Fleming’s Short Rib Dumplings + Smoked Tempura Fried Tofu

Flemings is the 8th location that I’m judging food at for the 2016 Dine Iowa Grand Tasting Gala event.

This is my third year of judging for this event.

Chef Robert Anderson and I are the main judges. It is a privilege to get to work with him, the IRA staff, and members from both the SoyandBeefCouncils.

During the next couple of weeks, leading up to the October 6, 2016 event, we have 10 different restaurants to visit. These restaurants are all across Iowa. 


Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar


Fleming’s Steakhouse was originally founded in 1998 out in Newport Beach, California. Two restaurateurs, Paul Fleming and Bill Allen, wanted to build a unique steakhouse experience with an emphasis on hospitality, a welcoming atmosphere and the very finest aged USDA Prime beef.


Did you know that Fleming’s is part of the Bloomin’ Brand which also owns Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Roy’s Restaurant? I didn’t – now you know! :).


The Chef at Fleming’s

Chef Matt Drennan is the chef at Fleming’s in West Des Moines. He graduated from the Iowa Culinary Institute.

The Meal

Rules: With this event, each competitor will prepare a main entrée recipe utilizing Braveheart Black Angus Beef Short Rib, donated by Performance Food Group (at least six ounces of cooked beef must be used). Additionally, each competitor will prepare a Tofu (soft-silken or water packed) side dish or sauce (at least a 1⁄4 cup of tofu must be used). 

Main Dish

The main dish was a braised short rib dumpling. Along with this, Chef Matt created a tempura fried smoked tofu with a rosemary soy ginger sauce. Let’s dive into this delicious dish.


While looking over the recipe for the braised short rib dumplings, the marinade was very impressive. There were a variety of ingredients that caught my eye. There were ingredients like passion fruit puree, sugar, a handful of spices, and several other things like Hoisin sauce and rice wine. With that marinade, Matt let it sit for 8 hours to let everything get into the meat. While eating this dish, I loved the variety of flavors that you could pick out. It was a little fruity, and little spicy and the meat flavor was just right. 


The smoked tempura fried tofu was mind blowing. We were raving about it at the table for a couple of minutes. Not just about the flavors but how it would be a great alternative for those that can’t eat dairy. They’d be a great snack item instead of a fried cheese stick. Matt used extra firm tofu for this to maintain form. To get a great flavor with the tofu, Matt mixed liquid smoke, paprika, ginger, and soy sauce. It was delicious.



If you’re interested in trying this dish, you can order it off of District 36’s menu, or attend the Iowa Restaurant Association Grand Tasting Gala.

For 50% off tickets, use the code: Winner

About Nick Lucs

Nick is the founder of Des Moines Foodster. He was born and raised in Des Moines and has always had a passion for being creative in the kitchen. Des Moines Foodster has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Juice Magazine, amNY, Travel Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau blog. He believes that coffee and craft beer make the world go 'round .

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *