Irish Fare; Kobe Beef; Thai Rice-Stick Noodles; Hungry Cat Cocktails; Tokyo-style Dining

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Laura Avery follows the pith helmet at the Santa Monica Farmers Market until she catches up with David Karp, the fruit detective. He can't say enough about strawberries. His favorite variety right now is what he calls "the European sports car" of strawberries, the "Galante," grown by Rutiz Farms.

Laura also offers us a primer on fava beans: how to peel and prepare them, and how we should enjoy these precious little harbingers of spring.

Armando Garcia of De Luz Farms has round, sweet Meiwa kumquats. These are not your sweet-on-the-outside, sour-on-the-inside kumquats, but sweet all the way through. He calls them "nature's candy."

Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland gets us ready for St. Patrick's Day with a few recipes from her book, Irish Traditional Cooking.

Corned Beef with Cabbage
Serves 6-8

  • 4 lbs corned brisket of beef
  • 3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 6-8 small onions
  • 1 tsp dry English mustard
  • Large sprig fresh thyme and some parsley stalks, tied together
  • 1 cabbage
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put the brisket into a saucepan with the carrots, onions, mustard and the herbs. Cover with cold water, and bring gently to a boil. Simmer, covered for 2 hours. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in quarters and add to the pot. Cook for another 1 to 2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef in slices, surrounded by the vegetables and cooking liquid. Serve with lots of floury potatoes and freshly made mustard.

Colcannon ***
Serves 8

  • 2-1/2 to 3 lbs baking potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
  • 1 small sprig or Savoy cabbage
  • 1 cup boiling milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
Scrub the potatoes. Put them into a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked -- about 15 minutes for old potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water. Replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are fully cooked.

Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut each quarter finely across the grain. Boil in a little boiling salted water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter.

When the potatoes are just cooked, bring the milk to a boil in a separate pan. Pull the skin off the potatoes, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the paddle. Then stir in about the same volume of cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately in a hot dish, with a lump of butter melting in the center.

*** Colcannon may be prepared ahead and reheated later in a 350-- oven for about 20-25 minutes. Leftovers may be formed into farls (potato cakes) and fried in bacon fat until crisp and brown on both sides.

Michael Mina of the new Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, among other noted restaurants, is famous for being a stickler when it comes to choosing fine ingredients for his restaurants. He tells us about Kobe beef and why it should be on our plates now and again.

Jet Tila of Bangkok Market gives us a rice stick noodle primer as well as a couple of great recipes where we can sample them.

Chef Jet Tila's Pad Thai
Active work time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 40 minutes

  • 3 Tablespoons Tiparos fish sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons bottled tamarind paste
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons packaged salted turnip
  • 1/8 cup dried shrimp
  • 3-4 cup BKM Chantaboon Rice stick
  • 1/2 cup sliced baked tofu
  • 1/2 cup 1-inch lengths chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup green onions, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1-cup bean sprouts
Soak noodles in water to cover 1 hour. Drain well before using.

Stir together fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime juice, vinegar and sugar. Set aside.

Heat wok over high heat. Add oil and coat pan completely. When pan starts to smoke, add garlic and stir 5 seconds. Add turnip, dried shrimp and tofu and stir-fry until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry until no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes.

Push ingredients in wok to side and let oil settle in center of pan. Crack eggs into pan, making sure to break yolks. Lightly scramble until half-cooked, about 30 seconds. Combine with remaining cooked ingredients in pan.

Add shrimp and cook until chicken and shrimp are medium done, about 1 minute. Add 3 cups drained noodles and cook 15 seconds. Add reserved sauce mixture and paprika and fold together until paprika evenly colors noodles and all liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Place green onions in center of noodles, and then spoon some noodles over green onions to cover and let steam 30 seconds. Stir in 3 tablespoons peanuts. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with bean sprouts and remaining peanuts.

Chef Jet Tila's Pho Bo

  • 1 2-lb chuck roast
  • 3 lbs marrow bones
  • 2 4-inch ginger pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 3 ozs sugar
  • 6 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Salt, to taste
Bring 6 quarts water to boiling in a large stockpot.

Put roast and bones in a separate pot and cover with water. Bring the roast pot to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the bones and roast and rinse until sediment is removed. Transfer the bones and roast into the 6 quarts of boiling water and bring to a simmer.

Add ginger, onion, fish sauce, and sugar to the stock and allow to simmer. Skim foam and fat often, allow to simmer for about 2 hours. Remove the roast in from the pot and soak in cold water until cooled though. Wrap in plastic to prevent drying and darkening. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wrap the star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle. Let simmer in the broth for 45 minutes. Cooking spices too long with spices will make the broth dark and too pungent. Remove spice bag.

Stock can be served after 2 1/2 hours but can be simmered longer.


  • 1/2 lb reserved roast (slightly frozen and sliced thin)
  • 1/2 lb rice-stick noodles fresh or dry
  • 1 onion, sliced paper thin
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro Leaves
  • 1 lb bean sprouts
  • 1/2 lb Vietnamese basil
  • 5 Jalapeno chiles, sliced thin
  • 2 limes cut into wedges

David Lentz of The Hungry Cat is making fantastic new cocktails that everyone is raving about. He uses fresh juices and interesting infusions to make these drinks that are definitely not your mother's martini.

Ann Le, our Little Saigon correspondent, has a few restaurants for us to try.

  • Trieu Chau (714-775-1536) at 4401 West 1st Street in Santa Ana
    Try the Hu Tieu, See Wat bones in a bowl, pork noodle soup
  • Pho Tau Bay (714-531-6634) at 3610 West 1st Street #C in Santa Ana
    Try the Banh Cuon--Vietnamese ravioli-type
  • Tai Buu Paris (714-534-6114) at 9684 Westminster Boulevard in Garden Grove
    Try the Vietnamese Fried Chicken

  • Patrick Kuh, food editor for Los Angeles magazine, is crazy about Tokyo-style dining and he can't say enough good things about one restaurant in particular.

    132 S Central Ave
    Little Tokyo (Los Angeles)