Archive for the 'Ingredients' Category


Makrut Limes – aka “Kaffir” Limes

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

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Photo by David Monniaux

…a bit of trivia, a discussion I go through with many cookbook editors as I try to massage our language:

“Kaffir” was, historically, a word used in South Africa to refer to dark-skinned peoples. It differentiated the SE Asian limes grown in Indonesia (where the native Austronesian tribes had dark skin and curly hair) from the juicy and smooth-skinned Persian limes familiar to Europeans.

Word origins: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kaffir

It’s now considered extremely derogatory, a term that is outlawed, in fact, in several other countries. Users can be prosecuted in court for what we know here as hate speech.

I try to encourage my colleagues and students to use the name “makrut” or “magrut” lime. Obviously, we still have a ways to go, as our whole food industry in the west has absorbed the term without knowing its political background. I often put it in parenthesis, to clarify for readers, but have been working hard to weed it from our cookbooks.

And, as you can tell, continue my Quixotic, linguistic crusade….

Thy


Taking Time in the Kitchen: Down to the Brown

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

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Everyday cooking means taking lots of shortcuts. For the most flavor with the shortest amount of time in the kitchen, especially when you’ve splurged or gone out of your way to buy good ingredients, it’s a delicate balance between paying attention to the details and just trying to get dinner on the table.

We’ve all done it — cooked tomatoes with their peels and seeds, served pureed soup unstrained, fried the potatoes just once, not twice. It’s healthier, right?

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Red Crawfish

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

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One of my favorite culinary mash-ups of recent years is the Vietnamese-Chinese-Cajun crawfish boil served with rice or garlic noodles. Following the arc of families moving from Vietnam to New Orleans to Southern California to, finally, San Jose and San Francisco, mud bugs have taken a garlicky turn and shown up, of all places, in Little Saigon’s across the country.

Red Crawfish in San Francisco’s Tenderloin is the one closest and dearest to me, as I head over that way anytime I’m craving familiar, comforting flavors. Boiled crawfish is a new tradition among my peeps, but it’s one that I’m very happy to adopt, too.

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Arepas: Homemade Flatbreads

Monday, May 25th, 2009

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Ardent fans of homemade corn tortillas, papusas and pleasantly plump gorditas know that arepas belong in Latin America’s reigning family of corn-based flatbreads. A staple in Venezuela and Colombia, arepas fill the workaday cook’s most important need: foods that are easy to make and easy to use and never boring.

Early recipes required only cornmeal and water. Most cooks now season with a bit of salt, while some lean toward richer versions with milk, lard or butter in the dough. In Venezuela, arepas tend to be split and filled like sandwiches, while the thinner, leaner versions typical of Colombia are often topped with minimalist fillings for breakfast.

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Duc Loi Supermarket

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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A shopper at Duc Loi Supermarket carefully selects large chunks of freshly fried chicharrones, while rendered lard begins solidifying on the counter nearby.   

For over twenty years, seven days a week, Howard and Amanda Ngo have sold fresh, affordable produce and a quirky blend of both Latin American and Asian ingredients at the heart of the Mission District.

Looking for purple corn and whole-blossom jamaica in bulk? They have it. Ube yam and cashew fruit and banana leaves in the freezer section? Check. Dried peruvian beans or dried tofu nuggets? Check. Goat ribs and ox tails and whole, fresh pig heads? It’s all there at the meat counter. Young, watery coconuts chilled and ready to hack open for sipping on a sunny afternoon? Most definitely yes.

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