Holidays often evoke family traditions and food memories. So we asked Leslie Coaston and Laurie Minzel, the former owners of the Kingfish Café, about theirs.
The sisters' Kingfish Café was a favorite fixture in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood before it closed in 2015. And it all started out as a dream.
Coaston and Minzel wanted to open an elegant yet fun restaurant that served some of the Southern food they grew up eating at family gatherings.
“It was a blast,” said Minzel. “There were tons of kids and adults, and you were there all day long.”
Coaston added: “And there was always food. Everything was homemade—everything. Ribs, cakes, potato salad."
Neither of the sisters had restaurant experience. Leslie was a flight attendant, and Laurie worked for the Seattle School District. But in 1997, the sisters opened Kingfish Café, offering the comfort foods of their youth: fried chicken, mac and cheese, grits.
The cafe drew people from far beyond Seattle. Coaston said that tourists from Japan would sometimes show them magazine clippings that recommended Kingfish as a destination.
One time, firefighters responding to a kitchen fire directed customers to leave the restaurant. Coaston said the customers left, but they took their food with them and ate curbside.
Coaston and Minzel said closing Kingfish Café was a tough decision. But rents were rising, and their father was ill. They miss the people — their employees and customers. They’d like to open a new place, but they don’t yet know when, where or how.
Until then, here’s their crowd-pleasing recipe for red beans and rice.
ALL MONDAY RED BEANS AND RICE
- 1 ½ lbs. ham hock (ask butcher to cut into 4 equal pieces for even cooking)
- 10 C chicken broth
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 T garlic, minced
- 1 lb. red beans
- 2 t salt
- 1 T raw sugar
- 1 coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ t (more or less, to your taste) red chili flakes
- 3 C jasmine rice
- 4 T butter
- 6 large bay leaves
- Green onions, for garnish
Soak red beans overnight in water
Boil red beans in four cups of chicken broth, add water to completely cover beans on medium high heat and bring to a boil, cook for 1 ½ hours or when beans are slightly tender.
Brown ham hock piece in 375-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Sauté onions, garlic, 1 t salt, raw sugar, pepper and chili flakes until golden brown.
Add sautéed ingredients and ham hock to pot of beans. Boil on medium, medium high heat for another 1 ½ hours or until beans are tender.
(Add additional salt, pepper, chili flakes to beans if desired)
In a large sauce pan combine jasmine rice, add butter, 1 t salt, 6 C chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Serve with green onion garnish, if desired.