Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pop-up Weekend Part 2 - Eat Ethio

I am glad we finally got a chance to eat at my friend Helina’s supper club, Eat Ethio, when V rounded up 10 of us for the table on one Saturday evening in early December. Normally run only once a month, during December she, along with her husband Scott, decided to switch things up on high gear and stayed open for 2 weeks straight, just in time for the Christmas season.

The dinner's held at Scott and Helina's home in Sheung Wan – a cozy spot with minimalist d├ęcor, compact but well-equipped open kitchen, and the long table which can seat 10 comfortably just right outside the kitchen. The couple team was already well into the preparation mode when we arrived, preparing our appetizers to start, whilst explaining some of the key ingredients found in Ethiopian Cuisine and many went into the dishes served for the evening.

We began with homemade Ambasha bread, dense like a flatbread and almost crumbly, served with telba (flax seed), tomatoes and alfalfa on top. Think of it as Bruschetta but a bit more exotic with the inclusion of interesting spices. And soon as all of us arrived and well-settled at the table, she brought over bowls of kir shorba, the turmeric spiced yellow split peas stew, served with beautiful earthenware bowls. It has a consistency like a hearty soup and tasted nice with all the spices.

Shiro Wot was next, served with more bread, this time in thick wedges. Helina came to explain “wot” is a common Ethiopian stew and generally prepared with meat, vegetables and spices; whilst Shiro was made with ground chickpeas, then combined with spices to create the stew. Helina also brought us a bowl with the whole cauliflower roasted and smeared with more spices, which once again, had punchy flavor without the overwhelming heat.


Kitfo was another traditional Ethiopian dish served in the evening. While raw meat or fish can be used, the version that was served was one made with raw tuna on top of small rounds of teff injera chips. My previous limited, almost non-existent knowledge of Ethiopian cuisine was the teff injera bread served in the middle of the table with stews and other dishes placed on top, something I have tried a few times whilst living in Washington DC where there's a large Ethiopian immigrant community. Helina came to explain the injera - made of teff flour with sourdough yeast – should normally be served rolled on the side instead, like the one we were having. And our main dish was the sous-vide beef short ribs, slow-cooked with the meat falling off the bones. The rich flavor of the meat stew (called Siga Wot) was well-balanced by the sour and spongy flatbread.

We were told that dessert wasn’t common in the traditional Ethiopian meal, but here was an adopted one, a scoop of homemade popcorn icecream served with sprinkles of crushed popcorns, along with a cup of single original Ethiopian coffee, made by Scott using hand-drip method in a Chemex carafe, then served in the traditional Jebena pot.

As we didn’t know what to expect for our meal beforehand, we went a bit adventurous with our wines. Our friend V brought over a few natural wines to try, followed by a couple Chilean reds and a Brunello. All wonderful. When we heard from Scott and Helina that they were planning to move to London soon we were a bit surprised and sad at the same time (why do we lose another good chefs to London, dammit), but we were glad to be able to try her food here tonight, finally! Come back to visit us some time, will you? And don't forget to bring us some of those great food.

When? December 10, 2016
Where? Eat Ethio, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Siga Wot – 72-hour Sous Vide Short Rib Beef Stew with Teff Injera
Drinks?
2014 Domaine de Moor Bourgogne Chitry, France
2015 Jauma “Birdsey Vineyard” Cabernet Franc, Australia
2013 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon “Les Charmes” Eponym, Beaujolais, France
2012 Vino de Unicornio Uni 718, Chile
2012 Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere, Chile
2010 Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello di Montalcino, Italy


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