The “Godfather” of food trucks, Roy Choi, takes us on the ride of a lifetime with L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food. This epic narrative is not a book of the recipes Choi has complied over the years, but a book that embodies the recipe of what has made him who he is today.
Beginning with his parents moving from Korea, Choi takes us on a journey through the city streets of Los Angeles to New York and back with our five senses riding shotgun. Each dish is a stop along the way.
Kimchi, to the perfect Simple Chicken Piccata, Fried Ribs (Yes, you heard correct), to Pecan Pie. Choi takes control.
Here are TWO dishes we couldn’t resist trying out for ourselves:
KIMCHI STEW (kimchi jjigae)*
8 ounces pork baby back ribs
8 ounces pork belly
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 cups kimchi, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
3 cups pork stock, beef stock, or water
1 cup water
half of an 8-ounce package firm tofu cut into medium size cubes
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded
Slice the mushroom caps in half and set aside.
Score the ribs with a knife and cut the pork belly into small cubes.
Heat a large pot over high heat and add the sesame oil. Toss in the kimchi, the pork ribs and pork belly and caramelize them just a touch, about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and scallions and stir just until they start to release their aroma, about 1 minute.
Add the stock and water. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Ad the tofu and shiitake mushrooms and simmer for about 10 minutes more.
Season with salt to taste.
Eat with rice immediately.
EGGPLANT CURRY OVER RICE**
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 Thai bird Serrano chiles, minced (including stems and seeds)
1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, minced
2 tablespoons minced galangal
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons green curry paste
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
6 Thai eggplants or 2 Japanese eggplants, cut into medium-size dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the curry paste in a blender and puree.
In a pan over medium heat, heat the oil and, when it’s smoking sauté the curry paste for a few minutes. Thin it out with 4 tablespoons water, then add the coconut milk. The mixture will become a little soupy.
Add the diced eggplant and cook it all for another 5 minutes. Taste the curry and adjust for seasoning.
Serve over rice with a squeeze or two of fresh lime.
Foodie or not, this unforgettable journey should not be passed up.
*P. 45 LA SON
**P. 282 LA SON
By James McMenamin, Roaming Hunger