Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Halibut Burgers Recipe

I get a delivery of seafood once per week from Real Good Fish, and for two weeks in a row, it's been halibut. Rather than just cook the filets, I decided to go in a different direction, burgers. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a burger even if it’s not a hamburger. Salmon is very popular for burgers, but halibut works too. The trick with fish burgers, much like fish cakes, is to minimize the filler. 

I came across a brilliant technique from Melissa Trainer, who wrote that she learned it from chef Jordan Mackey. The trick is to use pureed raw fish as the binder, rather than bread crumbs or egg. That’s pretty much it. The burgers hold together beautifully. Halibut is lean though, so it's important not to overcook it. You can check the temperature if you like and when it’s 145 degrees it’s done, but I just cook it until it’s firm. 

I like my burger served on a bun, but you could also serve it on a bed of greens. It does benefit from a slathering of tartar sauce. Use any recipe for tartar sauce that you like. Tartar sauce is just mayo, lemon juice and some chopped capers and pickle relish or chopped cornichons. If you’re not planning to use tartar sauce but just mayo, double the salt in the burgers. 

Halibut Burgers 
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound halibut, skin and bones removed
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
Pinch sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
Oil for grilling

Instructions 

Roughly dice the halibut into about 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the diced halibut with salt and sugar and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove about 1/3 of the fish and process in a food processor until smooth. Add the puree back to the remaining fish along with the mustard, lemon peel and dill and stir until well combined then form 4 patties. 

Heat a grill pan or skillet and lightly oil it. When hot, add the burgers and cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Flip the burgers and cook until cooked through but still moist, about 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with tartar sauce, arugula and a slice of tomato.

Enjoy!  

Disclaimer: My thanks to Real Good Fish for providing me with the halibut used in creating this recipe. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Bourbon Cherries Recipe


The pleasure of fresh cherries is fleeting, so while there may be nothing better than eating them soon after they are picked, if you want to enjoy them year round, canning is the answer. This year I decided to make bourbon cherries from the wonderfully sweet cherries kindly sent to me by the Northwest Cherry Growers as part of the “Canbassador” program. They are terrific in cocktails but also spooned over vanilla ice cream. 

This year I finally bit the bullet and bought a canner, it's a small one, it holds 7 pint jars which is just fine for me. Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of canning accoutrement—the jar lifter, the jar funnel and the lid lifter. I use a variety of jars, but am particularly fond of the Ball®  Sharing Jars I received from Ball® Home Canning. Designed for gifting, the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k). 

This year I used a recipe from Ball but I’ve expanded the recipe instructions to include all the steps you need to take. I’ve also replaced the brandy in their recipe with bourbon. I recommend choosing a delicious bourbon that isn't too hot and has vanilla, spice and caramel flavors to complement the cherries. 
The sharing jars are on the right, a classic Ball jar is on the left

Bourbon Cherries - adapted from Ball Canning
Makes about 6 or 7 pints

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 pounds cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 1/4 cups bourbon

Instructions

Get your jars, lids and band rims ready. Wash pint canning jars with soapy water. Rinse the jars throughly and place in a canner or very large pot. Fill the pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot large enough to hold all of the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to make sure the sugar is fully disolved. Add the cherries. When heated through add take the pot off the stove and add the bourbon. 

Lift the jars out of the water, emptying the water back into the pot as you go. Ladle the cherry mixture into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe the rims and twist the rim band until “fingertip” tight. Place the jars careully into the boiling waterthen boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to rest for 5 minutes in the canner. Remove the jars and allow to rest to 12 hours before testing to make sure the jars are properly sealed. Store for up to one year. 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to both Northwest Cherry Growers and Ball® Home Canning both are great resources for recipes and information.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Indo Fijian Food

I’m fascinated by the Pacific Islands, maybe it's because the San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the largest populations of Pacific Islanders outside of the Pacific Islands. While I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Hawaii most of the other islands in the region are on my bucket list including Fiji. I was lucky enough to meet some Fijians recently and here is what I learned. 

1. Fijians put family ahead of everthing else and are known for being very talented health care workers who say “caregiving is in our blood.” 

2. Fijians are passionate about rugby and were the world champtions in the Rugby World Cup Sevens twice and won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

3. Fijians partake in drinking kava made from the root of the Piper methysticum plant. It’s has sedative, anesthetic and euphoric properties and relieves anxiety. Originally used in ceremonites, it’s now enjoyed socially and served out of a bowl, if you’re lucky by a charming and handsome Fijian. 

4. Fiji was formerly a British colony, over 40% of their population is Indo Fijian. So much of their cuisine is influenced by Indian food. 

5. Just as the Hawaiian word aloha means many things and is used as a greeting, Fijians use the word bula (boo-lah) which means life but implies good health. 

In addition to meeting Fijians, I got to try some Indo-Fijian food. Here are a few dishes made by James Raven Chand, proprietor of Curryous? Catering. The food was outstanding and if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, James is your man. 


First off, crunchy fried cassava served with pineapple cilantro chutney. In the middle are some of the tastiest meatballs, made from a combination of beef for flavor and chicken for tenderness, marinated in a spice paste and coated with a red pepper coconut glaze. Finally on the right, some classic samosas, filled with potatoes and peas. Light and crisp and delicious served with a tamarind chutney.

Last but not least, the Fijians are in San Francisco for their beloved rugby so if you’d like to meet them, head to the Rugby World Cup Sevens Welcome Ceremony at Embarcadero Plaza at 5 pm on Thursday July 19, 2018 or get tickets to see them play at AT&T Park. Or learn more about visiting Fiji

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Asian Night Markets coming to San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area has an incredibly diverse food scene. You can dine at Michelin star restaurants with elaborate tasting menus, or grab something on the go at a food truck and there’s no shortage of options in between. Over the past 10 years street food events have provided a new option. But we’ve been missing something that’s common in Asia, the night market. There have been a few pop-ups, but Off the Grid at Fort Mason is perhaps the closest thing we have to it on a regular basis. With music, drinks and almost 30 food vendors it’s a fun and tasty way to spend a Friday night. 

But if you’ve been to a night market in Asia, you know it offers much more than just food and music. It usually includes different kinds of entertainment, vendors and artisans selling their wares and sometimes even activities for kids. Night markets are fun but also a way to discover and connect with different people and cultures in a most delicious way. I’m happy to share two different night market events in San Francisco — one more geared towards adults and the other is all ages.


July 19th, 2018 from 7 - 10 pm

Local chef Tu David Phu is the organizer of Chef’s Hawker Centre style pop-ups including a ticketed event taking place at the Asian Art Museum this week. Guests will get unlimited access to food booths and two drink tickets to try cocktails by Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven and Jack Daniels Cocktail Champ Adam Brogan. 

Participating chefs include newly minted SF Chronicle Rising Star Chef Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage, Jason Angeles of FK Frozen Custard, Reem Assil of Reem’s California, Richgail Enriquez of Astig Vegan, Deuki Hong of Sunday at the Museum, Jake Rosenbush of Hardwood Bar & Smokery, Hanif Sadr of Komaaj, and Nite Yun of Nyum Bai.   

I’m really excited about this event! I can vouch for the food from Francis Ang, Jason Angeles, Reem Assil, and Jake Rosenbush and am eager to try the rest. It’s a great opportunity to explore some of the Bay Area’s most exciting food all under one roof.  Tickets start at $65 


July 21st, 2018 (August 18th, September 15th, October 20th) from 4 -10 pm

Despite its fairly low profile, food writers like me have been saying Filipino food is the next big thing for ages and maybe it finally is coming true. This Summer and into the Fall there will be a Filipino night market taking place one Saturday a month, behind the SF Chronicle building at 401 Minna St. I recently went to a preview and loved every bite. 

The line up of talent is amazing—lots of terrific chefs including Alex Retodo of The Lumpia Company who makes unbelievable fillings for his lumpia like bacon cheeseburger!  Deanna Sison Foster of Mestiza, Chef JP of The Sarap Shop who makes complex and flavorful Laing rice bowls with succulent braised taro leaves with ginger and shrimp paste, Hannah Huyoa of Adobos and More who could find no Filipino food in Santa Rosa and began making her own scrumptious adobo tacos, Dennis Villafranca aka Jeepney Guy who makes crispy skin pork lechon, and Reina Montenegro of Nick’s Kitchen who will blow you away with her vegan versions of everything from flan to sisig and caldereta, her food is really unbelievable. I’m leaving out the desserts (there’s got to be some surprises).