If you live in the United States, here’s your chance to win a copy of Carolyn Jung’s new cookbook, San Francisco Chef’s Table. You got a taste of what’s inside via the ribs recipe from State Bird Provisions. What's inside the book?
My friend Cuong Pham, the founder and owner of Red Boat fish sauce, came to dinner with his family a few weeks ago. One of the first things he mentioned was that they’d celebrated their daughter’s birthday the night before at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco. “You got in?” I asked, telling him that one time we arrived around 6pm and the line was 3 hours long for a table for two. We went for pizza up the street instead.
Named 2012 Restaurant of the year by Bon Appetit magazine and with only 50 something seats, State Bird Provisions is in high-demand. Nabbing a table is hard, unless you’re patient or I suppose have an in. I was jealous of Cuong. Seeing as how I live a good hour and a half away from San Fran, I wasn’t about to be dinning there soon. Currently, there are no reservations available for 60 days.
Rather than stew in envy, I decided to make something from the restaurant. I’d seen a couple of its recipes in San Francisco’s Chef’s Table by Carolyn Jung, an award-winning food journalist formerly of the San Jose Mercury News.
I made a version of these ribs years ago from a cookbook published in Thailand. I employed baby back ribs and posted the recipe on VWK. I liked it well enough to keep it in our grilling repertoire for a while. However, I always felt that it was missing something – a little extra complexity in the marinade, a dipping sauce of some sort.
This recipe from the Pok Pokcookbook provided an answer via a marinade that included cinnamon and nutmeg along with white pepper (the other recipe had the pepper too). As it turned out, the spices added sweet, warm depth while the tart-sweet-spicy jaew dipping sauce contributed a last minute wild layer of flavor. It was more vibrant than the previous one I'd made. We're adding this recipe to our pork rib rotation this year!
Before diving in, keep in mind a few things. There is time involved in marinating the ribs and slow cooking them, but overall, they are easy to prepare. (The jaew sauce, with its three sub-recipes are what tripped me up, but for a delicious good cause!)
Once done, the ribs are chewy-tender – the way many Asians like their meat. Savoring the richness of animal protein by lots of chewing and gnawing is a pleasure that people enjoy. Meat is traditionally a luxe ingredient, raised naturally, and consumed in modest quantities from nose to tail.
Hurray! The Banh Mi Handbook went to print late last week. It was a push at the end to polish all the elements before the files were sent to China. As I mentioned earlier, the book won’t be out until July 8 but it has to get into the production queue. With people taking a huge chunk of time off for Lunar New Year, things would be delayed if we dilly dallied. We hustled to cross the finish line.
After I returned from Asia, I reviewed second proofs – which were basically the first proofs with the edits having been inputted and some minor layout redesign. At that stage, I huddled with my editor, Melissa Moore, who in turn huddled with designer Betsy Stromberg.
What those two women came up with was reviewed by a handful of other people at Ten Speed Press, including the publisher, creative director, and folks in sales and marketing. Things got tweaked, re-reviewed, and vetted at Ten Speed before I got my looksee. Above is the final cover and spine, which will be printed directly on the board that serves as the cover of the book; "POB" books do not sport jackets that slip off.
During the first proofs stage in December, we sent the book to people who may potentially provide an endorsement on the book jacket. The industry term for such remarks is “blurb” — which sounds awkward since it’s suppose to be a positive thing, a giant thumbs up.
One of the things that my husband and I wanted to do while we were in Singapore was to drink a bona fide Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel. “Ugh, you may be disappointed. It’s all pre-mixed and modernized. The hotel has little of its original charm,” local food expert Christopher Tan told us. Despite Chris’s forewarning, we went to Raffles anyway, on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve.
Dressed in casual travel clothes, we didn’t want to line up for afternoon tea with the high-rollers, who were decked out in pressed dresses and high heels. Raffles is a tony, elegant establishment but surely there was a bar that evoked the era when adventurous traders hung out at the hotel, got drunk, and made deals.
The Singapore Sling was available at several Raffles bars so I stopped a cook who was pushing a speed rack through the hotel and asked him where we ought to go. “The Long Bar,” he said with confidence.