Julian and I first met Eddie Huang at an Asian American Writers' Workshop reading, where he read alongside a NYTimes journalist, a spoken word poet, and a novelist. The chef stole the show. We later found out that Eddie is not only an inventive, consistently exciting chef, but also an honest and hilarious writer and a very nice and genuine guy. Here are some highlights from Eddie's latest pop-up project at LTO.
Dish that made me feel the most Chinese: Icebox Duck Wings & Feet -- Turning an American thing that’s usually wet and juicy into something more interesting. The skin turns into a gemtinous, savory-sweet gummy candy, and the meat gets stiff and shard-like, akin to jerky.Dish that tickled my sciency side: Sesame Liang Pi Salad -- These very thin hand-pulled, hand-cut noodles had the elemental wheatiness of a fresh pasta, but the snap of a dried pasta. The trick? Shocking the noodles on a web of ice, to seize the gluten strands in a pleasant chewiness that Chinese flat noodles rarely have. Tossed with cucumber and peanuts.
Dish I will most definitely rip off at home: FOB Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns, Anise, Ginger -- A triumph, with a crispy skin seared with infused oil. The chicken was juicy through and through, and served on top of an incredible salt cod and bok choy fried rice, which had the flavor and body of a crunchy paella meets a Chinese-style tabbouleh, heavier on the "stuff" than on the grain.Dish I will always rememeber: 137 Fried Gator Tail -- Eddie ordered his gator from Louisiana, since you can't really get it here. Too bad. Alligator is ready for its NYC debut. It has the flakiness of white fish, the meatiness of chicken, and an appealing flavor that’s in between the two. The crunchy batter prickled with clove and chili, two flavors that zing and numb and round, especially with a slick of sour cream. Dish that could rescue me from my deepest sorrow: Bread Pudding with Ginger Ice Cream & Soy Sauce Caramel -- Criminally good. I think the cake was one of those faux pound cakes you find in Chinatown, similar in texture to the padding in a cheap futon. But here the fine grains were doused in something rich and slightly sweet. The cake cut like a scallop and the juice collected and luxuriated at the bottom like someone’s expensive slippers.
P.S. Here's a post about the first Eddie pop-up Julian and I fell in love with, a Chinese New Year dinner at No. 7.