Category Archives: Chinese

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles Chef Kathy Fang is the daughter of one of San Francisco’s legendary chefs, Peter Fang of the House of Nanking. To the uninitiated, those who have never eaten Chinese food in Shanghai or one of the major Asian-American urban hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Vancouver have probably eaten the domestic version normally laden with excess soy sauce, oils and fried. Shanghai food mixes a variety of regional Chinese cooking, primarily because the twenty-four million inhabitants  come seeking work in the big city. Street carts characterize the cuisine – eat and run – such as steamed buns, scallion pancakes, and a variety of rice balls. Each morsel can produce bold, complex flavors if placed in the correct hands – such as Chef Fang. Even today, more than twenty-five years later, queues are outside the first Chinatown located restaurant with far-flung travelers, guidebooks in hand, ready to dine on Fang’s Shanghainese-type eats.

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesAlong comes his daughter, Kathy Fang, who is every bit her father’s progeny but personifies the new generation of chefs, realizing that there is more than just the kitchen to cooking. After working in the corporate scene, the younger Fang decided to follow in the family’s footsteps, learning about European cooking techniques at a premier local culinary school. Together, in 2008, the father and daughter team opened Fang Restaurant, an elegant establishment focusing on the Chinese regional foods, but with a more refined, gastronomic approach.

“I’m very blessed to be around my dad and parents,” states Ms. Fang about working with her parents and father. “My dad can be very stubborn but we work together many hours of the day. Ultimately, we have a very loving relationship inside and outside the kitchen.”

Last year, Ms. Fang, was a winner on Food Network’s Chopped, the broadcast cooking competition show which places four chefs against each other with the hopes of winning ten thousand dollars. Ms. Fang, a petite and attractive woman, beat three burly Caucasian men. She says of winning, “Now, we get customers, mostly female, who come into Fang. They say, ‘I was rooting for you all the way against those guys. It was great to see a woman win.’ “

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles Ms. Fang’s future is bright as she continues to cook with her father at their eponymously named gourmet hall. Outside the kitchen, though, she is branding herself as a culinary leader with My Fangalicious, her website and family recipes. Her hopes are to become the next Martha Stewart with a “branded wok” and other gastronomic items like her Caucasian predecessors. As her clientele has attested, it’s good to see diversity in the food mix, so all people can be included in the conversation.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust)

 How long have you been cooking? Since I was 6 years old

What is your favorite food to cook? Pasta

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesWhat do you always have in your fridge at home? Eggs, hot sauce.

What do you cook at home? Asian and Italian food

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I’m lucky in that a lot of our customers come in to Fang knowing to trust the chef. I love customers who come in with an open mind to try new things to eat.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Customers who finish their meal and then tell you afterwards they didn’t like it. If you don’t like it, mention something right away. I feel like any restaurant would apologize and offer to make something different for you. Just be up front in the beginning, and we would be more than happy to make any changes for you.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine to wind down at home or when having dinner. Cocktails for a night out, a gin martini to be exact.

Your favorite cookbook author? David Chang. I love how he weaves his own story into the growth of all his restaurants. You learn about him, his restaurants, and his recipes all in one book.

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles
Sesame Chicken

Your favorite kitchen tool? This may seem weird but my electric kettle at home. I’m obsessed with it mostly because it heats up to boil so fast. I boil water for tea, water for boiling pasta, water for blanching. I also heat up soups using the kettle because it’s so fast. I just let it go, brush my teeth, work on my computer and then it shuts off after it boils. I also boil eggs in there in the morning.  For the cost and how often I use it and in so many different ways, it’s really one of the best little kitchen tools I have.

Your favorite ingredient? Soy sauce (I grew up eating this and I can’t imagine my cuisine without it)

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles
Fang, lower dining room

Your least favorite ingredient? Lemon pepper. I always think it has this weird fake element to it. And I never understood why you wouldn’t just use fresh lemon or citrus and freshly cracked pepper.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian, Chinese, and Japanese

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Pork

Favorite vegetable? I know it’s an overused vegetable and it seems like it’s that overly popular girl at school that everyone seems to talk about, but KALE is truly one of my favorite vegetables. For one, I’m a health nut, so any vegetable that I find healthy, I like. But aside from that, I find kale super versatile. I buy in big amounts because I can go through it all week. I can bake kale until it’s crisp like chips, I can sautée with eggs in the morning for breakfast. Kale works well in soups and stews. It also makes great salads if done right.  And finally toss it in smoothies to get extra vitamins and fiber. There are just so many ways to eat kale!

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesChef you most admire? Grant Achatz, Dominique Crenn, and Thomas Keller.

Food you like the most to eat? Sushi

Food you dislike the most? Natto

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None.

 

Recipe: Pesto Udon Noodle Salad

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesServes 2.

Make fresh pesto by blending fresh Italian basil, 2 garlic cloves, 3 tablespoon grated parmigiano reggiano, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 4 tablespoon high quality evoo, and salt. Taste and set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil (or use electric kettle) and pour the hot water over packaged udon noodles. Separate the noodles and let sit for 1 minute and stir.  Remove from water and run under cold water.  Set aside.  Dress the udon with freshly made pesto and plate. Slice some grilled chicken breast or roasted chicken and top the udon with it. Mozzarella balls and cherry/grape tomatoes are a great addition to this dish, as is a generous sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano.

  • The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite: Chinese Roast Pork (Char Sui) (adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis)

Char sui

I inherited the love of Chinese food from my mother. One of my earliest memories was eating at a Cantonese American restaurant in Monrovia, a suburb of Los Angeles. This was 1970 and try as they might, decorating correctness hadn’t been seen in Chinese restaurants. The dining room was lacquered red, dotted with Chinese lanterns giving the space a “World of Susie Wong” crimson glow. Spread before the two of us was a hearty Asian spread in stainless steel standing bowls and piled into them were the deliciously fatty food stuff such as  roast pork egg foo young, spareribs in black bean sauce, roast pork fried rice, roast pork eggrolls and the omnipresent white rice.

Yep, that roast pork was in everything.

As an incredibly poor college student looking for cheap eats in Manhattan’s Chinatown I discovered “real” Chinese roast pork hanging in storefront windows. It was as if you paddled into Hong Kong but you only walked across Canal Street. The bustling was stronger, headier than other parts of the city and you could tell you entered Chinatown by the smell of hoisin, sesame, soy sauce and food dangling in windows.  Char sui drenches windows in rows upon rows, covering the glass like a maroon-colored curtain, although sometimes it’s paired elegantly with a whole tea smoked duck. Smoked duck. Roast pork. Smoked duck. Roast pork. When a customer ordered a strip, a kitchen worker’s hand pushes through, parting the meaty fabric and yanks a strip for a hungry customer. Quickly they slice it, in a rapid machine gun motion and shovel it into one of the Chinese paper containers.

At the time, char siu was cheap, one dollar per order: I would get the roast pork, cold sesame noodles and white rice, just enough to get me through breakfast, lunch and dinner. I needed the carbs to keep me running through New York City streets. Walking from Union Square to Broadway so that I can get to Canal Street and back again. No twisting or turning….straight on through. But a long trek…a hike.

Often it’s made with red tofu paste, red dye and MSG.  It doesn’t need it. Using a really cheap cut of lusciously marinated and richly decadent pork, this can easily be served for masses. Home roasting made my house smell of Chinatown in a good way; while eating it will reminded me of being in college, running the streets of Manhattan and discovering myself.  Who knew you could get that from a recipe?

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2 ½ pounds of boneless pork shoulder

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 ½ tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce

1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons of rice wine

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon of white pepper

Depending on the size of your pork, cut them into 2 inches wide and approximately 1 inch thick. Place the strips into a baking dish that will hold the meat in an even layer. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover the pork with this mixture and marinate overnight.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and bring the pork to room temperature. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes basting every 5 – 9 minutes. At this point, it’s done but if you want to achieve that Chinatown look apply some mascara…..kidding….to achieve that roasted, marooned charred edge, place under broiler for about 3 – 4 minutes. It will achieve that beautifully dripping-in-fat appeal…lacquered and deliciously edible. Heat up leftover marinade and serve with the pork.

(Note: I served my roast pork as lettuce wraps with a variety of Asian condiments such as a peanut dipping sauce, alfalfa sprouts, pickled cucumbers and pickled ginger. It could have been served with rice.)

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