Taste local flavor in every bite of these star recipes that define the West
At Gabriel’s, in Santa Fe, the guacamole—made table-side in a Mexican molcajete (stone mortar)—is seasoned as diners direct. This recipe is a jumping-off point; add more garlic, jalapeño, onion, salt,
lime juice, or cilantro to your taste. (We prefer extra jalapeño, onion, and lime.) Serve with tortilla chips.
Recipe: Gabriel's Guacamole
Remember onion-soup-mix dip? This is similar, but infinitely better. In 1954, when an unknown California cook combined sour
cream with onion soup mix, the recipe became so popular that Lipton soup company began to print it on its packages. We gave
the dip a Hawaiian accent. Make it a couple of hours ahead of time to let flavors develop, and serve with lots of potato chips.
Recipe: Caramelized Maui Onion Dip
This recipe is from Dory Ford, former executive chef at Portola Restaurant at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Seafood Watch, the
aquarium’s guide to sustainable seafood, recommends farmed oysters, which can be grown in protected areas and harvested with minimal environmental impact.
Recipe: Barbecued Oysters with Chipotle Glaze
Poke, the much-loved Hawaiian raw-fish salad, has many variations; this is a relatively simple one. Use the highest-quality fish
you can get your hands on—that’s often found at Japanese markets. Serve with taro chips.
These simple, delicious crabcakes, from Nicholas Petti, owner of Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg, California, won the Mendocino
Crab & Wine Days Crabcake Cook-off in both 2002 and 2003.
Classic Crabcakes recipe:
These light, airy pillows of fried dough, traditionally drizzled with honey or sprinkled with powdered sugar, are one of the
Southwest’s great treats. They’re rewarding to make because the process seems magical: When you push the pieces of dough into
the hot oil, they puff up like balloons.
Fresh ginger, fish sauce, and rice vinegar add a Southeast Asian twist to a classic California salad.
Whoever Louis—or Louie—was (no one’s quite sure), San Francisco’s Hotel St. Francis was serving his addictive combination
of Dungeness crab, iceberg lettuce, and chili-mayo dressing in 1910. Our updated recipe reflects a broader selection of greens,
with salsa and smoky chipotle chiles replacing the chili sauce for a more interesting interplay of flavors. But a little mountain
of sweet, fresh crab—a far pricier ingredient now than a century ago—is still the final flourish.
Deviled Crab Louis recipe:
The creamy-looking dressing on this version of a classic Hawaiian salad gets its texture and zing from sweet Maui onions and
peppery, crunchy papaya seeds. To collect the seeds, scoop them out of the fruit and rinse off the bits of papaya.
Recipe: Green Salad with Papaya-seed Dressing
Pho, the beloved meat-and-noodle soup of Vietnam, has firmly established itself in the United States—particularly in the West,
where large numbers of Vietnamese have settled. Pho originated in Hanoi at the turn of the last century. In those early days, it was a beef broth embellished only with noodles
and sliced beef. As it spread to South Vietnam, pho took on spices and herbs and other ingredients—and it’s this bounteous style of pho that crossed the ocean to the United
States, brought by immigrants fleeing the fall of Saigon in 1975.
To get to know her neighbors in Berkeley better, Johanna Sedman started hosting a monthly soup night. With tortilla soup,
guests can customize their own toppings. The recipe is Sedman’s take on the Mexican soup, which traveled north by at least
the mid–20th century (a version appears in Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, published in San Francisco in 1944).
Recipe: Tortilla Soup
In the 1800s, San Francisco’s Italian fishermen cooked up their leftover catch in a vegetable purée, as they had in Genoa.
Over time, Sicilians replaced the Genoese on fishing boats, and cioppino acquired its tomatoes. Today, it’s no longer a poor
man’s dish but a sumptuous stew, brimming with shellfish and chunks of fish.
Red New Mexico chiles develop a complex, earthy flavor and mellow heat as they dry. Chimayó chiles (named for the town they
come from) have a particularly intense, flowery aroma. Don’t be put off by the large quantity called for; the chile is nothing
like cayenne or supermarket chili powder.
Recipe: Red Chile and Pork Stew (Carne Adovada)
This spicy, long-simmered pork dish is a fixture in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado cooking, and each state has its own
version. New Mexicans use their famous green chiles, naturally. Ours is a bit of a combination.
Recipe: Green Chile Pork Stew (Chile Verde)
We wrap our version of the California roll with the nori on the outside. You can find the Japanese ingredients needed to make
this in the Asian-foods aisle at most grocery stores.
Recipe: California Roll
Fresh mozzarella, salty caciocavallo cheese straight from Campania, and peppery broccoli rabe make this one of our favorite
pizzas. Pizzaiolo Anthony Strong drizzles on a bit of cream before shoving the pizza in the oven.
Recipe: Delfina’s Broccoli Rabe Pizza
This simple sauce was inspired by the tarragon tang and beautiful color of Green Goddess salad dressing.
Recipe: Cracked Crab with Herbed Avocado Sauce
A good fish taco, a cold Corona, and the beach—these equal summer up and down the coast of California.
Recipe: Baja Fish Tacos
Our super-stacked version of nachos has chorizo, juicy chopped steak, black beans, guacamole, and crisp lettuce. The ultimate
crowd-pleaser, nachos were invented in 1943 by a maître d’ at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico (just across the
border from Eagle Pass, Texas). Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya was the only restaurant employee on-site when a group of U.S. military
wives came in for a snack. With no cooks around, he cobbled together a pile of tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and
jalapeños. His creation, quickly imitated by others, became hugely popular, paving the way for massive concession-stand revenues
Recipe: Chorizo-Beef Dinner Nachos
A technique developed by northwest native Americans, planking salmon gives the fish a deep, woodsy taste and keeps it moist
by protecting it from the flames. You will need an untreated cedar board, ½ to ¾ in. thick and big enough to accommodate your
fish. Find planks at a well-stocked fish shop, barbecue store, or online.
Recipe: Cedar-planked Salmon
Like all good New Mexico food, this dish is rustic and delicious. Its heat depends on the chiles; go with Anaheims if you
Recipe: Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Most likely based on the German pancake Apfelpfannkuchen, the Dutch (a mispronunciation of Deutsch, meaning German) baby is said to have been dreamed up at Manca’s Café, in Seattle,
in the early 1900s. Until Manca’s closed, in 1988, the Dutch baby remained a signature dish. The recipe is also wonderful
with other fruits if cherries aren’t in season.
Bliss in a bar, these no-bake creations have three layers: nutty, creamy, and chocolaty. One Mabel Jenkins dreamed up the
recipe in the 1950s, near the city of Nanaimo, on Canada’s Vancouver Island.
Recipe: Nanaimo Bars
A simple, warming coffee drink is an ideal end to a big meal (a little chocolate on the side can complete the sweet finish).
Keoke coffee was invented by George Bullington at his restaurant, Bully’s, in La Jolla, California, in the late 1960s. His
staff dubbed it “George’s coffee” until one of the cooks, a Hawaiian, came up with the name that stuck: Keoke is Hawaiian for “George.”
Recipe: Keoke Coffee
The mai tai is a creation of the West, invented in the 1940s by Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic’s fame. It features rum, lime juice,
and orange liqueur, with a bit of orgeat (almond-flavored syrup). Go as fanciful as you like with the garnishes.
Recipe: Classic Tiki Mai Tai
Discover many more of the foods that define the West--from fish tacos and grilled tri-tip to huckleberry cobbler--in The Sunset Essential Western Cookbook (Oxmoor House; $25).
For generations, the editors of Sunset magazine have been sharing their knowledge in the kitchen with millions of home cooks. The Sunset Cookbook pulls together their favorite tips and trends in home cooking, featuring 1,000 recipes selected, retested, and updated from Sunset magazine. Get your copy now on Amazon.com.