Saturday, September 10, 2011

Foodbuzz Tastemaster: Kikkoman Karaage Coating Mix

One of my favorite sides with a bowl of udon is a plate of chicken karaage. Unlike Korean fried chicken, Japanese fried chicken is not inexplicably expensive. But if you're looking to save even more money, here's a box kit.


Karaage, at its simplest, is soy, ginger and garlic marinated meat or vegetable fried in potato starch and wheat flour. It's a comfort to see that's mostly what the ingredient list on the box consisted of.

Though Kikkoman suggests chicken too, I kept to the classic chicken. I happily noted that the recipe on the box suggests dark meat chicken thigh. Dark meat is certainly the preferred cut for something like this. And if you prefer white meat, you probably should stick to KFC and Popeye's.

The box contains two coating packets, each sufficient for 1 1/2 lbs of chicken. It's a simple shake and fry recipe. Though the serving instructions are to pan fry, and that's what I ended up doing, I imagine that a proper deep fry is really the way to go. In fact, the instructions are so simple, the recipe doesn't merit repeating here. Instead, in the future I think I'll try variations with vegetables like burdock, carrots, and sweet potato. I do have this note of caution however, the top picture of my chicken in the pan is overcrowded. It is imperative you leave enough space in the pan so that the coating comes out properly crisp instead of soggy or powdery.

The chicken fries quickly in two to four minutes. While Kikkoman suggests serving with Kikkoman banded ponzu, I thought the chicken was salty enough in the coating mix and went best with just a squeeze of lemon. Though it may not be traditional, a quick dust of Japanese shichimi red pepper gives the chicken a spicy kick while still keeping oriental in flavor.

*I received my Kikkoman Karaage Soy-Ginger Seasoned Coating Mix as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hometown Favorites: PPQ Dungeness Island

I suppose referring to San Francisco as my "hometown" would offend some actual city natives, but I'm sure getting tired of telling people I'm from "right next to Oakland, California." I speak expansively; I like to think that I am a product of the entire Bay Area, despite how little time I spent in the "city" when I was growing up. Still, if I'm looking for dungeness crab in San Francisco, there are only to places I go--R&G Lounge in Chinatown for Cantonese salt and pepper crab and PPQ Dungeness Island for Vietnamese roasted garlic crab.


The restaurant is located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. It's not particularly accessible by anything except a car and finding parking could be a real deterrent to coming here. Nonetheless, it looks like they expanded the restaurant since I had been here last, so you may have a much easier time getting a table. I had no trouble calling on Thursday to get a ten person reservation for Sunday evening though.

The above picture is PPQ's famed garlic roasted crab. Even though it isn't dungeness crab season, the flavor was still phenomenal. Part of the crab eating experience is the shell and the work. Personally, I always think that the reward tastes sweeter when it's earned with stainless steel crackers, digital dexterity, and your teeth (a bad idea for your teeth but oh so satisfying).

PPQ also has a peppercorn crab (pictured above), drunken crab, curry crab, and spicy crab, along with several other common Vietnamese dishes. Honestly, I couldn't distinguish much between the roast crab and the peppercorn; both are delicious. The restaurant is confident enough to name the place after its crab.

The other dish that you must get at PPQ Dungeness Island is the garlic noodles. I don't know how the Vietnamese do it, but their garlic noodles are so satisfying they could make a meal in themselves. In a glance, they look like plain noodles with nothing in them, but the flavors of those plain looking noodles will astound you.

PPQ Dungeness Island
2332 Clement St
(between 24th Ave & 25th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 386-8266
Crab priced seasonally