She once said in an interview that her family traveled a lot mainly just to eat.
She has turned her family's food obsession into a career.
She is the executive chef of Annisa and a new restaurant, Rickshaw, both located in New York City.
Annisa has a distinct point of view -- the wine list at Annisa offers bottlings mostly made by female vintners.
For this week's Chef on a Shoestring Challenge, she creates a menu of Steamed Pork Dumplings, Grilled Skirt Steak with Scallion Pancakes and Chilled Grapefruit-Ginger Soup with Mint and Jicama for under $40.
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. green cabbage
1/2 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped garlic chives (optional)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 package won ton skins
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon scallion white part only, thinly sliced
pinch toasted sesame seeds
ground black pepper to taste
Method: In a bowl, combine pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Roughly chop the cabbage and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Remove and place finely chopped cabbage in a clean, cotton kitchen towel. Squeeze to remove juice. Add cabbage to the bowl. Combine to make sure mixture is thoroughly combined. Place approximately two tablespoons of dumpling mixture in the center of won ton skin.
Form dumpling by bringing together two opposite points and overlapping; moisten overlapping points and press to seal well. Repeat for remaining won ton wrappers. Place the dumplings in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes over high heat.
In a bowl, combine ingredients for dipping sauce. Combine well. Season with black pepper. Serve dumplings with the dipping sauce.
Chef's Note: If you want to make sure the dumpling mixture is seasoned properly, fry a small amount. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
Grilled Skirt Steak with Scallion Pancakes
1 1/2 lbs. skirt steak, trimmed, divided into four portions
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 scallion white bulbs, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
salt and black pepper to taste
Ingredients for Scallion Pancakes:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup ice water, strained
2 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 long hot pepper (optional), seeded and julienned
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
Ingredients for Scallion Oil:
1 bunch scallions, use green part only, cut into 1" lengths
1/2 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne pepper
Method: Place skirt steak in a shallow baking dish. In a bowl, mix the sugar, soy, garlic, scallion, and season with black pepper and pour over the skirt steak. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Allow to marinate at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Heat a grill pan using medium high heat. Discard marinade and season skirt steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the four portions of skirt steak on the grill pan. Grill meat for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side (for medium-rare), or until done to your taste. Let meat rest for about five minutes before serving.
To make the pancakes: mix the all-purpose flour and cornstarch together and season with salt and pepper. Mix the egg yolk with the water and add to the dry ingredients to form a batter. Combine well. Add the scallions and the hot pepper and again combine well.
Using medium heat, heat a nonstick pan, add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to start. When the oil starts to shimmer, add batter to the pan, making one pancake at a time. Cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes each side, flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter. Add oil as needed.
Make the scallion oil:
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Add the scallions greens to the boiling water for approximately one minute or until the scallions turn bright green. Plunge scallions into ice bath. When scallions are cool, place in a blender with vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Strain, discard solids. Place in a dipping bowl.
To serve: Serve each skirt steak with scallion pancakes and a few drops of scallion oil as a garnish. Add a pinch of cayenne to the skirt steak as a garnish.
Chilled Grapefruit-Ginger Soup with Mint and Jicama
3 large ruby red grapefruits
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
sugar to taste
4 large mint leaves, julienned
4 medium-sized jicamas, peeled and cut into small dice
Method: Juice two grapefruits. Set aside. Section the remaining grapefruit. Peel grapefruit, separate sections (see note below), and remove from membranes. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the grapefruit juice with the freshly grated ginger and add sugar to taste. Allow to sit and steep at least 5 minutes and strain. Place strained mixture in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
To serve: Divide the mixture, the grapefruit sections and the diced jicama among 4 soup plates and garnish with the mint.
Chef's Note: The grapefruit should be sectioned lengthwise. By slicing the ends off, the fruit can be set flat on the cutting board to make it easier to slice the rind off lengthwise. Use a small, sharp knife to then remove the sections from the membranes.