Oct 24, 2013

Jumbo Lump Crab with Meyer Lemon Pasta

 Serves 4
  • 1lb. Fresh Spaghetti (or 1 box of dried spaghetti-cooked according to the packet directions)
  • 2 lb fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells and pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 large shallots, chopped fine
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley
Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

To make the sauce first sautee the shallots in 1-2 TBL of olive oil in a medium-large saucepan.  Now add the wine and vinegar .  Boil until the liquid reduces to half the amount.  Reduce heat and begin to add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Turn the heat off and add chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt (a generous amount of salt) and pepper.  Mix in most of the crab meat, reserving about 1/2 cup to top pasta with. 

Pour the sauce in a large saute pan and add the pasta.  Heat through and add the cooking water from the pasta a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed.  Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Plate the pasta and top with the reserved crab meat, fresh parsley and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.

An unexpected Japanese gem at the top of the Radisson Royal

Despite the hustle and bustle below on the central artery of Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road), it felt like we were sitting on top of the world at this sky high restaurant destination. Located on the 49th floor of the Radisson Royal is an elegant Far Eastern experience brought to you by a culinary master.  Executive Chef Song is Korean by ethnicity, but trained in Japan where he honed his skills in the art of Japanese style of cooking.  With meticulous precision and a highly developed palate, this chef pushed the limits with  just about everything you could imagine. 

After perusing the menu, I noted some items I thought would really put chef Song's skills to the test.  The first item, described as a Foie Gras with black truffle/leek, asparagus, orange and *Zzuma dressing sounded intriguing.  With the exception of a hand full of modern Japanese restaurants (including Zuma in Dubai) most of the foie gras dishes I've enjoyed are at French style eateries.  I thought it would be especially interesting to see this particular execution with the listed combination of eclectic ingredients.

*later we came to find out "Zzuma" dressing was a traditional Japanese Teriyaki sauce with added sugar, that has been caramelized.  
 Arriving at the table with a small glass covering, our inventive appetizer was "smoked" for an added effect and aroma.  I find the smoke more of an aesthetic element which adds the wow factor upon presentation.  It doesn't actually contribute to the over all taste of the dish, but makes for more of a sensory experience. However, this dish didn't need much in terms of tricks since the quality of the ingredients and execution spoke for itself.

The perfectly seared medallion of luxurious foie gras, coated in the ever so sweetly caramelized teriyaki sauce, with the delicate burnt orange segments and asparagus spears all came together harmoniously.  The final touch of the leeks and pink peppercorns on top added the freshness and a slight kick to balance out the dish.  Not only was this extremely satisfying to my palate, but a visual masterpiece by Chef Song.
The next items to arrive at the table were a selection of Maki rolls plus a sweet soy and seafood consomme. The maki were rolled and presented creatively on the plate along with the appropriate garnish.  Fresh and balanced with the soft well seasoned rice, nori, and seafood accompaniments, they all possessed their own unique profiles and represent authentic Japanese with honor.  The seafood consomme was subtle in flavor and might have been better served first, before the meal.  The fragrant broth with hints of ginger and soy were a magical combination, but after the powerful foie gras and flavorful variety of maki, it couldn't hold up at against the rest of the items on the table.   
Our next course was ordered reluctantly from my side, having seen this item featured and reformatted across the UAE (similar to the Miso Cod trend), people have rarely done it the right way.  And even though the mention of "wasabi prawns" tends to make me cringe, my guest insisted on an order of these.  Dramatics aside, when this dish arrived the table I was completely blown away!  The little crunchy prawn nuggets on top of the velvety (perfectly balanced) wasabi mayo was truly an unexpected treat.  Topped with fresh daikon tendrils and a chiffonade of seaweed, Chef Song thought of everything and has created something very unique with a dish I had completely written off.  The perfectly crisp texture of the tempura batter was just the right amount of coating for the sweet prawns cuddling inside.  What really stood out was the play on textures and flavors here, and although the wasabi was present, it was not overwhelming. 
For the main course we decided on the wagyu beef with a miso leek sauce, which came highly recommended by the staff.  What I found particularly interesting is that the staff did not ask a temperature for the meat, and in my eyes, that is breaking one of the cardinal rules in order taking etiquette.  UNLESS of course, the chef prepares it based on his recommendation, which was exactly the case here. Presented in what looked like a dried tobacco leaf, the wagyu tenderloin was cooked to a perfect medium. The savory and tender chunks of seared red meat paired with the sweet and salty miso leek was a heavenly combination, and an experience I look forward to going back for.
 The culinary team and front of house staff at The Radisson Royal hotel are top notch.  The restaurant not only specializes in sushi but they have an entire floor dedicated to Tepanyaki style of live cooking as well. Spanning over 3 floors, ICHO is not a small operation.  The price points are on par with other similar eateries in town, so you must prepare yourself for a higher end experience if dining in this elegant venue with a view.  Because it's still new on the culinary scene of Dubai, it will take some time for them to gain the recognition they deserve.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a modern Japanese experience that "thinks outside the box" with creative culinary skills when it comes to execution and plating.

For more information on ICHO check out the Radisson Royal website:


Oct 21, 2013

A French Inspired Tarte Flambee done Saba Style

  • 1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 TBL whipped Egg
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 1/3 teaspoon Salt


In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 1.5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Form a ball out of the dough and place the dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten the ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bag and place it in the freezer until you need it. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.

Preheat the oven to 218 C (or 425 F)  

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about the diameter of your  pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pan spreading the dough to make a clean edge.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper, brush with an egg wash and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack.  

Once the tart has cooled layer the *toppings and cover the entire base if the tart starting with the caramelized onions, then the zaatar roasted tomatoes, evenly spaced dollops of creme fraiche, and chopped fresh parsley. 

  • Carmelized Onions
  • Zaatar Roasted Tomatoes
  • Creme Fraiche
  • Fresh Chopped Parsely  
Zaatar Roasted Tomato
1-2 tomatoes cut into 4 even slices
1-2 TBL Olive Oil
1-2 TBL Zaatar
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. 

Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper.  Lastly add a generous amount of zaatar to each.  Place in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes. 

Caramelized Onions

1 Whole Onion (Brown)
1 TBL Butter


1 tsp Brown Sugar

Pinch of salt 

In a Medium sauce pan at a medium high temperature melt the butter, now add the EVOO and then the onions.  Cook for 1-2 minutes at this temperature, and add the brown sugar and a pinch of salt.  Reduce the heat and cook for about 20-30 minutes at a low temperature stirring frequently.  The onions will turn slightly brown and caramelize.