A constant dining companion at Cafe Drake is the Pickle Plate. Above: French cornichons and bird's eye chilis.
Mysteriously labeled (beyond the indecipherable Mandarin characters, what exactly is steam powder?) to attract the curious attention of Cafe Drake, this esoteric seasoning is becoming a fast favorite in these parts. A powdered mix of rice flour and Chinese spices, the steam powder is dusted across fatty cuts of meat (spare ribs, pork belly) that have previously marinated in soy sauce and white wine and are then steamed until tender. The ultra-moist method of cooking ensures a juicy finished product. We like it even better with wedges of sweet potato and daikon radish added in the final half hour of cooking.
Besides generally amplifying the flavors of most anything, roasting is a welcome contribution to a chilly winter kitchen. Even jumbo whole prawns get the baked treatment at Cafe Drake! Simply toss with salt, pepper, a bit of olive oil and some lime juice. marinate at room temperature for 1/2 hour then roast for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Delicious.