Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bent: Asian Fusion with Susur Lee & Sons

Nestled a few blocks east of Trinity Bellwoods Park on the corner of Dundas and Markham is Bent, the newest member in Susur Lee's family of restaurants with Lee in charge of the kitchen — helmed by chef de cuisine Bryan Gunness, formerly of Lee — while sons Levi and Kai Bent-Lee step into the spotlight and oversee the dining experience. The space is designed by Lee's wife Brenda Bent, and partner Karen Gable, and is a stark contrast to Lee. The decor here is light, fresh and whimsically retro. The room is relaxed and playful detailed with warm pieces of vintage furniture, like the backgammon-style table tops and vinyl diner-style seating. Crazy touches like vintage Pachinko games — a Japanese arcade game — dot the walls and the terrarium-inspired hostess station adds character and a dash of whimsy to the space. The menu features Asian flavours prepared with European techniques and international flavours prepped with Asian techniques. Plates are small and meant for sharing, and the menu includes offerings from both the hot kitchen and raw bar. The restaurant was positively booming on a Thursday night, and with the symphony of creative and consistently delicious plates coming out of the kitchen, friendly and attentive service and lively atmosphere, it's not surprising it's buzzing every night.

Nestled on a corner at 777 Dundas West, Bent is Susur Lee's newest culinary outpost 

The interior of Bent with trays of fresh herbs on the chef's counter

Vintage Pachinko games add a whimsical design feature to Bent

A terrarium-style hostess desk greets guests as they enter Bent

the back wall of the restaurant is lined with cases of small dolls 

Bent's dinner menu

Hendriks Dry Martini with a slice of cucumber — how predictable!

Ketel One Vodka Martini with an olive

Susur's spectacular Signature Singapore-Style Slaw

Yellowfin Tuna Tataki

Curry Crab and Avocado Salad with watermelon radish, Kaffir lime, sea asparagus, 
and grapefruit pear gelée

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio from the Veneto, Italy

Tempura maki with salmon

Steamed tofu custard pots were served with the salmon tempura maki

Roasted Diver Scallops with sundried tomato crust and caper and rasin compote, yuzu squash purée, parsnip purée, and sea asparagus with a citrus tarragon butter sauce

Vietnamese Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops, octopus, mussels, jalapeño, Asian pear, red pepper, celery, potatoes, fresh citrus juice...

...served with Char Siu Buckwheat Rice cakes

Striploin with sweet potato ravioli in a roasted garlic and parsley velouté

Bent Café Americano made with their special roast —Brooklyn Smack!

Susur Lee's Signature Singapore-Style Slaw
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy chef Susur Lee

2 green onions, both white and green parts, julienned
2 oz rice vermicelli, broken into 3 pieces
3 oz taro root, julienned
1 large English cucumber, julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small jicama, peeled and julienned
1 cup daikon, peeled and julienned
2 large Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
4 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp pickled ginger
6 tsp crushed roasted peanuts
4 tsp edible flower petals
4 tsp fennel seedlings
4 tsp purple basil seedlings
4 tsp coriander seedlings
4 tsp daikon sprouts
4 tsp fried shallots

Pickled Red Onion:
1 red onion
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Salted Plum Dressing:
1 cup salted preserved plums, pitted
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp Dashi Japanese cooking stock
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt

For the pickled red onion, peel and julienne the red onion and set aside in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to a boil. Season with salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaf and thyme; continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Pour mixture over onion while hot and let sit for 1 hour.

For the plum dressing, combine the plum paste, vinegar, mirin, Dashi, onion oil, sugar, ginger and salt in a blender and purée until smooth, then set aside.

Soak the green onion in very cold water to keep crisp. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of oil. When temperature reaches 400°F, deep fry the julienned taro root, half the amount at a time, for 2 minutes until crisp and light gold in colour.
Remove the slices from the oil, place on paper towel and lightly salt.

At the same temperature, quickly deep fry the vermicelli, half at a time, for 2 seconds, or until they curl. Remove the vermicelli from the oil, place on paper towel and lightly salt.

Remove the julienned green onion from bowl and drain. Divide the vermicelli equally between 4 plates and arrange the green onion, cucumber, carrot, jicama, daikon, tomatoes and pickled red onion around the noodles and top with a tall mound of fried taro root.

Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and crushed peanuts over each salad. In a small bowl, combine the edible flower petals, seedlings, sprouts and fried shallots. Sprinkle the flower-sprout-shallot mixture on each salad and serve with salted plum dressing alongside.

Chinese New Year Pearl Noodles
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Susur Lee, Bent

2/3 cup julienned bean sprouts
2/3 cup carrot
2/3 cup julienned Spanish onion
2/3 cup julienned shiitake mushroom
2/3 cup julienned leek
2/3 cup julienned celery
2/3 cup shredded soybean cake
2 tbsp XO sauce
3 tsp oyster sauce
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
4 large eggs
12 oz pearl noodles
Coriander sprigs, for garnish
1 red chile, seeded and sliced into rounds, for garnish (optional)

Blanch the vegetables and soybean cake together, then set aside. For the sauce, mix together XO sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a thick non-stick pan or wok, heat the olive oil, then scramble the eggs with noodles  — sautéing the noodles and eggs together helps avoid the noodles sticking to wok. Add the sauce, then the vegetables and sauté for 3 minutes. Garnish with coriander and chile, if using.

Roasted Scallops with Sundried Tomato Crust
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Susur Lee, Bent

Carrot Purée:
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup water
Salt to taste

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp each chipotle powder and paprika
1 tbsp each fresh parsley, garlic and shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup panko
18 large fresh scallops

Tarragon Beurre Blanc:
2 tbsp each white wine vinegar and dry white wine
1 tbsp shallots, finely minced
1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and white pepper

Sugar snap peas and white asparagus spears,
blanched Handful of raisins, plumped

Bring purée ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Uncover and simmer until liquid evaporates. Discard bay leaf. When cool enough, whirl in a blender until puréed.

In a small food processor, blend butter, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, chipotle, paprika, parsley, garlic, shallot and salt. Scrape down sides as needed. Stir in panko. Place mixture between 2 pieces of parchment paper, gently roll out to ½-cm thickness and place on a lined cookie sheet. Using a shot glass, cut out coins and freeze until firm.

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, drizzle scallops with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

To prepare beurre blanc, simmer vinegar, wine and shallots in a saucepan until reduced to 1 tbsp. Remove from heat and whisk in two pieces of butter. Return to low heat and whisk in remaining butter, one piece a time. Add tarragon, salt and pepper.

In batches, sear scallops over medium-high heat for 1 minute per side until golden. Remove to a baking sheet. Place a butter coin on each scallop. Roast at 375°F for 4 to 5 minutes. Drizzle carrot purée and beurre blanc over plate. Top with scallops, blanched peas and asparagus, and raisins.

TIP To save time, roll butter mixture into a 3-cm-thick log using plastic wrap. Seal tightly. Freeze until firm. Slice into 1/2-cm-thick coins just before using. The mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Susur’s Jerk Chicken
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Susur Lee, Bent

The ingredients in this recipe can be tripled, if necessary, depending on the size of chicken or turkey you are using. Lee suggests extending the marinating time to three days for turkey.

Spicy Mango Salsa:
3 tbsp finely diced sweet onion
2 cups diced ripe mango
1/4 tsp finely sliced habanero chili
1 tsp fresh mint
1 stalk fresh coriander
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp brown sugar or honey
Sea salt, to taste

1 whole chicken, about 3 lb
4 whole cloves of garlic
4 pieces fresh ginger, each 1 inch
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup Jamaican jerk spice (available at Lee and Bent)

For the salsa, soak the onion in water for five to 10 minutes, then drain well. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, to allow the flavours to develop, until ready to serve.

In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, ginger, oil, salt and jerk spice. Rub the mixture inside and outside of the bird. Place in a large plastic bag and marinate in fridge for up to 2 days, or longer if using a bigger bird. Heat the oven to 400°F and roast the chicken for 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Serve with Spicy Mango Salsa.