Lucky Dragon: Chinese Comes to Rhinebeck

by Anne Maxfield on May 20, 2019

Lucky Dragon InteriorI wanted to love Lucky Dragon.

I wanted to be willing to jump in the car and drive for 20 minutes for great Chinese.

I wanted the answer to “where do you go for good Chinese?” to be Rhinebeck, not Queens.

I’m in like not love, but love could be just around the corner.

Lucky Dragon is in the building that used to house Catch 38 and is being run by the folks who brought you the Amsterdam. It’s “farm to chopsticks” cooking.

Lucky Dragon PotstickersMy sense is that it’s a retro-influenced look back at all the classic Chinese restaurants where you would go on Sundays with your family, eat lo mein, and think you were very adventuresome.

If you’re expecting pages and pages of dishes, you’ll be surprised. They’ve edited the choices down to a manageable amount (just enough to fit on a placemat).

We started out with a bunch of appetizers—BBQ spareribs, chicken lettuce wraps, pork and chive potstickers and fresh spring rolls. The spring rolls were hot and crispy and came with a sweet chile dipping sauce and were a hit with everyone at our table.

The spareribs were good with a dark brown glaze and sprinkling of sesame seeds. Close to those lacquered red ones you might remember from days gone by, but nicely updated with what I’m guessing was a hit of hoisin.

Lucky Dragon Spare RibsChicken lettuce wraps had chunks of chicken with scallions, slivers of bamboo shoots, sesame seeds and a light sauce, all of which fit perfectly in the lettuce. They were a bit hit with everyone at my table.

Lucky Dragon Chicken WrapsThe potstickers were pan fried on one side and served with a soy, scallion sauce. I would have preferred the sauce on the side, as it made them a little soggy, but they were still tasty and not too heavy as potstickers can be.

Trying to be a little healthy, we opted for two of the vegetable dishes, a classic bok choy with sesame and soy, which was well prepared and the Szechuan eggplant, which was one of my favorites of the evening. Small slices of eggplant in a spicy (but not killer) sauce with lots of flavor.

Lucky Dragon EggplantFor mains we went with the shrimp in black bean sauce, Szechuan chicken and pork lo mein. The lo mein was everyone’s favorite—it had great flavor and the noodles were well cooked, but sadly the pork in it was really tough.

Lucky Dragon ShrimpThe Szechuan chicken and the shrimp had a lot of the same ingredients, chunks of red and green peppers, beansprouts, water chestnuts and both were in a soy-based sauce. The big difference was that the chicken was a bit spicy and there were some black beans with the shrimp. We all agreed that we might have ordered two very similar dishes, and then mixed them up on our plates, blending them together so they were indistinguishable.

Lucky Dragon ChickenWe all also agreed that we’ll be back. The Peking Duck that needs to be ordered in advance, is tempting, as are some of the other classics like General Tso’s and some of the other appetizers we skipped over.

The manager was truly interested in our comments, and after hearing that we thought the pork in the lo mein was tough, presented us with a box of cookies as we left and said she was going to take it up with the kitchen right away. So, I have faith (and hope) that the menu will continue to evolve, and we’ll end up in love. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Brussels Sprouts Hash

by Anne Maxfield on May 13, 2019

Brussels sprouts cut to make hashWe love Brussels sprouts and this looked like an easy way to make them. Slicing them for the “hash” is about the most time-consuming job here (and see below for my opinion as to whether it’s worth it), after that it’s about 5 minutes from start to finish. Serves 4 to 6:

Brussels Sprouts Hash

• 1 pound large Brussels sprouts
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
• 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
• 1/4 cup white wine
• Salt and pepper

Cut the stems from the Brussels sprouts and halve each one lengthwise. Slice each half into thin slices, about 1/8” and toss with the lemon juice in a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat almost to the smoking point. Stir in the hashed sprouts with the garlic and poppy seeds.

Add the white wine and continue stirring for about 3 minutes, until the sprouts are bright green and barely crunchy. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 additional minute. Serve and enjoy!

The finished Brussels sprouts hash dish platedMy verdict: Good but not great. I might have liked it better with the Brussels sprouts halved and browned in the oil. It’s probably a really good dish for people who are on the fence about sprouts.
If shredding Brussels sprouts seems like a waste of time, shredding some cabbage and treating it like the sprouts would be a fine replacement.

Of all the spices I have, surprisingly poppy seeds are not in the house, so I used some of my favorite everything bagel spice, figuring that it had a lot of poppy seeds. Frank started to get huffy about it “do you ever see me eating an everything bagel?” but it was fairly innocuous and served it’s purpose.

No open bottles of white wine? A little chicken or vegetable stock, splash of red wine, or even water would work instead.

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Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

by Anne Maxfield on May 6, 2019

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s because the one decent Chinese restaurant closed, but I’ve been on kind of an Oriental run lately and this lamb dish, was part of it. Serves 4:

Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan or regular peppercorns
  • 1 pound boneless lamb
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 to 8 dried red chiles (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 bunch (about 8) scallions, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese cooking sherry or dry sherry
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush lightly.

Slice meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Toss meat with crushed spices, ground cumin, salt and dried chiles.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb MixPeel onion and halve it through the root end. Trim the ends and cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut white and light green parts of scallions into 2-inch lengths. Thinly slice scallion greens; keep separate.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb PrepHeat a very large skillet or wok over high heat until screaming hot, about 5 minutes. Add oil. Toss in onion and the scallion bottoms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly charred but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add lamb and chiles to skillet. Cook, tossing quickly, until meat begins to brown. Add garlic, soy sauce and sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and lamb is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Toss in onions and scallion bottoms. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallion greens. Serve hot, over rice and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb CookingMy verdict: Another “you can make this anytime” from Frank. It’s hot but not killer, most of the heat coming from the Sichuan peppercorns. If you don’t have them, it will work with regular peppercorns, but won’t have the interesting kick you get from the Sichuan ones.

Since it was close to Easter when I made this, I was able to find a nice small piece of boneless leg of lamb which worked well, but if you don’t mind working around the bones, shoulder chops would work, and are generally a lot less expensive.

I didn’t have any peanut oil, so just used regular vegetable oil and it worked fine. You don’t want olive oil here, because you’re using high heat. Same story with the Chinese cooking sherry—just use dry sherry if you have it.

As you can see from the top photo, we had some green beans in the fridge, so I just tossed them in when I added the lamb and chiles.

 

 

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Pad Thai at Home

by Anne Maxfield on April 29, 2019

Accidental Locavore Pad Thai PlatedI’ve always like Pad Thai, but never really thought about making it myself until I saw this recipe on David Lebovitz’s website. It feeds 2 but if you get greedy, you might want to double the recipe. Just saying.

Pad Thai

  • 4 ounces dried thin, flat rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails on (preferably)
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl
  • 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
  • 3 ounces firm tofu
  • 3 scallions (just the green parts), cut into 1 1/2“pieces
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped, plus an additional 2-3 tablespoons (chopped) for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
  • Sriracha, optional to taste

Accidental Locavore Pad Thai CookingBring a saucepan of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the noodles. Let the noodles sit in the water for 5 minutes, stirring them a few times as they sit. Drain the noodles and rinse well under cold running water, separating the noodles with your fingers, and set aside.

Mix the fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind paste in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re just about cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the wok or skillet and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok or skillet and add the shallots and garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add the cooked noodles and fish sauce mixture. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring, until everything is well combined.

Push the noodles to the side of the wok or skillet and add the eggs to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until they start to set, about 30 seconds, then add the cooked shrimp, 1 cup of the bean sprouts, the tofu, scallions, and 1/4 cup peanuts. Continue to cook, stirring, until everything is well combined and heated through, about 30 seconds. If the mixture looks a little dry (the noodles should be slicked with sauce with some extra floating around), add a tablespoon or so of water or chicken stock.

Transfer to a serving plate. Serve sprinkled with the remaining bean sprouts, peanuts, lime and Sriracha and enjoy! 

My verdict: This was so good (and easy) we made it twice in 3 days! Frank gave it his highest rating “you can make this any time”. It really does only make enough for 2 people, so you might want to up all the quantities a bit, because you’re going to want more.

I added the Sriracha as optional, but we always end up squirting it on any batch of Pad Thai we’ve ever had.

The second time I made it, I used some thinly sliced pork cutlets that I marinated in some Chinese garlic sauce I found in the fridge and it was just as good as the shrimp version.

Both times I only used one tablespoon of vegetable oil and it was fine. If you need more to sauté the shallots and garlic, add it, but I didn’t need to.

There weren’t any bean sprouts in the store, so neither of the batches I made had them and it was fine without them. The peanuts are good, giving it a nice crunch so keep them in, but this recipe like fried rice, can be made with whatever you like and will still be good.

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