Living a tasteful life

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guest Chef: Josh Walker of Xiao Bao Biscuit

Last week I had the pleasure of enjoying a few dishes prepared by chef Josh Walker of Xiao Bao Biscuit, a Charleston restaurant that serves delicious Asian soul food. This particular dinner was special because we weren't ordering off a menu in the restaurant, but instead, chef Josh and his wife were in the Le Creuset kitchen, cooking for our small group. 

At the restaurant, you will find a selection of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes, inspired by "kick-ass grandmothers." It was fascinating to have chef Josh and his wife share their insights and tips for preparing these diverse, and sometimes intimidating, dishes. If you haven't checked out Xiao Bao Biscuit, definitely make time to do so. You can read more about my previous visit to the restaurant here

We began our three course meal with Mapo Dou Fu, a spicy Sichuan tofu dish in chili oil & broad beans over rice. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous to try this. We were warned about the spiciness of this dish and the numbing sensation it creates in your mouth caused by the Sichauan peppers. I'm normally a big baby when it comes to spicy things, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to eat this dish without breaking a sweat. 

Mapo  Dou Fu
Our second course was a flavorful beef stir-fry. This dish isn't on the menu at the restaurant, but it should be. It may not have made for a pretty photo, but it sure did taste good. The savory beef accompanied by the crunch from the cucumber created an excellent combination. I found it interesting that cucumbers were in this dish. I never would have thought to throw them in the mix, but I will definitely make sure to incorporate them the next time I prepare a stir-fry.

Beef Stir-fry
Our third course was a miso soup. This wasn't the typical miso soup you get at Japanese restaurants, which consist mostly of stock. This soup was full of veggies, including mushrooms, bean sprouts and leeks. Miso soup is typically low in calories and high in protein, which is a win-win in my book. 

Miso Soup
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to jot down the instructions for all of these dishes.  But the good news is, Chef Walker shared the Mapo Do Fu recipe with  Bon Appetit. I can't wait to give this a try at home! 
Mapo Dou Fu
4 dried chiles de árbol
1½ teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, 1 cut crosswise into 1” pieces, 1 very thinly sliced
4 ounces ground pork
½ small Fresno chile, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled ginger
⅓ cup doubanjiang (Sichuan-style fermented chili bean paste)
6 ounces silken tofu, drained, cut into ½” pieces
1 cup baby kale or mustard greens
Steamed short-grain rice (for serving)

1.       Toast dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns in a dry small skillet, turning and stirring, until fragrant,                   about 1 minute. Let cool; finely grind in spice mill.
2.       Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook 1" pieces of scallion, stirring, until bright green,                         about 30 seconds.
3.       Add pork and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until just cooked through, about 1 minute.
4.       Add dried chile mixture and cook, stirring, until meat mixture begins to look dry, about 1 minute.
5.       Add fresh chile, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
6.       Stir in doubanjiang, then tofu and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and add kale. Simmer until               kale is wilted and tofu is heated through, about 3 minutes.


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