Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls

April 1, 2008

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls
Varietal: Riesling

Serves 4 as an entrée; 8 as an appetizer

These healthy shrimp rolls epitomize Vietnamese cuisine, which is characterized by the use of raw vegetables and light sauces—the perfect formula for springtime dining. They make a great appetizer (allow two per person) or main dish if you serve four per person and accompany with a hearty Asian-inspired soup or spicy vegetarian or chicken or shrimp stir-fry. Asian dishes often pair well with off-dry Rieslings. Washington State’s venerable Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the world’s leading producers of the Riesling varietal, and makes several distinguished versions, including one of my favorites—Eroica—in conjunction with esteemed German winemaker Ernst Loosen. Another top producer is Long Shadows, which makes the always-lovely Poet’s Leap Riesling.

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 pounds pink (bay or salad) shrimp, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

16 pieces rice paper

16 soft lettuce leaves, such as Bibb, red or green leaf, or iceberg

2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed, drained, and patted dry

2 cups shredded carrots

1/2 cup crushed unsalted peanuts

4 green onions, roots and tips removed, cut into 1/8-inch rounds

Fresh basil leaves or fresh mint leaves

Hoisin Dipping Sauce (Recipe follows)

1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add the salad shrimp and toss well to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.

2. Take out 2 large plates and pour 1/4 inch warm water into one of them. Place 1 piece of rice paper in the water and soak for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until pliable. Do not allow to soak too long or the rice paper will tear. Remove the rice paper to a dry plate, then repeat the process with the remaining rice paper sheets.

3. Place lettuce leaves around the perimeter of a large serving platter. Put the shrimp in a serving bowl and place in the center of the platter. Put the bean sprouts, carrots, peanuts, green onions, and basil leaves in separate piles around the shrimp.

4. To serve, place the rice paper, prepared platter, and Hoisin Dipping Sauce on the table and allow everyone to make their own shrimp rolls by lining a piece of rice paper with a lettuce leaf and adding vegetables, shrimp, peanuts, and basil leaves and folding or rolling to close. The shrimp rolls can then be dunked in the sauce.

Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Makes about 3/4 cup

6 tablespoons hoisin sauce

6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

1. In a small mixing bowl stir together the hoisin sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, and soy sauce. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.

Recipe reprinted from the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, Gift Edition (Ten Speed Press, 2005) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.


April 1, 2008


Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining Update

With Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining successfully launched and selling well, I’m back to full-time writing, with a fresh book proposal in the works and a new writing gig for the Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine. About once a month, I’ll write the magazine’s weekly “Taste” column, focusing primarily on the Northwest wine and beverage scene, but also occasionally turning my attention to food and travel. First bylines will appear next month. On May 18, look for “Breathing Room,” in which I compare the new Eisch Breathable Glasses from Germany with Riedel glassware. On May 25, look for “Seductive Summer Sippers,” which highlights a dozen of my favorite summer wines.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed spotting a copy of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining in the window at the venerable Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. And a foodie friend reported seeing the book in the giftshop/bookstore at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in the Napa Valley prominently featured in a tabletop display.

And on March 31, the Secret Ingredient Video Blog that I taped in January aired. I chose dried Northwest cherries as my “secret ingredient,” and demo-ed one of my favorite recipes from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette, from Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market. The Vodcast is available on the Whole Foods Market Web site, YouTube, and iVillage. Here’s the link, as well as a photo from the shoot.

You can watch the Vodcast here.

This month, I’m really looking forward to Taste Washington, where I’ll do a booksigning on Saturday, April 5, from 11:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. during Education Day.

And I’ll travel to the International Association of Culinary Professionals International Conference in New Orleans in April, where I’ll appear at the annual Cookbook Expo on Friday, April 18, from 2 p.m to 4 p.m.

It’s never too early to mark your calendars for the ever-popular Platinum Dinner sponsored by Wine Press Northwest. We enjoyed the fifth annual dinner at the Columbia Tower Club (CTC) in February, where I debuted my Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining slide-show presentation. Next year’s Platinum, also hosted by the CTC, will be on Friday, January 30. Here’s a photo of Spencer and me with Seattle public relations maven Lori Randall at the fifth annual Platinum Dinner in February.

Learn about Braiden’s upcoming appearances here.

To purchase a copy of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining, please go to your local bookseller or visit Amazon’s Web site,


Pike Place Market News

Chukar Cherries 20th Anniversary
Chukar Cherry Company, a family-run business that started in the Pike Place Market, is celebrating its 20th birthday. Fresh and unique Chukar-brand products, such as my favorite Pinot Noir and Cabernet Chocolate Cherries, have become signature food gifts for locals and visitors stopping by the Pike Place Market in Seattle or traveling inland to the company’s headquarters in Prosser, Washington. You’ll enjoy founder Pam Montgomery’s recipe for Hazelnut-Crusted Chicken in Cherry-Wine Sauce, which appears on page 74 of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.

Steelhead Diner in the News
The Market’s very own Kevin Davis, chef and co-owner of Steelhead Diner, was recently announced as a semifinalist for a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best Chef Northwest. Winners will be announced in early June, so stay tuned!

Now that spring has officially sprung in the Market, why not pick up a copy of the Pike Place Market Cookbook or the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook for fresh recipe ideas from the Market’s leading farmers, fishmongers, restaurateurs, and chefs? Here’s a photo of our first salmon dinner of the season (enjoyed on March 22). I kept the preparation of the white salmon fillets, which hailed from southeast Alaska, simple by dusting them with Murray River sea salt (a light-of-flake, pale-pink sea salt from Australia) and Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend) and grilling them on a stove-top grill.



While wunderkind chef Ethan Stowell’s newer restaurants, Tavolàta and How to Cook a Wolf, capture most of the media buzz, a recent dinner at Union proved that Ethan’s flagship resto still shines supreme, with many menu items that easily trump those we sampled in New York City in December. I skipped over appetizers and went straight for the Pasta section of the menu, and wasn’t disappointed. Housemade chitarra was simply tossed with sweet sea urchin, chilies, and garlic. Like many of the dishes here, this combination of a few ingredients treated with respect in the kitchen rose above the sum of its simple parts. Potato Gnocchi turned creamy thanks to mascarpone cheese and extra flavorful thanks to a small forest full of black trumpet mushrooms. A beautiful rendition of Ocean Trout with Rice Beans, Manila Clams, and Speck (an herb-flavored cured ham from Italy) made for the most photogenic entrée we sampled, pictured below.

TASTE Updates a Classic
A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup instantly takes me back to childhood, when Mom mixed the Campbell’s Condensed variety with whole milk (gasp!) before slow-simmering. Next she stacked slices of plain white bread (yes, Wonder Bread!) with bright-orange Kraft Cheddar (yes—full-fat cheese!), broiled the sandwiches open-face style, and sprinkled them with granulated sugar (yes, white sugar!) before proudly serving it to my hungry little brother and me. TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum goes Mom one better, serving up its sophisticated “griddled cheese” on potato bread and serving it alongside a bowl of “roasted tomato soup” at the bargain price of $8.

The Capital Grille is “Capital!”
Except for a long wait for our table in the bar during a busy holiday week, everything was “capital” at Seattle’s newest meat-lover’s mecca, the Capital Grille. While the Grille specializes in dry-aged steaks, I found much to love in the Chef’s Daily Seafood Feature—perfectly seared, medium-rare sea scallops surrounded by a citrus-rich reduction sauce and centered with a generous amount of shaved asparagus salad. It was the essence of spring on a plate, as shown in the photo below. The wine list is equally impressive, with more than 400 bottles, including 55 Washington-State reds and about 10 whites and almost a dozen Oregon Pinot Noirs. We enjoyed a bottle of Dusted Valley Old Vines 2006 Chardonnay ($50), a refreshingly unoaked version of the varietal, that paired equally well with both scallops and a VERY generous and perfectly roasted whole chicken. Ambience for the Seattle outpost of this East-Coast chain is club-like and masculine, with dark wood, Tiffany-style lamps, and leather booths and chairs. Everything seems to be a cut above competitors such as Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris, and certainly much better than The Daily Grill, located in the recently renovated Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers a few blocks away.



Dine Around Seattle Update
One of the joys of dining around Seattle in the months of March and November is taking advantage of the 30 for $30 (formerly known as the 25 for $25) program. With many options for a three-course meal at a reasonable price, it’s a great way to check out a new restaurant, or get reacquainted with an old favorite. In March, we stopped in at BOKA and The Oceanaire Seafood Room for dinner, and Barolo for lunch. Across the board, portion sizes were generous, offerings were inventive, and selections offered something for everyone, be they carnivores or vegetarians. Here’s a photo of the rich, satisfying, truffle-oil-drizzled Filetto di Maiale from Barolo—Pork Tenderloin with Sicilian Wine Reduction, Thyme, and Gorgonzola.

Tom Black Joins 35th Street Bistro
Long-time Seattle chef Tom Black has taken the reins in 35th Street Bistro in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Chef Tom has a recipe for Arugula Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (page 39) and has cooked his way around the region at distinguished restaurants such as Fullers, Barking Frog, and Alderbrook Resort & Spa.

Oceanaire Revamps Lunch Menu
In a bid to attract more lunchtime traffic, the Oceanaire Seafood Room has added several new items to its menu. Among the new favorites are the Chicory Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches, served with Chef Eric Donnelly’s Chicory Barbecue and Sweet Chili Slaw. Meanwhile, on the dinner menu, the U-10 Diver Scallops and Duck Confit entrée with flageolet beans, bacon, parsley, and saba (a sweet-tart syrup made from ripe grapes) offers the best of both earth and ocean, as shown in the photograph below.

Updated Abbey Road Farm B&B Opens for 2008 Season
Abbey Road Farm, which is featured in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining on page 142 with a recipe for Goat’s-Milk Cheesecake, opened for the 2008 season on March 1. The Willamette Valley bed-and-breakfast inn and 82-acre working goat farm is truly unique, for guests stay in luxurious guest suites converted from three working grain silos! Visitors can enjoy breakfasts in the original farmhouse kitchen, sip a glass of local wine around the outdoor fire pit, relax on the new deck overlooking vineyards and rolling hillsides, or visit the new AgriVino Wine Center. More adventuresome types can even try their hand at milking a friendly goat from the resident herd.

Tilth Receives Top-10 Ranking
In late February, The New York Times announced that Tilth restaurant was among the top-10 best new restaurants across the country. Restaurant critic Frank Bruni extolled chef Maria Hines’ exacting approach to sourcing local foods and her deft hand at building complexity from simple, albeit exquisite, ingredients. Bruni used the word “inspired” to describe chef Hines, and we agreed after sampling her Croque Monsieur. Topped with a perfectly poached egg fresh from the nest, this deluxe version of the French ham-and-cheese sandwich appears on Tilth’s brunch menu. Don’t miss Maria’s lovely recipe for Golden Beet Carpaccio, which you’ll discover on page 20 of Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.

Martha Dines at C Restaurant
During a recent visit to Vancouver for a speaking engagement, the one-and-only Martha Stewart and three associates dined at C Restaurant, which I describe in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining as “simply one of the best restaurants in the world” (page 204). Martha and company sampled the new “Ethical Luxury Tasting Menu,” created by Chef de Cuisine Quang Dang. This menu featured Bamfield Pinto Abalone (C Restaurant is reportedly the only restaurant in the world to serve this product), Qualicum Beach Scallops, and Queen Charlotte Island Dungeness Crab, among other delightful, and sustainable, fare.



Zarzuela Shellfish Stew, a lovely, Mediterranean-inspired medley of Northwest shellfish (prawns, clams, mussels), finfish (salmon and halibut), and fingerling potatoes swimming in a tomato-y broth swirled with saffron aïoli, has been on the menu at Andaluca, in downtown Seattle’s Mayflower Park Hotel, since the restaurant’s early days. I return to it time and again when I want a warm, comforting bowl of yumminess.



Willamette Valley Vineyards Named Hottest Small Brand in 2007
Willamette Valley Vineyards has earned the coveted “Hottest Small Brand” of 2007 from Wine Business Monthly, the industry’s leading trade publication for wineries and growers. Cyril Penn, the Editor of Wine Business Monthly (WBM) wrote: “Willamette Valley Vineyards is one of those wineries demonstrating that you can increase quality while increasing production; the two aren’t mutually exclusive.” Each year, the publication selects the top-10 Hottest Small Brands of the Year. The criteria for being included on the list include, “wines that deliver value and execute their vision particularly well,” Penn noted.

650-Acre Wallula Vineyard Purchased
In March, Allen Shoup, founder of Long Shadows Vintners, along with members of a small investor group, purchased the acclaimed Wallula Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington State from the Den Hoed family, which has farmed Washington wine grapes since 1978 and purchased the property in 1997. The purchase price was not disclosed, but it is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a contiguous vineyard in Washington State.

James Beard House Welcomes the Northwest
This month and next, the Northwest will be well represented at the venerable James Beard House in New York City. On April 28, Portland’s Andina restaurant will prepare a “Novo-Peruvian Dinner” for James Beard attendees. A special out-of-House event will take place in McMinnville, Oregon, on April 2, in conjunction with the Portland Indie Wine Festival Celebration. Next month, chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog restaurant in Woodinville travels to the Beard House to present his Taste of Washington Wine Country dinner on May 29. Bobby has a wonderful recipe for Petite Lamb Burgers in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (page 48), and I enjoyed doing a booksigning with him last fall, as shown below.

Top Table Restaurants Collect Top Honors
During the 30th annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Araxi, Blue Water Cafe, CinCin, and West each received a prestigious award in recognition of establishing one of the Festival’s top wine programs. Blue Water Cafe and West were among only three restaurants overall to receive the top honor of the inaugural Platinum Award. CinCin and Araxi are among a distinguished group of 17 restaurants adorned with the Gold designation. You’ll enjoy recipes from both Araxi (page 200) and West (page 202) in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.

Walla Walla Wines Taste Great
In early March, Taste Walla Walla Seattle took place at McCaw Hall in Seattle Center. More than 400 consumers enjoyed wines from almost 60 Walla Walla Valley vintners. Call me crazy, but in this sea of legendary red wines and venerable wineries, I tasted only white wines and Rosés as research for my summer wines article. Among my favorites were the à Maurice Cellars 2006 Chardonnay (Columbia Valley), Dunham Cellars 2006 Four-Legged White (Columbia Valley), JLC Winery’s 2005 The Muse Rosé (Walla Walla Valley), and Sleight of Hand 2006 The Magician (Gewürztraminer) from the Columbia Valley.

Vintners-in-the-Vineyard Dinner Series
On April 3, May 15, and June 5, the Willamette Valley’s Ponzi Vineyards will celebrate the vineyards, and the long-standing grape-growing partnerships behind them, with special four-course wine dinners prepared by Jason Stoller Smith, partner/chef of The Dundee Bistro. You’ll enjoy Chef Jason’s recipe for Tuscan Pork Ribs, which are found on page 150 in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.

WSU Offers “Vine to Wine” Workshop
On April 12 and 13, Washington State University Extension viticulturists and enologists, in collaboration with wine-industry professionals, are offering a two-day intensive workshop. The workshop is designed for anyone considering planting a new vineyard or establishing a winery. On day one of the workshop, participants learn how to start a vineyard. On the second day, Washington winemakers and wine educators address what to look for in grapes, the intricacies of fermentation, the science of red and white winemaking, designing your winery, what equipment to purchase and how to clean it, and the economics of establishing and running a winery.