Showing posts with label mccall's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mccall's. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style McCall's Meat & Fish, Los Feliz - Nathan McCall and the Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

"One man's junk is another man's treasure."

By now in Los Angeles, it's not uncommon to see the words 'pig ears', 'jowels' or even 'trotters' on the menu. With this current dining trend, it's almost bizarre to find a restaurant that doesn't offer a beautiful offal. Just wait for the wonderful people at Olive Garden to offer the braised pig tongue ravioli with pig blood tomato sauce for $8.95 with coupon. Based on a ritual practiced for nearly centuries by almost every race in the world but Americans, a pig is finally consumed to the last piece of meat and thankfully it does not die in vain. When I had heard that Nathan McCall of McCall's Meat and Fish was offering a whole butchered pig that had been milk and acorn fed, I had to go in and see the butchering process. We've all tasted animals that had benefited from being milk-fed or acorn-fed. The latter being best exemplified through the mastery of Spanish charcuterie chefs – jamon Iberico de Bellota (Iberico ham). I had never tasted anything better than that.

On Thursday, I received a text from Nathan and I quickly drove over to meet him. The pig had made its way from the Sandberg Ranch in Lake Hughes, California – about an hour outside of Los Angeles. Nathan told me the 18 month old pig weighed in at 350 lbs., and had to be sawed in half in order to be carried by TWO people. I remembered vividly the scene in Food Inc. where a man in protective gear took a chainsaw down a carcass in less than 2 seconds. Just like that, it was halved.

I've known Nathan and Karen for about 7 months now and on this day, he showed me his true skill and passion for what he does. On top of waking up everyday at 5 am to go to the fish market almost everyday, ensuring that his customers get super fresh seafood, he works until about 10 pm, only to experience Groundhog Day again. He says that he and Chef Nozawa of Sushi Nozawa are homeys. Nathan has also done a lot for me as well.

I walked in with my camera and he had already been working on the first half of the pig – we'll name him "Benny Hill". He didn't even bother saying "hi" to me, he was at work. And one look at his focused face, I knew I shouldn't get near him and his hacksaw. If you happen to see Dylan's Ranch whiskey-fed, taco-fed, noodle-fed pork belly for sale, you'll understand my fate.

With a hacksaw, he cut through the limbs as far as he could, and then finish off with his meat knife. Before each incision or cut, he moved around his worktable like he was on a billiards table. He'd lean to the side and eyeball, murmuring to himself different measurements. I, along with two other gentleman stood and watched him go to town – the town of Porksville. The color of the flesh was a very light pink, yet deep and rich. The same richness you see from the Iberico ham... almost a crimson red. If trichinosis didn't exist, we might've jumped upon the pig like one of those freaks from Twilight and taken a bite of the meat to taste that milk and acorn. In about 20 minutes, he had finished off the first half. And still had the rest of the pig to go.

All I could stare at was that long rack of light pink rib meat. The pig was so fresh that the marrow was oozing out of the ribs, almost looked like vaseline. I took a few photos of the head. The eyes ever so resembling that of a humans. It was clear and stared at me, and I could tell it was only dead for about a day or so. I grabbed one of the trotters and it felt like human flesh. Bizarre but beautiful. I reserved a nice section of the belly.

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

Nathan McCall and the 350 lb. Re Ride Pig

10/14/10 - McCall's Re Ride Pig from dealinhoz on Vimeo.



Over the weekend, I went into McCall's to pick up some fish. The first thing Nathan did was show me a photo on his iPhone – a line about 15 deep before the shop had even opened.

Me: "Did you sell everything?"
Nathan: "Look down. Only one trotter left."
Me: "Nice. I love that nothing goes to waste."
Nathan: "Nothing."

Nathan doesn't know when he'll get in the next pig from Lefty Ayer's farm. But you can bet it'll be gone faster each time. This time, I'm going for the 'buche' and pig jowls. Thanks for reading.

ReRide Ranch (Lefty Ayer's)
32633 Pine Canyon Rd.
Lake Hughes, CA 93532
(
661) 586-7411
Website

McCall's Meat and Fish
2117 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027-2003
(323) 667-0674
www.mccallsmeatandfish.com

Eat Drink Style The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

When I think about it, it's only been 9 years since I started eating seafood again. Before that, I was on a nearly 18-year hiatus from eating seafood due in part to a bad food poisoning incident and being a picky kid. And when I was able to take down my first sushi after so long, new doors to weight gaining opened up and I was loving life. Now, I really can't imagine having a meal without seafood. There's a reason why the french refer to seafood as "fruits of the sea", and they sure are. Abundance and variety allow us to eat copious amounts of it, as though we're doing a favor by keeping them from overpopulating the sea. But we do stay away from over-fished things like tuna, and Jeni and I try to follow this Seafood Watch guide provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. With McCall's Meat and Fish Co. providing a very nice selection of seafood, our love for seafood was taken to another level of aquatic heaven.

Rather than the usual coursed dinner, we thought it would be fun to do a hands-on East Coast seafood "bake". Also in the style of the local favorite, Boiling Crab. We had just come back from a trip to Boston and enjoyed eating at a delicious tapas place called Toro, which inspired me to try cooking more Spanish style food. And thanks to great Spanish food purveyors like La Española in Harbor City (South Bay), we had access to essential ingredients for Spanish cooking.

The Sea of Seafood

One. I used garlic, shallots, leftover English shelling peas for color, Pamplona Spanish chorizo and canned piquillo peppers. Piquillo peppers are actually chilis found in Spain that when roasted take on a deeper and sweeter taste like roasted red peppers. They are used in tapas, for braising and making sauces. I love these things. A little salt and olive oil and you're in Spain. I first discovered Pamplona Chorizo at the Silver Lake Cheese store and loved it for its nice sustaining spice kick. When I saw how much cheaper it was at La Española, I just bought the whole MF'r. Great for appetizers and for sauteing.

Two. I had Nathan McCall order these in for me and he was kind enough to reserve the squid ink sac for us too. Cut off the "wings" and slice them up. With calamari, you want the nice rings.

Three. Jeni used to work at Sanrio if you couldn't tell. Along with the menu, she depicts our guests on a boat large enough for them, leaving me stranded on what looks like the tiniest island in the world, or maybe an oil barrel. I'm also holding a frying pan and sword like a crazy person. Her clams and mussels are actually housing for little children. The shrimp and the monkfish are scary too.

The Sea of Seafood

One. It's important to note that dish, as much as you would like to, can not be cooked in one pot at the same time. All the proteins have different textures that require various cooking times. For the shrimp, I kept them shell on because I actually love the taste the shell gives off when grilling or sauteing. But in my case, I basically punished them on a skillet that I left on high for nearly 10 minutes. The guests were concerned by the smoke building up as they could only see the lower half of my body as I was cooking. With a skillet that hot, you really only need to cook the shrimp on one side for about 3-4 mins, and flip over one last minute. Once you take it off the skillet, it is STILL cooking. If you overcook shrimp, it really doesn't taste good anymore. Keep the shell on as it holds in juices.

"Spanish Shrimp" Marinade Recipe (for 4 people)
- 2.5 lbs of shrimp (i like 16-20 count sized shrimp)
- 2-3 rosemary sprigs
- 5-6 thyme sprigs
- 2-3 tblsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tblsp. cayenne
- 1 tblsp. cumin
- 1 tblsp. salt
- extra virgin olive oil

This is a starting ground because I don't know what you're looking for. It's best to mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add as much olive oil as you need to make a "sludge". You need enough to coat the shrimp and mix it well. It's very important to take a test drive first to see what it tastes like. Eat the spices off the shell and crack it open. I found myself adding way more smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne and salt. Adjust accordingly and you'll be happy. I marinated these overnight and flipped them around in the morning. You can actually cook them after 15-30 minutes.

Two. This is my first time working with a dried Spanish pepper called a ñora (nuh-yo-ruh). It's a round, pudgy pepper that comes dry and needs to be reconstituted in warm water. I treated this much like a chili de arbol and used it for sauteing along with garlic, shallots and Pamplona chorizo. Soak it in some warm water for 15-20 minutes and remove any seeds. Chop it up and saute with it.

Three. Using the same marinade for the shrimp, I quickly tossed the calamari rings in the mixture. These don't really need to sit overnight. But the key to making good calamari is high heat and a quick hand. I had my skillet running for at least 10 minutes on high and tossed them in. Using my tongs I quickly moved them around to get a nice sear. Total time: 30 seconds MAX. If you overcook it, you'll be eating rubber. So make sure you see the flesh change from pink to white and take it out immediately.

Four. The Spanish are known for their mastery in canning. Due to fresh ingredients and excellent olive oil, you'll be happy knowing that you won't be tasting aluminum much like a lot of canned food. I threw in some anchovy-stuffed olives which were so good. Also with the piquillo peppers, I reserved the juice for sauteing – don't waste that liquid gold!

The Sea of Seafood

Ok. So now that you've got your shrimp and calamari cooked, it's time to make the base for steaming clams and mussels.

Dylan's "Spanish Style" Seafood Base
- 5-6 garlic cloves smashed
- 3-4 large shallots sliced
- handful of quartered Pamplona chorizo
- handful of English shelling peas
- small jar of piquillo peppers (roughly chopped, juice reserved)
- 1/2 can of Spanish olives (I used anchovy-stuffed green olives)
- 2 dried ñora peppers (soaked), or a handful of Chili de Arbol
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
- salt & pepper
- sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- smoked paprika to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste

Ok, here we go. On high heat, toss in some olive oil and start sauteing the garlic, shallots, chorizo sausage, peas, piquillo peppers and ñora chilis. It doesn't really matter about order since you're going to be making a liquid soon after. After everything is nicely sweated, add some white wine and let the alcohol burn out. Throw in half a stick of butter to create a nice thickness and sheen. If your wine is tasting too sour, add some sugar to balance it out. Add more butter as needed. Add about 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika - there's nothing wrong with too much smoked paprika because it's so goddamn tasty.

Once you get your sauce to your liking, it's time to give the clams and mussels a bath. Dump them both in and stir them around with a wooden spoon to make sure they get some love from that sauce. Because I used a large pan, I took a large baking sheet I had and covered it. Foil works fine but be careful not to burn yourself.

The Sea of Seafood

After 4-5 minutes, the majority of clams and mussels should be opened. At this point, it's critical you mix them around vigorously so that they take in that sauce. Make sure at least 90% of the clams are open and you're done. Shut off the heat and throw them into a large bowl immediately. Add the nicely punished shrimp and calamari rings to the mix and pour any remaining sauce over them. And get ready to embark on the Sea of Seafood...

The Sea of Seafood

Oh. My. For me, I thought this was ridiculous. Not to mention how heavy that bowl was ha. I usually don't like to serve food in large quantities, but with seafood, it's a must. We laid out newspapers over the dining table and encouraged our guests to use their hands and eat like cavemen. God gave us hands, not utensils right? I had to say, this meal was fun, delicious and great for a group of 6. I watched as our friends devoured the food and grabbed the wine glass for a drink, not minding the saucy smudge that was imprinted on the glass from their hands.

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

I watched as our guests created their own pattern of eating seafood. Some would bring the mussels to mouth and drink out all the juice before eating the meat. Some would suck off all the flavoring from the shrimp shell, undress it and redip it back into the buttery sauce. Some just ate the shrimp with the shell on. However you do it, there's no right or wrong. It's how eating should be.

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

Bread plays an important role when it comes to sauces. There's nothing like using it as a sponge to sop up all the juice.

The Sea of Seafood

I forgot to mention that I included monkfish in here – it was a bit too mushy from undercooking it. Monkfish is a good way to go because it really has a muscular build to it and can endure longer cooking times. Next time, I may try salmon or simple basa catfish. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Smoked Ham Hock & Rosemary Leek Hash

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

The other day at McCall's Meat & Fish Company, which was probably the third time in a week I was there, I saw that Nathan and Karen started offering smoked ham hocks. Oh joy. This reminds me of a particular ham that the Chinese, particularly Hong Kong, use in their stir fries. It's called "Virginia ham" and it's absolutely delicious. Think of it as an Asian version of spam-on-a-bone. The Chinese use the bone primarily for flavoring soups and can be treated like bacon. According to Wikipedia, "Virginia ham" is reminiscent of Jinhua ham from Mainland China. This is all new to me. At a few bucks a pound, I bought one smokey hock.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Instead of using it to flavor a split pea soup as Nathan suggested, I decided to make a "hash". I cut the meat off the bone, including my favorite parts, tendon and connective tissue. The meat is completely smoked through so you can start sampling the tasty meat. It really is tasty.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Since a hash taste best when cooked in a skillet, I busted out my favorite pan by Lodge. For $35, this thing will live longer than me. A note to Jeni, please include this in my coffin - along with my knives, whiskey and my iPod. My underground party has to continue right? Have the pan on low heat for at least 10 minutes to really load up the skillet and sauté the ham cubes till they are nice and brown. Thanks to the White on Rice Couple for their super helpful video on shooting food with the flash. Check out their work, it's solid.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Once the ham hocks are browned, take them out. Don't even think about washing that skillet. Sharing is caring, so you're going to share that ham hock fat with the potatoes. I halved these baby yellow potatoes for easier chewing as well as making it easier to cook through. Fry the potatoes with a few sprigs of rosemary and add salt & pepper to taste, maybe even some cayenne pepper for a kick. Or you can Asian-ize this dish with the lovely Maggi. Because we were in a rush to check out the Thirsty Crow bourbon bar in Silver Lake, I threw in some chicken broth and covered the skillet with a baking sheet to do some hot sauna action. In a few minutes, your potatoes are now cooked through.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

Add your choice of veggies. I love leeks and chopped them into 'rings'. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then add the ham hock cubes back in. Do a final taste test for seasoning and you're good to go. A very simple dish that took less than 20 minutes to cook.

Smoked Ham Hock Hash

The smokiness of the ham hock with fresh leeks and rosemary potatoes is nice. If you've cooked with ham hocks before, would love to hear your recipe. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style McCall's Meat & Fish Company - A Return to Cooking

McCall's Main

Right before our amazing trip to Southeast Asia, Jeni and I were burdened with some drama that almost caused us to cancel our trip - I was going through a separation with my employer. Besides feeling confused and down, we were now in a situation that many people feared - financial hardship in this economy. We had also spent a good sum of money on the flights and lodging and had no way of really turning back. The thought of trying to enjoy delicious food in another country with no job was difficult. But I always try my best to be optimistic. I said to her... look, this is inevitable and we'll be alright. We can't let something like this hold us back. We love to travel and we will make this happen.

In addition to the layoff, we were also dealing with a bad living situation. My landlord had really destroyed the joy in living in Silver Lake. We would both come home from work and feel this negative energy. We were very unhappy with her management and it got to the point where we actually felt suffocated and took out our frustrations on each other. The landlord had horns, fangs, hooves and claws and we resided in her compartmentalized hell. So you can see the combination of not having a job, financial hardship and life in a jail cell was really too much to handle at one time. We were in a huge rut.

But on New Year's eve, as we waited for the countdown in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I turned to her and promised her that we would have a great year. That I would find a job immediately and we would move to a better place. And she smiled in accordance.

Within a few weeks after we got back from Southeast Asia, I was able to explore the freelance lifestyle and I have vowed to never go back to full-time ever again. I think this was the work style that I had always been looking for. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to make it as a freelancer but the rewards are solid. The pay is better, the hours are great, I could work on and off-site and I am essentially my own Creative Director. I also have more time to focus on our photography business. I felt like a huge block had been lifted off my chest and I was once again, happy to be back in the workforce.

If it weren't for Jeni's frequent searches on Craigslist, we wouldn't have found our dream place... a Silver Lake duplex with the coolest landlords and neighbors. Finally, a landlord that didn't have four legs and a tail. This place had everything going for us... an extra bedroom to set up our photo studio, a backyard with market lights, a large kitchen with chalkboard paint on the walls and most importantly... a FREAKING washer & dryer. Long gone are the days of running down to use the coin-op washer and dryers. I can't tell you how many times I've been a quarter short on drying my red silk boxers and had to drive over to get change and come back - ugh. For a married couple, moving from an apartment to something that resembles a house is a huge step. I think for a month straight, Jeni told me everyday how much she liked the place like a broken record. I was very happy as well.

And this brings me to the last event that is really making this a great year for us. This may sound strange because of its relation to food... but I believe that even a small business can really change a community. There's Ricky Piña of Ricky's Fish Tacos, Peter Bahlawanian of Spice Station, Jason Kim of Forage LA and of course, Nathan McCall's and Karen Yoo's McCall's Meat & Fish Company. I can't express the wonders McCall's has done for us, and I'm sure, for the many patrons that live in the Silver Lake/Echo Park/Los Feliz area.

The kitchen at our last place was way too tiny. Jeni and I have ran into each other many times and you can imagine how bad it would be if we were both irritated, wielding sharp objects. I eventually started cooking less because I couldn't stand the kitchen. It was small, dimly lit and at one time, our cabinets were breeding grounds for creatures that made even the Orkin guy say, "That's gross". We ended up eating a lot of crap for dinner and it just wasn't healthy.

But when I walked into McCall's for the first time, I saw the rays of the sun beam down on me. I suddenly missed being in the kitchen. This was awesome. I could get virtually ANY meat that was served in our favorite restaurants. We bought smaller portions and had the ability to control the butter intake which is so overdone in haute cuisine. The fact that they were chefs and willing to tell you how to cook their products was indeed a blessing. In one month, I had visited at least 15 times. I'm now on their meat stalker list and under constant supervision by the police. At times, I've thought about asking Nathan and Karen if I could just bring a frying pan, portable burner and some tongs to cook right on the spot. I'd get the boot for sure.

When you have access to better ingredients and cook at home, you can make food that is not only tasty but also healthier. When I worked in a restaurant, I was shocked by the amount of butter used in the food. The food I cook usually has no butter and although it is necessary in some dishes to bring out flavor, fresh ingredients go a long way with good salt, freshly cracked peppercorns and citrus juice.

So here are a few things that I've cooked using McCall's meat and fish, fresh vegetables from the Hollywood Farmer's Market and spices from the Spice Station. My return to cooking couldn't happen without them, a little downfall in life and of course, my supportive wife. I thank all of the aforementioned for re-inspiring something I really enjoy doing.

McCall's Slider

McCall's House Burger Blend Sliders with Fried Quail Egg & Gruyere Cheese
It is rare that I'll eat a hamburger. Before the rise of gastropub burgers, you had Fatburger, In & Out and the fast food chains. I love Fatburger, but sometimes, it's just a lot of meat to eat. So that's why I opt for a diet version of the classic hamburger. McCall's offers a nice house blend. I marinated the meat with kosher salt, fresh black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire Sauce and my secret lover, Maggi. The longer you let the meat marry with the flavorings, the better it'll be. Pack the ground meat tightly to hold in the fat, and using your palms, roll the meat into a 'handball'. Then lightly squash the patty to get a nice burger shape. I recommend cooking thicker patties versus thin patties because you can have more control with the done-ness of your patty. Thin patties cook way too fast. The key to making this taste good is how long you cook the quail egg. Over medium heat, it should take no longer than 3 mins to cook a quail egg. You want the yolk to break as you bite into the slider. Add a thin slice of gruyere cheese and your favorite toppings and you're good to go. I served this with an heirloom tomato and arugula salad. Delicious AND light.

McCall's Scallops

Seared Scallops with Sauteed Maitake Mushrooms and English Shelling Peas
McCall's never runs out of their scallop supply, and if they did, I would go insane. They are better than any place I've bought them - better than Whole Foods and Fish King. But the key is to know how long to cook them. A dried out scallop gives you a nice FAIL stamp. One of my favorite cooking utensils is my 12" Lodge cast iron skillet that I got at Surfas for around $35. This thing is the shit. You can cook anything on it and it heats evenly. For scallops, it adds a beautiful brownish sear like the restaurants. I sear scallops with just salt and pepper on low-medium heat, never high, because excessive heat will make the water in the scallop evaporate, causing the scallop to 'crack open'. Because you're using a skillet, the heat stays longer in the skillet even after turning down the heat. And before I've seared my first scallop, I've already got the skillet turned on low heat for at least 10 minutes. I served these with delicious Maitake mushrooms from a new mushroom vendor at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. He has over 20 types of mushrooms to offer and even has a worker guarding the Chanterelle section... which if you don't know, costs nearly $25 a POUND. If you haven't had English shelling peas, these are like Nature's Skittles - so sweet and crunchy.

McCall's Manila Clams

Manila Clams with Chorizo de Pomplano and Smoked Paprika Wine Sauce
When I first saw these clams at McCall's, I didn't think much of it due to its larger size. For me, larger clam means more of a stronger taste that can be off-putting. But these were so sweet and better than Manila clams I've purchased at Asian grocery stores. I love serving steamed clams with some sort of cured meat and I found my favorite chorizo (Chorizo de Pomplano from Spain) this time at the Silver Lake Cheese Store. It has a nice amount of fat and a nice sustaining spice kick. I simply sauteed the chorizo cubes with some Cipollini onions, garlic and chives, and steamed them in a white wine and butter sauce. My in-laws sop-mopped all the sauce with bread. Delicious!

McCall's Corned Beef

Corned Beef Brisket with Boiled Vegetables
With a few days before St. Patrick's Day, we didn't have enough time to cure anything. We called McCall's to see if had any beef brisket and told us about a purveyor he works with in Burbank. Because he's a chef, I trusted him on this and ended up buying 6 lbs... spending over $50 on something I was accustomed to paying $1/lb before when I was a poor college student. Along with the in-laws, we destroyed the 6 lbs. of meat in one night. It was SO GOOD. You could actually taste the flavor of the beef. This is further evidence that McCall's does their research with purveyors.

McCall's Skatewing

Rosemary-Battered Skate Wing Fillets
I came in as I usually do and checked out the fish. They usually have the usual suspects like Scottish Salmon, Black Cod, Halibut and Monkfish. Then I saw skatewing and immediately remembered the time I ate a Korean-version of it at Deep End Dining's place. It was ok and nothing to write home about. So I said no to that. Then Chef Karen Yoo basically called me out on it and gave me guilt trip. I smelled the fish and there was an interesting odor to it... almost like bleach or lye. I was a bit hesitant and went ahead and prepped it at home. And this is where I knew that Nathan loved what he did. While I was prepping the skate wing in some lemon juice, I received a call from Nathan. He told me that because I was concerned with the odor, he went ahead and did his own taste-test and recommended soaking it in lemon juice prior to cooking. I thought it was great of him to take his own time and tend to customer needs. He also recommended cooking the skate wing with the brown butter-swirl technique, where you basically melted butter until it foamed up and swished the pan around so that the butter would lightly 'poach' the skate wing. This technique is difficult because if you get the pan too hot, the butter will blacken. You want the butter to become a light brown foam, but not blackened. The texture of the fish was simply awesome but I had a difficulty getting used to the taste of the fish. I would try poaching this in olive oil and herbs next time I cook with it.

McCall's Arctic Char

Pan-Roasted Arctic Char and Farmer's Market Medley with Mint Soy Sauce Sambal Oelek Creme Fraiche
What the hell is going on in that picture? I have no idea, but it was delicious. The first time I had Arctic Char was at San Francisco's Bar Crudo, one of my fave SF restaurants. It was served raw and a bit more complex than salmon. That's because the Arctic Char is a hybrid salmon-trout found in the most northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. This fish can handle extremely cold water due and when you cook this fish, understand why it's so moist and tender. I have to say that this and the black cod at McCall's are truly high-grade. Even if you overcook either of these fish, the fish will still be very moist and edible. I marinated this fish with smoked paprika, cumin, coriander Seeds, chili de arbol, bay leaves and expensive-ass olive oil. The green, grassy kind, not EVOO. Using the Lodge cast iron skillet, i sear the Arctic Char on medium, careful not to overcook the skin since it is one of the best things about eating this dish. The skin is crisp like a chip if cooked correctly. I sear the fish skin-side down first for about 5 minutes and finish it in the oven at 350. Always take out the fish earlier than expected because even when it's out of the oven, the stored heat will continue to cook the fish through. I served this with some veggies I bought earlier in the morning and lightly tossed them in one of my fave sauces. I LOVE mixing creme fraiche with spices. This time, I mixed in some soy sauce, sambale oelek for kick and chiffonaded mint leaves. We both ate this dish in under 7 mins because it was so light and fresh.

McCalls Meat and Fish Company

Seared Kurobuta Pork Chops with Curried Cauliflower and Swiss Chard
I really don't know where else you can find Snake River Farm's pork aside from Snake River Farm. This purveyor puts out some really tasty American style kurobuta pork. If you've never eaten kurobuta pork, it's best to describe it as kobe pork. This meat is a bit more rich and fatty but the taste and tenderness are simply amazing. One of these chops is good enough for the both of us. I served these with sauteed Swiss chard and cauliflower that has been roasted in the oven with curry powder, salt and olive oil.

Because of McCall's, Spice Station and the Hollywood Farmer's Market, we've changed a lot of our bad habits. We buy groceries as we need and cut down on food waste. We buy better proteins and eat smaller portions. We're supporting local businesses. And ultimately, we're doing better for our bodies. We are of course spending more money, but we believe it's important you know what goes into your stomach. If you haven't seen Food Inc., you'll understand where all of this is coming from. Thanks for reading and I hope that you find your inner cook once you visit McCall's.

McCall's Meat & Fish Company
2117 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-0674
www.mccallsmeatandfish.com

Spice Station
3819 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 660-2565
www.spicestationsilverlake.com

Silver Lake Cheese Store
3926 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 644-7511
www.cheesestoresl.com

Hollywood Farmer's Market
Ivar & Selma Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
Sundays 8am - 1pm
www.farmernet.com