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).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Roasted Fioretto Recipe

It’s not often that you come across a new vegetable. The first time I saw Fioretto at a market in Chinatown I thought it must be some kind of weird overgrown cauliflower. It turns out it’s a relatively new hybrid that combines the best of broccoli and cauliflower. In addition to Fioretto, it’s also called stick cauliflower, flowering cauliflower, Chinese cauliflower and kaurifurore. It has thinner sweeter tops than cauliflower, and stems similar to broccoli which are sometimes white and other times pale green. The stems deepen in color when cooked. 

The hybrid was developed in Japan in 2012 by a seed company and I started noticing it the past year or so but couldn’t find much information about it. Once I tried cooking it, I became a fan. Because it’s less dense, it’s easy to cook and lends itself well to raw, steamed or stir fried recipes. One of the ways I particularly like preparing it is by roasting it with olive oil, salt and garlic. Like traditional cauliflower it develops a very appealing sweet flavor when cooked. It’s a great side dish, but also good tossed with pasta or in a roasted vegetable salad served either warm or at room temperature.

I’ve seen Fioretto at both farmer’s markets and frequently in Asian produce markets and it’s also distributed by Melissa’s and Specialty Produce. Like other brassicas it’s high in vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. If you’ve tried it, let me know in the comments. 

Roasted Fioretto 
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 head of Fioretto broken into small pieces, about 4 cups when sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break the vegetable into bite sized florets and toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic and salt. Place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown in spots. 


Enjoy!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Indian Spiced Rum Punch Recipe



Rum puts me in a happy mood and I know I’m not the only one. It conjures up tropical destinations and pairs beautifully with a variety of fruits, spices and even herbs, which brings me to this rum punch. The idea was to have a welcome cocktail that would be celebratory and special but also complement Indian food being served at an intimate anniversary get together. 

Rum punch is often a Caribbean affair, which makes sense since rum is produced there. But this punch had a few Southeast Asian ingredients to boot. It was created by award-winning bartender Christopher Chamberlain who has worked with an incredible number of brands. The base of the drink was built around RumHaven, a particularly delicious coconut rum, made with coconut water. It’s sweet but not cloying and has a lovely freshness. 
The recipe is rather involved. Seriously. I’ve made full dinners that took less preparation! But in the end I have to say, it was worth all the work that went into it. I only made a couple of changes to the original recipe. I used fresh turmeric rather than the dry powder. I really love the depth of flavor in fresh turmeric and it’s pretty easy for me to find. I also substituted Thai basil for regular basil. I thought since this drink had an Indian vibe that Thai basil would be a better fit. If you don’t make this rum punch I would like to suggest that you consider the technique of grilling pineapple and macerating it with rum. The result was absolutely divine! Both the rum as well as the incredibly boozy pineapple. 


Indian Spice Rum Punch
Makes about 10-12 servings

1 pineapple, peeled and sliced and heavily grilled, plus a few fresh slices for garnish
1 bottle RumHaven coconut rum
1/2 teaspoon corriander seeds
1 thumb sized piece of fresh turmeric, thinly sliced
6 ounces agave syrup
9 ounces cold freshly pressed lime juice
10-12 Thai basil leaves, plus additional leaves for a garnish
12-16 ounces cold ginger beer (Fever Few brand recommended)

Begin by combining the rum with the grilled pineapple and macerating overnight. I used a large plastic tub. Crush the corriander seeds and combine with the sliced turmeric and agave syrup in a small saucepan. Heath generly and cook over low heat until fragrant. Let cool then strain. 

Place the basil leaves n a large bowl (not the punch bowl)and lightly press with a muddler to release the flavor and oils. Strain the rum into the bowl, reserving the pineapple to enjoy later. Stir together to incorporate flavors. Strain the mixture and measure 24 ounces into into the punch bowl. Add the lime juice, spiced agave and ginger beer and stir to combine. Add a large block of ice and garnish with fresh Thai basil and fresh pineapple. 

Enjoy! 

Disclaimer: My thanks to RumHaven for supplying both the rum and cocktail expertise. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.