Charles Phan I want my cookbook!!

The Slanted Door is a San Francisco institution.  If you are ever out this way and have never been I highly recommend it.  I’ve been a fan since this amazing Vietnamese restaurant started in the Mission district way back before it was hip to be there.  It’s current incarnation is in the swank Ferry Building overlooking the bay but the food is just as good and now there is a view.  The only problem is that Charles Phan has never published a cookbook!  Over these many years recipes have leaked out here and there and some of my favorites: crab noodles, shaking beef, and clay pot chicken have found their way into my kitchen but wow a cookbook would be sublime.  Here is my version based mostly on an old copy of The Secrets of Success Cookbook.

1 lb skinless, boneless white meat

1 lb skinless, boneless dark meat

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp fresh pepper

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c water

1/4 c fish sauce

3 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 shallot sliced

Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and mix with the salt and pepper.  Best if you can do this a few hours in advance and return it to the fridge.  Mix the fish sauce, vinegar, water, soy, ginger, and garlic together and set aside.  I actually think that I will try without the water next time.  In a wok or hot skillet brown the chicken.  Do it in batches if necessary.  Quickly brown the shallots.  Then, being careful, caramelize the sugar in the pan.  This is a bit tricky to do without burning things (including yourself).  Turn the heat down a bit to make this easier.  Add the vinegar mixture carefully, it will seize, and bring to a simmer dissolving it.  Put the chicken back in and finish cooking at a simmer.  Serve with rice and more fresh pepper.

Since it was market day one of the sides was bloomsdale spinach.  This is a cool variety that I happened upon at the market.  It is a little bit more resilient and sweeter.  I sauteed this with some garlic (probably 1/2 tsp), ginger (probably 1/2 tsp minced), and a pinch of red pepper flakes adding a splash of soy and fish sauce.  I start by heating a skillet then adding some canola and the garlic mixture.  Once that has sizzled for a bit I add a few handfuls of spinach and mix adding more spinach every thirty seconds or so.  This helps prevent overcooking or at least only a small amount is overcooked as opposed to all of it.

I recently had a dessert at a restaurant that tasted like a cross between pound cake and angel food cake.  It had the richness and flavor of poundcake but was lighter and had that angel food cake twang.  I’ve been meaning to give it a go and today was the day.  I started with a version from Smittenkitchen which in turn seems to be from James Beard.  The riff which matched my intent was to separate the eggs and whip the whites with some sugar.  I also added some creme of tartar in hopes of also bringing more angel food flavor.  I used my trusty copper bowl which just makes amazing whipped egg whites.  It is magic.

Alas it was not all good news.  As proof that I like to whisk egg whites and cream by hand my trusty whisk, Old Faithful as I named her, broke and went off to cooking heaven.  I have a number of whisks but somehow this is the one my hand always chose.  She will be missed.

1/2 lb butter room temp

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

4 eggs separated

3/4 c plus 2 tbs sugar

1 tbsp brandy

2 tsp vanilla paste

3/4 tsp creme of tartar

Creme the butter then add about half of the sugar and creme some more.  You’re looking for that amazing light butter look.  Then add the vanilla, eggs, and brandy a bit at a time mixing in between.  Sift the dry ingredients three times!  (I need to look into this to see if it is for real) and then whisk the egg whites and creme of tartar to soft peaks and then add the sugar slowly.  Carefully mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.  I found this difficult since it wasn’t all wet enough.  I should have added a bit of the egg whites earlier.  Then fold the egg whites in.  You want to mix to combine though this is tricky since the batter is so thick.  Put into a buttered/floured loaf pan (recipe didn’t say but I used 5×9 which seemed right) and bake at 350 for 35-40.  At 35 it was really wet inside but by 40 it was a tiny bit overdone.  Be careful.  Let it cool for a bit then turn it out and cook the rest of the way.

Again since it was market day I made a quick compote of 5 ozs rhubarb and 5ozs strawberries with about 1/4 c of sugar.  I cooked it low over the stove cooking the rhubarb first for a while before adding the strawberries.  Then I served with some ice cream.  If my daughter licking her plate is any indication this is really yummy and yes, it was really close to my target of a combo pound cake angel food cake.  Next time maybe a touch more egg whites and more care folding.



Filed under Baking, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food

8 responses to “Charles Phan I want my cookbook!!

  1. Great recipes. I second the motion. My wife and I eat there everytime we’re in San Fran. Love the wine list, love the cocktails, LOVE the food. It’s so fresh and creative.

  2. I’ll take a copy, too. In the meantime I’ll get busy with your chicken recipe, which sounds great!

  3. I wish you lived next door-I love everything that you make!

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