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More tips from auntie’s table

Melanie Wong | Nov 26, 200203:10 AM

A couple weeks ago one of my cousins forfeited her seat at the family table opening up a slot for me to enjoy my Auntie Ruby’s home cooking for the first time in too long. As usual, she had some interesting finds to share with me.

The first course was a take on caprese salad with the requisite heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozz, and torn basil leaves. Slices of fuyu persimmons and Vietnamese dragon fruit, purchased at the Civic Center farmers market, added an exotic eastern slant. The dragon fruit had a screaming magenta peel with a pulpy white flesh and tiny black specks of seeds that reminded me of kiwi fruit.

The entrée was Yunnan steam pot chicken. The porcelain pot with a chimney in the center allows the contents to cook gently with some of liquid condensing and forming a clear, concentrated broth. The chicken’s texture was so silky and smooth. The fresh shitakes and fresh woods ears were purchased at May Wah. Also included were vacuum-packed shelled gingko nuts that tasted like fresh she bought there as well. She rinses, then parboils the gingkos to freshen the taste, and it works. Uncle Ben heated some shaoxing rice wine to enjoy with this dish.

For dessert we had uchepos from the tamale vendor at the Civic Center farmers market topped with a bit of sour cream. These had a sublime and soft, lighter texture than most. In addition, she shared with us her first experiment with Bistro Elan’s recipe for Carmelized Pumpkin Turnovers ( ). When I asked her whether she had tweaked the recipe, at first she said she’d made no changes. But then it came out that she made it with butternut squash instead of pumpkin, used a 3” diameter cutter, and crimped the edges rather than just pinching them. But other than that, she didn’t change a thing. (g) A very good rendition with these adaptations, and both desserts were wonderful with the 1983 Ch. Rieussec Sauternes I brought to accompany them.



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