The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2018

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18  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2018 CHEW on this I n last month's column, I wrote about my frustration with the prejudice leveled against elevated Asian cuisine. I was happy to hear feedback that many people felt the same way, and as promised, I'm now looking toward Texas—and somewhere a lot closer to home—to share the perspectives of more chefs intent on changing the status quo. Down in the Lone Star State, Dallas chef Angela Hernandez recently helped open Fine China, a Chinese restaurant in the Statler Hotel. While Hernandez acknowledges there's a misconception that Chinese cuisine in the U.S. consists solely of cheap takeout, she says "at Fine China, [the] service and ingredients are able to justify higher prices." "We incorporate types of cuisine from China, South America, and even the Deep South," Hernandez adds. While the chef, who's Mexican and Korean, built her career on fine French and Japanese food, she gravitated toward Chinese cuisine when tasked with helping develop a new concept for the Statler. The resulting menu features both classic and modern dishes, including black garlic noodles with fermented black beans and Cantonese roast duck served with traditional sides. "We have an excellent cocktail program, great service, quality food, a fun environment—all things that can add up to customers willing to pay more for the experience," Hernandez explains. One of the hallmarks of fine dining is its ability to pair well with wine, but for years the industry dismissed Asian food as "unpairable" for having too much spice, too many flavors, too much . . . everything. While that misguided perception has evolved over the years, many still shy away from pouring a glass to accompany their Thai curry or Cantonese noodles. To counter this regressive line of thinking, I sought out a trusted expert: my mother, Barbara Hom. A Chinese woman who has worked as a chef her entire professional life, she's spent much of her career crafting wine-pairing din- ners for wineries all over Sonoma and Napa County that often feature Chinese ingredients and dishes. "As Asian food has become more high-end, it's also become more refined with more delicate flavors that make it easier to pair," my mother explains. "Most wine experts will suggest pairing a German wine like Gewürztraminer and Riesling with Chinese food, typically to balance out the sweetness and/or soy-sauce flavor." However, because "so much depends on what region of food you're cook- ing," she says it's imperative to know how their defining flavors might affect the dining experience. "Spicy cuisine like Szechuan will blow out your palate, making it hard to taste the nuances of a wine's flavor," she adds. "However, I think Pinot Noir is the absolute perfect match for soy sauce–based dishes, especially those made with Clone 777 grapes, as their earthiness, dark berry fruit, and notes of cumin, cardamom, and coriander go well with soy and Chinese flavors like star anise." This discussion is far from settled, but as these long-held prejudices against Asian cuisine continuously fail to stand up to scrutiny, here's hoping the food can finally speak for itself. Like mother, like daughter: From a young age, Tasting Panel Managing Editor and "Chew on This" columnist Jesse Hom-Dawson (left) has always looked to her mother, Chef Barbara Hom, regarding matters in the kitchen. by Jesse Hom-Dawson The Dao of Dining PHOTO COURTESY OF FINE CHINA At the newly opened Fine China in Dallas' Statler Hotel, Chef Angela Hernandez crafts modern and traditional Asian dishes like Cantonese roast duck. program, great service, quality food, a At the newly opened Fine China in Dallas' Statler Hotel, Chef Angela Hernandez crafts modern and traditional Asian dishes like Cantonese roast duck.

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