London-based Fuchsia Dunlop has long been one of my favorite writers — and speakers. The first Westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, she is fluent in speaking, writing, and reading Chinese. Her knowledge of the foods of every region in China is bar none.
In her newest book, of which I received a review copy, the four-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author explores the historical, philosophical, and technical aspects of the vast range of Chinese food by presenting a literary banquet of 30 dishes. Each chapter hones in on one particular regional dish, serving up not only its origins and the importance of its ingredients, but the food producers, farmers, chefs, and home cooks who have put their indelible stamp on it.
The kind redolent of star anise plus a pop of chili. The kind with an aroma that tantalizes with warm spices from the first whiff. And the kind that soothes, satisfies, and lingers on the mind and palate long after the last slurp.
What was formerly Le Meridien hotel has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation that includes a sleek contemporary yet soothing pale earth-tone interior design by AvroKO, which also did SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg. The look was inspired by the organic and natural sculptural style of the late-great Ruth Asawa.
Start the Year of the Dragon off with a bang with something fiery and inspired.
“Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes” certainly isn’t traditional fare for the Lunar New Year, which starts on Saturday. But the dish certainly makes for an exciting and enticing new addition to the celebratory feast. Plus, it’s perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who enjoys twists on the classics.
This fun recipe is from “Veg-Table” (Chronicle Books, 2023), of which I received a review copy. It’s the newest cookbook by Los Angeles-based Nik Sharma, a former molecular biologist turned James Beard Award-winning, best-selling cookbook author, photographer, and recipe developer.
He brings his scientific background, precision for recipes, and love of big, bold flavors to bear on this collection of vegetable-focused recipes. It’s not a strictly vegetarian cookbook, but even when animal proteins are included, they play a more supporting rather than starring role.
The cookbook features more than 50 types of vegetables with recipes organized by plant family, including such temptations as “Kimchi Creamed Corn,” “Crispy Salmon with Green Curry Spinach,” “Cauliflower Bolognese,” and “Carrot, Apple, and Harissa Soup.”
San Francisco Chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett fondly remembers his mother cooking up a pan of chicken drumettes with sake, shoyu, and a copious amount of orange marmalade.
The resulting thick, sticky, sweet glaze would coat every inch of the tender drumettes that were savored hot or room temperature on New Year’s Day.
It wasn’t necessarily a classic component of the traditional Japanese New Year meal known as osechi. But in his family, it sure made for good eating on that day or any busy weeknight.
Me? I think it would score big-time on Super Bowl Sunday.
I mean, why pay homage to Buffalo, NY with been-there, done-that, fiery red-sauced wings when you can support the home team by indulging in a version from a bona fide San Francisco Mission District chef instead? That’s got to make for good juju, right?
The recipe comes from his debut cookbook, “Rintaro” (Hardie Grant, 2023), of which I received a review copy, that was written with San Francisco food writer Jessica Battilana.