Alan Wong is a celebrity chef known for making mouth-watering Hawaiian dishes. But some of his recipes are surprisingly simple, including his Chopped Vegetable Salad. Here’s a breakdown of the dish and a look at Wong’s 30-year culinary career.
Alan Wong is considered to be one of the world’s greatest chefs
Wong was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii at the age of five. He developed a passion for food and cooking as a teen and went on to pursue a degree in culinary arts in Honolulu.
After working as an apprentice in New York under Chef Andre Soltner in the famous French restaurant Lucète, Wong brought his honed skills back to Hawaii. In the ’90s, he kicked off an early version of the farm-to-table movement and founded Hawaiian Regional Cuisine — an organization that promotes using local Hawaiian produce and cuisine.
He then started a chain of restaurants called Alan Wong’s, which earned him dozens of accolades. He received a James Beard Award for Best Chef, Pacific Northwest in 1996. And his restaurants were lauded as some of the world’s best by institutions like Food and Wine and Gourmet Magazine.
Wong’s Honolulu restaurant was often visited by former president Barack Obama. In 2009, the president invited Wong to create a luau-style menu for the annual Congressional picnic.
Wong wrote two cookbooks — Alan Wong’s New Wave Luau (1999) and The Blue Tomato – The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong (2010). He also appeared on Top Chef, The Best Thing I Ever Ateand Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
His chopped vegetable salad recipe is ridiculously easy to make
Wong served his delicious Chopped Vegetable Salad at his award-winning restaurants. And as detailed by Food and Wine, the dish is surprisingly easy to make.
Wong starts by making the dressing, which consists of canola oil, sesame oil, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar, lemon juice, black bean salsa, green chiles, and salt and pepper. Once the ingredients are combined, he sets the dressing aside and gets started with the vegetables.
Wong boils each vegetable — beets, green beans, sugar snap peas, and broccoli — until tender and then runs them under cold water in a colander. He then pats the veggies dry and places them in a large bowl.
To complete the salad, he tosses the cooked vegetables with baby lettuces, chopped plum tomatoes, and French feta cheese. He then tops it with the reserved dressing and serves it at room temperature.
Alan Wong’s minute poke is another simple yet delicious dish
in his book, The Blue Tomato, Wong shares his signature recipe for Minute Poke. And as detailed by Hawaii Magazine, he gave it that name because of how quickly it comes together.
“Minute Poke is a name I made up,” he revealed. “It’s a poke dish designed for the dinner to mix at the table, so it marinates briefly just before it’s eaten. Miko is the Hawaiian word for ‘to season or salt,’ but in casual usage, it means ‘to let sit for a while.’ Poke can be eaten freshly made or prepared ahead of time.”
The first step in making Wong’s Minute Poke is whipping together a delicious sauce, which is made by combining sambal oelek (an Indonesian chili paste), minced ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and inamona (ground kukui nuts). The poke is made by topping a layer of diced onion with chopped sashimi-grade ahi tuna and topping it off with green onions.
Wong suggests building the poke in a musubi mold placed in the center of a plate or bowl. Once the poke is assembled and pressed down, the mold can be removed.
Wong finishes the dish by sprinkling seaweed and Hawaiian salt around the plate. And he suggests serving the sauce around the poke or separately if preferred.
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