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Competition’s on! One-sided though it may be….

November 6, 2008

My friend and fellow foodie, Bill, challenged me to enter a cooking contest held by the Oriental Wok restaurant in Northern Kentucky. And thanks to the largely useless combination of ego, cooking bravada and foolishness, I accepted the thrown gauntlet.

Now, Bill is a fabulously talented cook with many years of serious BBQ competitions under his belt (trust me, you’ve never had ribs until they’ve been prepared by a BBQ circuit veteran – you’ll never order them at any restaurant, ever again). So, that’s the foolish, bravadaful part. I haven’t got a chance.

The competition called for the creation of an entree, appetizer, side or dessert, using one of the Oriental Wok’s commercial sauces. Sensibly, I first came up with the name of my entry, as all great chefs do. Then built the dish completely around that name. As all great chefs do.

I haven’t got a chance.

Finalists will be announced next week. It was mighty fun though, and I enjoyed going over and over the ingredients list in my head during boring tasks at work (which, frankly, are all of them).

I took some photos of the prep of the final run of the dish. My dish may not win any prizes, but I think it’s delicious, if a little weird. So, here’s my East Meets West Lunch Bowl (bacon, chicken (or scallops or shrimp), crimini mushrooms and green onions sauteed in Oriental Wok’s General Wong’s spicy sauce, and served over fried rice):

Crimini mushroom (baby bellas) are deliciously meaty.

Crimini mushroom (baby bellas) are deliciously meaty.

Oriental Wok's recipe for perfect fried rice really does turn out perfect.

Oriental Wok's recipe for perfect fried rice really does turn out perfect.

General Wong's spicy sauce nicely seasons the dish.  Seriously, I even dip my sushi rolls in this stuff instead of soy sauce.  (Bill's head is exploding right now, as he is also a sushi expert.)

General Wong's spicy sauce nicely seasons the dish. Seriously, I even dip my sushi rolls in this stuff, instead of soy sauce. (Bill's head is exploding right now, as he is also a sushi connoisseur.)

And, tada ... perhaps not restaurant quality, but good enough to eat (did you see how included both chopsticks and a fork?  East meets West?  Get it?)

And, tada ... perhaps not restaurant quality, but good enough to eat (did you notice how I included both chopsticks and a fork? Get it? East meets West? {eyeroll})

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3 Comments
  1. November 6, 2008 10:43 am

    I, alas, did not take pictures of my entry, Caribbean Salsa Pork Medallions, and I’ll chronicle the dish in an upcoming comment, perhaps over the weekend.

    But one quick comment: Not to make this an Oriental Wok sauce commercial, but I, too, was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the sauces. The primary sauce in my dish was the restaurant’s Volcano sauce, which rivals a Thai sweet chili sauce I frequently use. And as for the General Wong’s Spicy Sauce on sushi–the sauce is very much akin to the sauce used on barbecued eel nigiri sushi–perhaps my favorite sushi of all.

  2. November 8, 2008 11:30 am

    As promised, a bit more detail.

    I went in the opposite direction in cooking–the name came last. It started with me starring at a disorganized pantry, wondering what to make one night, and I spotted, with no particular coherence, a can of artichoke bottoms, a can of Mexican fire-roasted chilis, and a can of crushed pineapple. I’d been thinking about making a salsa, and the chilis and pineapple seemed an interesting contrast. Some onions and other ingredients later, I had a sweet/hot salsa that I served in grilled artichoke bottom cups. I’ve made that a few times, including for some BBQ competition team friends (then reigning world champions, I might add), who, when I couldn’t find artichoke bottoms in Butler, Alabama (imagine that), decided to garnish their pork chops with it.

    Enter the contest, and the pork concept resurfaced as marinated and roasted pork tenderloin medallions, served over rice and garnished with the salsa–which had been further doctored to include shredded coconut for additional crunch and sweetness. The Caribbean name came from that final ingredient.

    So, let’s cross our sauce-stained fingers for the finalist announcements on MOnday. I suspect I’ll be cheering you on through to the championship.

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