Bold and bright Vietnamese dinner menu
Celebrated San Francisco chef Charles Phan shows how to cook at home Vietnamese-style, using California ingredients
Simple Fish Soup
When Charles was growing up in Vietnam's Central Highlands, every meal included a light, brothy soup like this one. Its purpose, he says, "is to stimulate the appetite, much the way...a crystal-clear consommé begins a classic French dinner." Even on a hot summer day, it's a great way to start a meal.
Recipe: Simple Fish Soup
Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
Fried chicken wings aren't particularly Asian; in fact, the technique Charles uses here was borrowed from Matt and Ted Lee, the South Carolina-born brothers and cookbook writers. But the lime-chile sauce is a traditional Vietnamese condiment. "Nothing pairs better with these wings than a cold beer," Charles adds.
Recipe: Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce
This sauce is the ideal accompaniment to the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings. Make it for Shaking Beef too, but skip the chiles and double the pepper.
Recipe: Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce
In Vietnam, this classic--named for how the meat is tossed in the pan--is usually made with tough, overcooked beef cuts. For his version, which has been on the Slanted Door's menu since 1995, Charles uses grass-fed filet mignon. On an electric stove, use a flat-bottomed wok or pan so the cooking surface gets as hot as possible. On gas, use a wok ring to nestle the wok down into the flames.
Recipe: Shaking Beef
Spinach with Fried Shallots
You can, says Charles, substitute an equal amount of Swiss chard, kale, or young pea or fava shoots in place of the spinach.
Recipe: Spinach with Fried Shallots