Plum's the word for summer dishes

July 6, 2010 9:43:46 AM PDT
The Chinese believe plums symbolize good fortune, and this summer Ben Pao is offering a special menu full of luck and juicy sweetness that revolves around the delicious fruit. With the summer season in full swing, plums are at their ripest, and fresh, fun dishes are sure to please, says Executive Chef Jim Hoveke. The plum, which has been cultivated since prehistoric times, longer perhaps than any other fruit except the apple, has over 2,000 known varieties. A good source of potassium and fiber, as well as a strong antioxidant, this pitted fruit can be enjoyed an endless number of ways, the chef adds.

Ben Pao pays tribute to the popular Chinese ingredient with its Summer Plum Food and Wine Series through August 2. Plum fans can feast on this favorite fruit with offerings ranging from festive drinks and appetizers to entrees and desserts, including:

  • Sichuan Peppercorn Crusted Duck with Spiced Plum Glaze, $21.95
  • Braised Chicken Clay Pot with Plums, Daikon and Organic Mushrooms, $14.95
  • Pork and Plum Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple Hoisin Dipping Sauce, $6.95
  • Plum and Walnut Crisp with Ginger Ice Cream, $5.95
  • Special additions to the plum menu are cocktails crafted by mixologist extraordinaire Adam Seger:

  • Summer Tao: Hum Liqueur (containing rum, hibiscus, ginger, green cardamom and Kaffir lime) with caramelized-pineapple house-infused rum, Kaffir lime syrup, fresh Thai basil and Fresno peppers, $10.95
  • Hum and Plum Sangria: Hum Liqueur, Chopped Plums, Riesling Wine, $9.95
  • Plumilicious Martini: Plum/Honey Chutney, Yuzu Sour, Absolut Citroen, plum preserves, cassia bark and house-grown lemongrass, $11.95
  • Spiced Plum Smash: fresh lime, plum, ginger, lemongrass, and Thai basil are muddled then mixed with Yuzu Sour, and Hum Liqueur and served with crushed ice, $11.95
  • Ben Pao's Summer Plum Food and Wine specials are available for dinner seven days a week, in addition to the regular menu. Ben Pao is located at 52 W. Illinois St., Chicago. To make reservations, call Ben Pao at 312-222-1888 or visit