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Hunan by the Falls

by Nancy Ellison
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lebron-james.jpg(Well two, if LeBron James leaves.)

While a little disappointed on a recent trip to this town by the pizza-by-the-slice on Mayfield Road (“Our Little Italy is better than your Little Italy”), we were delighted to join in the citywide pastime of discussing LeBron James, The Cleveland Clinic and Hunan by the Falls. And, until LeBron James changes his jersey that is reason enough to find Cleveland irresistible!

James and the Clinic are known around the world.  Actually, so is Hunan by the Falls, since Clevelanders never stop talking about this fabulous Chinese fusion restaurant in Chagrin Falls.  People have been known to go into a Chinese restaurant in other cities and ask them to call Hunan by the Falls to see how to prepare some of their special dishes such as their secret Walnut Prawns…  We had to go.

Full disclosure:  Hunan by the Falls is owned by David Cameron, the son of concert pianist Rosaline Cameron, who is a dear friend. Because of this bit of luck, our visit to the restaurant produced a true off-the-menu Chinese Feast - a culinary luxury I have not experienced in years!

dineroom1_b.jpgWhile a little disappointed on a recent trip to this town by the pizza-by-the-slice on Mayfield Road (“Our Little Italy is better than your Little Italy”), we were delighted to join in the citywide pastime of discussing LeBron James, The Cleveland Clinic and Hunan by the Falls. And, until LeBron James changes his jersey that is reason enough to find Cleveland irresistible!

James and the Clinic are known around the world.  Actually, so is Hunan by the Falls, since Clevelanders never stop talking about this fabulous Chinese fusion restaurant in Chagrin Falls.  People have been known to go into a Chinese restaurant in other cities and ask them to call Hunan by the Falls to see how to prepare some of their special dishes such as their secret Walnut Prawns…  We had to go.

Full disclosure:  Hunan by the Falls is owned by David Cameron, the son of concert pianist Rosaline Cameron, who is a dear friend. Because of this bit of luck, our visit to the restaurant produced a true off-the-menu Chinese Feast - a culinary luxury I have not experienced in years!

   
OUR DINNER

Appetizers: 
PEI Mussels with spicy garlic sauce
Seafood Egg Rolls (Shrimp, Scallops, King Crab)
Thai Red Chili Curry Hotstickers
Korean Barbequed Lamb Rack Chops

hunanbeef.jpgseaeggroll_b.jpg

Main Courses:
Florida Red Snapper Baladoo
Salt Baked Soft Shell Crab
Beef Chow Ho Fun
Seafood Pan Fried Noodles (Lobster, Scallops, King Crab)
Gai-lon with Garlic Sauce
Vegetarian Smoked Tofu Brown Rice

Dessert:
Key Lime Pie
Fresh Seasonal Fruit

To start off with the PEI Mussels was cruel; they were beyond wonderful and I would have been quite happy to spend the night savoring their delicate flavor. The sauce was a perfect blend of ingredients including garlic and caramelized Chinese Brown Sugar (or Brown Candy, which is packaged in dense bars.)

The Seafood Egg Rolls, Thai Red Chili Hotstickers, Korean Barbequed Lamb Chops and Vegetarian Smoked Tofu Brown Rice were David’s creations.  My favorite among them were the Red Chili Hotstickers which was a combination of chicken, galango root, lemon grass, coconut milk, shallots, cilantro and Thai basil leaves. (No wonder their customers wander into restaurants muttering. “Call Home… Call Hunan”)

When our lovely Florida Snapper arrived, David sadly noted that it might be the last of the Florida fish’s availability.  (Too often we find ourselves savoring the last of some delicacy, as one by one they are lost to us by man’s inhumanity to the environment…)

The Salt Baked Soft Shell Crab was quite wicked crispy, and the Beef Chow Ho Fun had just the right smoky flavor. 

teaball.jpgBeverages were Singha Thai Lager Beer and a delicious brew of Chrysanthemum Leaves and Pu-erh Black Tea from Yunnan China.

After all this, I remained greedy - hungry for more.
“Please Sir, a recipe!”

David offered up what he referred to as Man’s Foreplay or Lucky Tonight – AKA Hunan by the Falls Walnut Prawns Secret Recipe, which causes grown women to swoon.

 


Hunan By the Falls on Urbanspoon

HUNAN BY THE FALLS  SECRET WALNUT PRAWNS RECIPE

(Serves 6)

PRAWNS

3 lbs. 16/20 count raw tail/shell on prawns
2 tablespoons Canola or other vegetable oil
Sufficient frying oil (vegetable oil) for fryer
3 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 Egg Whites
½ teaspoon Salt

1. Shell, devein and clean prawns leaving tails. Towel pat excess moisture.

2. In a large bowl combine egg whites, salt, and oil and beat.

3. Fold in deveined prawns, then evenly hand sprinkle in cornstarch while continuing to gently fold to assure even distribution. Adjust with a sprinkling of water, only if necessary to achieve a thick, yet smooth coating. (The purpose of cornstarch is to soak up the shrimp’s excess moisture and create a coated surface that becomes crispy when fried). Cover and refrigerate for at least ½ hour to permit the cornstarch to absorb maximum moisture.

4. In a deep fryer or heavy pot, fill to 2/3 with frying oil, and using appropriate thermometer bring temperature to 350 degrees and maintain. Individually (to prevent sticking) slowly immerse prawns to make small batches, frying the prawns until light brown. Small batches are required (unless using a commercial fryer) so that the temperature of the oil is maintained. Place browned prawns on sheet pan with rack or paper towels to drain excess oil.

SAUCE

2 cups Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Condensed Milk
3 tablepoons Sugar
¼ teapoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon White pepper

1. Combine mayonnaise, condensed milk and sugar, salt and white pepper to taste, let stand at room temperature. (Because of the mayonnaise, refrigerate if you plan to delay preparation of the shrimp.) Sauce may be made ahead, then taken out for ½ hour to remove the chill. Sauce may not be heated because it will break and revert to its oil base.

WALNUTS

1½ cups Pre-blanched or skinned walnuts (or steam walnut meats for 30 minutes, then place in a strainer, rinse off skins with a water from a kitchen sink sprayer)
1/2 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons White Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 oz. Filtered or tap water

1. Slowly, in a thick pan, bring water, sugar and salt to medium heat while stirring with a wooden spoon (do not walk away. You need to watch that it doesn't burn) Bring sauce to an amber color and add walnuts gently while stirring into the caramelized sauce. Stir gently until sauce coats walnuts evenly, then add vinegar.

Note: This process requires constant attention and may require a few additional dashes of water to make the mixture smooth. With spoon, remove walnuts and spread out and let cool and harden on parchment, a non-stick baking sheet, or a screened rack. Walnuts may be in prepared in advance and reserved for later inclusion.

Time saver Note: candied walnuts may be purchased if desired. 

GARNISH

½ -1   Head Broccoli
1 - Orange

1.  Cut Broccoli into large florets, blanch and keep warm.

2.  Cut oranges into thin semi-circle slices

Serve

In a large bowl, fold sauce into warm fried prawns, then present on large platter (or individual dinner plates). Top with candied walnuts, and decoratively arrange orange slices and broccoli florets around platter.

- Recipe courtesy of Chef Kuen Keun Chau 

 

Nancy Ellison, award winning photojournalist and celebrity portraitist, has authored fourteen books of photographs, including "Romeo and Juliet: The Love Story in Dance" and "Starlet". Her newest book, "Wagner's Eternal Ring" will be published this September by Rizzoli.    

 

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