Home-story in the kitchen with Jonathan Kung
STORY BY ASHLEY K. PARKS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JON ADAMS
Jonathan Kung remembers a time in Detroit when there wasn’t much to do. Old Detroit – when parking on the street and actually nding a good parking spot at the Eastern Market on a Saturday morning before 11 o’clock was the norm. A time when the adventurous person came to Detroit with purpose. Things are changing around here, and they are changing fast. Having grown up in Toronto and Hong Kong, Jonathan is accustom to some of the most sophisticated infrastructures in the world but “there’s still something really special about Detroit,” he says. It’s here where he has made a home and a living in the kitchen.
“I started off just poppin’ up, serving food and stuff,” Jonathan says. That was, of course, after com- pleting law school, deciding he would rather cook, and teaching himself to do just that. He is a man who has always known how to eat. Sounds funny but it really is a skill; tasting food, understanding the prepa- ration, and having a palate for foods that many people must acquire. A natural born “foodie.” When he’s not in the kitchen himself, he can appreciate good old fashion fried chicken or the delicacy of authenti- cally prepared Japanese sushi. “I refuse to learn how to make sushi because I need something I can just sit back and enjoy. Kind of like meeting your hero...don’t do it!” says Jonathan. Inspired by traditional Chinese cuisine, Jonathan holds tight to his heritage as his meals offer an opportunity to reconnect with Hong Kong.
Jonathan is indeed talented, profoundly insightful, and gregarious. Be it making sautéed curry soup at a pop-up kitchen or sharing dining experiences with respected colleagues, you’re welcome at his table. Gather your kitchen essentials, ne knives are a must, and let’s get cooking.
CHINESE STEAMED FISH WITH SOY AND SPICES
You will need:
• Steamer/wok/large pot
• Heat resistance plate
• Oven mitts
• Chefs knife
• 1 whole white-fleshed fish (sea bass, snapper, or trout – cleaned)
• 1 bunch scallions/green onions – chopped then split into two equal quantities
• 1 large piece of ginger - split in half
• 1 cup soy sauce – split in 1/2 cup amounts
• 1/2 cup Shoaling wine (an inexpensive Sherry is fine) divided in 1/4 cup amounts
• 2 tbsp sugar – divided into 1 tbsp amounts
• 2 garlic cloves – chopped
• 1 bunch cilantro
• 1 red chili – sliced thin for garnish
Build your steamer: Take a large pot or wok and place a smaller heat proof bowl (like a metal mixing bowl) open side own and put a bit of water into the pot until there’s just a bit of water around the bottom, about 2 inches. Rest a plate on the small bowl and cover the pot with a lid – Bam! You’ve just MacGyvered a steamer.
It’s kind of confusing to read it out loud so I had to draw it out for you:
Now that your steamer is ready, remove the plate. Set the heat to medium-high and recover with lid. Allow a good steam to develop. You’ve noticed that I’ve asked you to split a lot of the ingredients, that’s because we’re making two of the same sauce; one to use for cooking and one to use to finish. Now mix the soy, sugar, and wine together to create two of the same sauces in equal amounts.
Cut ginger into flat slices then slice again into thin little sticks and chop garlic into small bits. For the fancy folk among you, julienne the ginger and finely chop the garlic while listening to NPR, that’s National Public Radio.
Once the water is boiling and you have a healthy steam going, place your fish on the plate and cover with half of the garlic and ginger you’ve prepared. Put the plate into the steam and then pour the first of the two sauces onto the fish. Cover and set the timer for 5 minutes.
At this time, chop the scallions nice and thin, yielding about 2 cups chopped scallions and save the rest for later.
Once five minutes have passed, put on your mitts and take the plate out of the pot. Pour out the sauce and
gently scrape off the ginger and garlic. We do this because the sauce has absorbed much of the oils and fishy aroma and this rids that pungency. Put the plate back into the steamer then cover the fish with a fresh batch of garlic, ginger, and this time, add the scallions, pour the second part of the other sauce onto the fish and just a pinch of sugar to balance everything out. Steam for another five minutes.
Wash your cilantro and take out a small handful of a few of the more handsome stalks.
Once five more minutes have passed open the lid, put the cilantro over the fish and wait a few seconds for the steam to make the leaves a brighter green. Then take the dish out, put a few slices of chili on there for some color and serve with rice.
As you eat, be careful of the bones!
STIR FRIED SPINACH WITH GARLIC AND SHRIMP PASTE
You will need:
• Sauté Pan
• 3 bunches spinach
• 3 cloves garlic – chopped
• 1 tsp to 1 tbsp shrimp paste*
• Salt and pepper – to taste
• 1 tbsp oil
Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in sauté pan.
When the oil is hot add the chopped garlic and cook until golden.
Add shrimp paste to the oil and stir until well mixed with oil.
Toss in about half of the spinach and allow it to wilt, you’ll notice that a lot becomes a little rather quickly.
Take out the spinach once it has wilted, add the rest of the spinach and once that has wilted down, toss in the previous half to mix in and distribute all the goodness.
*You can get shrimp paste at most Asian grocery stores, it’s predominantly used in southeast asian cuisine like thai food. It’s not really fishy after it’s been cooked. More like a salty, brine flavor that goes well with pepper and garlic.