Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happily eating my way through Portland

One of Portland's greatest mysteries is how a city full of such amazing and wondrous food and drink also contains some of the skinniest hipsters I've ever seen. Maybe it's an optical illusion. Or heroin. If I lived in this town, there is no way I could bike or jog my way to not gaining 25 pounds. There is nothing you can't find in this town. Beer. Wine. Beer and Wine. Meat. Vegans. Meat and Vegans. Clouds. Sun. Clouds and Sun (but mostly clouds). Incredible. If you've never seen Portlandia, download this show, my friends, as it is shockingly truthful. Food aside, you can have all the fun in the world just people watching alone. Even the 10 year olds are decked out in retro-80's punk eclectic garb. Frump is even trendy around here. I feel right at home.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sriracha Smackdown Part II: Who Reigns Supreme?

Round 2 is complete! Folks, these results will knock you out of your chair.

But this time, I didn't run the show. Oz du Soleil, of DataScopic, took the lead on this round and built the most incredible interactive sriracha spreadsheet in history -  he also enlisted the help of Ashley Bower for the final design. (This is what happens when you get some data nerds like Oz and I to design a sriracha review). And we had some very special contributing judges - Griffin Hammond, the producer/director of the Sriracha Documentary, and Brian Meagher of Hot Sauce Daily! Round 1 judge Juli Johnston joined us again to contribute. We compiled the results LIVE through Google Hangout. What an awesome crew! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Adult update of a childhood favorite: "Asian" deviled eggs

Forgive me and my gaijin offenses, these deviled eggs aren't Asian, and I don't claim them to be. But, by extension, loading up normally boring deviled eggs with oils, spices, and seasonings that I also tend to find in Asian-American cooking indicates that I might be able to call these Asian-inspired.

This reminds me of the time I went to Belgium last year and we ordered "filet americain" (akin to the French "steak tartare", or raw beef chopped and mixed with mayo, mustard, parsley, egg, etc) and someone was shocked to learn that 99% of Americans would never dream of eating raw beef (we are such a wimpy bunch). So why is it called American filet in Belgium? I'm still not sure, but when we asked our server one day at a train-station diner in Liege (where we had what I thought was the best filet americain on that trip. I lived to tell the tale), the answer seemed to be that Americans love hamburgers and filet americain was the consistency of hamburgers, and therefore seemed American. Seems legit.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fish Tacos with Indonesian Sriracha

 So, I'm on a quest to find uses for 20+ bottles of sriracha from the Sriracha Smackdown, and I'm always curious if the srirachas taste better in food than on a plain cracker. Most folks feel pretty safe and secure with a fish taco served with something remotely Mexican, like Valentino, Tapatio, or Cholula. Well, sorry, ain't nobody got time for new hot sauces, let's look into the existing inventory!

ABC Extra Pedas, an Indonesian brand, only scored a 12 out of 19 on our original list. And in looking at the raw score, it was me that brought it down! Take away my taste score and discard the bottle art as criteria...and it was number 2 (and HT Traders wins). Well, there is a reason for that. This sauce has a time and place. And it is on a fish taco.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sriracha Smackdown ROUND 2

Update 7/16/2013: The results for Round 2 have been posted by Oz! Check it out. Full SFB analysis coming soon!

And just when you thought it was over. There has been an outpouring of new data/recommendations on srirachas we didn't try. So you know what that means. ROUND 2!

How will this work? This time, we want more judges. And you don't have to be here. Here is the list of new brands we will be trying. If you can get your hands on any one of these, you can participate. We're going to limit Round 2 to about 5 more brands, and compare them with the results from Round 1. Blindfolding is optional.

Scoring will work the same as the last round so we can compare results - simply rank on overall taste (1-5), heat (1-5), bottle art (1-5).We'll run it through our algorithms and come up with the new winner.

Send me a note if you are interested in participating! And send me some additional srirachas! We may even do this live!

Here are the list of newcomers so far:

1.) Saigon Sisters T-racha Awesome Sauce (only available if you live in Chicago)
2.) Yuzu Pao Sriracha (only available online)
3.) "Pain is Good" brand (only available online and in some specialty shops)
4.) Dark Star Sriracha (only available online)
5.) Thai and True "Sarachee" (available online and in Oregon specialty shops)

We wanted to find Polar brand which was a winner on a recent Serious Eats sriracha contest, but they are out right now (probably had a run as a result of the blog).

We will also be re-testing the following brands with the newcomers:

1.) Huy Fong (available everywhere)
2.) Lee Kum Kee (available at many asian markets and some regular grocery stores)
3.) Sky Valley (Whole Foods sells this brand)

We will be doing this live at an upcoming Google Hangout!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Help support the Srirachumentary

Griffin Hammond, valorous independent filmmaker, has decided to pay homage to the holy grail of hot sauce, our beloved sriracha. Get ready for Sriracha the Documentary! Or shall we say... cockumentary? Griffin is pulling out all the stops - palling around with Randy Clemens (author of the Sriracha Cookbook... I smell a "cooked-through" project coming...) and David Tran (the inventor of the rooster sauce), and even travelling to Sriracha, Thailand to learn more about the original/authentic inspiration to the American version (we wonder if he'll be swayed by the well-scoring Sriracha Panich... or to other local brands we can test in Round 2).
You can check out more about the film on his page. For a 5 dollar donation through Kickstarter, you can get your name in the credits. For more, you can get a poster, pre-releases, video chats, etc.

Photo of the poster courtesy of Griffin and his fans.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Sriracha Smackdown

And the winner is...

Well hold on, I don't give away answers for'll need to read to the bottom (or just scroll, lazy reader). For those of you who haven't kept up, here is the premise of the test. Bascially, we went in blindfolded and tasted a ton of srirachas to determine which had the best flavor and texture - and see if we could identify the rooster. Check here to see our list. We made some tweaks to the original concept - didn't do the food round since we had so many srirachas (19 to be exact) and were afraid of burnout. Better to go naked.

Update as of 7/21/2013: We've also completed ROUND 2! Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hawaiian-style pulled pork sliders, bite-sized happiness

If you've already read my blog post about mac salad, I bet you're wondering about the other half of the dish in the photograph at the bottom.

Some folks are tired of slider mania, but I say that this trend should live on forever and ever and ever. What is not to like about mini-sized sandwiches? I mean,  it's great for kids, and it's great for those of us on diets (I like to put tiny sliders on small plates and fool myself into thinking that it's full size, or I've shrunk. Whatever. It works). It's also great when you want to turn a sandwich or burger into an appetizer so that your party guests don't have to leave early because they are suffering from food coma. Krushburger here in Sacramento has capitalized on this awesomeness, you can order a mix-and-match so you can try all of their tasty offerings without busting your belt. Oh shucks, they are just so darned cute! What's not to love?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mac salad, the king of side dishes

We just finished an epic Memorial Day weekend full of friends and fun, and hosted a luau-ish style party! We have never been to Hawaii, so you'll have to forgive me for my lack of authenticity.

We needed to come up with a Hawaiin style main dish and side that was easy to make and a real crowd-pleaser. Luckily, that isn't too hard, these folks know how to eat! My favorite is the "Plate Lunch". The Plate Lunch typically consists of a protein (pork, beef, chicken, or fish) in some sort of BBQ or teriyaki or other awesomeness, served with rice and a side of my all time favorite food ever, macaroni salad - or as the locals like to affectionately call it, "mac salad" for short.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The srirachas are rolling in

Update as of 5/21/213

Roland came in today! This one is made in China. Another Dragon Sauce. Can't they all just like get together and have an international expo or something and pick different mascots? That would be pretty darn cool. They can call it SrirachaCon!

Color and texture in the bottle are looking pretty similar to Trader Joe's. Waiting on Lee Kum Kee, Flying Goose, and a few others. On that note, if anyone knows how we can obtain Saigon Sisters "T-racha Awesome Sauce" (based out of Chicago), please let us know, we will send you a check.  Oh and look, there already is a Hot Sauce Expo. Need to plan our trip...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Throw some hot shrimp on that barbie

No no no, that's just silly. What I'm talking about is firing up the grill while things get hot outside! To match the Sacramento heat, there is nothing like making some spicy shrimp kebabs on the BBQ!

So this is a true SFB original, no inspiration here besides me opening up my condiments cabinet and having at it. Try it out and tell us what you think.

Ok, I was inspired by reading about a Nate Appleman recipe in Food and Wine calling for mayo on grilled asparagus to "create a beautifully blistered crust". Basically, it acts as an oil that has sticking power (and what is mayo besides egg, oil, and a vinegar?). On another blog topic, we make our own mayo, and you can too, and I suggest you try it some time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update on the Sriracha Smackdown

Update: See our results for Round 1 and Round 2! The post below tells the story of how we came by these many srirachas, and some additional facts about them.

For those of you that missed a beat, we have decided to put The Rooster and Huy Fong foods to the test.

Here is an update of our srirachas to date:

Srirach Name Origin Status Tested
Huy Fong US Obtained, duh! Round 1 and Round 2
Caravelle Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Shark Brand" Mild Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Shark Brand" Hot Thailand Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
Grand Mountain Thailand Obtained Round 1
Green Mountain Thailand Obtained Round 1
Green Mountain "Strong" Thailand Obtained Round 1
Trader Joe's US Obtained Round 1
"Flying Goose" Thailand Obtained Round 1
"Crying Tiger" Thailand Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
"Pain is Good" US Ordered Round 2
Lee Kum Kee US Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
HT Traders US Obtained Round 1
Roland China Obtained Round 1
Yuzu Pao Japan Obtained Round 2
Oxygen Amazon Colombia Obtained Round 2
ABC Indonesia Obtained Round 1
Sriraja Panich Thailand Obtained Round 1
Sky Valley US Obtained Round 1 and Round 2
T-racha Awesome Sauce US Obtained Round 2
Aroy-D Thailand Obtained Round 1
Uncle Chen US Obtained Round 1
Dark Star sriracha US Obtained Round 2
Homemade My House In the works Round 2

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Get sriracha for breakfast, (almost) every day!

Don't forget to visit our facebook page for daily links to interesting food news, food politics, crazy recipes and tips, and plain old tomfoolery! And while you're there, hit that like button, will ya? The Rooster thanks you.

Get ready for the next "Judgement of Paris"... Is Rooster King?

Ok sriracha fans, you've asked for it. Less non-sriracha and more sriracha. While this really wasn't the full intent of the blog, I can't deny requests for content.

As you're probably aware (well, at least if you read sriracha news like I do, and I know you do), there has been quite a kerfuffle about "counterfeit sriracha". More on that here, and here, and here (yes, even Zagat is on this).

But I say - so what? Why does Huy Fong have a corner on the market? Is it true that Rooster is King? Turns out, everyone and their mother makes sriracha sauce. True, it was David Tran's version that sparked the Great Sriracha Revolution back in 2008/2009, but really, sriracha was inspired by Thai hot sauce that has been around for an undetermined amount of time. Don't believe me? In fact, what you know as rooster sauce is as American as apple pie, and tells of a classic immigrant success story.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ground lamb and spinach stuffed onions

Call me a cold and cruel baby animal killer who hates the environment and wants glaciers to melt all you like, I don’t care. Really. Because lamb is so damned tasty, it’s worth the stones. And if you haven’t yet tried lamb (you probably have, don’t forget that gyro is lamb meat) and can get past cute little fluffy animal images in your head, you’ll be singing its praises once you take a bit. If you’re counting your carbon footprint, I really can’t help you out here today, in fact, you should probably abandon this post. So ok, folks, make this an every once-in-awhile treat.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shaking Beef: tender loving morsels of sweet, salt, and savory

Ever since moving to California, we’ve staked out a couple of extraordinary places that we come back to (mostly to take our friends) even though there is so much more out there to try. One of these places is The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Of course, being in SF, your restaurant is likely not successful unless you use organic produce and ecologically sustainable meat products, and keep it fresh and locally sourced.  Especially if you live at the Ferry Building

Charles Phan created an epic establishment with national acclaim, and introduced me to combinations of flavors that I’ve never imagined possible. This man is my hero. Now, I won’t claim that I know a lick about Vietnamese cuisine, and Slanted Door is very distinctively American (California) with a blend of half the world’s countries (isn’t that what America is all about?), but I will say that if the menu reflects elements of what Vietnamese food is, I should really get more involved. A gateway to a world of discovery.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Momofuku. Buy the book, and wait in line. Trust me.

Look! I do book reviews too!

I’ve been hearing about this place for just about ever. Every time I go back home, I often feel overwhelmed at the choices of new trend-setting restaurants that define the New York scene – such that, my desire to go to Momofuku Ko was outdated. Since 2008, this place was plastered in every food magazine, website, and television show for “best of” – but by the end of 2012, the chatter mostly petered out to be replaced by the-next-best-thing (and oh, there are so many…). But I didn’t forget (and thanks to a college friend who came to visit us in Sacramento to remind us about this place).