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Choo Chee Duck (Chabaa Thai Bistro) In the same way artists express themselves through their work, Moon Krapugthong, owner and head chef of Chabaa Thai Bistro, uses her cooking talents to give customers a glimpse into her culture. One of her most beloved seasonal dishes is the Choo Chee Duck, which not only tastes delicious but is so beautifully presented that you may feel guilty digging into it. “The word ‘choo chee’ is a sizzling sound where the name comes from,” Moon said. “The way we cook the duck, there is a sound that Thai people call the approach ‘choo chee.’ The sound makes me think of spring and summer when you’re cooking in the warmer weather. You see the garnish and the vegetables in there so it’s more like a warmth celebration to me. That’s why we added it to the menu.” Moon prepares the duck breast in two parts for this dish. The first is by dicing the duck and crispy frying it before sautéing it with a homemade Thai sweet chili paste. The other part is a duck confit that is marinated and oven roasted until the order comes in, where the duck is then pan-seared to a medium-rare style. For Moon, the key is to render the fat without overcooking it. Otherwise the dish gets too chewy. Moon then accentuates the duck with kaffir lime leaf, garlic, chili pepper, and cilantro root and serves it with a side of string beans and steamed jasmine rice. “I love the aroma and how it’s both salty and sweet,” Moon said. “It’s an inspiration from a lot of different cuisines, but we try to preserve the authenticity of the cooking. The flavor is so Thai, but the technique can be anything.”

Des’ Curry Shrimp (The Spicy Belly) As a fusion chef specializing in Jamaican and Korean cuisine, Jimmy Mills of The Spicy Belly gives his patrons a piece of familial nostalgia with interpretations of the dishes his mom used to make. One of his favorites that’s been on their menu since the first day is their coconut shrimp curry. “It’s a traditional Jamaican dish, but my mom being Korean and a huge fan of curry put her own spin on it,” Jimmy said. “Normally, the curry shrimp is batched like a big stew. Generally, you would use smaller shrimp and maybe add another starch item like a potato or a yam in there. My mom wanted curry quick. She wanted to make curry and not have it take two or two and a half hours like it normally does for curry chicken or something like that. It was just about getting the gravy right.” Jimmy starts by sautéing his veggies (onions, bell peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, potatoes, carrots) and seasons them with curry powder. Once the veggies are halfway cooked, he adds the jumbo shrimp with some more curry powder. As the shrimp is nearly finished cooking, Jimmy deglazes the dish with a little bit of water, adds in coconut milk, and lets it boil for three to four minutes. Once the sauce is reduced by a third, the dish is ready to be served. “It’s one of the items on our menu that has stood the tests of time,” Jimmy said. “It was always the same general recipe. As long as your flavor profiles are there, your veggies and shrimp are cooked, it’s not overwhelmingly spicy, and your gravy is thick enough, that’s what you’re looking for. You can always elevate your spice level or subtle it down.”

Summer 2019 | 37

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Manayunk Magazine | Summer 2019 - The Art Issue  

Manayunk Magazine | Summer 2019 - The Art Issue  

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