Any chance you can get the recipe for An's lobster, cantaloupe and honeydew appetizer? - Geoff Hughes, via Twitter
Michael Chuong, executive chef at An, is happy to oblige. Born in Vietnam, Chuong came to America with his family when he was 15, and he has worked in fine dining establishments from New Orleans to Cary. At An, he combines the flavors of his native Southeast Asia with those of his adopted home. Then he serves them up in artfully elegant presentations that are as fetching as the dining room's stylish East-meets-West decor.
The chef's vibrant pairing of lobster and melon is a prime example. Uniting the star ingredients is a honey- and Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise dressing that supplies just enough sparkle to set off the delicate flavors without upstaging them.
The combination of cantaloupe and honeydew melon makes for a striking presentation, but Chuong notes that the ripeness of the melon is more important than the variety. "If you can only get a ripe honeydew," he said, "then just use honeydew."
Like many of Chuong's creations, his lobster and melon salad is rooted in tradition. In this case, the dish was inspired by a Chinese lobster salad that his father liked and often asked him to make.
Chuong's modern take on that recipe got a big thumbs-up from another generation of his family when he prepared it for his daughter's wedding three years ago.
"It was a hit," the chef said with obvious pride.
It's now a favorite at the restaurant, too, where it appears on the menu whenever the chef can get ripe melons. Chances are good that the lobster and melon salad will be available this weekend, when An will celebrate a milestone of its own. The restaurant opened five years ago on Sept. 30.
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