There are things in all of our lives that are truly unforgettable. For me and my wife Laurie, one of those things was Richard Wing and the Imperial Dynasty Restaurant in Hanford, California. It has now been two years since Richard’s passing. I miss him. He was not only a great kind and gentle person, he was a man of modesty and humility, and he was a great chef. Richard referred to himself as “humble Chinese cook”. For me, he was way beyond a “Chinese cook”. He was, in fact one of the greatest chefs ever and a man way ahead of his time. Shortly after I heard of Richard’s death I wrote an article recounting his life and our experiences together (to read that article click here).
One of Richard’s greatest dishes was escargots. His version was truly unique and was always a part of his fabulous “Gourmet Dinners”. I know there are probably only a few people out there in this country who eat escargots any more . The “old style” French food is out of favor. But, Richard’s food was anything but that. It was, in fact “new style” French food with a Chinese twist. You will see that in his recipe. And, although sometimes the recipe might have the notation that peanut butter can be substituted for the cashew butter, Richard once told me that he thought that the Cashew butter was one of the most important ingredients to give it the Chinese influence. We always loved Richard’s Escargots a la Imperial Dynasty with a great bottle of Champagne. So, in a tribute to Richard, I am reproducing his recipe below. RIP my great friend and “humble Chinese cook”! You will always be loved and remembered.
ESCARGOTS A LA IMPERIAL DYNASTY
(Makes 6-8 servings as an appetizer)
For the snails:
48 empty imported snail shells
Garlic salt, to taste
48 imported French snails (canned)
For the sauce:
1½ cups butter
4 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
4 slices ginger root, mashed
¼ teaspoon pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon cashew butter
2 tablespoons puree of Cornish game hen
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley.1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of I fresh lime
For the garnish:
2 medium size onions, thinly sliced
Preheat over to 450 degrees. Wash and clean the shells in a wire basket, then parboil them in boiling water with 1 tablespoon baking soda. Rinse and drain. Deep fry the shells in hot peanut oil (350 degrees) for 1 minute. (Afterward keep the peanut oil hot.) Drain and sprinkle the insides of the shells with garlic salt. Place shells on baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Remove the snails from the can, and place in the wire basket. Lower into boiling water for 10 seconds, and drain. Plunge into hot peanut oil for 5 seconds. Drain and set aside.
Heat the butter in a wok or skillet, and stir-fry the garlic, shallots and ginger root. Be careful not to brown these aromatics. Add all the other ingredients for the sauce, and stir until the mixture bubbles. Add the snails, but do not let the mixture reach the boiling point.
With a pair of chopsticks or a small cocktail fork, stuff each snail into a shell, inserting the soft part first. The fill each shell with the butter sauce, and put onto small snail plates. Drape sliced onion over the top.
When ready to serve, bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sauce bubbles. Serve very hot with plenty of crusty French bread for dunking.
–Richard Wing, Imperial Dynasty