Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sustainable Agriculture and the Restaurant Business

Groton is a small, almost rural town located in northern Massachusetts' Nashoba Valley area, near the New Hampshire border. The town was founded way back in 1655 (yes, it is that old) and has a population of just over 10,000 people. Small- and medium-sized farms and orchards dot the countryside in Groton and surrounding towns, growing many different varieties of vegetable and fruits. Every summer, a popular farmer's market is convened on one of those farms, gathering farm families from the area to sell their bountiful harvest.

Also located in Groton is an up and coming steakhouse, Gibbet Hill Grill, located on a beautiful 80-acre farm land. What sets this restaurant apart from the rest is that it is also a working farm, growing almost 50 types of vegetable for use in the restaurant. Imagine the chef walking a couple of hundred yards out the restaurant door and personally picking whatever vegetable that's ready for harvest for use on the menu. Now that is fresh!

A few days ago, a local newspaper, Lowell Sun, published an enlightening article on this unique restaurant. It is a good read. Link to here for the article.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Panko & Scallion-Crusted Shrimp

With our divergent work schedules, my wife and I seldom have the same days off. Finally, a small window opened up on Memorial Day and we shuffled the kids into the car and drove down to Boston's Chinatown. My favorite stop in Chinatown is this Asian grocery store that sells just about anything you can imagine. I bought a bunch of "exotic" ingredients, things that you can't find at the local grocery stores. They include fresh lemongrass, garlic chives, fresh shiitake, baby bok choy, durian (yes, that stinky fruit!), Thai bird chilis, lotus root (for soup), purple yam (planning a sweet coconut milk dessert) and my favorite, shrimp with the head still intact. Around these parts (Chinatown excluded), it is nearly impossible to find fresh shrimp with its head still intact. Arguably, the most flavorful part of the shrimp is the head and making a seafood stew with it would be heavenly. But I digress.

I decided to deep-fry half of the shrimp that I bought instead, breading it first with a mix of seasoned panko breadcrumbs (season the panko with salt and pepper; I like garlic powder as well) and chopped-up scallions. Using the standard breading procedure (SBP) of flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs (in that order), I breaded all the shrimp before starting the deep-frying. Heat up the oil in a pot or wok to around 400F. This being shrimp, it should cook fast. Start frying and remove the shrimp immediately when they start to turn golden brown. Remove from the oil and let the excess oil drain on a paper towel. It can be served as an appetizer or even an entree.