While we're talking about red-colored fishes (see madai comments in the Kiss Sea Food thread), I thought I'd post about a banquet at Seafood Harbor last month. We closed out the Chinese New Year's celebrations here with Uncle Seymour, who flies up from Palm Springs to gorge himself on Chinese food. Seafood Harbor has become his favorite Chinese restaurant and we had to restrain him from ordering everything on the menu! We ended up with the set menu for six (for the five of us), paying a supplement to substitute the red dragon fish (hung lung) for the steamed catfish, and adding two of my favorites, the salt and pepper crispy tofu appetizer and the crystal prawns with fried milk.
The cold plate was again exemplary with the best jellyfish I've had, subtle and delicately complex soy sauce chicken, and the red-marinated Japanese baby octupi, as well as other goodies to round out the platter. The seafood soup was barely thickened and was brimming with a variety of mushrooms, fresh and dried scallops, juicy prawns, and other shellfish. Not at all a throw-away course here, it was hard to not fill-up on the wonderful soup.
The cubes of fried tofu (shown below in the background), lightly crisped on the outside then yielding to the meltingly creamy interior, were a big hit at the table. Perfectly salted with gobs of sweet fried garlic bits and an accent of chili, these were music for the mouth.
The prawns and fried milk dish, usually one of the highlights, was a big let down this time. The prawns were overcooked and cottony-dry. When I pointed this out to our server, she just shrugged. The fried milk was super greasy and the batter was much thicker than before. Hopefully, this is a one-off.
When Uncle Seymour said I could order anything I wanted as long as it wasn't sharks fin, I wanted the hung lung that I'd been eyeing in the tank. Cooked two-ways, it was the star of this meal and well worth the $30 per pound price tag. The head was chopped into manageable bony sections and deep-fried salt and pepper style. The fatty skin and gelatinous-textured meat of the head was so succulent, sweet and savory in this prep that we sucked every tiny bit off those bones. As good as the fried head was, the steamed body was even more special. This might be the best steamed fish I've had stateside. So soft and smooth, the sweet flesh was steamed perfectly, barely coming off the bones. The seasonings were perfection and so finely tuned to the delicate flavors of this fish. Only the mild yellow part of the scallion was used. Not sweetened, barely salty and with very little oil, the steaming juices were so incredibly delicious that we were dipping our spoons in to lap it up.
I'd brought the 1999 Balthazar Ress Schloss Reichartshausen Spätlese from the Rheingau to enjoy with this meal. Powerful and racy, the lemongrass and passionfruit notes matched up beautifully with this fish.
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