Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dinner of the Riojas - on the table

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I only managed to cook one dinner these holidays, but it couldn't have come at a better time. My cousin was here with us from Texas; my friend was back in town in between school terms; I had just handed in my 4th (and hopefully final) business school application; and most importantly, I had a trio of Riojas ready to go - wines that go far back into my early days as a wino. Oh, and of course, I had the people who matter the most to me around the dinner table again!
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The focus on the first half of the meal was seafood, and for that, I have the always reliable Diana's Seafood to thank. I went out early in the day to see what the fresh catch was, and this was what I found. The most amazing Pacific Ocean sea urchin roe - uni - layered and creamy and incredibly savoury. Two drizzled with a single varietal olive oil, two with fresh lemon juice, and one left virginal. Unbelievably delicious.
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A plate of albacore tuna, served sashimi. A beautiful hue, pink and coral and white-edged. Rich and fresh, with great firm texture.
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Starting the first round of hot dishes with steamed clams, in the Shanghai style. Steamer clams hidden inside, granished with dried shrimp roe, lightly steamed green onion, and sesame oil. Savoury and all, but the real pleasure is in the smooth texture of the eggs. 
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Continuing on with my mom's cooking - Shanghai classics, the food of my childhood, the food of my dreams. Various greens, clams, then onto pig's ears and braised pig's trotters, done for the first time in a Le Creuset pot my buddies bought me for my birthday.
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Ending with various pastries and cakes and coffees. This dinner was exactly what I needed, something to heal and re-energize the spirit after a punishing few months. And remind me what matters most. All photos courtesy of P.Szeto.

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