This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions. Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show. He’s just such a humble, talented guy. His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup. Things, he says, are his comfort foods. I can completely see why.
His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner. Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone. Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.
But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub. She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas. But she passed on the fresh sweet corn. (What kid does that?) And she even had seconds.
Essentially for this, you’ll have two nights of meals, because you start with chicken rice on the first night. Chef Qui makes jasmine rice with finely minced ginger, which marries beautifully with the ponzu and chicken. The genius of making that chicken rice is that you’re left with all that gorgeous chicken stock that’s ginger fragranced and ready to be made into soup the next night.
The next night, all you’ll need to do is make a dashi stock with the already fantastic (and leftover) chicken ginger stock. Don’t forget kids, that dashi takes all of about two minutes to make. Strain it and whisk in a spoonful of white miso (red miso is more for cooler months and has a stronger flavor – thanks Paul!) and get the broth super hot. It will lightly cook, but leave crisp, all the veggies you’ve chosen for the bottom of your bowl in moments. Finish off with a drop or two more of soy and a bit of sriracha.
Fresh, simple, local and very little time in a hot kitchen. Just the way I want to spend my summer nights.
Playlist included Myth, by Beach House.