SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Meet Chef Ron Pei of CHINO, a Mission district restaurant with bangin’ Chinese flavor. More about Ron. He grew up in the food business. His parents, both Chinese immigrants, owned Cafe Yulong in Mountain View and earlier his father worked for Cecilia Chiang at the renowned MANDARIN.
After college, Ron attended the CCA in San Francisco and then went on to cook at Salt House and as the chef at Laïola.
From there, he went to DC to work at Komi and stage at Minibar and then to New York to stage at Blue Hill Stone Barns—all the while dreaming of marrying the Chinese food of his heritage with the ingredient-driven cooking he’d come to love.
Ron’s dad has come out of retirement in order to bring back his famous fish-and-leek dumplings for Chino. And, should you be wondering, the restaurant name comes from the fact that back at Laïola Ron was teasingly (and lovingly) called “Chino” by his Spanish-speaking cooks.
I recently had the joy of tasting much of the new menu at Chino with Chef Ron at the helm. He cooks with heart, passion and with respect for good ingredients – “it all starts with good produce” he told me. Ron ventures to farmers markets all over (Marin to SF to the Peninsula) to seek out the freshest and best and to maintain those all important relationships with farmers and purveyors. The “Mushu Lamb” is one of the tastiest items on the menu. The 5 hour cooked lamb, is “fall of the bone, melt in your mouth tasty”…..it really is THAT good!! The recipe is below.
Chino’s menu is rich and varied and offers so many things I love. The “night market style friend chicken yum-yum snack” is indeed yummy and is indeed my new food crack. You will want to order two of these because one, well, because you have to. The dumplings, freshly made daily are to die for. The XLB (Xiao long bao) filled with juicy pork are “explode in your mouth good”. However Mr.Pei’s fish and leek dumplings are da bomb. And what a lovely way to honor his father with his famous dumplings on the Chino menu.
When you visit, try and get a booth, in the window preferably. But my fave spot always is to sit at the bar and view the bar stars make their killer cocktails and at the same time watch as dinner theatre unfolds with fast moving cooks doing their culinary thing in the long open kitchen.
In other news: The Chino and Tacolicious culinary teams (one big happy family) will be serving up Tacos for a cause on Thursday August 27th at the CUESA Ferry Plaza Market and I will be at their side with Chef Ron. Hope you can drop by the Tacolicious booth for a tasty taco and to say hello.
Enjoy my tasty talk with Chef Ron Pei, the man behind the tasty new eats at CHINO at 16th & Guerrero in San Francisco.
Chef Ron Pei’s Chino Mu Shu Lamb
- 6 spring onions
- 5 pasilla chile peppers
- Cooked lamb
- 1/8 cup spice mix
- Plum Sauce
- Mu Shu pancakes or favorite flour tortillas
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 lamb shoulder, bone in
- 2 quarts water
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 cup cumin
- 1/8 cup coriander
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons aji amarillo powder
- 10 green onions
- 2 english cucumbers
- 4 plums
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 pinch ground white pepper
- 4 plums (left over pieces from salad can be used here also)
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Clean the lamb shoulder of any excess fat.
Rub with salt and pepper.
Let sit for one hour.
Preheat oven to 325⁰F.
In a heavy bottomed dutch oven, add the lamb shoulder and 2 quarts of water.
Cover and cook for 5 hours in the oven, or until meat is falling off the bone.
When done, remove the lamb and set aside to cool.
When cool enough to touch, remove from liquid and pull the tender meat off and set aside.
Toast cumin and coriander in a pan over medium heat until fragrant.
Allow to cool, then grind in a spice grinder.
Mix with 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons aji amarillo chile powder.
Mix 1/4 of spice mix with the lamb meat, and reserve remaining.
Julienne green onions and cucumbers.
Choose the 4 best plums and cut into 1/8” slices.
Reserve any remaining plum for sauce.
Toss green onions, cucumbers, and plum slices with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 2 pinches of salt, and 1 pinch of ground white pepper.
Set salad aside.
Roughly chop 4 plums (pieces remaining from salad may be used here as well).
Sauté plums over medium heat for 6 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Once cooled, add the plums, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1/4 cup hoisin sauce to a blender and mix until smooth.
Feather cut 6 spring onions.
In a heavy bottomed dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup of cooking oil until very hot.
Add the onions, 5 pasilla chiles, and 1 pound of padron peppers.
Sauté until peppers begin to blister, about 3 minutes.
Add the lamb and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
Mix remaining spice mix into the pan.
Serve immediately with salad, plum sauce, and warmed mu shu pancakes or flour tortillas.
KCBS radio “Foodie Chap” and KPIX 5 television “Eye On The Bay” host Liam Mayclem introduces us to the culinary stars behind the food and wine loved by so many in the Bay Area.
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