Tag Archives: salmon


Carol invited us to dinner last night. She was having salmon. She likes it, but her husband does not. He had to work late, so it was the perfect opportunity for her to have a dinner of salmon. It turned out to be relatively easy and absolutely delicious.

The thing that made the dish especially good was that Carol smoked the salmon in her Camerons stove-top smoker. That is definitely a kitchen gadget to have, even if you don’t use it very often. The standard model is a stainless steel pan with collapsible handles and an air-tight lid designed to keep smoke inside the pan and not in the kitchen (It really works.) Inside are a flat tray and a rack. You put a pile of very small wood chips (purchased from Camerons, of course.) in the bottom of the pan, cover with the tray, and arrange the food to be smoked on the rack. Slide the cover nearly but not-quite closed and put the whole contraption over two burners on your range. The heat from the burners should be low to medium–low – enough to get the wood chips smoking but not so hot that the food burns. When the first wisps of smoke begin to come out, push the lid completely closed. There should be no leaks. Then smoke the food for the desired time. In the case of salmon, about 20 minutes should do. Remove from the heat for a few minutes and then remove the lid. You will smell the smoke, but it should not invade the kitchen. Check to make sure the food is cooked to your liking. If not, you can close the lid again and heat for another few minutes.


If you don’t have a smoker, you can accomplish the same thing by basting the salmon with a mixture of ½ teaspoon liquid smoke and 2 teaspoons soy sauce before broiling in the oven.


Smoked Salmon Niçoise


  • 1 pound salmon filet, bones removed
  • 4 cups lettuce cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced (see post on how to peel a hard-boiled egg)
  • 8 small new potatoes, boiled, chilled, and cut into 1½ inch chunks
  • 2 cups green beans, cut in 2 inch lengths, blanched, cooked, and chilled
  • 20 pitted black olives
  • 4 teaspoons drained capers
  • 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • homemade vinaigrette or your favorite bottled salad dressing


  1. Pat the salmon dry and place in the smoker. Smoke according to instructions with the smoker.
  2. In the meantime, arrange the lettuce in the middle of each of 4 plates.
  3. Arrange the sliced eggs, potatoes, beans, olives, capers, and tomatoes equally among the plates.
  4. Remove the salmon from the smoker, cut into 4 equal slices and arrange on the plates.
  5. Season as needed with salt and pepper
  6. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.




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The de-cluttering campaign has moved to the pantry. There are lots of opportunities there: several boxes of salt, two or three tins of sardines, and five – or is it six? – different varieties of vinegar. One item caught my eye, a can of salmon. Fortunately, canned salmon is one of those virtually indestructible items like Spam and Twinkies. It can sit on a shelf for years, just waiting for some culinary emergency. This can had sat on the shelf for longer than I wish to recount, so it seemed like the time had come to use it.

When I was growing up, my mother often used canned salmon. I think that may have reflected her growing up in a Dakota sod-buster family on the flat and isolated prairie. She used to tell of waiting for shipments of otherwise unavailable foods to arrive , preserved in one way or another, on the trains from Minneapolis. Salmon loaf was one of my mother’s  specialties,, and salmon salad sometimes showed up with the salmon straight out of the can. You were able to eat it that way because the canning process essentially cooked the salmon, bones and all. I was never a fan of the bones that you could find. The little vertebrae had a fascinating shape, and they crunched easily between your teeth. But when I found out what they were, those little bones finished off my enthusiasm for canned salmon. These days, we often have salmon, but it is grilled or roasted, and always a fresh steak or a beautiful filet. Canned salmon seemed like a distant memory but a good challenge. Salmon cakes were an obvious choice.

I also had to deal with mushrooms. The other day, Susan wanted to make her favorite Hungarian mushroom soup from the Moosewood cookbook. The recipe called for 2 pounds of fresh mushrooms. When I bought some at the grocery store, I carefully weighed out 2 pounds. It seemed like a lot. Clearly the scale at the store was not working because we wound up with enough mushrooms to make several batches of soup.  It occurred to me that mushroom sauce for the salmon would be a good way to use up at least some of the mushrooms. The sauce I made was thicker than you might like, but you can always thin it out with stock.


Salmon Cakes


  • 1 large, thick slice good-quality sourdough bread
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 14 ounce  can salmon, drained
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil


  1. Tear the bread into chunks and place in the beaker of a food processor. Pulse several times to form coarse crumbs.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs and cream. Stir in the salmon with a fork, breaking up the fish into shreds about the size of the bread crumbs. (This should collapse any intact vertebrae)
  3. Stir in the mustard, dill weed, lemon, seasoning, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. When you are ready to make your salmon cakes, remove the salmon mixture from the refrigerator and divide into four equal balls. Between two pieces of waxed paper, form each ball into a patty about ½ inch thick.
  5. Heat just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet. Over medium-high heat when the oil is shimmering, add the salmon cakes. Sauté until crisp and lightly browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn once and brown the other side. Serve while still warm.

Mushroom Sauce


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ pound Cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock + more if needed
  • salt and pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté  until the mushrooms are cooked through and lightly browned
  2. Stir in the flour so that the mushrooms are completely coated. Cook another minute or two.
  3. Add the vegetable stock, stirring continuously until it is completely incorporated and the mixture has thickened. Add more stock as needed for your desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve over warm salmon cakes.


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I went to our local farmers’ market this last weekend. Spring is just now beginning to ease into summer here, so the choices in the stalls at the market have been relatively few. Next week the vendors will move from their winter locations to their summer spots. That means that this week they began to offer the first of their usual summer bounty. There was some asparagus, a few root vegetables that had been wintered over, and a lot of greens and lettuces. One farmer was offering some succulent baby bok choy. Several vendors had baskets overflowing with garlic and shallot scapes. Garlic has become a very popular local crop, but farmers need to trim off the tops with the flower buds to encourage fuller garlic bulbs. These tops are called scapes. I wrote about cooking with them last year (June 20, 2015) – a garlic scape frittata.  This past weekend I was pleased to find the scapes, as the “season” for them lasts at most two or three weeks. I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do with them, and then I thought of those bok choy and what a good combination the two would make. They turned out to be perfect accompaniment to butter-fried salmon. This is a vegetarian dish and can easily be made vegan by omitting the butter or substituting vegetable oil.


Braised Baby Bok Choy and Garlic Scapes


  • 2-4 baby bok choy
  • 1-2 good handfuls of garlic scapes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • sesame oil to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Trim any roots from the bok choy and discard. Cut leaves off of the bulbs and set aside to be braised at the last minute. Cut garlic scapes into pieces sized to your preference.
  2. Add the bok choy bulbs and garlic scapes to boiling vegetable stock in a small braising pan or saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the bok choy is pierced easily with a kitchen fork. Add the greens and cover. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the greens are completely wilted.
  4. Season with a dash or two of sesame oil. Remember, it is easy to overdo sesame oil.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Drain and serve immediately. Plate the greens and arrange the bulbs and then the scapes on top. Serves 2-4 persons depending on how many bok choy you braise.


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Peter is our family outdoorsman, and his wife, René, and their two girls also enjoy the outdoors. Several weeks ago they camped out on their trip to Alaska, and the girls gathered dried yak chips for the fire. That’s tough!

This last holiday weekend they camped out on a friend’s land on the Klamath River. They canoed and went fishing. The result of that adventure was three big salmon that Peter plans to grill.

We are babysitting our two youngest grandchildren, ages 4 and 2 while their parents are at a cooking demonstration in Hawaii. We’re just up the road from Peter and family, so we have been invited to the feast. We agreed to bring dessert and a side dish. Small price to pay for the chance to eat fresh, hand-caught salmon.

Peter and René are in the middle of a massive home renovation, so the salmon sat in a cooler on ice and dry ice in the middle of their kitchen. René made one of her famous salads. We cheated and stopped at Bianchini’s Market for corn-mango-jicama salsa, three-bean salad,  a loaf of Acme sweet batard, and some wine.

Dessert turned out to be an apple tart from Schubert’s Bakery on Clement Street in the Richmond district of San Francisco. It was hard to chose from all of the beautiful cakes, tarts, and pastries. Even picky eaters liked it.

We ate in the front yard al fresco as there is no dining room in the house right now. It was just as well. The temperatures in the Bay Area are breaking all records – in the 90s – so everyone does as much as they can outdoors. Baker Beach is jammed.

The kids played in the front yard as we enjoyed a glass of wine and the delicious put together meal.


Baked Salmon with Parsley and Garlic


  • fresh salmon
  • olive oil
  • melted butter
  • chopped parsley
  • minced garlic
  • fresh lemon juice


  1. Cut the salmon into 3 ounce serving pieces. Remove skin and bones.
  2. Baste with oil and melted butter. Top with parsley, garlic and lemon juice. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 400º F for 20 minutes. Serve while still hot.


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It’s summer, and the perfect time for a refreshing salad. In our family, recipes for panzanella, the traditional Italian bread salad, are currently all over the place. Sarah and Evan made a version for their cooking demonstrations in Shreveport that included pork from their pig-butchering demonstration. Now they have a recipe in the July issue of Food and Wine (pages 172-173)  for a version that uses rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and fresh strawberries. Carol in Los Angeles made her recipe for us during our recent visit there. Hers was a more classic rendition that was equally delicious and went well with barbecued pork ribs.

Here is my spin. It contains Romaine lettuce and salmon, which are not included in  traditional recipes, but I think they add to the flavors.  I know, I know -salmon doesn’t even sound Italian, but Marcella Hazan has two salmon recipes and a commentary in her  Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992). I felt justified in using salmon. Try to use wild-caught fish if you can, but farmed salmon will also work. If you don’t like salmon, then shrimp or shell fish would probably also be tasty.

As well, don’t even bother trying the recipe if you don’t have a good quality artisanal rustic loaf of bread, or the end result will be a limp dough ball. The bread in this recipe was the farm loaf from a wonderful local artisanal bakery, Sage Bakehouse.


Dilled-Salmon Panzanella


  • 4-6 ounces salmon fillet, pin bones removed
  • fish stock, enough to cover salmon
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped dill fronds
  • salt
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 large Santa Fe Grande pepper, seeded and sliced into ¼ inch rings (any sweet yellow pepper may be substituted)
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 cups 1-inch bread cubes (4 1-inch slices of a good artisanal rustic loaf should yield about 4 cups. Remove crusts if you like)
  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 2 small snacking cucumbers cut into ½ inch rounds
  • 1 Romaine heart washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the salmon, bring the fish stock to the boil, and then reduce to simmer. Add the prepared salmon and poach for 5 minutes or until cooked through, turning once. Remove the salmon to a plate to cool
  2. Remove the skin from the cooled salmon, and with a fork, pull the fish into bite-sized pieces. Place in a covered dish, salt to taste, and add the chopped dill. Chill in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to add to the salad.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic, anchovies, and capers into a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add  the pepper rings along with ¼ cup of olive oil and the vinegars. Mix well and let stand at room temperature until ready to assemble the salad.
  4. Slice the red onion into rounds, preferably suing a mandoline, and place in ice water until ready to be drained and added to the salad.
  5. On a small rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the bread cubes with the remaining olive oil, and place in the middle of an oven preheated to 350° F. Toast for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. When the bread cubes are lightly browned, remove from the oven to cool.
  6. Place the bread cubes in your serving bowl. Cut one of the tomatoes into large chunks and squeeze over the bread, using a food mill to release the juice and bits of pulp, leaving skins and seeds behind. Stir the bread cubes so they absorb the juices and let stand for 10 minutes. (Actually, I used a potato ricer, which is much easier to clean than my food mill)
  7. Blanch the remaining 2 tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. Cool, peel, seed, and cut into ½ inch chunks.
  8. Assemble the salad by adding the  peppers and their marinade, drained red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce to the bowl of bread cubes. Gently stir in the salmon and chopped dill. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Toss and serve immediately.



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After lots of travels round California and more problems than I wish to recount with a new wireless router, a laptop that expired without wrning, and many days in the shop for my desktop computer, I am finally back at my desk. This post has been sitting unedited since Christmas, but the food is not just for the holidays, and it’s not just for celebrations.

Two of my children and their families visited us during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Even though they returned home before New Year’s Day, we tried to have some of the family favorites from New Year’s Eve buffets of the past. Gravlax definitely made the cut, although our pregnant daughter opted out for health reasons.

The recipe for gravlax originally came from the volume, Cooking of Scandinavia, from the Time-Life series of Foods of the World published in 1968 and subsequently made it – with revisions – into our family cookbook, Let’s Cook! Let’s Eat!

The sauce is the recipe of a very old and dear friend from Sweden. We first had it as part of a lavish spread at her house celebrating Saint Lucia Day. We had it again years later when Elisabet and her husband visited us in Louisiana. She thought the sauce  would go well with the crawfish boil we prepared in their honor. She was right, and I was lucky enough to talk her out of the recipe. It goes well with many fish dishes, and it will keep for along time in the refrigerator.




  • 1 salmon filet, skin on (about 1½ to 2 pounds)
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar


  1. Make sure scales and fine bones have been removed. Just to be sure, rub your finger lightly over the fish. If you find tiny little white bones, remove them with tweezers or fine-nosed pliers. Cut the filet into two pieces of equal length.
  2. Arrange the wider filet, skin-side down,  in the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish that will hold the fish flat. Place the bunch of fresh dill on the filet. Cover with the other half of the fish, skin-side up.
  3. Crush the pepper in a zippered plastic bag, and then combine with the salt and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and dill. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and weight down with a heavy pan, brick or rock, or several cans of food. Place in the refrigerator
  4. Turn the fish two or three times a day for 3 days, replacing the plastic and weight each time before returning to the refrigerator.
  5. A liquid marinade will develop. Spoon over the fish each time that you turn it.
  6. When you are ready to serve, remove from dish and scrape off the dill and any remainders of the salt and peppercorns. Place the salmon on a carving board, skin-side down. With a very sharp, straight-edge knife, slice the salmon into very thin diagonal slices, detaching them from the skin.
  7. Serve with thin slices of rye bread and Elisabet’s mustard  and dill sauce.

Elisabet’s Mustard and Dill Sauce


  • ½ cup prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup salad oil
  • finely chopped dill fronds, to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved
  2. Whisk continuously while adding the oil gradually in a thin stream.
  3. Add chopped dill fronds to taste. The dill flavor will intensify as the sauce sits for a few minutes before serving.

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Our son, Peter, is the outdoorsman in our family. He hikes, rock climbs, skis, canoes, and anything else that will get him into the outdoors. When all the rest of us have opted for a motel room, he will choose to sleep outside in a bag on a ground cloth. He was excited, then, when he was selected in a lottery to bow hunt for elk in one of the wilderness regions of the Jémez Mountains in New Mexico. He drove to our house in Santa Fe almost non-stop from his home in Northern California, stopping for a few hours’ sleep in the Mojave Desert.

We helped him pack food for his expedition, and in a few hours he was off for what turned out to be a five-day adventure. He went to the San Pedro Park Wilderness with much of the trip over dirt roads. When he got to the trail head, he loaded up his back pack and went for a two-mile hike to his campsite. There were no other hunters, and he had planned the hike so that it would not be too far back to the car in case he bagged an elk and needed to pack out the meat. He wound up hiking another two miles to find a good hunting spot.

Map of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness

Map of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness

Hiking can be a strenuous activity, especially with a 50-60 pound pack. It’s fairly easy to use up 400 calories an hour, and even possible to use up 1000 calories an hour, never mind the fluid loss. Thus, it is very important to stay well hydrated and to have a good supply of food. Even if you had pure calorie sources – carbohydrate, protein, and fat – at 4, 4, and 9 calories per gram, respectively, you would need at least a pound of food a day to stay in balance. Of course, these days you can buy elaborate dehydrated meals at the outdoor sporting goods store, but they are very expensive and they also take away some of the fun of planning and packing for a wilderness trip.

Using dehydrated or low-weight foods available at the grocery store, we worked up a menu for the expedition. All you need is a good backpacking camp stove and a reliable source of water. Remember to cut instructions off the sides of boxes and drop them in the zippered plastic bag with the food. Put individual dry ingredients in zippered sandwich bags and drop them in the bag of the main dish.

Also pack a small squeeze bottle filled with cooking oil and another small container of butter or margarine. Bring small salt and pepper shakers.

Gorp, more commonly known as trail mix, is a hiking standby. These days you can buy any number of varieties with a wide range of different nuts, dried fruits, and candies. Some of them are extremely expensive and – in my view – not very good It’s just as easy to make your own, and that way you can include ingredients that you like.

Soup made from a packet of dehydrated soup is good while waiting for the main dish to cook.

Macaroni and cheese, especially the boxed kind, is an old-time kids’ favorite. It is nothing but dried ingredients. Add a little dry milk powder and some Spam lights, and you have a dish that can be cooked in just a few minutes. At the end of a hard day of hiking it will please everyone, kids and grownups alike.

Tuna casserole is another standby. With the new packaging of tuna in  foil pouches, this becomes even more light weight. Instant or fast-cooking pasta makes this an easy effort even with just a backpacking stove.

Salmon and rice casserole becomes another possibility with the advent of dry packaging of salmon just like tuna. A can of salmon would weigh over a pound, while the “dry” pack weighs 2.5 ounces

Dried fruit – banana chips and apricots make good desserts, along with chocolate bars.

Energy bars weigh only about 2 ounces each and pack an impressive 250 calories, about 1/3 of it from fat




  • 10 ounces sunflower seeds, roasted (880 calories)
  • 16 ounces dry roasted peanuts (2560 calories)
  •  7 ounces “runts” or other candy-coated chocolate candy (715 calories)
  • 6 ounces walnut pieces (1100 calories)
  • 6 ounces whole almonds (935 calories
  • 9 ounces dried cranberries (780 calories)
  • 8 ounces raisins (775 calories)


  1. If the sunflower seeds are raw, roast them by spreading them out in a jelly roll pan and placing them in the middle of an oven preheated to 300° F (177° C). Bake for 15 minutes, turning them frequently. Remove from the oven and cool before adding to the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Place in zippered plastic bags. This makes enough gorp for 4 or 5 bags, one for each day of the trip.

Macaroni and Cheese with Spam Lights


  • 1 box commercial macaroni dinner, including cheese packet
  • 1½ tablespoons powdered milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pouch Spam lights


  1. Place all of the dry ingredients in separate packages in a larger plastic bag
  2. In a camper’s cooking pot, bring 2 cups of water to the boil. Add the dry macaroni and cook until tender.
  3. Pour off all but about ¼ cup of water. Stir in the contents of the cheese packet and the powdered milk. Add butter.
  4. Drain and stir in the pieces of Spam lights. Cut them up a bit if you wish.
  5. Mix well and serve immediately. Serves one or two hungry hikers.

Tuna Casserole


  • 4 ounces quick-cooking pasta
  • 1 2 ounce packet dehydrated mushroom soup
  • 3 tablespoons dehydrated mashed potatoes
  • 1 2.6 ounce pouch tuna
  • 2 cups water


  1. Place all of the dry ingredients in separate packages in a larger plastic bag.
  2. In a camper’s cooking pot over a camp stove, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the pasta and mushroom soup. Cook until tender.
  3. Stir in the dehydrated mashed potatoes and the tuna, drained.
  4. Eat. Should serve one or two .

Salmon and Rice Casserole


  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1 envelope dehydrated vegetable soup
  • 1 2.5 ounce pouch salmon
  • 2 cups water


  1. Place all the dry ingredients in separate packages in a large plastic bag.
  2. In a camper’s cooking pot over a camp stove, bring water to a boil. Add the instant rice and dehydrated soup and stir until cooked and the water is absorbed.
  3. Drain the salmon and stir into the mixture.
  4. Eat. Should serve one or two.

For breakfast, be sure to bring tea or instant coffee and packets of instant oatmeal. For lunch, if you want to pack the extra weight, dry Italian salami,  Parmesan or other hard cheese, small cans of Vienna sausages  or Kipper Snacks, along with hard tack or crackers are perfect. Just remember you will have to pack out the cans, and Kipper Snacks can be smelly. Remember, too, if there are bears in the area, the smells will be a magnet. Be sure to secure your food appropriately.

The hunter and some of his elk meat

The hunter and some of his elk meat

The end of this story is that Peter hiked in two miles, set up camp, and then hiked another 2 miles in stocking feet (!!!) to the spot where he got his elk with one arrow at a range of 45 yards. Then he spent a whole day cutting up and packing out the meat in three separate 4 mile (8 mile round trip) hikes to his car. He had a long sleep when he got back to our house.


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Rich Table in the Hayes Valley section of San Francisco has only been open for a little over 2 months, but already the food and service have impressed the local critics. Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle has said, “It was ironic and symbolic that my first visit to Rich Table was the night of the blue moon, because only once in a blue moon does a restaurant like this come along.” ( 3½ stars, September 30, 2012) In San Francisco magazine, Josh Sens says, “Elements of surprise…Rich Table might sound like every other joint in town, but it’s not.” (3 stars, October, 2012)   7×7 San Francisco has selected Sarah and Evan as the chef representatives in their annual “The Hot 30”. (October, 2012)

With all that publicity, it may not be a surprise that the reservation book is filled for the next three months, but even if you can’t get a reservation, don’t despair. There are a few seats at the communal table deliberately left open for walk-ins. The bar is always humming, so you may need to sit on an outside bench to wait your turn.

How did a new restaurant get up and running so smoothly in such a short time? Only part of the answer is the talent of the chef-owners, Sarah and Evan Rich. The other part is the professional staff who work together comfortably, more like a family than a restaurant crew.

Maz has taken on responsibility for running the front of the house after working in the wait staff and as beverage manager for years at Coi. He has put together a menu of creative cocktails and an excellent choice of wines and beers that complement the food.

James and Nick have worked as cooks with Sarah and Evan for years, and so watching them in action is like watching a well-practiced athletic team. They have been joined by Bayoni, Miles, and Andrew. How all these folks fit in the tiny open kitchen is a mystery, but without a misstep they work with one another to turn out the orders beautifully composed and on cue.

Michael and Charles left good, long-time positions in high-end restaurants to join the team. Rachel and Jamie, the runner, have also become team members. This makes a first-class, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable front-of-the-house crew.

We visited San Francisco a few days ago with plans to eat at Rich Table. As parents of one of the chefs, Sarah, we thought that would not be a problem, but in a text message, Sarah gently reminded my wife that we need to let her know our plans , otherwise she could not guarantee a space.

We wound up sitting at the communal table with a party of five from France. They were making the “Great Circle Tour” of the American West. Even with limited English on their part and non-existent French on ours, we enjoyed a chat and wound up sharing some food.  They cleaned their plates and enjoyed the restaurant. I heard  one  say, “Magnifique.”

We spent three hours eating everything that Sarah sent out to us. Here’s what we ate:


Canadian oysters in California! Delicious and ocean salty. Still, the highlight is the crushed squash blossom mignonette. The sauce is beautiful with green and yellow-orange confetti. It is also tasty with an acidic base that complements the salty oysters.


This is rapidly becoming a signature dish of Rich Table. Big, crisp potato chips have a slender sardine fillet woven in the middle raising the question, “How do they do that?” The horseradish sauce is a perfect foil.   CAUTION: you can’t eat just one!


Another signature dish, corn fritters, has been transformed for the fall season into winter squash fritters with the sweet, creamy filling, crispy crust, and salty toasted squash seeds as a garnish.


This in no way resembles the usual bologna-like mortadella. The sausage is a silky mousse of pork laced with lardons of pork fat and bits of black garlic, a smoked and aged garlic that has a nutty, woodsy flavor.


Almost too beautiful to eat – well, almost! The salmon hides below a paper-thin tuile of saltine decorated with polka dots of yogurt and “bows” of foraged purslane. The decorations are delicious. The salmon and cucumber are superb.


Sort of a sophisticated caprese. The tomatoes multi-hued, each with its own synthesis of sweet and tart. The burrata is creamy and a notch above the usual mozzarella, even the house-made, fresh variety. Seaweed  for basil? So Japanese and so different.


Toppings for the plancha bread, done on one of the flat-top stoves, change frequently For our visit, rabbit sausage and corn were a perfect balance. Mustard served as both greens and sauce.


This unusual and beautiful pasta originated in Romagna and was rolled on a weaving comb to produce indentations before it was formed into cylinders resembling the breathing tubes of chickens (hence the name). Here it is topped with a light brown sauce faintly seasoned with tomato and the juices from lamb sausage. The sauce is perfect for dipping with bread.


The perfect bread for dipping – but also for eating by itself or with the house-made cultured butter. There are lots of excellent, famous bakeries in San Francisco – Acme, Grace, and Tartine to name a few – but this house-made bread has become another signature dish. The bread is made with a sourdough starter that has been maintained for years. The scent and subtle taste of foraged wild fennel pollen makes it unique. The butter is made from milk and culture that have been aged together for two days. Then the mix is churned. The butter is pressed and aged for another several days while the pungent buttermilk is saved for other uses. (You’ll see more about that later.)


The pasta originated in the Italian Piedmont. It is thicker than capellini but thinner than spaghetti. In Alba, a traditional dish is tajarin served with a sauce of black truffles. Thus, it is appropriate with cuitlacoche (corn smut, maize mushroom), a fungus that sometimes develops on ripening ears of corn. In Mexico it is a great delicacy and has been called “Mexican truffle”. Small wonder because it brings a chestnut color to the sauce along with a complex earthy aroma and taste which are clearly reminiscent of fresh truffles at the peak of the season.


An elegant pasta roll filled with tender rabbit and bathed with an herbal, slightly sweet sauce that makes you want more. The nasturtiums with their delicate blossoms and showy tiger stripes look too beautiful to eat, but they’re not. An elegant dish.


The bok choy and subtle ginger set an Asian note while the crunchy toasted buckwheat kernels offer an interesting contrast to the tender salmon fillets.


Delicate  rolls if pasta stuffed with a fluffy farce of pork augmented with airy egg whites and unctuous pork fat. The sweet glaze is caramelized so that the dish becomes a sophisticated pot sticker.

That’s it – only thirteen savouries, and we finished all of them. Then came dessert.


The dish came to the table resembling a drift of melon-colored snowflakes, and the first spoonfuls added to the image. Then the surprise: buried in the bottom were perfect cubes of ripe melon and a ball of melon-flavored cream made with a siphon.


So good that Susan started eating before I could take a picture, so here is an image of the fresh peach version from earlier in the season. This has become another signature offering.


The cake oozes moisture and flavor. Not too sweet, but sweet enough with the subtle flavor of seasonal plums and a poached plum on the side along with a quenelle of buttermilk ice cream, tangy and smooth as silk. The buttermilk comes as a by-product of the house-churned butter. Some by-product!

That was it! No more, though no more was needed. Clearly a tour de force of creative American cooking with overtones of French, Italian, and Japanese. Can’t wait to visit again.


Filed under Food, Photography, Restaurants, Travel