Spice up Your Holiday With Fusion Dishes From Delaware Chefs

Photos by Justin Heyes

This holiday season, add a little international flair to your dinner table with these homemade dishes from talented Delaware chefs.

Like most of the country, Delaware is a multicultural melting pot, and the proof is on the holiday table. Depending on the host’s heritage, the cuisine will vary. These dishes are prime examples.

Tamarind Duck

Servings: 4

Customers know Norrawit “Wit” Milburn as the “Thai Guy.” The chef runs Ubon Thai Kitchen & Bar, the restaurant his parents, Kamphon and Norris “Buddy” Milburn, opened on the Wilmington Riverfront. The couple met in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, where Buddy was stationed with the Air Force. With wife Jody, the younger Milburn owns Kapow, a food truck, and Kapow Kitchen in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.

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Wit Milburn continues his family’s legacy at Ubon Thai Kitchen & Bar. The restaurant owner’s Tamarind Duck recipe is a staple at holiday gatherings.

The Milburn family typically has tamarind duck at Christmas—along with Southern-style macaroni and cheese. (Purchase the tamarind paste and fried onions at Young’s Oriental Grocery in Elsmere or online.)

For the sauce:

  • 1 ounce canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 ounce prepackaged fried onions

In a small saucepan, heat about 1 ounce of oil and cook the garlic until it browns. Add the soy sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, ginger and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Finally, stir in the fried onions.

For the duck:

  • 2 boneless duck breasts, skin on, pricked with a sharp knife
  • Canola oil

Heat the oven to 400 F. Over medium-high heat, heat an oven-proof sauté pan large enough for both breasts. Add enough oil to cover the bottom and heat until it slightly smokes. Gently put the duck breasts in the pan. If you don’t hear a crackling noise, remove them, and let the oil get hotter. Sear the skin for about 3 minutes.

Place the pan in the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 F. Let rest for 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Slice the breasts on the bias and top with the sauce. (You can also use a half bone-in duck, which will take longer to cook.)

Pair flavorful and rich Tamarind Duck with rice and seasoned vegetables. For some festive flair, Milburn shakes up a holiday cocktail made with green apple bubble tea, cherry pearls and Midori./Photo by Justin Heyes

Linguini Allo Scoglio (Linguini with Mixed Seafood)

Servings: 4

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In Italy, pasta dish preferences vary by region. Candace Roseo should know. Her husband, Nunzio, is from Naples, along the southern coast. When it comes to a holiday meal, “seafood is a must,” says Candace, who owns BellaVista Trattoria & Pizzeria in Wilmington’s Riverfront Market with Nunzio. Other staples include escarole, pizza and her homemade limoncello.


  • 1/2 pound each small clams and Mediterranean mussels in shells
  • 1/2 pound cuttlefish, cleaned (calamari is a substitute)
  • 1/2 pound U20 fresh shrimp
  • 1 pound lobster tails, langostino or Moreton Bay bugs (a shrimp/lobster-like creature)
  • 4 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 3 tablespoons flat Italian parsley, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 Roma tomatoes (or freshest equivalent), cubed or diced
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (not cooking wine—use Chablis or pinot grigio)
  • 1 pound box linguini

Preheat the oven to 150 F or the lowest temperature. Add salt to a large pot of water—so it tastes like the sea—and place it on the stove. Clean the outside of the shellfish, and soak mollusks in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Cut the cuttlefish or squid into small pieces and the tentacles into short lengths.

Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to a large, hot skillet. Add half each of the garlic, parsley and pepper flakes, then the mussels and clams. Salt and pepper to taste, put on the lid and occasionally shake until the mussels and clams open (about 7 to 10 minutes). Discard unopened shells. Place the opened clams and mussels in a bowl and cover.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and remaining garlic, parsley and pepper flakes to the skillet. Add the mantis shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes. Add cuttlefish or squid and tomatoes. Turn heat up to medium-high. Add the wine. Cook until all the wine has burned off. (You can smell it in the steam.) Turn the heat to a simmer, add shrimp and cook for 10 minutes.

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Drop the pasta into hot boiling water when you add the shrimp to the large skillet. Undercook the pasta by 4 minutes. (If directions call for 11 to 13 minutes, cook for 7 to 9.) Save 1 cup of pasta water.

Remove all seafood from the large skillet and place it into the bowl with clams and mussels. Cover and put in the warm oven.

Turn up the heat on the large skillet. Add the drained pasta, all the liquid from the seafood and gradually add a little pasta water until the pasta is done.

In Italy, hosts put the seafood in one bowl, pasta in another. In the U.S., guests often prefer a bowl of pasta topped with the seafood.

Candace and Nunzio Roseo of BellaVista Trattoria & Pizzeria call back to their Italian roots with this seafood pasta dish./Photo by Justin Heyes

Ginger’s Brisket Recipe

Serving: 6–8 as a main course; up to 20 as small sandwiches

Between Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday, Ginger Weiss buys a lot of briskets. Family and friends want her recipe at “every Jewish holiday, Thanksgiving and Super Bowl party,” she says. “It’s been in my family for years. I’m not sure who to give the actual credit to.” For parties, serve it with Hawaiian mini rolls. Plan ahead: The preparation is a multiday process.

  • 5-pound brisket
  • 3 large Vidalia onions
  • 1 large bag of baby carrots
  • 2 jars Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 2 packets Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup

Day 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Sear the brisket in a large roasting pan for 10 minutes on each side. Drain the fat from the pan. Remove the meat, and place sliced onions and carrots in the bottom of pan. Return the meat. Mix all other ingredients and pour over brisket. Cover with foil and bake at 325 F for 3 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven, keep covered and let the food cool to room temperature. Store in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:

Remove the brisket from the pan and skim off any congealed fat. Slice the meat and return it to the pan with the juices, onions and carrots. Bake for 3 hours, covered, at 325 F.

RELATED: Your Holiday Menu Needs These Recipes From Delaware Chefs

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