Last year, I posted a blog on my adventure cooking a hairy melon grown by my friends, Roger & Sherran Blair, from seeds I provided. Well, this year, they grew more, but this time, I took them to one of my favorite restaurants to see how they would prepare them.
On Tuesday night, I dropped off 2 hairy melons with Andrew, owner of Ming Flower in Westerville, OH. He said for the 5 of us who would be eating, the 2 melons would be enough for 2 dishes, and he suggested a soup and a stir-fried dish. I also ordered a few other dishes that I've really enjoyed there, only one of which is on their menu.
Wednesday night, we arrived for dinner with guests Bob and Ann Reves and sat down to the first course: Hairy Melon Soup with Mushrooms and Pork. It was light and delicious. The melon was tender yet with still enough firmness to provide textural interest.
Next course: classic Crispy Skin Chicken. This is one of my all-time favorite Cantonese dishes. The whole chicken is blanched and seasoned, hung to dry for a day, then fried in a large wok of oil. Somewhat like Peking Duck, though fried, not roasted. Still, much too involved to do at home, given the huge wok of hot oil involved in the cooking. When it's done properly, the chicken is moist and juicy -- even the white meat. It's served with fresh lemon and seasoned salt, accompanied by shrimp chips. Ming Flower again did this dish wonderfully. No left overs here.
Then came the remaining courses. Stir-fried Hairy Melon with Pork, Straw Mushrooms, and Carrots -- a stir-fried version of our soup dish. It was a huge platter and again, light and delicious.
Chow Fish Kew -- chunks of fish filets -- with Chinese Broccoli and Ginger. The main components were clearly cooked separately then brought together, for the fish and vegetables were each perfectly cooked. This was the only dish that's on their regular menu.
House Special Pan-fried Noodles. A classic Cantonese dish, but not on Ming Flower's regular menu. The crunchy/soft pan-fried noodles were in a bed under the mixed meat, seafood, and vegetable sauce.
Our wines for the evening: a 2006 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc and a 2006 Sterling Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay. Both went nicely with the meal.
It was a lot of food for the 5 of us, because each dish was banquet sized -- the equivalent of 2 times a normal order. Despite the quantity, we ate almost all of it because it was all quite delicious and light.
Roger picked up the bill, but I caught a look. It totaled only $63 for the 5 huge dishes! Andrew charged us only $5 each for the two hairy melon dishes -- quite a gift! I asked Roger to tip lavishly.
Ming Flower has become my "go to" restaurant in the Columbus area for Chinese food. Andrew and his son Sam have been incredibly accommodating to my special requests (see my prior blog on Chinese dinners with dietary restrictions), and the food always comes out delicious and interesting. I wonder how I'll challenge them next?