Last night I was invited to dinner @ Manila Garden, which normally is basic cheap Chinese, until you order items out of the ordinary. Which is what the hosts did for one of the dishes. And now I feel compelled to post about it, because I've personally never even heard of this dish before. Does anyone know where this dish originated from (as in whether this is a traditional dish or created here in the US, and if from China, which region)?
Sek Tao Gai (Cantonese literally translated as rock/stone head chicken)
The waitstaff proudly brought out a huge lump of something (about 2.5 ft long x 1.5 across x 1 ft high) on an equally large serving platter -- looked like a hotpocket on steroids. Yes, whatever this was it was encased in bread. The waiter then took 2 huge serving spoons to tear a hole in the top of the hotpocket lump. She peeled a chunk of the bread away to show us what whas inside, and another guest at the table asked if the bread was edible. The response was yes, but u probably don't want to eat it. So some of this bread got passed around for tasting -- the dough was so salty it must've had 10x the normal amount of salt becaus it still looked undercooked, although the outside crust was brittle and had the texture of concrete.
Then the waiter took the huge thing away to be properly plated in the kitchen. What came out looked nothing like the hotpocket for the giant in jack & the beanstalk. The chicken was plated resting on a bed of golden needle flowers & wood ear, with parsley, garlic and ginger mixed in; and all of this was laying on a bed of lotus leaves. Apparently all these ingredients had been wrapped inside the lotus leaves and then the whole thing was encased in the dough and ... baked or steamed??
Well, whatever they did to that thing made amazingly flavorful chicken that was moist and tender -- practically slides down your throat. And the garlic cloves -- YUM. All those flavors cooking together inside the dough. That was definitely the star of the show... the other items we had were pretty basic. S&P pork chops, a seafood & tofu clay pot, gai lan w/ cured meats, scrambled egg w/ shrimp, house-made XO sauce, and probably some other things I've forgotten about.