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Executive Chef Jet Tila

    Shu Mai

Dining with Chefs: Executive Chef Jet Tila
Wazuzu (Part 3 of 3)

We sampled the Shu Mai third. "I wanted the dim sum to feel authentic," Chef Tila told us. "So this is a chile garlic sauce and hot mustard. We put a little well of soy sauce and there's a meeting point between soy mustard and soy chile. It's like an art palette; we can mix them in together. This preparation is very straightforward. The dumpling mix is shrimp and pork, seasoned with a little corn starch, soy sauce and oyster sauce. It's very straightforward. The secret with dim sum is fresh; you have to really keep it fresh because they turn quite fast. The skins will darken and the protein changes. It only takes a day or two for the shrimp to turn. We get the seafood flown in daily."

Cantonese Assorted BBQ Plate

Now fully immersed in Asian flavors, we ordered the Cantonese barbeque plate. “This is one of my favorites," Chef Tila confessed. "I’m such a carnivore. The Chinese BBQ was something from childhood that we ate all the time. My grandmother and I would go to Chinatown every day. She cooked daily, so as a child before pre-school it would be myself and her. I was in the stroller and we’d go to Chinatown every day and we’d start with dim sum. Then after dim sum every day she’d gossip with her friends, and then we’d go to the Chinese market to buy groceries for dinner. It was a fantastic upbringing. This dish spawns from my obsessions with Chinese BBQ; I could eat it every single day and not ever get tired of it. We have duck, BBQ spare ribs and, of course, the Chinese BBQ pork. The combination of three is something I obsess over. I don’t really believe in rewriting the book all the time; I just want to make clean dim sum and clean BBQ. When the dish is what it is and has been established for a long time, that's it; you don’t screw with it. The duck is marinated -- it's been air dried for two days, then roasted in a forced air oven until its crispy -- and that’s it. We pay respect to what it’s supposed to be. You’ll find me eating this for lunch and dinner -- a little bit of BBQ with white rice and plum sauce -- most of the time. There are a lot of secrets, including the use of herbs in the marinade, which is key here. Star anise, clove and cinnamon are the big three that you need to marinade all your BBQ in. And air drying the duck is key. Then, of course, this color does not really exist in nature, so we do have to help out with that. Then we take an in-home pickle -- a very straightforward daicon and carrot pickle -- and use it as the counterpoint to the fattiness in the duck and the pork. It's kind of like the ginger to sushi; it's slightly acidic and washes the palate. We make it here because that was really important to me, that we make everything in house."

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