As the mentee of one of the only Anglo chefs to ever cook for Chinese Royalty, Josh Grinker is not your ordinary Chinese restaurant owner. Grinker’s unique approach to American-Chinese food has earned his restaurant, Kings County Imperial, Michelin’s Bib-Gourmand status, and a reputation as some of the best Chinese food in New York City. Though the Brooklyn-born chef does not himself have Chinese roots, his extensive travel through China, to provinces such as Sichuan and Canton, provided him in-depth knowledge of the country’s colorful culinary spectrum. Eschewing the Western influences so commonly found in Chinese restaurants around the US, Grinker’s menu celebrates the diversity of China’s vastly different regional cuisines: using traditional ingredients in authentic creations such as mapo dofu, a dish of silky tofu and ground pork. Another favorite is the “Chop Your Head Off” soup: a fragrant bowl of dough in chicken broth infused with scallions, ginger, and garlic that Grinker discovered during his travels. He shares the recipe for the comforting concoction with our readers.
Chop Your Head Off Soup
For the dough: 1 cup all-purpose flour / 4 tablespoons water
For the Chinese chicken broth: 2.5 pounds chicken parts (preferably backs and necks) or bones / 3 quarts cold water / 1 cup scallions, cut into thirds with bulbs included / ½ cup coarsely chopped ginger or ginger peels
For the soup: 1 teaspoon canola oil / 1 teaspoon chopped ginger / 1 teaspoon chopped garlic / 2 tablespoons chopped scallion (one for the wok and one for garnish) / 4 ounces (about ½ cup) ground pork½ cup soy sauce / 2 cups shredded napa cabbage / 1 tablespoon sesame oil / ¼ cup cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
For the dough: Mix the flour and the water and knead for 5 minutes until smooth, then cover with plastic and set aside.
For the broth: Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, then use a strainer to remove the solid ingredients.
For the soup: Add the canola oil to a hot wok, and working quickly, sauté the ginger, garlic, and scallion until fragrant. Add the ground pork. With your wok spoon, wok ladle, or a stiff spatula, break up the pork while cooking it. When the pork is well broken up and cooked through, pour off any excess fat.
Add the soy sauce and 3 cups of Chinese chicken broth to the wok. While broth is heating, slice off thin pieces of dough, like large coins, into the broth. (This is the part that gives the soup it’s name. A chef would traditionally hold the ball of dough up near his head and use a cleaver to chop off pieces of dough into the broth.)
Add the chopped cabbage. When the broth is boiling, stir the cornstarch-water mixture into the broth. Bring soup back to a boil. Turn off heat, and pour into bowls. Drizzle sesame oil on top and garnish with chopped scallion.