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The Dish: Chef George Azar shares his signature recipes

George Azar reveals his signature recipes
The Dish: Chef George Azar shares his signature recipes 05:13

George Azar was born in Detroit, as the son of Palestinian immigrants. He's worked at some of the best restaurants in the world, including Noma in Copenhagen and Alinea in Chicago.

But through his travels, he developed a love for Vietnamese food – and on a whim, he opened Flowers of Vietnam in Detroit. The restaurant was a huge hit, and has been named one of America's best new restaurants by Bon Appetit and GQ.   

Now he's working on his next project, featuring regional specialties of Mexico. And on Saturday night, he's one of the honorees at the annual "iconoclast dinner" at the James Beard House here in New York.

Here are some of his signature recipes:

"Shakey" Beef



1 cup Golden mountain

4 cups sugar

1 cup Red Boat fish sauce

1 bunch scallion

2 lemongrass stalks, white part

1 head garlic

Shakey sauce:

2 oz golden mountain

2 oz sake

2 oz rice wine vinegar

4 tbsp red boat fish sauce

1 tbsp sugar

Compound butter:

1 oz ginger

1 oz garlic

1 oz lemongrass

4 oz butter


1 rib eye cap, sinew removed and diced into medium chunks

Pickled shallots

¼ oz scallion

1 oz butter

2 oz shakey sauce

2 tbsp sugar


1.    For the marinade: Puree all ingredients until well incorporated

2.    For the butter: Puree ginger, garlic, and lemongrass with a little water. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whip mixture with butter until well incorporated

3.    Sear beef in a hot season wok. Shake wok to release and flip beef to sear again. Remove beef. Add sauce, shallots, and sugar. Caramelize in wok. Return beef and finish with butter and scallions

Papaya salad


1 unripe papaya, julienned

1 cucumber, julienned

1 carrot, julienned

2 shallots, sliced thin

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup sugar

3 lime leaves

1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised

1 oz peppermint, torn

1 oz Vietnamese mint, torn

1 oz perilla, torn

1 oz Ngo Om

1 oz Thai basil, torn

1 oz cilantro, rough chopped

1 oz rau räum

Fried shallots and sliced jalapeño for garnish


1.    Heat sugar and rice vinegar until dissolved. Place brine in vacuum chamber bag with sliced shallot, lime leaves, and lemongrass. Seal in vacuum chamber sealer. 

2.    Layer pickled papaya, carrot and cucumber, and then another layer of papaya. Garnish with all herbs, fried shallots, and sliced jalapeno

Taishan cauliflower



1 head taishan cauliflower, processed into florets

2 cups coconut cream

¼ tsp xanthan gum


Horseradish leaf oil:

1 lb horseradish leaves

1 cup grapeseed oil

Wok cooked cauliflower:

1 head taishan cauliflower

1 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemongrass, minced

2 oz sake

2 oz palm sugar

2 oz rice vinegar

2oz Golden Mountain

1 tsp thai chili flakes


1.    For the puree: In a sauce pot with a lid, cook cauliflower on medium heat with coconut cream. When cooked all the way through, puree for 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Finish with xanthan gum and salt. Pass through fine sieve

2.    For the horseradish oil: Vacuum seal oil and leaves together. Cook in a water bath at 165 °F  for 5 hours. Cool in bag overnight

3.    For the cauliflower: Heat wok and season with high smoke point oil for cooking, Add cauliflower and cook only slightly. Add remaining ingredients and let liquid reduce

4.    Assembly: Spoon puree over plate. Place wok cooked cauliflower on top of puree, finish with horseradish leaf oil drizzle and garnish with baby mint, perilla, and rau raum

Cà Ri Gá


Curry powder:

8g bay leaf                                         

4g clove                                                         

35g star anise                                    

30g cumin                                                                                          

30 g fennel                                                     

20g cinnamon                                    

33g turmeric                                       

15g paprika                                        

80g salt                                                          

80g coconut sugar (granulated)

Curry paste:

5 stalks lemongrass (white parts only)                                  

230g galangal                                                                        

1 bulb garlic                                                                           

20 whole bulbs shallots                                                                       

5 whole green thai chilis                                                          

5 bunches cilantro (whole with stem)                                    

5 bunches rau räum (leaves only)                                         

60g fresh turmeric                                                     

160g palm sugar                                                                    

160g lime juice                                                                       

50g coconut oil                                                                       

fish sauce (Red Boat) to taste                                               

.5g ascorbic acid           

Chicken brine:

50g Vietnamese peppercorn                                     

250g palm sugar                                                                    

250g Vietnamese ocean salt                                     

1 lime, cut in half                                                                                

25 bay leaves                                                             

1 whole bulb garlic, cut at equator                                                                             

1 bunch cilantro                                                         

5 stalks lemongrass, white part only                                                             

2 gallons water


1 okinawin yam

Young purple carrot:

300g carrots                                                                                       

50g water                                                                                                                   

45g butter                                                                                                       

6g palm sugar                                                                                                            

3g Vietnamese ocean salt     

Forbidden rice:

Forbidden rice           


1.    For the curry powder: Toast spice and spin in spice grinder until fine

2.    For the curry paste: Blanch cilantro and Rau räum (Vietnamese coriander). Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix. Transfer to spice grinder to finish for smoother consistency. Do not over heat during process.  

3.    For the brine: Toast spices and add remaining ingredients. Let boil for one minute and brine chicken overnight

4.    For the yam: Cut into 1-inch planks. Vacuum seal with scallion oil and cook in water bath 85°C for 1 1/2 hours. Shock in ice bath 

5.    For the carrot: Vacuum seal and cook in a 85°C water bath. Strain cooking juices from bag and reduce liquid until syrupy. Reintroduce carrots and season to taste

6.    For the rice: Wash rice three times. Cook with a ratio of 3:1 in a conventional rice cooker

7.    Assembly: Butcher leg/thigh portions from each chicken. Make brine and cool. Brine chicken over night.

8.    Remove from brine and pat dry. Rub curry powder generously and vacuum seal with 10 grams of butter. Cook in a water bath for one hour and fifteen minutes at 150°F and chill in ice bath when done

9.    Heat up curry paste with enough oil to coat a sauce pot, and fry paste. Add coconut milk and heat to a simmer. Re-season with fish sauce and palm sugar if needed

10.  Start a medium heat BBQ (not a gas grill, use hardwood and charcoal) and barbecue chicken skin side up, basting it with coconut caramel for about 5 minutes or until it's heated all the way through

Crème carmel flan


Coconut galangal crème caramel custard:

8 egg yolks

375g sweetened condensed milk

400g coconut cream


500g palm sugar

200g water

2 tbsp galangal powder

Galangal tuille:

1.5 cups sugar

6 egg whites

1/2 lb butter; melted and cooled

1 cup flour

1 tbsp galangal powder


1.  For the caramel: Combine palm sugar and water in a sauce pot and bring to a bowl. Bowl until it reaches 300°F, remove from heat and whisk in the galangal powder. Ladle 2 oz. into each flan bowl and set aside.

2.  For the custard: Whisk together all ingredients and strain to remove any yolk lumps. Ladle 8 oz into each flan bowl. Place in the CVap at 200°F  for 1 hour.

3. For the tuille: Whisk the egg whites and sugar together; add melted cooled butter and mix until smooth. Combine the flour and galangal powder together and add to the wet mixture. Mix until a smooth paste forms.

Parts Unknown (homage to Anthony Bourdain) 


2.0 oz Domaine de Canton 

.5 oz lime juice

2 cucumber slices

5 mint leaves

2 slices of jalapeño 

3 oz tonic water


1.     In a mixing glass muddle mint, cucumber, jalapeño and lime juice.

2.     Add Domain de Canton and ice.  Shake until well chilled.

3.     Fill a Collins glass with ice, strain cocktail into glass and too with tonic water. Gently stir.  

4.     Garnish with a fresh spring of mint.  

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