Results tagged Chinese from David Lebovitz

Jook

blogjook

French supermarkets are funny places. In my book, I touched upon that touchy subject, as well as a few others. But let’s not get into that here; let’s just say that they’re not the best places to buy fresh produce. Which may explain the mystery of the liberal use of canned corn around here.

When I came back from a recent trip, on a late weekend afternoon, I had no choice but to go to my local supermarket to feed myself. I didn’t want to buy much, preferring to wait until I could go to my market the next day, but it was necessary to go and get a few provisions. In the produce aisle, I bypassed the sad bunches of wilted cilantro, I didn’t stop to pick up any yellowed, spring onions shipped from another hemisphere where it’s definitely not spring, nor was I particularly interested in Chinese apples.

But eventually I found what I wanted and headed to the checkout.

Continue Reading Jook…

Les Pates Vivantes

noodles

A few weeks ago, I went to hear Alec Lobrano speak and read from his terrific book, Hungry for Paris, and someone asked if there were ethnic restaurants listed in the book. He replied that he didn’t include them, because most visitors coming to Paris probably are looking for French food, so that’s what he concentrated on.

He’s right, of course. Lots of visitors do come here specifically to dine on classic French fare, but I also know that there are a certain number of visitors that eventually tire of so much meat and rich food, and are willing to explore some of the more unusual and diverse food available in a multi-cultural city like Paris. I also think that Americans (at least this one) are hard-wired to eat ethnic foods, namely anything Asian. Living in California, sushi, Korean bbq, and bun bo are pretty much a part of my normal dietary fare.

Since I arrived in Paris, I’ve noticed a strong uptick in the quality of Asian restaurants here. And I’ve also noticed there’s much more of an appreciation of them, too.

Continue Reading Les Pates Vivantes…

Great Addresses for Food and Eating in San Francisco

I was trying to explain to a French friend what a ‘foodie’ is, and he was looking at me like I was nuts. I guess when you live in a country that’s full of people that live to eat, the concept of people not into eating is a bit odd.

So, for lack of a better introduction, here are my ‘foodie’ addresses for places that I visited and good things that I tasted while in San Francisco:

Charles Chocolates

When someone handed me an unusually heavy sack emblazoned with the name ‘Charles Chocolates‘ on it, I wanted to run home with in and dive right in! I’ve been jealous reading reports of Chuck Siegel’s magnificent confections from other bloggers and let me tell you: Chuck’s chocolate are worth the wait.

charlesalmonds.jpg

My hands-down favorites were the Triple Chocolate Almonds; California almonds roasted and enrobed in both milk and dark chocolate. Superb! There was a stack of tablets of chocolate in there too, flavored with caramelized rice and candied ginger that I’ve schlepped back to Paris to share.

But the most stunning were two heavy boxes, crafted entirely of chocolate, and filled with a luscious selection of Chuck’s best and more dazzling creations. One was his Tea Collection with tea-scented chocolates (think Osmanthus blossoms and charcoal-fired Oolong tea), while the other had such diverse tastes as passion fruit and salted peanut butter. They were so good, you’ll want to eat the box. Luckily you can.

Charles Chocolates
Westfield San Francisco Center
3rd Floor, Bloomingdale’s side
(888) 652-4412

panna cotta

Delfina

This is my must-stop restaurant when I come to San Francisco. The problem is, I can never get in. Luckily my good pals came to the rescue and we dined like celebrities (like Jake Gyllenhall, who was seated across the dining room, unnoticed by everyone but us. I thought Joy was going to drop her kid right then and there.)

Starting with marinated sardines, moving on to heaping bowls of pasta, then finishing with perhaps the best version of Panna Cotta I’ve ever had, it’s hard to have less than a stellar meal at Delfina.

And having charming, if distracted, company…and Jake Gyllenhall to look at, certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Delfina
3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 552-4055

Nopa

This is my newest must-stop restaurant in San Francisco (I’m allowed a couple…aren’t I?) And by the looks of things, I’m not alone. Laurence Jossel paid his dues at some of the best dining spots in the city before opening Nopa and he’s got a winner on his hands. In a formerly dicey area (my old neighborhood), diners and chefs from other restaurants now come from all over to gather at the large table to share dinner, or to cozy up in a booth. (Warning: The noise level can be daunting. Request upstairs if you want some calm.)

How can you not love starting a meal with a frosty martini alongside perfectly-salted, hyper-crispy French fries with harissa dipping sauce ending with a bowl of sugared donut holes? Nopa makes me almost want to move back to San Francisco. If I could only persuade Laurence to open in Paris…*sigh*

Nopa
560 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 864-8643

Citizen Cake

I’m sure I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Falkner’s upcoming book, Demolition Desserts. But for those of us who’ve been enjoying Elizabeth’s desserts for years, we’ve been relishing her tasty treats at Citizen Cake.

(Disclaimer: I have a major crush on Elizabeth Falkner for years.)

Continue Reading Great Addresses for Food and Eating in San Francisco…

Sui Mai: Chinese dumpling recipe

Sometimes I find food shopping in Paris like trying to catch a feather: the harder and more urgent you reach for something, the harder it seems to grasp.

And with the recent tanker spill of 800,000 pounds of cocoa beans, it seems like chocolate’s going to be in short supply, so I’d better find another medium to work with. So how about pork?

finishedsuimaiparis.jpg

So off I went to Tang Freres in Paris and found everything I needed for the Chinese dumplings known as Sui Mai. I found just about everything…except for The Most Common of All Of All Asian Ingredients Known To Mankind: cilantro, or coriandre.

Not a bunch in the bin, and I (along with 15 or so Chinese dames) mulled around in a daze, unbelievable that the largest Asian market in one of the largest cities in the world could possibly be out of cilantro. *sigh*

Few people know this but I’m a pretty decent Chinese cook. I owe that to Bruce Cost, who’s the best and most gifted chef I’ve ever worked with. Dressed in khakis and a slightly-rumpled Oxford shirt, he’d hulk over the giant wok.

His hands would drop some raw vegetables and chiles into the wok. Then casually he’d add some shrimp or strips of beef. It would sizzle and he’d stir. He’d add a few more things; maybe some strange, unknown vegetables, some sauce, and perhaps some rock sugar or vinegar Then he’d crank the heat to ultra-high, the flames would blaze up around the wok, and in spite of the drama of the roaring fire and the wok, he would just stand there, calmly stirring.
Then he’d simply slide the food on a plate and we’d all be dazzled.

Making the authentic food from many cuisines isn’t all the difficult (unless you’re making Chinese food and can’t find cilantro…) It just requires you to have on hand a few essentials. Few cities I know of lack a Chinese grocer (and most do have huge bunches of cilantro), and in my experience, most well-stocked supermarkets have a decent selection of Asian products (unless you live in…oh, never mind…)

Some notes on a few Chinese ingredients:


  • Sesame Oil
    The best sesame oil is made only from roasted sesame seeds and nothing else. Check the ingredients, as some brands mix sesame oil with vegetable oil.

  • Fish Sauce
    It smells vile, but tastes remarkable when mixed as a sauce or seasoning. I use the Squid Brand fish sauce from Thailand. In spite of the menacing-looking cephalopoda on the label, fish sauce is made from salted and fermented anchovies.

  • Fresh Ginger
    Fresh ginger should always be rock-hard with no signs of mold or soft spots. You can peel ginger with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, but scraping it with a soup spoon works well to get around the nooks-and-crannies.

  • Water Chestnuts
    Fresh chestnuts are quite expensive in Paris, where they’re called chataigne d’eau. The only ones available were cryovac’d. When I got home, I tasted a few and they were so fermented that I had to toss them out. Luckily I bought some canned ones for insurance (proof that as you get older you get smarter), and used those. But the fresh are much better, and they’re easily available and inexpensive in Asian markets in the United States. If using canned water chestnuts, double the amount called for.

  • Shrimp
    Fresh shrimp is expensive and I’ve found that good-quality peeled raw shrimp is fine to use for dumplings.

presteamedsuimai.jpg

Sui Mai
About 60 Dumplings
Adapted from the repertoire of Bruce Cost

This is a lot of pork to chop.
Yes, it took me about an hour and it’s quite a good workout, but I didn’t feel the need to go to yoga today…although chopping all that meat may be
bad karma
, so perhaps I should go tomorrow for redemption. (Can you ‘bank’ karma?)

But the dumplings have a much better texture if you han-chop the pork and shrimp, although you could use a food processor, or buy pre-ground pork.

  • 2½ pounds (1 kilo) pork shoulder (palette de porc)
  • 1 pound (450 gr) shelled raw shrimp
  • 1 bunch scallions, well-chopped (use as much of the green part that's edible)
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon salt
  • 2½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ tablespoons roasted sesame oil
  • 6 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely-minced fresh ginger (peel before chopping)
  • Round won ton wrappers (or square ones...if the largest Asian market in your city doesn't carry round ones)

1. Using a large kitchen cleaver, cut the pork into slices, then finely chop all the pork up. Put into a bowl.

2. Chop up the shrimp into small pieces and add to the bowl.

3. Use your hands to mix in the scallions, cilantro, fish sauce, salt, corn starch, egg, sesame oil, water chestnuts, and fresh ginger.

filling.jpg
Yummy looking? Well, not yet…

4. Form the meat mixture into balls about 1-inch (3 cm) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

meatballs.jpg
Ok, much better…

5. Take a won ton wrapper and place a meatball in the center. Gather the edges up and press the wrapper against the meat making a little cylinder.

Repeat with remaining meatballs.

6. To steam the dumplings, line a bamboo steamer with banana leaves and oil them lightly. Turn on the heat, and once the steamer is hot, steam the dumplings until hot all the way through, which will take about 5 minutes. (You can also use a steamer basket lined with cheesecloth, or lightly oiled.)

Notes:
If you wish, the meatballs sans the won-ton wrappers can be gently dropped into simmering water and cooked for about 5 minutes, until cooked through, then served with the dipping sauce, or floating in soup.

Once steamed and cooled, the dumplings can be frozen in freezer-bags.

Dipping sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger (peeled)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons white Chinese vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
3-4 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons chili oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with the hot, steamed dumplings.