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

Go Faux at Ming’s Diner

If you’re staying away from meat but have visions of Cantonese food dancing in your head, head over to Ming’s Diner, advises K K.

Ming’s regular Cantonese offerings have been praised on the board before, but K K found dozens of vegetarian versions of Cantonese classics, even vegetarian shark’s fin soup and breaded eel. Mind you, “vegetarian” doesn’t mean “healthy.” A lot of the dishes are deep-fried or stir-fried. And beware the complimentary house soup, which is made from (real) pork bones. If you’re OK with that, it does have a nice homestyle feel, with vegetables and herbs.

Pei pa tofu, or dragon balls (#122), are seasoned balls of tofu stuffed with vegan ham and fried. Served with broccoli and enoki mushrooms, it’s especially tasty with rice. House special combination vegetarian clay pot (#147) goes all-out with vegan substitutes: vegan fishballs, vegan pork intestines, vegan preserved meat, vegan squid, and vegan shrimp mingle with cabbage, mushrooms, and bean thread noodles.

For dessert, there’s a nice sweet green bean soup.

Ming’s Diner [Sunset]
2129 Taraval Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Great Faux Meat / Vegetarian Canto Chinese at Ming’s Diner on Taraval (San Francisco)

Straight-Up Mexican Seafood

Visiting hound corkscrewed was knocked for a loop by the Mexican seafood at Ceviche Taqueria in San Mateo. The namesake ceviche was tender and fresh, with the flavor of the seafood shining brightly.

But don’t overlook the grilled halibut, which was “better than the halibut I ordered in Sitka, Alaska, the halibut capital of the Pacific,” corkscrewed says.

Ceviche Taqueria [Peninsula]
45 N. B Street, San Mateo

Board Link: ceviche taqueria in san mateo

Killing My Rooster

It’s 2009 and it seems like every website in existence has done a piece about killing an animal. But look, this is what’s good about writers: They can be original! This piece by Jennifer Reese in Double X upends the I-Killed-My-Pet genre by giving it a big, fat yawn. So what’s the big deal, she asks?

Reese may have the upper hand on all the lily-livered slaughter virgins out there because her dad “put himself through college working at a slaughterhouse.” And—is this cheating?—her dad actually does the deed for her, but Reese gains cred for getting blood on her hands. The money line: “I’ve eaten a lot of chickens in my life, and they were all dead.” She refuses to anoint herself a model of virtuosity. The chicken was alive, and then it was dead. Now we eat.

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Do Right By Pork Ribs

Country-style pork ribs can be cooked using a variety of methods. While they take a long time to cook, once they’re done, they will be super tender.

Uncle Bob massages the ribs with a dry rub and bakes them at 225°F on a rack over a pan until he can pinch off a piece easily. Add sauce and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or serve sauce on the side. gourdeaux agrees, saying, “There is enough fat in these things that they can simply be baked and will come out tender as all get out.”

meowzebub says the large amount of fat on ribs calls for braising. “Slow moist cooking melts much of the fat and the meat becomes luscious,” meowzebub says. He likes a braising liquid strong on citrus.

blue room cooks them on a bed of sauerkraut, apple, onion, and brown sugar. MARISKANY does them in a slow cooker with sliced onions, barbecue sauce, and crushed tomatoes.

Board Link: Pork shoulder country rib style (bone in)--how to make them delectable?

Jellyfish Candy

If life hands you lemons, make lemonade, as the saying goes. But what if life hands you a 450-pound jellyfish instead? As Fast Company’s blog puts it: “A raw caramel craze is sweeping Japan. At the same time, fishermen in the Sea of Japan are tormented by invasive swarms of Echizen Kurage (Nomura’s jellyfish), a giant jellyfish that weighs up to 450 pounds and measures two meters wide.”

So, naturally, a “group of enterprising students at Obama Fisheries High School (located in the Japanese town of Obama no less!) have brought together these disparate phenomena by developing a sweet and salty caramel made out of sugar, starch syrup, and jellyfish powder, which is produced by boiling jellyfish into a paste and grinding it into tiny particles.”

That’ll show those jellyfish.

Image source: Flickr member sara.atkins under Creative Commons

Perfect Panzanella

Panzanella, the Tuscan salad of stale bread, tomatoes, and herbs dressed with oil and vinegar, is ideal for the waning tomato season and a good platform for improvisation.

free sample addict aka Tracy L uses this Joanne Weir recipe, with the addition of 2 tablespoons of capers and 2 cloves of garlic.

rainey likes to use stale ciabatta, which soaks up the tomato juices and vinaigrette well. She adds thinly sliced fennel, chopped fennel greens, and red or yellow bell peppers, and lets it rest 6 to 8 hours, so the flavors really blend and mellow. chowser makes a caprese version with bocconcini, grape tomatoes, and basil. And CHOW’s panzanella recipe has cucumbers and a lemon vinaigrette.

Board Link: Your favorite panzanella recipe (tuscan bread salad)?

One Thousand Bread Pudding Ideas

You can use just about any kind of bread or cake as the base for bread pudding, say hounds. A combination of breads is good, too, according to gourdeaux.

Challah, brioche, and supermarket French bread are all good, neutral choices. Many hounds love croissant bread pudding. Cakes and sweet breakfast breads work well, too, but it’s a good idea to reduce the sugar in the custard mixture to avoid ending up with too much sweetness. Chowhounds have successfully made bread pudding with pumpkin bread, gingerbread, pound cake, unglazed cinnamon rolls, fruit Danishes, raised or cake doughnuts, and at the holidays, Italian panettone.

Try CHOW’s Croissant and Armagnac Bread Pudding

Board Link: Ultimate Bread Pudding Medium..

Win a Trip to an Undisclosed Location

There are people who plan their vacations years in advance, curating every single detail and scheduling every last minute. This opportunity, which CHOW is happy to be a part of, is not like that. It involves mystery—or, rather, “m?stery.” It also involves lovely listers Thrillist, fine fliers JetBlue, and a whole host of other sponsors, including this very website.

All we know—all they will tell us!—is that on October 17 a plane will leave New York and will arrive somewhere (that somewhere will be a somewhere JetBlue flies to). Once there, fun will ensue until Monday arrives and the plane returns to New York.

Teasy enough for you? Sign me up, you say? Well, certainly. By simply agreeing to receive newsletters from Thrillist on this particular page, CHOW readers will be in the running to win two tickets on the Jet M?stery plane. All you thrillseekers, all you impulsive hooligans: get to the SIGN-UP PAGE, now!

San Francisco Bay Area Alert: Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, October 3

Join fellow Chowhounds for the ninth Chowing with the Hounds Picnic October 3, 2009, in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. Come share delicious home-cooked goodies with fellow hounds and enjoy a tasting of 20 kinds of fruit. See the following link for details and registration information.