Recipe: Salsa Verde in Three Steps (Dry-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa)

Tomatillos are tart and acidic, a little sweet - all qualities that make a good salsa.  The husk of tomatillos smell like stinky feet and husking them can be a pain in the ass, but I still love these beautiful purple and green fruits. 

I have to admit, I was never excited about tomatillos until Patrick started making this salsa. I've never had salsa verde anywhere else that's quite as good as his version. Our favorite way to enjoy this is in chilequiles, or over tacos and grilled meats. Patrick's method is to dry roast them first in a heavy bottom pan until they turn black to bring out some of their earthy flavors. I love the smoothie-like consistency and how the sweet-sour richness of the salsa cuts into a salty rich piece of meat. 

Make your own in three simple steps. 

Salsa Verde

Makes 2 cups

You will need a blender (or food processor) for this, we have a Blendtec

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked (small tomatillo milperos if you can find them)
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded if you want less heat
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro with stems
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the tomatillos, garlic, and serranos in a dry, heavy bottom pan. Toast over high heat, turning occasionally, until the tomatillos have black spots.
  2. Remove the serrano and fill the pan with water to almost cover tomatillos. Boil for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the tomatillos and garlic from the water with a slotted spoon and place into a blender with the serrano, green onions, cilantro, and salt. Blend to desired consistency.

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The Importance of Heritage Breed Meats / Highlights of Cochon 555's Heritage Fire Napa 2016

A few weeks ago, over 3,500 pounds of heritage breed animals were cooked over live fires by fifty top chefs at Cochon 555's Heritage Fire Napa. The event took place at the beautiful Charles Krug Winery in St Helena. 

My super awesome friend Ben of Focus Snap Eat was invited as a media guest and he took me along for the journey. For three hours, we ate a ridiculous amount of heritage breed meats and washed it all down with the best local wine and craft brews. 

There's no other food event that I've been more excited about to attend than Heritage Fire. I am a supporter of the movement that this event stands for. When given the choice, I will pick a heritage breed over commercial breed of livestock any day. Heritage breeds are raised on open pasture, free of antibiotics and growth hormones. It's an important part of our food ecosystem that results in diversity of quality and taste. 

Cochon 555 founder Brady Lowe is the man behind this incredible movement to shine the gastronomic spotlight on the farms who are raising heritage breed animals and the emerging chefs and restaurants who highlight them in their dishes. The core mission of Cochon 555 is to drive awareness and demand for these products so it encourages farmers and ranchers to breed more animals to meet demand for their products. 

Check out the photos below for a recap of my experience at Heritage Fire Napa 2016. 

A video posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

A video posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

It was really cool to see all the different techniques used to cook these animals whole. I have much respect and admiration for this method of cooking. It ain't easy and requires a lot of attention and time to tend to to the fire. 

Badass Chef Sophina Uong in action with her flavorful roast chicken and Indonesian dirty rice made with chicken livers/offal. Even the veggies with the eggs were cooked on the fire for the gado-gado. This was one of the best highlights of the event. No other dish at the event could even come close to the sophisticated flavors and creativity of Sophina's dish. And she definitely wins in the beautifully plated category in my eyes. 

The wagyu bresaola.  

I've been following Master Salumist Tony Incontro of Del Dotto Winery for awhile on Instagram and it was so great to finally meet him in person and taste his cured creations. 

Tony greeted me with a warm hug and then he pulled out this beautiful house-cured prosciutto and starts slicing into it, check out the video below. It tasted just as beautiful as it looked and washes down extremely well with a glass of Del Dotto's jammy and full-bodied pinot noir. Give me a lounge chair and I could have easily spent all three hours here.  

My favorite bite out of the entire evening was Tony's mangalitsa lardo with peach and shaved truffle. I had so many of these velvety bites that even my water eventually tasted like lardo. Tony's charcuterie is truly unforgettable. I am definitely making a reservation at Del Dotto in the near future. 

A video posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

Chef Jenny Chamberlain of Hudson Valley Foie Gras speeding through the fire area with her duck tacos and kindly stops for us so we can take a photo of her. 

Zazu Kitchen served up a fantastic country-style pork pate and beef tongue porchetta. 

A video posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

I wish I had known that all the meat at the butcher's demo stage were priced for sale. I definitely would have brought a cooler with me. 

Northern Thai rabbit sausage with little gems, nam prik, and roasted peanuts by Chef Matthew Williams and Moishe Hahn-Shuman of Ramen Gaijin

Chef Marc Zimmerman of Alexander's Steakhouse served up 100 lbs of killer 45 day aged creekstone beef and I got a nice bone out of it.

There are a Heritage BBQ at Magnolia happening on 10/16 in San Francisco. Cochon 555 puts up events across the nation, check out their events here: http://cochon555.com/ 

Thanks for having us as your guests, Brady and the Cochon 555 team! 

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Lai Young's Fresh Handmade Dumpling Shop is Hayward's Best Kept Secret for 21 Years

Joy is what I felt this past weekend when I found out about a little Taiwanese dumpling shop in Hayward called Lai Young. This place has been around for twenty one years! I was born and raised in Hayward, but it turns out that I was actually living underneath a rock during that entire time. 

Lai Young is located on Oliver Dr., across the street from where I went to high school, in an awkward mini plaza within a residential area. When I was sixteen, I used to leave campus with my friends to walk over to the Quik Stop located in this plaza to buy cigarettes (they shut down for selling to minors), and then we almost got hit with empty glass bottles by some mean characters trying to scare us. Lai Young may be in a strange and slightly-shady location, but these dumplings are worth checking out. 

This isn't a restaurant and there are no tables. Lai Young is a takeaway shop where you buy your dumplings frozen and take them home to cook yourself. The store front is unattractive and discreet. Inside were two people hand making beautiful dumplings and two freezers full of frozen food. 

The owner was friendly, and he looked genuinely happy to see us. Patrick and I purchased the shrimp and pork dumplings and xiao long bao soup dumplings, which they call "mini pork bunns". There's nothing I love more than a quick and easy transaction; we were in and out in 5 minutes. 

A video posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

The Results

Nice, high quality dumplings. The craftsmanship of these dumplings are on point and consistent, identical in shape and size. 

The xiao long bao skin has a semi-sticky texture to the touch, an appetizing stretchy thick dough that produces a pleasant chew. The filling is fantastic with a flavorful pork meatball and rich broth that's quite satisfying. 

The shrimp and pork dumplings are just as wonderful in both texture and flavor. Patrick and I prefer them boiled versus steamed, haven't tried it pan-fried yet. When it's cooked under a controlled boil that's incorporated with cold water, these dumplings get nicely plump. The texture of the skin is delicate and slightly thicker than the texture of a won ton skin. 

Lai Young Dumplings Review, Hayward, CA

Dumpling Cooking Directions & Tips

It's extremely important that you know how to properly cook your dumplings, otherwise you won't be able to enjoy them as intended. The biggest mistake you can make is boiling them rapidly to the point where they break a part, or steaming without placing a barrier like parchment paper in between the dumplings and the bottom of the steamer.

There are no instructions on how to cook the dumplings on the packages, but here's a quick guide from Dumpling Man: Frozen Dumplings.

Tip: For the xiao long bao, be sure to steam it and use parchment paper or the dough will stick to the surface of the steamer. Do not overcrowd the dumplings in the steamer as they will expand during the cooking process. 


Visiting Lai Young

Menu

You can choose from a mix of pork, pork & chive, chicken, shrimp & pork, vegetable dumplings, xiao long bao soup dumplings, and onion cakes, radish cakes and chive pockets. The dumplings all come in a bulk of 50 frozen pieces.

Be warned - they do sell out of dumplings, so if you're set on something maybe call first. 

Prices

Prices range from $13 to $17. Cash only.  

Address

2609 Oliver Dr Hayward, CA 94545

Hours

Open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm, Saturdays 9am to 4pm. 

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