By Cheryl Radkiewicz
The Sands Casino in Bethlehem recently celebrated its 10th Annual Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival with three days of celebrity appearances by renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse amid news that the Casino has been sold and will undergo a massive expansion including hotels and adventure and water parks making it the Number One Resort Destination in the Northeast.
The sale from Las Vegas Sands Corporation to an affiliate of Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians was finalized the day before the event and will be renamed Wind Creek Bethlehem. This news added to the celebration for not only Sands employees, but also to the “over capacity” crowd which packed the Event Center for the Mardi Gras -themed celebration.
Festival Chairs lauded Chef Emeril Lagasse for his talent and generosity in working with the Sands, where he owns three restaurants, (Emeril’s Chop House, Emeril’s Fish House, and Burgers by Emeril) and supporting students from the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program of Northampton County Community College. Thus far, the festival has raised over $1.75 million to support the NCC Foundation. Scholarship winners each year are afforded the opportunity to do their externships at Emeril’s New Orleans’ restaurants, Emeril’s, NOLA, Emeril’s Delmonico and Meril.
Chef Emeril held a cooking demonstration to a standing-room only crowd with some of his new favorite dishes. Having never tried Vietnamese cuisine, it was my first and a delightful one, at that. If you’re ever offered the opportunity, don’t pass it up…you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Even though all were absolutely delicious, rave reviews were offered for the Fettucine Nero and Chayote Soup.
Vietnamese Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls:
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 Tbsp. sugars
8 cups water
1 lemon, halved
1 Tbsp. fine salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. concentrated crab boil
1 lb. large shrimp
3.75 oz. (1 pkg. fine rice vermicelli (bun)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
2 cups romaine lettuce, chiffonade
24 mint leaves
24 cilantro leaves
24 Thai basil leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
Spring Roll wrappers
Nuoc Leo (Vietnamese Peanut Sauce) for serving
Place pork tenderloin in bowl with shallot, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat grill to high. Grill tenderloin, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes (145 degrees internal temperature on thermometer). Transfer tenderloin to plate and set aside to cool to room temperature before proceeding. Once cooled, slice tenderloin into 1/8″ thick slices and set aside, covered and refrigerated, until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.
In medium saucepan over high heat add the 8 cups water, squeeze the lemon and add it to the pot. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and the crab boil. Bring liquid to a boil. Add shrimp to the water and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer shrimp to an ice water bath until cool. Peel shrimp and slice in half horizontally.
Prepare rice vermicelli according to package directions and strain in colander. Run under cold running water until cool and set aside to drain.
Assemble rolls 1 at a time: Dip 1 spring roll rapper into lukewarm water and quickly transfer to a clean kitchen towel. Wrapper will soften within seconds. Lay 4 shrimp halves in a horizontal line across the center of each wrapper and top with a few tablespoons of cooked (well-drained) vermicelli. Top vermicelli with a handful of cucumber, 2 Tbsp. of the shredded romaine, 4 mint leaves, 2 sprigs cilantro, and 4 basil leaves. Place a few sticks of julienned carrots along the top of the filling ingredients and top with 2 slices of pork. Spread 1/4 tsp. Hoisin on top of pork.
Carefully pull lower edge of the wrapper up and over the filling. Fold the 2 sides inward over the filling and press to seal. Work carefully so as not to tear the wrapper. Once both sides are folded inward over the filling, roll the spring roll upwards so that the filling is tightly contained and roll up to seal. Set the spring roll aside on a plate lined with lettuce leaves, covered with a damp paper towel or damp clean kitchen towel, as they dry out very quickly. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Once you have assembled all spring rolls, serve immediately either at room temperature or slightly chilled, with Nuoc Leo (Peanut Sauce) for dipping. Yield: 12 spring rolls, 4-6 servings.
Nuoc Leo (Vietnamese Peanut Sauce)
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
1 tsp. sambal olek (chile garlic sauce)
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup chicken stock or water
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
1 fresh red Thai chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
Sriracha sauce for serving (optional)
Heat oil in small saucepan and when hot, add garlic, shallots, chile garlic sauce, and tomato paste and cook until garlic and shallots are golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add chicken stock, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and sugar and whisk to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving. Garnish sauce with peanuts, chile pepper and Sriracha sauce, if desired. Yield: 1 1/4 cups, enough for about 6 servings.
8 oz. fresh squid ink fettucine
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. thinly sliced garlic
2 tsp. thinly sliced Calabrian peppers (can substitute jalapenos)
1/4 cup pasta water
1 cup baby arugula, stems trimmed
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over of shells and cartilage
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Bring medium-size saucepan of water to rolling boil and season with sea salt. Add pasta to water and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until pasta is just tender. Drain and set aside. In medium-size saute’ pan, over medium heat, add olive oil, sliced garlic, and peppers and gently cook garlic until it turns a pale or golden brown. As soon as garlic begins to brown, add pasta water and bring to simmer. Add pasta to pan and toss to coat.
Add arugula, crabmeat and lemon juice and toss with pasta being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Transfer pasta to serving platter or individual dishes and garnish with toasted almonds. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Charred Chayote Soup with Adobo Shrimp:
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 1/2 lbs. chayote squash (2-3 squash), peeled, halved and seeded
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup diced yellow onions
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 qt. chicken stock
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Sour cream, for garnish, optional
Preheat grill or grill-pan to medium-high heat. In large bowl, toss chayote with vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp. of the salt and the black pepper. Place chayote on the grill and cook, in batches, if necessary, until slightly charred on both sides, 8-10 minutes per side. Remove from heat, cut into 1/2″ dice and set aside.
Toss shrimp with 1/4 tsp. salt and the adobo sauce and let stand for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes. Heat butter over medium-high heat in medium stockpot or soup pot. Add onions and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add reserved chayotes, cumin and crushed red pepper to the stockpot. Stir in chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until chayote is tender, about 8 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Remove soup from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve soup immediately, garnished with sour cream, if desired. Yield: 4 servings, about 2 quarts.