, Lee makes kimchi dumplings with fried ground pork, diced firm tofu, scallions, garlic, minced ginger and puts a tablespoon of his mix in a round wonton rapper, fries it and instead of adding a little water and slamming the pan lid shut, he adds what he calls a "slurry" 1 1/2 T cornstarch with one cup of water plus 2 T water.  The idea is for the "slurry" to run together and turn wontons into "pancakes."

This is over-chef-ication to me.  Make wontons, make the dipping sauce and eat.  None of this pancake nonsense.  Kimchi was never meant to be a pancake! 

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 T white vinegar
1/2 T crushed red pepper
1 T sesame seeds
1 T sugar

Mix until the sugar dissolves and serve. 

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