Food

'Mission Street Food' inspires with San Francisco culinary project

"Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas From an Improbable Restaurant" is as much a book with which to spend a few hours on the couch as it is a book that inspires your next meal. And it'd be an entertaining few hours.

The book tells the story of Mission Street Food, the San Francisco culinary project of chef Anthony Myint, and his wife, Karen Leibowitz, who started selling their pork-belly-filled flatbreads from a subletted Guatemalan taco truck, and what took off from there. (Mission Street Food's successor is the restaurant Mission Chinese Food.) Some of it is told in comic book form, most of it in conversational writing, and there are lots of candid photos.

Published by McSweeney's, it's loose and inspirational and funny. Writes Leibowitz of her budding relationship with Myint: "Our friends were surprised to see us becoming a couple, because we seemed so different. I was gregarious while Anthony was shy; I was a big reader while he was a sports fan; I was a woman while he'd never really talked to one before."

Divided into three parts ("The Taco Truck," "The Restaurant" and "The Food"), the book's recipes take up the last third: the Mission Burger, ham hock rillettes, Peking duck, marrow-stuffed squid, "hollandaise au blendeur." They are mainly outlined in step-by-step photos accompanied by guiding principles, rather than very specific instructionals.

The rare beef tostadas are easy and tasty, fried tortillas smeared with caper aioli and topped with diced seared steak and tomatillos and a tangle of watercress and radishes, tangy with lime juice and vinaigrette. It's representative of the kind of riffing that resulted in the signature Chinese burrito.

"Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas From an Improbable Restaurant" by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, McSweeney's, $30.

Rare beef tostada

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus salting time for the steak

Servings: 6

Note: Salt the steak on each side with a good pinch of salt 1 to 3 days ahead and place on a rack uncovered in the refrigerator; leave at room temperature for an hour to temper before preparing this recipe. Trim and save some of the fat from the steak for searing.

Aioli

3 egg yolks

Healthy pinch of salt

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Cold water

1/2 lemon or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

3 cups oil of your choice

1 to 2 cloves garlic

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yolks, salt, mustard, 1 tablespoon water, lemon juice and garlic.

2. Thoroughly mix to create a base, then, with the processor on, drizzle the oil in slowly. As you add the oil, the mixture should go from "sauce-like" to "pudding-like." The trick is to add oil gradually, and to keep the texture close to mayonnaise. You may need to scrape down the sides at some point. If the consistency seems thick, add a teaspoon or two of water, then the rest of the oil. This makes about 3 cups aioli, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the aioli will keep for 3 to 5 days, covered and refrigerated.

Vinaigrette

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk the oils, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper together to form an emulsion. Adjust the oil, vinegar and salt to taste. This makes a generous three-fourths cup vinaigrette, which will keep up to 1 week, covered and refrigerated.

Tostada assembly

3 tablespoons capers, drained

1 cup aioli

Vegetable oil for frying the tortillas

12 small (4-inch) corn tortillas or 6 medium (6-inch) corn tortillas

Salt and pepper

Fat trimmed from the steak before salting

11/2 pounds rib-eye, New York strip, flap or sirloin steak

3 radishes

1/2 bunch watercress

2 tomatillos

Juice of 2 limes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette

1. Mince the capers and in a small bowl mix them with the aoili. Set aside.

2. In a large frying pan, add enough oil to come up the sides by about one-half inch. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees; the oil will shimmer on the surface. Fry the tortillas whole until crisp, then place on a rack or on a few paper towels to drain. Salt generously while they're still hot and greasy and set aside.

3. In a separate large frying pan, heat the trimmed fat over medium heat until it renders its liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the steak. Sear the steak on both sides just until rare (it should feel "bouncy" to the touch), or to taste. Remove and set the steak aside to rest, about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

4. Thinly shave or slice the radishes and pick 1- to 3-inch segments of watercress. Set aside.

5. Dice the tomatillo into one-fourth-inch cubes. Dice the steak into one-third-inch cubes. Place both in a medium bowl and toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the aioli onto each tortilla and spread it almost to the edges. Top with a large mound of the dressed meat and tomatillo.

7. Lightly dress the watercress and radishes in vinaigrette, and top each tostada with a generous plume of salad. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 838 calories; 26 grams protein; 24 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 71 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 85 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 256 mg sodium.

Betty.hallock@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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