Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pho at Home

1 Large White Onion
1 Piece of Ginger
3 Cloves of Garlic
3 lbs. Beef Soup Bones
1 t Coriander Seeds
1 t Black Peppercorns
3 Whole Cloves
3 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 T Salt
2 T Sugar
1 Package of Dry or Fresh Pho Noodles
1/2 lb. of Thinly Sliced Sirloin
1 Package of Beef Meatballs

Lime Wedges
Bean Sprouts
Cilantro leaves
Thai Basil
Ngo Gai
White Onion, sliced
Green Onions, sliced
Fried Garlic
Fish Sauce

1. Char onion and ginger on a gas stovetop. Then I like to place the onion, ginger, and garlic in a preheated oven (350) for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before removing burnt parts.

2. Make a sachet by putting the coriander seeds, star anise, peppercorns, and cloves into a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.

3. Place soup bones in a stock pot and cover with water. Parboil soup bones. Remove from heat and rinse bones. Clean stock pot. Put bones back in pot and add 4-5 quarts of water. Bring it to a boil then lower heat and let it simmer. Add garlic, onion, ginger, sachet, and cinnamon stick. Simmer on low for 3 hours. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Let soup cool. Remove bones, sachet, onion, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon stick. Strain soup. Cover pot with lid and put in refrigerator overnight.

4. Take stock pot out of refrigerator and remove fat from the soup. Reheat soup, add meatballs and simmer.

5. Prepare noodles. If using dry noodles, I presoak them in water before cooking them. Blanch noodles in boiling water then strain water from noodles. Bring soup to a boil.

6. To assemble a bowl of pho: Place blanched noodles in bowl, add raw meat, then hot soup with meatballs. The way I like my pho is to then garnish with the fried garlic, cilantro, green and white onion, thai basil, and lots of bean sprouts. Then I'll add fish sauce, black pepper, and a squeeze of lime.

When I made my pho, I didn't have all the ingredients that I wanted. It was a spur of the moment thing and I used what I had on hand, which wasn't bad. But I didn't have meat, meatballs, the herbs, well done flank steak, brisket, tendons, or (my favorite thing to eat with my pho) my mom's pickled birdseye peppers. I like a clear broth with very little oil. I don't add sriracha or hoisin sauce.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dante's Seafood Grill at Pier 39

Dante's Seafood Grill
Pier 39
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 434-4424

After a long day of sight seeing, I went back to the hotel and took a long nap. Upon waking up, I was starving and craved seafood. I hadn't left the hotel at nighttime before this night. The city was beautifully lit. I could see the clocktower at the Ferry Building and the lit up Bay Bridge from my hotel. I decided to head out to Pier 39 for a light meal and some mini donuts for dessert. We arrived an hour and a half before closing and the restaurant was empty except for a handful of tables filled with small families of tourists. I thought we had a lovely view of the Bay.

I started off the meal with the sourdough bruschetta. I was hungry and ate a slice before I could take a picture.

I also ordered the steamed mussels and clams in garlic and white wine. It's served with a slice of grilled garlic bread.

Dante's speciality is the Sizzling Garlic Crab. It's dungeness crab roasted in butter, honey ginger sauce, roasted garlic, scallion, and lemongrass. The flavors were amazing. I loved this dish. It's messy but worth it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tu Lan

8 6th Street
(at Stevenson St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-0927
Mon-Sat 11:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

I can't remember the first time I heard about Tu Lan, but I remember wanting to try it during my visit to San Francisco. I didn't get the chance until my second trip. All the reviews I read about Tu Lan said Julia Child ate there and to watch out for all the crack addicts outside of the restaurant. That would exlpain the picture of Julia Child on the menu. I'm not sure about the crack addits, but there were quite a few "undesirables" hanging around outside right in front of the fried chicken shack next door. I'm very naive when it comes to such things, I have never seen or tried drugs. My companion pointed out a man along there 'selling' drugs hidden in cigarette boxes. I saw person after person handing this homeless looking man money and he would hand them a box of 'Newports' but there were only a few cigarettes in them.

I ordered our food and sat down at one of the small tables. The carryout service was busy that night. I noticed most of the carryout customers were caucasian and the dine in customers were Asian. While waiting for my food another customer came in to place an order and sat at my table. I struck up a friendly conversation with him. I asked him about the food and he recommended the curry and the grilled pork. I had ordered the grilled pork, chicken fried rice and egg rolls.

Once our food was ready, we paid for it and headed back to the hotel to eat. I wanted to catch the free wine tasting back at the hotel. I wanted to like the food from Tu Lan but it wasn't very good. The fried rice was greasy and had curry or tumeric in it. The egg rolls were very greasy and came with a sweet chili dipping sauce that was very thick. I thought the portions were very large for everything I ordered. My grilled pork was served on jasmine rice with slices of cucumber, shredded lettuce (or was it cabbage), an eggroll, and the same sauce that came with the order of eggrolls. The pork was thin, dry and too sweet. I think it was marinated in fish sauce, sugar, and green onions. I only ate a couple of bites. Overall this was a huge disappointment.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Banh Mi in San Francisco

Saigon Sandwiches
560 Larkin St
(between Eddy St & Turk St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 474-5698
Mon-Sat 6:30am-5:30pm
Sun 7am-4:30pm

I took a week off during Halloween to enjoy a trip to San Francisco. It was a wonderful, relaxing vacation. I did all the tourist things, such as going to all the museums, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39. The last time I was in San Francisco I didn't get to try the food, because I had bitten my tongue pretty bad the day before my trip and couldn't chew food well or taste anything. This time around I wanted to make sure I ate at all the places I've read about. On the top of my list was trying out the banh mi while I was there.

After touring the Asian Art Museum, I walked up Larkin Street a couple of blocks and found Saigon Sandwiches. It was almost closing time but I made it to order a 'fancy pork' sandwich which is made of thin slices of Gio Lua, pickled carrots and onions, cilantro, slices of jalapeno peppers, and some kind of mayonnaise.

The size of the sandwich was just right for me. The bread was toasted. I don't think I've ever had a banh mi quite like this one. I liked that there wasn't daikon in it. And the pickled carrots had slices of onion in it. I even liked the mayo on it and I don't normally like that on my sandwiches.

Overall, I would say it was a good sandwich.