Quarantine Paella

~ This is Day 15 ~

It’s almost April!!! The month of March seemed like it took forever to get by. Oh my gosh… What will I do for the entirety of next month???

I’m calling this “quarantine paella” because ingredients are difficult to come by. I try to only go outside to grocery shop when I absolutely need to, i.e. when the fridge is empty. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market has all the basic stuff but sometimes the things that I want are out of stock. There are also limits on certain things that you’re allowed to buy. I had hoped to buy 15 lbs of AP flour today but I was only allowed to buy 1 unit, which was 5 lbs. There is no “2-day” prime delivery on Amazon anymore. Everything takes the old regular amount of time (5 business days) or now, even longer to arrive! Jeff Bezos should reimburse us with some Prime membership fees! Totally not going to happen though.

Anyway, with my limited resources and ingredients, I made this paella last night and I’m so glad that I can cook! Thinking about my friends who cannot cook as well as I do… what are they eating? All I want to do is share!! I usually make soffritto ahead of time and just keep a quart in my fridge – it’s good with everything, especially rice! But again, don’t have the excess of ingredients to do things ahead of time. I only put head-on shrimp and bay scallops in this paella, the least variety of sea creatures that I have done in my paella history.

Mango & Sticky Rice (Recipe)

~ This is Day 15 ~

For having a not-so-sweet tooth, there are few desserts that I crave for. With this self-quarantine and almost every restaurant is closed, the only way to satisfy that craving is to make it at home yourself. Luckily, this dessert/snack is incredibly easy to make at home.

Here is fresh Mango with Sticky Rice (also called glutinous rice) with a Coconut Sauce, Toasted White Sesame Seeds, and Mint.

Serves 6.

  • 2 cups glutinous rice, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 13.5oz cans coconut milk
  • ½ cup palm sugar (more if you like it to be sweeter; substitute brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Mangoes
  • Garnish: sesame seeds, mint, Thai basil

Soak rice in cold water overnight. Drain completely. Add 2 cups water and cook rice until tender. 10 minutes set to steam in rice cooker is enough.

In a pot, melt palm sugar and salt in coconut milk. Do not bring mixture to a boil. Pour half of the coconut milk into the rice and mix thoroughly. Reserve the other half for pouring over the rice on the plate with the mangoes. Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds and fresh herbs.

Service: March 29, 2019

Yesterday, I made pork belly steamed buns for family meal! I think it’s my last time planning/cooking family meal for awhile because I am now being rotated to the upstairs Private Events team.

I like to make more complex family meals on Friday/Saturday because that’s when the restaurant’s staff is at its highest and more people can enjoy my food.

I seared the pork bellies the night before and marinated them with the cooled down braising liquid. The day of, everything was brought to a simmer and placed in a 250°F convection oven for 3 hours, then pressed, in order to get nice, cuttable blocks.

I wasn’t able to get a good picture because by the time I realized that I forgot to take the picture, my plate was already half-eaten.

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The pork bellies were served with steamed open buns, rice with Chinese pork sausage, pickled cucumber, sauce made from the braising liquid, and a Napa cabbage coleslaw with miso vinaigrette.

Service: March 9, 2019

So now that I have rotated onto roast station at Legacy Records, I am now in charge of planning and cooking the second and most important family meal everyday. Family meal is restaurant colloquialism for “staff meal.” We have three; one in the AM for the prep cooks, pastry cooks/chefs, sous chefs, and porters in the kitchen, the next at 3:45pm for everyone working (both front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH), and a late-night PM one for the PM-porters and cleaning crew!

I never really counted but the number of people who I am cooking for is around 60-ish. In this restaurant, we go all out with our family meals. I try to push out thoughtful meals for each day but there are some days that are better than others. And I’m talking like for Saturday March 9! Even my photo was amazing! Thanks to the iPhone XS Max/I love portrait mode! Even better than the 7 Plus! (Ok, enough iPhone talk!)

I cured 100 duck legs for two days, slow roasted them, was too tired to pick through all 100 legs so I wrote a label for everyone to “DIY”. That was served with my friend’s grandmother’s hush hush red mole recipe. That mole got me a lot of compliments!

In case you were wondering, we also had rice and tortillas served with them, with various accoutrements, a guac/cucumber salad, and roasted nutty zucchini.

Paella Mixta

I’ve never been to Spain but I love its cuisine. Spain and Portugal are high on my travel destinations! Paellas in NYC are always so expensive for such a small amount of food so one day as I was shopping, I saw a good quality paella pan on sale and that was it. I started making a lot of paellas at home.

This was the first paella that I’ve ever made. It’s a mixture of seafood, i.e. shrimp and mussels, and spicy chorizo. It was so much satisfying eating this at home, with good wine, and with my brother!

Blue Hawaiian Prawns & Bottarga Risotto

Customers often ask me what goes on the tasting menu? Honestly, it’s whatever I feel like doing. We want to strive for seasonal dishes and sometimes when we have an excessive amount of proteins or a specific ingredient, in this example, Blue Hawaiian Prawns, I have to use it on the tasting menu.

The Blue Hawaiian Prawns come with a Risotto cooked with clam juice and shaved Bottarga.

Squid Stuffed Conchiglioni in Romesco Sauce

This would have worked better with a giant conchiglioni shell so that the squid tentacles would have more impact, as if it were coming out of the shell. I couldn’t find a larger seashell pasta than the one in the picture. And this is one pasta that I do not know how to make by hand.

Anyway, the Conchiglioni is Stuffed with Squid (tubes & tentacles) in a Romesco Sauce, along with Puffed Wild Rice and Micro Chervil.