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This year, the lunar new year begins on January 31.
It’s the Year of the Horse, and according to astrologers, it is a year of unexpected adventures and surprising romance.
We are celebrating with a Chinese New Year cooking class on January 25th,
Dim Sum on Sunday, January 26th,
Dinner Specials on January 31st and February 1,
and Dim Sum on February 2.
Join us as we ring in the year of the Horse!
This week, I spent an afternoon cooking with Heather Crawford from First Coast News.
She asked if I would be able to cook a gourmet meal with food purchased from a dollar store, and spend less than $10. Although I had my own doubts about what I could possibly buy at the dollar store to cook a decent meal, I was ready for the challenge.
As we walked around the store, I didn’t want to select anything that wasn’t wholesome, because that is just not how we cook with at Blue Bamboo. That meant all prepared foods, mixes, and canned foods were out. As tempting as it was to pick up a bag of seasoned rice or pasta to cook, I passed on all of that stuff too. Anyone can open a package and make those things. There were canned veggies and fruit. Some were packed in juices or water, and not heavy syrups, so I could have cooked with them, but I decided to pass on them too. I couldn’t imagine that starting with those ingredients would have given us a meal that we would be proud of.
I struck gold when I came across their freezer and refrigerated sections. I found frozen peas, frozen berries, milk, eggs, and sausage. I found some flour, and some cocoa powder caught my eye.
All of those groceries ended up costing $9.07. Under our budgeted $10.00, and now I had a bout an hour to prepare our gourmet meal.
Here’s the final menu:
Pork and English Pea “Love Letters” with Green Pea Sauce
and Cool-Hot Cocoa Creme Brulee with Berries.
The ingredients actually could have fed 6 people, but we had to save a little for us to taste.
See the video clip of our shopping and preparing this meal at firstcoastnews.com.
A few weeks ago, we were asked to participate in a martini contest. The Junior League of Jacksonville sponspred this competition betweeen 6 local top restaurants and nightclubs.
In preparation for this competition, we tested many flavors and combinations to get what we thought might be the winning recipe.
In the end, we made a “Blood Orange Crush,” made with blood orange juice, tequila, blood orange liqueur, and topped with salt air.
The competition was stiff. But when the votes were counted up, we won! Look in next month’s Jacksonville Magazine to see pictures and a story about our cocktail.
Today is national Peking, or Beijing duck day. This generations-old Chinese dish is still one of our favorites. It takes days to prepare properly, but the crispy skin, and succulent meat is worth waiting for. The classic technique requires that you pump air into the duck before it is roasted. These days, it is served with a steamed bun, but traditionally, it is served on a wheat flour pancake.
Although we don’t prepare this dish often, we’re celebrating the well-deserved day with an authentic peking duck special. Come on in and join us for this special treat.
Today we took a virtual trip to the trendiest Asian restaurants in the country. Along the way, we had West Lake Rice Porridge, Saucy Edamame Pods, Spiked Thai Iced Coffee with Tapioca Pearls, Chicken Katsu Don, and Kaya Toast. What a trip! Look for versions of these to appear on the Blue Bamboo menu as specials real soon!
At Blue Bamboo, we admire the creative part of what food trucks do. The food served from these trucks is usually pretty good, they don’t charge a lot of money for what you get, and they are very casual. A big part of our own success at Blue Bamboo is catering, and I imagine that operating a food truck is much like catering. It is a big event every time that you go out!
I can see the glamour in why someone would want to go into the food truck business. There is freedom of not having a lease, and the idea of having lines down the street to eat your food is ego feeding. Cooks who don’t have a restaurant, who may want to have a restaurant could work towards that by having a food truck. In Florida, though, there are countless regulations to follow for anyone who would want to start a food truck business.
People often ask if there will ever be a Blue Bamboo food truck. Probably not. We’ve made an investment in our community by building a restaurant, and we are thankful that the neighboood likes us. That does not stop us from exploring the creative part of what makes a food truck successful, though! Today, we took a virtual tour around the United States, and visited Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to check out the best Asian food trucks we could find. Here are a few pictures of the items that we made, and ate!
We have cooking classes at Blue Bamboo every month, and each month, our classes feature a different theme. Join us if you can! Learn more about Blue Bamboo cooking classes and see what classes we have in store for you on the Blue Bamboo website. We would love to have you join us!
September is National Food Safety Month. This morning, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association asked me to visit the WJXT studios and share a few tips with Morning Show viewers.
Here’s a link to the clip:
Happy first day of Spring!
I stopped by the WJXT studios to share our technique for fresh spring rolls. These fresh rolls are easy to make, and the arrival of Spring is the perfect excuse to eat them! They are flavorful, fresh, and healthy.
Here’s the link to the little segment that aired this week:
See you soon at Blue Bamboo for some spring eats!
This week, our monthly cooking class was called, “Hot Pot Cooking across Asia.”
To start the day, we made a Japanese Berry Cobbler.
Our first dish was Shabu-Shabu, Sukiyaki style.
Next, we made a curry Mongolian Hot Pot, with chicken tenderloins and raisins, seasoned with turmeric and tomatoes.
Korean Bibimbap had fern heads, spinach, and bean sprouts.
Sauteed shitake mushrooms gave the bibimbap a little extra umami flavor.
For dessert, we made a black sesame-Korean Pear Tea Cake. Before serving, we whipped a little almond cream, which made the cake even more irresistable.
Our next class is on April 14th, 2012. The theme is Spring Market Cooking. In that class, we will visit our local produce market, make a few selections, and come back to cook what we find.
Here’s a sampling of what we made in today’s ”spicy in the kitchen” cooking class:
Kimchee Mandu-Fried Dumplings
Chocolate Terrine with Jalepeno Jam
In every one of our dishes, we made sure that the heat in each dish added flavor, and lots of it! Some of the peppers that we used to add that flavor were grown on site, right here at Blue Bamboo. Each dish in today’s class showed a different technique of developing heat in cooking. Visit the “Cooking Class,” section to the right to see what classes we have coming up next! We’d love to have you with us in class.
Love is in the air at Blue Bamboo, so let us make your Valentine’s day romantic and easy this year.
Alongside our regular menu this Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, we will also offer a Lover’s pairing menu where we’ll feature 4 romantic-themed courses paired with 4 glasses of wine for $80. Menu specials this weekend will include Whole Snapper Cantonese, Spicy Curry-Rubbed Filet, Vahlrona Chocolate Terrine, and Passionfruit Creme Brulee.
Book your table today at www.bluebamboojacksonville.com, or call us at 904.646.1478.
For something fun this Valentine’s week, join us for our next cooking class, Hot and Spicy in the kitchen on February 18th. We’ll start class at 10AM, and be done by 12 noon. It’s the perfect way to start your weekend. Tuition is $42, which includes lunch and a handcrafted cocktail. Call to reserve your space today!
Happy February, and thanks to all who selected us as “Most Romantic Restaurant in Jacksonville,” on urbanspoon.com in 2011, and one of the top restaurants in Jacksonville on opentable.com.
We hope to see you soon!
People often compare us to the hottest Asian restaurnt in their favortie cities. In those cities, modern Asian takes on a whole new meaning, with tacos added to menu mixes, and pork belly and steamed buns taking over entire bar scenes.
This weekend, some of our Blue Bamboo friends challenged us to cook the recipes from the hottest Asian restaurants in the country who happen to have cookbooks.
Never one to turn down a challenge, especially when food is involved, We did just that. There was only one condition, though. My friends had to cook along with me. I wasn’t about to do all of the work myself. We took four days to source ingredients, prepare recipes, and cook our ultimate Hot Asian spot tasting.
In the end, my friends and I prepared Pork belly tacos, Sous vide glazed chicken wings, Ham hock rillette, Ground chuck-short rib-brisket burgers, and Passionfruit-coffee chocolate chip cake.
Every bit of work that we did to make buns from scratch, roll out taco shells, hand grind beef cuts, and hand-pick ham hocks to puree was worth it. The meal was delicious, and I even learned some new techniques that will probably make its way on to our menu in the near future.
Recently, I added some fun new equipment to our collection to better the way that we cook at Blue Bamboo. This equipment is made for laboratories, and since cooking is science, I thought they’d be perfect toys for our kitchen. These toys really did come in handy for our menu. We were able to cook our chicken wings to the exact temperature that we wanted them to be.
We hand rolled and then braided buns for our burgers.
That made for an intersting pairing of flavors, that really worked. All in all, the recipes that we made were delicious! Look for some of these borrowed flavor combinations to appear on our Blue Bamboo menu soon!
We created some unique dishes, all in our Blue Bamboo signature style.
We started with an earthy mushroom-veggie wonton stack.
The next course was a leek risotto cake, with a sherry sauce .
To finish off the meal, we created a chocolate-bruleed-banana mousse torte, drizzled with a cherry glaze.
It’s not often enough that we get asked to do custom dinners like this, but we look forward to the chance to practice our craft, and create new items for our menu.
Happy New Year!
To ring in 2012 at Blue Bamboo, we are bringing you more unique events than ever this January! We are going to kick it all off with our regular First Thursdays Wine Tastings from 6-8. We pour at least 4 wines on the first Thursday of each month, and we offer special pricing on everything that we pour.
On January 18th, we will have a very special wine blending event featuring Franciscan Magnificat. This event is very limited, and each guest will blend their own bottle of wine. A representative will be on hand to guide you through, and explain to you why each varietal belongs in the wine. This very limited event is $42 per person, and will include wine tastings and appetizers that will be especially created for the evening.
Our cooking class, Asian Street Eats, will be on January 21st. Imagine traveling to any Asian country and experiencing a street market. The smells, the fresh produce, and the best part of it all, we will get to taste the food! Without having to leave the city!
The very next day, we will have our now monthly Dim Sum Sunday. Dim Sum is the way that Cantonese people conduct business over brunch. Baskets of dumplings and pastas are created to order until you are full.
Join us for all or any of these events.
My only experience with travel to Korea has been nothing more than a layover in Seoul on my way to Hong Kong. Although I could never call myself an expert on Korean cooking, I have had some incredible dining experiences that allow me confidently talk about this country’s wonderful food. In preparation for today’s cooking class, the Blue Bamboo staff and I went to several Korean restaurants in our area, just to make sure we had our authentic flavors down pat. Over a lifetime of visiting Korean restaurants and tasting Korean foods, I never felt a connection as strongly as I did when I was cooking the food that we made today.
sweet and savory marinated and grilled Shortribs called Kalbi
sesame-seaweed sushi called Kim Bap
pork and beef pan-fried dumplings called Mandu
A cocktail made with Soju and Seju, Korea’s answer to vodka
These foods are addictive, and we will be weaving some of them onto our menu in coming months. I’m sure that Korean flavors will be next big culinary thing! Well, at least for Blue Bamboo it will be.
My alma mater, The Culinary Institute of America has asked that I return to do a cooking demonstration on campus. It is a big honor, and I am excited to be up in the Hudson Valley again, even if it is for just a short time. I thought the best dish to demonstrate and represent our part of the country will be Blue Bamboo’s definitive signature dish, Red Curry Shrimp and Grits.
Since it is going to be such a faraway trip, I thought I would try to squeeze in some serious eating while up there. For the next few days, I will be in New York city trying new places and getting new ideas. My last trip up to New York a few years ago involved two days of eating in at least 15 places per day. Let’s see if I can match that this time. I will report back with some of the best things I see and eat as soon as I get back to Blue Bamboo.
October 15th, 2011-
About 80 people came for my presentation of Red Curry Shrimp and Grits at the CIA:
Here are a couple of pictures from the event and a video link:
For the record, Rocco Dispirito’s demonstration was before mine, so I guess that mades him my opening act???
About the Blog
Chef Dennis Chan is the creator of Blue Bamboo, a great restaurant. He writes this blog as an outlet for his food ideas and to keep fans of Blue Bamboo, Hip Asian Comfort Food and his cooking classes up-to-date.
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