The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 20, 2011

DONATE: Ray’s Boathouse nets money for Joplin; Seattle chefs have ties to Joplin

By Mike Pound
Globe Staff Writer

SEATTLE, Wash. — When news of the May 22 Joplin tornado reached Peter Birk and Mike Chase, they knew they had to do something.    Both men are Joplin natives who now work as chefs in Seattle, Wash. Birk is the executive chef at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle, and Chase works for a catering company called Tuxedo and Tennis Shoes.  

Birk’s wife, Amy, heads up the restaurant’s catering business. She said she and her husband were well aware that the folks at Ray’s Boathouse have always been a generous bunch. The restaurant, which has been operating for 75 years and been under the same ownership for 38 years, makes a point of supporting Seattle-area charities and frequently holds fundraising events. Peter Birk wondered if the restaurant might do the same for victims of the Joplin tornado.

“Peter said ‘I have to do something’ so he had a conversation with our general manager, and, of course, she supported it,” she said.

Birk and Chase decided to prepare a dinner based, in part, on their Joplin roots. The idea was to combine dishes with a Joplin-area connection with local Seattle favorites. Amy Birk said the goal was to sell 300 tickets to the event, which was held on June 15, and raise $13,000.

“We actually sold 301 tickets and raised about $22,000,” Amy Birk said.

Preparing the event, Peter Birk said, unleashed a flood of childhood memories for him. Birk’s parents owned the Spring River Inn in  Riverton, Kan., and he pretty much grew up in the restaurant’s kitchen. So, when he was putting together the menu for the Seattle fundraiser, he included items like the famous Spring River Inn fried chicken and squaw bread.

“All of the smells and flavors (of the food) took me back 30 or 40 years,” he said.

No Joplin-based feast, of course, would be complete without a plate of Fred and Red’s Spaghetti Red, and Birk and Chase did their best to include a close facsimile of the local favorite.

“Our memories might be a little off balance but I think we got it pretty darn close,” he said.

Birk said he was overwhelmed not just by the response for the people who bought tickets and turned out for the event but also the generosity of the restaurant employees and the vendors who supplied the food, drinks and materials that made the fundraiser possible.

“It’s not that I didn’t expect it (the generosity), I just didn’t expect as much generosity. The extent of it was amazing. Literally everything associated with the dinner was donated,” he said.

Birk, who plans to visit Joplin in September, said the $22,000 raised at the dinner will be donated to the American Red Cross Tornado Relief fund and to the Joplin Humane Society.

Dungeness crab cakes

1 pound Dungeness crab meat, fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper

3 tablespoons diced shallots

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 whole egg

Pinch salt

Pinch ground white pepper

Dash Tabasco

Pinch celery salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons clarified butter or oil for pan-frying

Thaw crabmeat if frozen. Gently squeeze crabmeat to remove excess moisture, breaking up any larger pieces.  

In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of panko (reserving the remaining 3/4 cup for coating), bell pepper, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, sherry, cream, egg, salt, pepper, Tabasco, celery salt and paprika. Combine thoroughly to make a batter. Add crabmeat and mix well. Divide mixture into 8 (or 12) balls. Using hands, form patties and coat with the remaining panko.

In a large skillet or nonstick pan, heat clarified butter or oil over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Reduce heat to medium and add crab cakes. Sear or until coating is golden brown and lightly crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Add more butter or oil as needed to the pan to prevent crab cakes from sticking. Serves 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

Source: Peter Birk from “Ray’s Boathouse: Seafood Secrets of the Pacific Northwest”

Seared Alaskan weathervane scallops

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 high-quality Italian artichokes, quartered

1 bulb fennel, julienned

3 leaves Swiss chard, veined and cut into 1x3 inch strips

Pinch kosher salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup flour

20 each U-10 size scallops

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive butter (recipe follows)

Shaved pecorino toscano

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the artichokes and fennel and saute until just tender. Add the Swiss chard and toss once or twice. Remove this mixture to your serving plate and keep warm.

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. Lightly dredge scallops with flour. Heat the butter in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat taking care not to let it burn. Add the scallops, seasoned side down, and sear until a crust forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn scallops over to the other side and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the olive butter and swirl the pan just to melt the butter. Place the scallops on top of the vegetable mixture and pour the melted olive butter over the scallops. Sprinkle pecorino toscano over top. Serves 4.

Source: Peter Birk

Black olive butter

8 ounces salted butter

3 ounces dry cured black olives, pitted and chopped

Let the butter come to room temperature. Using a small mixer or a mixing bowl and sturdy whisk, evenly combine the butter and olives.

Source: Peter Birk

Panroasted Alaskan halibut

Serves: 4

Four 7-ounce halibut fillets, skin on

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oil in a large nonstick ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat. Place flesh side down in the pan and sear until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Baste skin side with olive oil and turn over. Cook until the center of the fillet turns a pearly white. Total cooking time is approximately 10 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.  Serve with roasted corn-jicama relish and drizzle with chimichurri sauce.

Roasted corn-jicama relish

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 cups sweet corn, scraped from the cob

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/3 red onion, diced

2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced

1/3 jicama, peeled and diced

1/4 bunch cilantro

1/2 jalape–o

1/2 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 green onion, white part only, sliced

2 teaspoons wasabi powder

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon mirin

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic

In a large saute pan, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Add corn and saute until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and mix in the red and green peppers, onion, tomatoes, jicama, cilantro, jalape–o, curry powder, cayenne, cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper. In a blender, combine green onion, wasabi powder, vinegar, mirin, olive oil and garlic to make a dressing. Add the dressing to the corn salad and toss to coat evenly.

Source: Peter Birk