Angela Dimayuga of Mission Chinese Food knows how to take a classic dish and add a hell of a lot of style. Take, for instance, her treatment of fried chicken that gets it crispiness from a koji brine and its kick from a yuzu hot sauce, or her elevation of a side of Chinese greens into a Philip Glass-inspired garden of pickled beet eggs and sauce gribiche. Even an interpretation of seemingly traditional sweet and sour pork ends up in a delicate glaze of white peaches and hibiscus tea.
But speaking of gardens, Dimayuga recently stopped by ours to pick fresh produce and herbs and render them into a recipe of her choosing. Always an outside-the-box thinker, here's what she came up with. As it turns out, a handful of vegetables and leaves can be transformed into spicy lemongrass chili, garlic confit, and black bean sauce for a beautiful whole fish.
MUNCHIES: Hi, Angela. What were you were drawn to, and why did you pick it? Angela Dimayuga: I loved the really thin Japanese eggplant. You had a really neat variety that grew curly and was only about an inch in diameter. I knew that they would cook nicely in our wood oven. The single San Marzano tomato was ripe and hanging low, so I had to take that. And I'm addicted to Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. I can eat so many of those. I picked all of your pepper crops and I feel like if anyone was going to steal them all, it should be me. The lemongrass seemed abundant and fragrant so I really wanted to try and mess around with fermenting some of it.
What do you think of walking into a rooftop garden in the middle of Brooklyn? I loved it! It's a great use of space and such an ambitious project. I'm sure it makes everyone happy to have a garden up there. Probably give people some perspective how of much skill it takes to maintain. Being able to have access to a garden or renting an apartment with a garden is as much as a major life bonus/status symbol as having a washer and dryer in your space.
I was really impressed it was all there, because I know it takes a lot of work to care for that much vegetation. It must be really nice for all the VICE employees to have access to the produce. Seriously, I built a little window box on my fire escape last summer and got eaten by this pesky squirrel. Looks like you guys know what's up. My little dill plant got eaten by one fat catepiller. I caught him in the act.
What's up with this drunken fish? Did you make it because you think VICE employees are drunk? VICE employees are drunk. "Drunken" anything is common in Chinese food menus. Typically, these dishes are seafood dishes finished with xiao xing wine: "drunken shrimp," "drunken fish," etc. It has a similar flavor profile of sherry, but less intense. This amber-colored rice wine (made from brown rice) is aromatic, fragrant and nutty and has enough acid with the tomato I used to cut through the richness of the fish oils.
Any closing thoughts about your creation? Thanks so much for inviting me! I can't wait to see what else you guys have planned to happen up there. Can we get someone to sponsor VICE to build me a fresh trout pond up there? And a fire pit? Thank you for the hospitality.