P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc.'s 40-plus restaurant chain, operating in 19 states, owes much of its success to founder Paul Fleming's unique idea of pairing oriental cuisine with American-style service. At the outset, when he opened the first of the restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona, Fleming broke with the traditional Chinese restaurant format. With his collaborator, chef Philip Chiang, he devised a comparatively limited menu that featured far fewer dishes than the menus of typical, full-service, Chinese restaurants. Incorporating an American steak house dining style and a formidable selection of wines and cheeses, P.F. Chang's offers such additional oriental restaurant anomalies as espresso and cappuccino. Although P.F. Chang's China Bistros are stylish in decor, displaying motifs from the Ming and T'ang Dynasties and hand-painted murals, the dishes are moderately priced, partly because one of Fleming's aims was to provide high quality but affordable Chinese food for "the masses."




Thai Seafood Soup


Serves 4

2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 piece fresh ginger, about 3/4-inch cube, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, if available, minced
1 jalapeno or serrano chili pepper, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups fish stock or clam juice
2 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 pound firm-fleshed white fish, such as halibut
1/2 pound each: large peeled shrimp, sea scallops
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro and basil
4 lime wedges

Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chili; cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, 4 minutes.  Add wine; heat to a boil. Add stock or juice and fish sauce. Heat to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add fish, shrimp and scallops; cook gently, just until fish is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.  Just before it is done, stir in coconut milk and tomato. Remove from heat and serve with a sprinkling of herbs and lime wedges.

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