Celebrated San Francisco chef Charles Phan shows how to cook at home Vietnamese-style, using California ingredients
Photo by Iain Bagwell
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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.
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.
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.