I used to think I wasn’t a huge fan of Chinese food. If it was the only thing available, I would eat it, but I never craved it or suggested going out for Chinese. Then one of my friends told me about this Chinese restaurant here in Okinawa that I had to try. She told me I would love it—even if I don’t love Chinese food—because if for nothing else, it’s worth a trip to the restaurant just to meet the owner.
Not long after she suggested this place, my husband and I went to check it out with three other friends. The owner—who calls himself “Dragon”—definitely lived up to the hype. He is very outgoing and so funny. Although we could only understand about 40 percent of what he said to us, we found out he is from Shanghai, goes to Tokyo once a month to buy fresh ingredients and “do other things” (whatever that means), and gets super excited to talk about Chinese food. He was talking so fast about the food that we could hardly understand what was going on.
We had spent a few minutes perusing the menu before he came over to talk to us, but that didn’t matter because after he was done telling us his story he said, “Ok so you’ll have two orders of this, one order of that, two of this, oh and you have to try at least one order of that…”. We weren’t really sure what had happened, but we went with it. We also all ordered the “Biiiuuutty Biiiuuutty” (aka Beauty Beauty) cocktail because as my husband thought he said, “I command you to get this”. He really said I recommend you to get this, but hey—a command is a command.
The food—and Dragon—did not disappoint. We all agreed that it was excellent and some of the best Chinese food any of us had ever had. And that is saying a lot coming from five people who don’t particularly like Chinese food.
After that experience (and one subsequent visit) at Dragon’s, I was much more excited about the food in China. It tasted nothing like the Chinese food you get at most places in the States (go figure) and I loved it. We ate many delicious stir-fried dishes, noodles, dumplings, etc. but by the end of the two weeks, we were pretty sick of eating Chinese food and had pizza for our last meal .
Although I think we’re both Chinese food converts—as long as it’s real Chinese food—we are both not ready to eat it again for a while. So for dinner, I’ve been making anything that does not resemble Chinese food—Italian and then Mexican. These quesadillas were fabulous—I hope you enjoy them too!
Chicken and Scallion Quesadillas
*Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 to 2 pickled jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water or chicken broth
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 scallions (white and green), trimmed
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, about 8 ounces
- 2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers en adobo
- 1/4 cup prepared salsa
- 1 cup shredded cheese (Pepper Jack or Monterrey Jack are good choices)
- 4 (10-inch) flour or corn tortillas
- Optional garnishes: sour cream, cilantro, salsa, avocado
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
To make the beans: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans, jalapeno, and broth and bring to a simmer. Using a potato masher or a large fork, smash the beans into a rough paste. Season with salt (if needed) and transfer to a bowl.
Heat EVOO in a pan over medium-high heat and sauté the scallions until slightly charred. Coarsely chop and transfer to a small bowl. Combine chicken and the chipotle with the scallions.
Toast the tortillas directly over a medium gas burner, turning occasionally until slightly blistered on each side. (If you have an electric burner, do this in a dry cast iron skillet.) *You can also heat the tortillas in the oven for 5-10 minutes as I did.
Place the tortillas on the prepared baking sheet. Depending on the size of your tortillas, spread the beans on half (for larger tortillas) or the whole tortilla (for smaller ones). Top with the chicken, salsa, and cheese. For larger tortillas, fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling, to make a half moon shape. For smaller tortillas, cover the filling with another tortilla.
Lay another sheet of foil over the top of the quesadillas. Bake until the cheese melts and the filling hot, about 12 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes.
**These quesadillas were delicioso. I used chipotle-flavored tortillas, which gave our quesadillas a little extra kick. The only thing that would have made these better is fresh slices of avocado for garnish.
Question: What is your favorite kind of ethnic cuisine? Have you ever become a convert like we have with Chinese food?