He Wrote the Book on Chinese-American Food (Luckily It’s a Cookbook)
Spicy, crispy peanuts kick off a flavor-packed, Chinatown-inspired feast from chef Brandon Jew’s newest cookbook.
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Of all the chefs working in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Brandon Jew might be the most devoted student of the neighborhood’s foodways. Trained in high Italian cuisine, the protégé of legendary San Francisco chefs Judy Rogers of Zuni Café and Michael Tusk of Quince, Jew, a third-generation Chinese-American, pivoted hard from European traditions in 2016 when he opened his modern Chinese restaurant Mr. Jiu’s.
Located in the opulent old Seven Seas banquet hall, where his family celebrated milestones, Mr. Jiu’s offered Wagyu fried rice, dumplings stained vivid shades of beet and turmeric, and other dishes that ever so gently tweaked the food Jew had grown up eating. He opened a sultry cocktail bar called the Moongate Lounge upstairs in a room where wedding banquets used to take place.
Mr. Jiu’s garnered rave reviews, earned a Michelin star, and, pre-pandemic, was often packed with a mix of Chinese-Americans, tourists, and the food-obsessed of all stripes. At his takeout joint Mamahuhu, you can get dinner combos of free-range Kung Pao chicken and crunchy cabbage salad with locally grown vegetables, rounded out with a bottle of Mendocino rosé.
His new book, Mr. Jiu’s In Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food, written with Tienlon Ho, is Jew’s graduate dissertation: a codification of his version of modern Chinese American food, paying respect to the source material while making it his own. There’s a breakdown of the new Chinese pantry, recipes for classic sauces such as XO and basic chili oil, fermentation 101, charcuterie, and exquisite recipes, including rice noodle dim sum topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin, old-school sizzling rice soup, that cross-cultural hit orange chicken, and a master class in roast duck that takes 14 days start to finish.
Delicious Recipes for a Perfect Chinatown-Inspired Meal
From the 2021 Gardening Issue
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