Friday, February 8, 2013

Fab Eats with FABnyc

On Thursday evening, Feb. 7, Kimcheelicious and East Village eatery Mexicue participated in a tasting and food demonstration to help raise funds and awareness for Fourth Arts Block, an organization that develops and promotes food, art, and culture on Manhattan’s lower East Side. Attendance was at capacity, and all had a fab time noshing on New York fusion food. The staff at Bowery Whole Foods Culinary Center was incredible. They got us prepped and ready to go in record time.

On Thursday night’s tasting menu: kimchee chicken adobo empanadas in curry crust, twice-fried Korean chicken, kimchee buttermilk biscuits, spicy green chili mac ‘n’ cheese and smoked brisket sliders with guacamole and Mexicue’s house-made BBQ sauce.

A Kimcheelicious demonstration of kimchee making and home-fermentation basics

I just got back from a meeting in Long Island and arrived at Bowery Whole Foods at 3:30 PM to start prepping for the evening. Min Lao already had the room set up for the evening event and got all the ingredients ready and waiting for me in trays. Wai Chu (Bowery Culinary Center) rolled out and cut the empanada shells while I made the biscuit dough. With great synchronicity the empanadas were filled with the shredded adobo made the day before, fork-sealed and baked as the marinated chicken fried. What a team!

Soon people arrived and took their seats. Phoebe Stern welcomed the crowd and told them a bit about Fourth Arts Block and their continued developments at The East 4th Street Cultural District, FAB’s incubation center. FAB supports experimental performances and cutting-edge productions by providing free and low cost programs, and training and facilities for emerging artists from their East Village location.

Freshly cut Kimchee biscuits wait for the oven as hot batches twice-fried Korean chicken cool down.

Korean fried chicken is always a huge hit. It’s marinated in grated onion and Korean chili paste for a few hours, dusted in potato starch and twice-fried. The first frying seals the crust as the meat steams; the second frying makes each piece super crunchy. I served two types of kimchee with the fried chicken—Napa cabbage (baechu) and fermented Korean radish (kkakdugi). Both go so well with fried foods. I like them on Tater Tots or fries with melted cheddar cheese myself.

A crowd of East Village epicureans arrived hungry for fusion food and culinary know-how.

Min Loa and Wai Chu of Bowery Culinary Center get everything in shape before the crowd arrives.

A little Q & A for those who want to learn more about fermenting kimchee and cooking with it
Kimchee chicken adobo empanadas in curry crust and fresh, hot biscuits made with Korean chili paste

The adobo chicken is my mom’s recipe. Filipino adobo is different from the Mexican variety. More related to confit than stew, the chicken is slowly braised in rendered fat, vinegar and pungent spices. Although there are many versions of this dish, I think my mom’s is simple and tasty. I called home to Guam to get her secrets of this Filipino national dish... to which I found that she never measures anything. Vesta’s best advice was “Taste it.” She gave me the ingredients and talked me through the braising method. I figured out proportions and wrote down a working recipe. My innovation was adding refined kimchee juice and a little Korean chili to the braising liquid. I love chicken adobo, we used to make chicken salad spread with left-overs for school lunches and snacks.

The fabulous Phoebe Stern from Fourth Arts Block chats it up.
Thomas Kelly from Mexicue gave us a detailed demo of their green chili mac ‘n’ cheese—from green chili bechamel sauce to table. What a treat! I couldn’t wait for the smoked brisket sliders: shredded smoked beef topped with red slaw and guacamole. Mexicue started out as a food truck, then expanded into brick and mortar locations in Manhattan. They have a solid foot print in New York’s culinary landscape.

Thomas Kelly is the genius behind Mexicue's fusion menu... and he's a nice guy too.

Green chili mac 'n' cheese and smoked brisket sliders with guacamole, red slaw and Mexicue’s tangy BBQ sauce

The FAB five: Min Lao, Tony Limuaco, Wai Chu, Phoebe Stern and Thomas Kelly

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