Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shrimp mango avocado salad - 2 ways

I bought mangoes from Costco, which translates to- I bought enough mangoes to feed a family of 6 for a week. Mangoes are naturally high in sugar, and therefore lend a unique punch of sweetness to savory dishes. 

Here are two ways to make a salad of mango, avocado and shrimp, fresh and dried.

The first is a more common combination of flavors. The addition of sesame oil in the marinate adds a layer of nuttiness. 


1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
sesame oil
Herbes de Provence (or other dried herb of choice)
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
3-4 Tbsp red onion, diced fine
3-4 Tbsp cilantro, rough chop
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

1. Marinate raw shrimp in sesame oil (enough to coat) and Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper, for 30 minutes. Cook the shrimp in a skillet or on the grill. Set aside to cool.
2. If working with larger shrimp, cut the shrimp in half, along the spine.
3. Toss the remaining ingredients together with the shrimp, and season to taste.

The second way uses dried shrimp, which you can find in most Asian food stores. They play a nice subtle 'behind the scenes' role in the dressing. I added peanuts for an added layer of crunch.


2-3 Tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
sesame oil
Herbes de Provence (or other dried herb of choice)
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
3-4 Tbsp red onion, diced fine
3-4 Tbsp cilantro, rough chop
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

1. Drain the dried shrimp from the liquid, and chop finely.
2. Toss all ingredients together, and season to taste. (I added some of the liquid from the shrimp for additional umami flavor.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessan

Mr. S and I miss many things from the East coast, one of which is a good Jewish deli serving up corned beef, pastrami, bagels and lox. Our prayers have been answered.

Wise Sons had its soft opening this weekend, but the food was anything but tentative. The corned beef and pastrami reubens were bold and resolute in its delivery of well-seasoned and perfectly cooked meat love. Yes, meat love. Because that is what you feel when you bite into this salty, creamy, tangy vehicle of comfort.

Oh yea, the corn rye bread is buttered and toasted on a hot griddle, resulting in a crispy golden shell. Yea, you know what I'm talkin' about.

Corned beef reuben (sauerkraut, swiss, and russian) with cole slaw or potato salad, and pickle $13.50

These days, $13.50 for a sandwich is still steep, compounded by the fact that you'll probably have to wait about 45 minutes in line. But your grumpiness will, in all likelihood, be abated as soon as you bite into this lovely creature. 

The standout is the texture of the meat - not at all stringy. Cut on the bias, each slice melts in your mouth.

Pickle Plate (assorted veggies: pickle, radish, kraut, beets, celery) $4

Pastrami reuben

Working on the line.

Loaves of fresh rye and challah everyday. Get there early.

Just like the sign on the way out says- In America you can eat challah everyday.

You really can. And it is so good.

Wise Sons
Shotwell at 24th
San Francisco
(Projected official opening this week.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Brine and Roast a Turkey

2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup table salt
1 cup sugar
1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed

Dissolve salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in a large stockpot. (You may also dissolve in warm water, but make sure the brining solution is COLD when you put in the turkey.)

Add 2 handfuls of additional spices of your choice. Here are some ideas:

  • sliced ginger, scallion, peppercorns, bay leaves
  • zest and peel of 1 orange, cloves, cinnamon sticks, juniper berries

Add in the turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (not more than 40 degrees) 12-24 hours. Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in the solution.


Remove the turkey from the brining solution, rinse inside and out, and completely dry. You can pat the skin with paper towels. Or you can additionally leave the turkey exposed in the refrigerator overnight, resting in the roasting pan, to dry out the skin. (Some people expose the turkey to a running fan for 1 hour!)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the bird on roasting rack.

Add aromatics of your choice like apples, oranges, rosemary, and thyme to the turkey's cavity. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with vegetable oil (you can use butter too). You can also slide some herbs underneath the skin of the breast, but be sure not to puncture the skin.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spice Kit

The banh mi is nothing new. If anything, it has infiltrated the food scene, especially with the business lunch crowd in the Fidi, Tenderloin, and SOMA. Only problem is, the lunch spots from which they emerge tend to be hole-in-the wall, mom-and-pop joints, which... are great and all, but if you are a self-proclaimed germ-aphobe, this may cause you all sorts of uneasiness over a meal that was prepared for you somewhere in the dark recesses.... I apologize if by saying that I've caused any worries... 

Problem solved. Welcome Spice Kit, a relatively newly opened Asian street food-inspired quickie eatery, located in a prime business lunch locale- the Orrick building on 1st and Howard, in SOMA. This is the polar opposite of the aforementioned lunch counters. It is clean, bright, spacious (boasts sky high ceilings) and best of all.... plenty of seating!

How to describe the menu.... think Chipotle meets Asian street food (the kind that fits neatly in your hand). Organic, natural meats from happy animals, fresh herbs, spices, and veggies, prepared in an open kitchen.

Step 1: Pick your meat (or tofu). We tried the five spice chicken (with homemade pate!), kalbi-style beef shortribs, and roast pork.

Step 2: Pick your vehicle-of-choice: crusty and soft banh mi filled with pickled carrots, cukes jalapenos and cilantro, ssam rice paper wrap, or a mixed greens salad with jicama, radish, mango and peanuts. ($7-$8, with additional $0.75 for pate)

Step 3: Try a side: crispy, lightly fried lotus chips. Yes, that's right, lotus! ($1.50)


Step 4: Vietnamese iced coffee to wash everything down.

Step 5: Most important of all: DO NOT miss out on the steamed pork bun! A thick slice of delicious marinated pork belly, in a traditional steamed pocket bread. ($2.95 each)

Here is the added bonus. You get to tell your friends and coworkers that you ate food cooked by a chef who trained under Thomas Keller. The founder of Spice Kit, Will Pacio, a grad of the French Culinary Institute, worked at both per se and the French Laundry.

What a sweet (spicy and savory) deal.

Ambiance: Modern design, clean lines, wide counters, and open kitchen. High ceilings and large windows that let in plenty of light. The weekdays draws in the nearby business folk breaking for a healthy, power lunch. Lighter traffic on Saturdays.

Hours: M-F 10:30am - 8:00pm, Sat 10:30am - 3:00pm, Sun Closed

Spice Kit
405 Howard Street 
(bw First and Fremont)

Spice Kit on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bi-Rite Creamery

Salty ice cream? You bet. I'm a big fan of sweet-salty snacks: kettle corn, apples and brie, melon and salt, maple bacon donuts....wait, that's a whole other post to talk about!)  

I discovered the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery when I first moved to SF and I've been a changed woman ever since. For the better. But your tastebuds will be ruined for all other ice creams.

There is even a cake version! We picked up this decadent chocolate cake with salted caramel mousse at Bi-Rite Market down the street:

There are some seasonal changes in flavors but for the most part, the menu stays consistent. Although Mr.S sorely misses his Fresh Cream ice cream from seasons past.

Sampling is a must!

Service: In spite of the massive lines, the staff is so friendly. Who wouldn't be if you worked around such delicious treats all day? Although if I worked there, I'd probably be let go the first day after they found me face down in a vat of salted caramel....

Ambiance: Smells like sugar! Small, but recently expanded next door. There is now soft serve! Limited flavors depending on the day of the week. On popular weekend evenings, spend anywhere up to 20-30 minutes in line.

Other Flavors: Strawberry balsamic (**hand trembling..), honey lavender (I am personally not a fan, but some swear by this), earl gray tea (tastes just like the real thing!), toffee chip cookies, coffee toffee ice cream cake (the crunchy toffee bits are the standout)

Important: Pick up a frequent-buyer card, and you can get your 10th ice cream scoop for free! And take home a pint for $7- pricey but worth the value.

Hours: Sun-Thurs until 10pm, Fri-Sat open late until 11pm

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
(at Dolores)
San Francisco, CA

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bake Shop on Urbanspoon


Má là. Not your garden-variety spicy. This kind of spice comes from the Sichuan peppercorn, and its numbing effects can become quite addictive.

My remedy for an overly bland diet (which tends to happen when I overload on salads and sandwiches throughout the week) is overwhelming my tastebuds with a meal at Spices on the weekend. We also like to bring friends here, to show them what a truly authentic Sichuan meal is.

Here are some of my favorites...

Fried Chicken with Explosive Chili Pepper! ($8.95) (Seriously, there are "!!!" written on the menu.) These are mini chicken thighs, flash-fried then wok-tossed in a heaping mound of red chili peppers, garlic, ginger and scallion. Great with a Qing Dao beer!

Sizzling Lamb with Cumin ($9.95) These arrive nested in a foil lined hot plate, sizzling and encrusted in smoky cumin:

Fried Stinky Tofu ($4.25) On certain days, you can smell this pungent dish from around the block. People always ask me what it tastes like. Well, it's hard to say- it's like describing a well aged cheese. Ripe, a bit ammoniated, a creamy center surrounded by a crispy, light shell. Try it and even if you throw up a little in your mouth, you can at least brag that you've eaten fermented curdled soybeans.

Spicy Fish Filet Bowl with Flaming Red Oil ($9.95) Don't be surprised if you get the flaming red runs after eating this. Hey, if that's a sign it's good, I'm in!

Dry Braised String Beans ($7.95) The BEST vegetarian dish here- it's "dry" because they are flash fried over such a high heat, with no sauce, so the beans stay tender and crispy, with a smoky garlic finish.

Sichuan whole fish with hot chili bean sauce ($12.95) What a steal for a whole fish. I usually go for the head first - the best part.... This is not so spicy. The sauce is actually somewhat sweet and sour, and surprise! full of garlic.

Wontons in Flaming Red Oil (aka hong you chao shou) This is a great appetizer, or side dish, or just order two and make it a meal! As you can see, the flaming red oil sauce is ubiquitous throughout the menu.

Service: It will seem speedy and abrupt... if you are not Chinese. Dishes arrive as they come out from the wok - really in no apparent order. If they get a break, the petite Chinese girl servers will take a breather and chat away in Chinese. It's like being in China! (btw, I'm throwing my fingers up in a "V" sign.)

Ambiance: Small and packed on the weekend. Although clean, do not expect a fine dining establishment! You are here for Sichuan flaming red oil! Our favorite is the owner- Taiwanese pop star extraordinaire (picture flowing hair, shirt open a few too many buttons, and a Gucci mens carry-all) but so nice.

Other Must Tries: "Lion's Head" braised giant meatball, numbing spice beef tendon (appetizer), hot and spicy beef combination (fu qi fei pian) (appetizer), Shrimp "twin style"- spicy and walnut creamed

Neighborhood: Inner Richmond

294 8th Avenue
(at Clement)
San Francisco, CA

Spices on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Everything you've read or heard about Sebo is probably true. And there has been much written and talked about since it was featured on No Reservations. 

The fish is clean and fresh to the point of being sweet. The izakaya dishes are simply composed, with hand picked ingredients that allow the seafood or meat's natural flavors shine. And yes, the portions are small, and after a few courses and a couple rounds of sake, your bill will leave you a poorer, albeit well-fed, diner.

The 5 Piece Chef's selection of sashimi ($14):

Assortment of nigiri:

Our favorites: the hotategai (scallops) are sweet and literally melt on your tongue, toro (fatty tuna), tai (sea bream) and mackeral. The fish is served at room temperature which maximizes the natural oils' flavors.

A plate of house-made pickles (daikon, lotus root, kobacha squash, carrots) ($5) were somewhat bland, but still quite interesting- very toothsome: 

Although not on the menu that night, this grilled yellowtail collar was specially made, upon request:

On Sunday nights, the menu is all izakaya-style: delicious cooked small plates. Be sure to get there early, as the more popular dishes run out fast.

Grilled whole shrimp

Seared big-eye tuna with a tomato consomme:

A salad of big-eye tuna and okra: (a bit slimy)

Service: a bit on the slow side, but we've never had a complaint.

Ambiance: small and minimal, with warm, polished woods. There are only a few tables, but if you are lucky to arrive early enough, find prime seating at the bar for a first-hand look at the chefs in action. (We hear that Wednesday evenings around 6 are the least crowded.)

Menu: constantly changes, so you may not find that same dish you so loved from a previous trip. And suffice it to say, do not expect to find a dragon roll on the menu, nor any such combination of spicy sauce, avocado, and cream cheese packed into a roll!

517 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA

Sebo on Urbanspoon

The Sentinel's Reuben Sandwich

MMMM with capital "m's." That's how good this sandwich is. (However it's still remains my 2nd favorite Reuben in the city.... I will reveal my top choice in a later post.)

I'm fortunate enough to live and go to school within 3 blocks of the Sentinel's sandwich counter. I am, however, not fortunate in that I live on a law student's budget, which is to say that I cannot afford an $8.75 sandwich every time I have a craving for delicious corned beef and gruyere, and that is pretty much everyday.

For those of you in the know, aka those who work within a 5 block radius of the small counter in SOMA, the Sentinel's limited menu of sandwiches and daily special are legendary. There are both cold and hot selections, most of which change with the seasons. The Reuben however, remains a constant, and is described as "corned beef with cabbage, russian dressing and swiss." (sometimes it is gruyere) 

What the menu fails to tell you is how delicious the bread is! It's like a perfect marriage of a ciabatta and focaccia- soft chewy innards, crisp and salty on the outside....warmed.

I don't understand why some sandwich places make Reubens with pastrami, but luckily, this version is made with thin sliced corned beef - the best. 

Service: Fast, unless there's a line around the back.

Other Must Tries: muffins in the morning, egg salad sandwich (although overpriced at $8.25)

FYI: Hours are 730 am to 230 pm.

37 New Montgomery St.
(next to House of Shields)
San Francisco, CA

The Sentinel on Urbanspoon