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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

New Dim Sum, Old-School Chinese Sausage

In a healthy twist on a classic dim sum offering, Wing Lee Bakery now has whole wheat bao, says Melanie Wong. They're "actually kind of mind-expanding after a lifetime of white buns," says indigirl. Melanie describes them as "soft and tender, just a slight bit coarser than the white flour would be, and the filling's just the same." For the record, that filling was chicken; a combo variation involves boneless chicken thigh meat, Chinese sausage (lop cheong), hard-cooked egg, scallions, and black mushroom. The whole-wheat bao are also available at sister restaurant Happy Bakery and likely also at Wei Lee,  under the same ownership.

Speaking of Chinese sausage (a handy addition to noodle soup when you're at home), the lop cheong at Mow Lee Shing Kee & Co "is the best in San Francisco has to offer," says yimster. The Chinatown spot is the last one still making "waxed"/preserved meats in-house the old-fashioned way, he says. They also do a good duck liver lop cheungmonku always gets a few pounds of each kind for family back in LA when visiting SF.

gordon wing was pleased with the tender, flavorful lop cheung he got at Wycen Foods. They're a safe bet, concedes yimster, and the option of cut-up sausages is really convenient.

Wing Lee Bakery [Inner Richmond District]
503 Clement Street, San Francisco

Happy Bakery [Sunset]
2253 Irving Street, San Francisco

Wei Lee Chinese Food & Donut [Inner Richmond District]
700 Clement Street, San Francisco

Mow Lee Shing Kee & Co [Chinatown]
774 Commercial Street, San Francisco

Wycen Foods [Chinatown]
903 Washington Street, San Francisco

Discuss: Whole wheat bao (buns) at Wing Lee (Clement St, San Francisco)
Wycen Chinese Sausage—thumbs up!

GMO’d Enviropigs, Achatz’s Egomania, RIP Boxed Wine

Canada Makes Magic Pigs: Canada has green-lighted the "limited production" of a genetically modified pig, dubbed the "Enviropig," which excretes less polluting poop. Up next: Golden-egg laying geese? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? via Discover

Chicago Schools On the Food Revolution Bandwagon: Starting in June, Chicago Public schools will be serving healthier lunches with more whole grains, dark green and orange veggies, and leaving "'dessert or candy-type' ingredients off the breakfast menu." via Chicago Sun Times


Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"MB's palate is limited. Ethnic is generally out and if the place doesn't have a full bar, cute waiters, the slab of meat option and a twist, he won't give it a high review." – ML8000, in a discussion of San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer and his Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list

"We just returned from dining at Hachi Ju Hachi in Saratoga, and it was an absolutely AMAZING experience!" – slydep, referring to the new upscale Japanese restaurant Hachi Ju Hachi, where the former chef of the kappo-style Hamon Washoku can now be found

"Mixed scoop of cardamom + dulce de leche for $2.95 = happiness." – bradluen, on the new location of Lush Gelato in Berkeley

The Best New Dessert Cookbooks

Hot Fruit
In time for spring and summer harvests, Deborah Madison brings us Seasonal Fruit Desserts with recipes for things like Huckleberry Cream Tart, Apricot Fold-Over Pie, and fruit and cheese pairings. Madison has a way of packing lots of info into her cookbooks without making them dry, and finding classy flavor combos that inspire.


About That Rabbit Slaughter Last Night

About That Rabbit Slaughter Last Night

The etiquette of urban homesteading. READ MORE

Near Self-Sufficiency Despite a Four-Hour Commute

Brett Markham punches the clock as a network engineering director by day, but he's got a second life as a mini-farmer in his New Hampshire backyard, which, despite the short growing season in his state, is turning out the vast majority of the food his family eats during the year. His book on turning hobby vegetable gardens into economically-efficient "farms" using sustainable techniques, Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, was just re-issued. CHOW spoke with Markham about whizbang chicken pluckers, multi-dimensional seed planting, and not being afraid to grow food just because you killed the office plant. READ MORE

Dinner Is Better Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Chowhounds routinely add soft, fresh goat cheese to salads and sandwiches, mix it into eggs, and eat it on crackers with honey or chutney, but they also incorporate it into cooked entrées.

"I've made fantastic meatballs (combo of veal, pork, lamb) stuffed with goat cheese and cooked in a crushed tomato sauce," says chitodc. "Amazingly delicious, the goat cheese is a perfect fit, but the other flavors are strong enough that it isn't overpowering." jnky stuffs burgers with goat cheese and caramelized onions before grilling.

sparkareno sautés a boneless, skinless chicken breast, then deglazes the pan with white wine or stock and swirls in a few tablespoons of goat cheese to make a creamy sauce.

lexpatti stuffs flank steak with goat cheese, spinach, roasted red peppers, bacon, and red onions. And try CHOW's Chicken with Goat Cheese and Figs.

Discuss: Ideas for goat cheese

Go Bananas for Dessert

There are lots of delicious ways to have bananas for dessert in addition to classics like Banana Pudding and Banana Bread.

kermit melts butter and sugar in a skillet and sautés sliced bananas until they soften, then tops them with ice cream or whipped cream. Emme lays sliced bananas on a baking sheet, tops with a streusel mixture (flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla), bakes at 350°F until golden and soft, and serves with ice cream.

rainey says this banana ice cream is "really very easy and very good." She folds in coarsely chopped nuts and drizzles on fudge and caramel syrups as she packs it into a freezer container for a decadent treat. collegekitchen freezes overripe bananas, then throws them frozen into a food processor with honey to make a quick "ice cream."

Discuss: Your best banana recipes
What to do with bananas?

Pig Fetish

Glad we're not the only ones noticing that country hams are underrated. On Hungry Beast, author Mark Scarborough's look at "Easter's Top Five Hams" is particularly obsessed with the hams of Nancy Newsom, calling them "deeply flavored, complex, ridiculously umami with quiet hints of floral overtones. She still cures, smokes, and ages them the way her grandfather did: in a gnarly old barn out behind her mother’s house. If they’re a labor of love for her, they are for you, too. You’ve got to soak them in water for days to get the salt out of the meat, and then roast them for hours."


Salt Water Makes Shrimp Snappy

Brining is a popular technique for keeping poultry moist, but it also works to improve texture. "Brining shrimp makes the texture really pop," say thew. "I can't say I always do it, but whenever I do, I think the texture of the shrimp is way better." "Brining is a fantastic thing to do if you're going to dry-cook the shrimp," says C. Hamster. C. Hamster recommends a brine of 1/2 cup kosher salt dissolved in 4 cups cold water; soak the shrimp for 20 minutes and rinse.

"Brine them (briefly) with the shells on and then toss them with melted butter, Worcestershire, cayenne, garlic, and smoked paprika and roast them hot and fast!" recommends WCchopper. "Wear an old shirt and sit outside with someone you're very comfortable looking foolish in front of and enjoy!" chowser likes Alton Brown's shrimp cocktail, which begins with brining.

Discuss: Brining Shrimp before cooking?