Made the Yelp weekly newsletter

...for my review of the local taco truck!

"¡Hola, yelperitos! Tomorrow is Mexican Independence Day, and what better way to celebrate than by downing some cerveza, agua fresca y tacos deliciosos? Hard or soft, fishy or meaty, there are endless possibilities for your taste buds to be tantalized... so grab your finest sombrero for a tour of the tastiest tacos around. ¡Ándale!

If you're on the Peninsula, Stephanie L insists that you make a pit stop at Tacos Peralta in San Mateo and 'KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).' She consistently gets 'at least one carnitas taco with hot sauce, onions and cheese, and it is always a taste experience.'" 

Read the entire Yelp Weekly Newsletter here!

Foodie Tuesday: First attempt at Peruvian Saltado

Hey guys, sorry for the flood of food posts but I guess food's one of the few things that make sense in this mad, crazy world.

I probably ate this first at El Polla Inka in Anaheim sometime during high school.  It was pretty tasty, but it wasn't until I had it at Mario's Peruvian Seafood--on the eastside in LA, close to Larchmont Village/Hancock Park (it's technically Mid-Wilshire)--that I was blown away.  I went back for more, tried it multiple times in various combinations.  I decided the two best versions are lomo saltado (beef) and saltado mariscos (some mix of shellfish usually).

So what is a saltado exactly?  I understand it to be a stir-fry of sorts, made with your choice of meat (most traditionally beef, but also chicken, fish, shrimp), red onions, tomatoes, and french fries, served over rice.  The meat is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce and spices.  

Since moving to the Bay area I've had saltado at Mi Lindo Peru, on the border of the Mission district and Bernal Heights in SF.  Most of the saltados are solid, but the seafood saltado, with its delicate mix of shrimp and squid, is great.
It never occurred to me that I could re-create this dish at home, until I got some leftover home fries after eating out the other day and thought I could incorporate them into my own version of saltado.

I started with this very informative article on Chowhound, but made a few tweaks of my own. I was surprised the dish came out so well, but the key was to have a very hot carbon steel (or cast-iron) wok over a gas flame. It's imperative for getting the right caramelization and browning/crusting on everything. 
This is what I did:
  • I used frozen basa (sole) fillets which I sliced and marinated in some soy sauce with cumin powder, paprika and ground pepper.  I didn't have quite enough basa so I used some of the fancy smoked salmon I bought but didn't marinate that.
  • I went all-out and used Peruvian blue/purple potatoes for the fries.  Sliced them up to steak-fry size and deef-fried them in a heavy pan. Blue potatoes have a deliciously nutty flavor and richer texture than regular potatoes.
  • Roughly cubed two tomatoes off the vine along with half a red onion.  Threw the onions into a very hot wok with minced garlic and let it brown/char a bit, then cooked until it was only slightly wilty.  Added the tomatoes and stir-fried it for just a minute or two, just enough to "warm up" the tomatoes.
  • Lastly, wiped the wok off a bit and made sure it was super hot before throwing on the fish to brown.  Cooked on one side for 1 min. and the flipped, being careful to scrape each piece off the wok along with its delicious browned crust.  Cooked the other side until done.
  • Tossed everything together.  Served over brown rice (extra healthy!)
Warning: Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated!  The amount of steam/smoke you create while cooking this dish is unbelievable.

Affordable Luxury, Pt. 1: Life ain't bad so long as I can eat this well.

I came home late from work tonight, hungry.  So very hungry.  I wanted something simple, something that would not require a ton of prep or even thinking.  I literally rustled all the ingredients for this meal from my fridge/cupboard:

The Salad:

- Spring mix from Milk Pail Market
- Red-gold heirloom tomato (on its last legs) from Berkeley Bowl
- Real buffalo mozzarella (as in, made from buffalo milk) from Trader Joe's
- Home-grown basil leaves
- Handful of toasted pine nuts from TJ's
- Prosciutto from TJ's, torn into little bits
- Bits of red onion from Mollie Stone's
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar

In my humble opinion, one ought to keep a pack of prosciutto around at all times.  It is oh-so-delicious, adds flavor to anything (my favorite is wrapping it around avocado!), and a little goes a long way.  Also, everyone ought to grow a pot or two of their favorite herbs.

The Scramble:

- Shredded chicken from Safeway (I bought a whole chicken and boiled it last night to make stock to put in porridge because Garry was sick...again!)
- Sliced mushrooms from Milk Pail
- Red onion
- Crumbled gorgonzola cheese from TJ's (I store it in my freezer)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, of course, from TJ's

I dumped the scramble onto some leftover brown rice.  Such a small way to feel like you are livin' large.

Kung Fu Tacos: SF Bay finally gets its own version of the Asian Taco Truck!

I should maybe be a little more miffed that these guys are straight-up copying the original Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck down in LA, but as I only get to visit my favorite city once in a blue moon, and because they are so hard to track down, I'm not going to complain too much that I can now find a comparable experience up here in Norcal.

Has anyone actually seen them? Eaten their tacos? Let's do a food cart crawl!

Hat tip:  Those guys are bomb.

King of Noodles in the Sunset District

One good thing about speaking elementary Chinese is that I can get away with asking people elementary questions, like, "Ni cong na li lai?" or "Where are you from?"  In this way, I discovered that the driver of my moving truck was from Shandong.  As soon as he said that, I nodded in recognition and told him I knew about the famous Shandong noodles.

He got pretty excited and told me that if I wanted to try some really good Shandong-style hand-pulled noodles, or sou la mian, I had to try this place, which he couldn't remember the name, which was on "Irwin between 17th and 18th."  Turns out he was talking about La Mian Wang or King of Noodles at 1639 Irving St., between 17th and 18th.

My family and I knew we hadn't gone wrong when we got there late on Saturday night and found the place packed (well, it's tiny, but still) with people slurping up steaming bowls of long noodles in broth.  We waited a long time, and there wasn't even anyone in front of us.  Service is really slow, I guess.  
We got the spicy beef tendon, which was cold and thinly sliced and super flavorful, along with the shrimp and chives dumplings (yummy texture, but next time I will get something with pork) and three noodle dishes: zhajiang mian (too beany in flavor and had weird additions like zucchini), tendonous beef noodles in a clear broth with veggies (deliciously flavored and nowhere near as bland as it looked; I think it was the addition of five-spice that did it), and a pan-fried chicken noodles (the noodles were excellent but the sauce was hohum. Next time will try the "house special" sauce with chicken and mushrooms).  All in all, a fantastic comfort-style meal to end a long day of packing and moving.