The Slanted Door: A San Fran Favorite

San Francisco is known for big tourist sites like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge, but the locals flock to the city’s phenomenal dining options like The Slanted Door.

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Owner and executive chef Charles Phan wanted to make good Vietnamese food within a modern setting. And now, with The Slanted Door, he has one of the most popular culinary hotspots in the area. A job at a local disco club, where he refilled ice buckets and cocktails trays, may have been the spark that ignited his culinary passion, even though he journeyed through many other professions in the garment and software industries before settling in to his true love—food. Phan wanted to share the food he grew up eating. With Slanted Door he is doing just that—creating fresh, flavorful, and simple home-style Vietnamese food that amplifies California’s terrific produce.

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Chef Phan’s menu is inspired by many family recipes, including his mother’s spring rolls, which he says he will never be able to take off of the menu. They are that popular! Even if you can’t make it all the way to San Francisco to dine at The Slanted Door, you can test out some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes at home with these delicious recipes Chef Phan shared with us! Enter here to win Chef Phan’s amazing cookbook, The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food, that features amazing recipes from the restaurant, along with Chef Phan’s personal inspiration and cooking techniques.

Ginger Limeade
Makes 1 cocktail
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Ingredients
  1. 1½ ounces lime flavored vodka, such as Hangar 1 Kaffir Lime
  2. 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  3. ½ ounce Ginger Syrup, recipe follows
  4. ¼ ounce triple sec, such as Cointreau
  5. Candied ginger, for garnish
  6. Lime wheel, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, lime juice, Ginger Syrup, and triple sec. Add ice.
  2. Cover, and shake hard for 10 seconds. Pour contents of the shaker into an old-fashioned glass.
  3. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger and a lime wheel, using a toothpick to pin the two together.
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Ginger Syrup
Makes about 3 cups
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Ingredients
  1. 5 cups water
  2. 4 cups sugar
  3. ½ cup agave nectar
  4. ½ pound young ginger, peeled, peel reserved
Instructions
  1. Combine 5 cups water, sugar, and agave nectar in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, and add ginger.
  2. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 4 to 6 hours or until the ginger is tender. Add the peel, and simmer for another 4 hours.
  3. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain syrup into a medium bowl, and let cool.
Notes
  1. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. The ginger may be rolled in sugar to make garnish.
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Spring Rolls
Makes 10
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Ingredients
  1. 15 medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 8 ounces boneless pork shoulder
  3. 1 pasteurized egg yolk
  4. ½ cup Shallot Oil, recipe follows*
  5. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 10 (12-inch) round sheets of rice paper
  7. 1 head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried
  8. 30 mint leaves
  9. 5 cups cooked rice vermicelli
  10. 1¼ cup peanut sauce, for dipping (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. Fill a pot with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes or until pink and firm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a colander, and rinse under cold running water. Drain again, and cut each shrimp in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  2. Return water to a boil, and add pork. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Drain, and let cool completely, then cut against the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add egg yolk, and whisk well. Pour the shallot oil into a measuring cup with a spout, and begin adding the oil to the egg yolk a few drops at a time, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and emulsifies. Continue to add oil in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly, until all the oil is incorporated. The mixture will be very thick. Whisk in salt, and set aside.
  4. FOUR Fill a large bowl with very hot water. Dip one sheet of rice paper halfway into the water and quickly rotate to moisten the entire sheet. Lay the wet rice paper on a flat work surface. Arrange one lettuce leaf over the bottom third of the rice paper, flattening the lettuce to crack the rib. Spread a generous teaspoon of the egg mixture over the lettuce, then top with three mint leaves placed end to end and a few slices of pork. Top with about ½ cup of the noodles.
  5. Fold in the left and right sides of the rice paper, then fold the bottom edge up and over the filling tightly and roll toward the top end one full turn, enclosing the filling completely. Place three pieces of shrimp, cut side up and end to end, in a row on the rice paper, then roll another turn to enclose the shrimp. Continue rolling as tightly as possible toward the top edge, tucking in the sides, until you have a tight cylinder. Repeat with the remaining rice paper and ingredients.
  6. The rolls can be made up to two hours in advance. Cover with a damp towel until serving. Just before serving, cut each roll crosswise into thirds. Serve with peanut sauce.
  7. *Or substitute canola oil
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Peanut Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sweet glutinous rice
  2. 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  3. 2 cloves garlic
  4. 1 Thai chile, stemmed
  5. 3 tablespoons red miso
  6. 3 tablespoons canola oil
  7. 3 tablespoons sugar
  8. 2 tablespoons vegetarian stir-fry sauce
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  10. 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Instructions
  1. Cook rice in a rice cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet, and let cool.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the cold rice and remaining 9 ingredients. Process until the mixture becomes a fine paste. Thin the sauce with about 1/2 cup water, and continue processing until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
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Barbecued Pork Ribs
Makes 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients
  1. 4 stalks lemongrass
  2. 4 shallots, coarsely chopped
  3. 2 Thai chiles, coarsely chopped
  4. ½ cup sugar
  5. 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  6. 1 tablespoon canola oil
  7. 3 pounds pork ribs, St. Louis cut preferred
Instructions
  1. For marinade: Trim the lemongrass, leaving only the bottom 5- to 6-inches of the stalk, and peel away the outer layers, leaving only the tender stalk. Thinly slice into rings, and finely mince.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the lemongrass, shallots, chiles, sugar, fish sauce, and oil. Process until the mixture is finely minced.
  3. Place ribs on a rimmed baking sheet, and pour the marinade over the ribs. Cover, and let marinate for about 2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Set up a charcoal grill by placing the coals on one side and lighting them. Once the coals have burned down, about 30 to 45 minutes, place the meat over the coals to sear, about a minute on each side. Then move the meat to the side opposite the coals. Cover, and cook for about 1½ hours, checking occasionally that the temperature stays around 280º to 300º.
  5. Let the ribs rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing between each rib. Serve immediately.
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Corn And Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  2. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  3. 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  4. ¼ cup (1/4-inch-cubed) king trumpet mushrooms
  5. 2 tablespoons water
  6. 1 tablespoon vegetarian stir-fry sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon rice wine, such as Michiu or sake
  8. ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  9. 1 tablespoon sliced green onions, green parts only
  10. Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat a wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add canola oil, and heat until shimmering. Add garlic, and give it a quick stir.
  2. Add corn, mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons water, and stir for about 1 minute. Add stir-fry sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, and stir until well combined. Fold in the green onions.
  3. Serve warm with jasmine rice.
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No-Bake Cheesecake with Walnut Cookie–Brown Butter Crust
Makes 1 (9-inch) cheesecake
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Crust
  1. 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1½ cups walnut halves
  3. Pinch kosher salt
  4. ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened, plus 9½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  6. 1 large egg
Filling
  1. 2½ pounds cream cheese
  2. 1¼ cups sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  5. Zest of 1 lemon
  6. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  7. Blueberry compote (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a baking sheet and a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For crust: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, walnuts, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat ¼ cup softened butter and brown sugar on medium speed. Add egg, and beat well. Decrease mixer speed to low, and add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated.
  3. Spread dough onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and crumble with a fork when still warm. Return the crumbled dough to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes more, stirring mixture, and breaking up any lumps every 5 minutes to ensure even baking. The crumbs should be a toasty brown color. Let the crumbs cool, then pulse in food processor until the crumbs are the size of peas, and set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 9½ tablespoons of butter over medium heat, and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes until butter turns amber brown and smells caramelized but not burned. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, stir crumbs and browned butter together until well combined. Press mixture into bottom of prepared spring form pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. For filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and lemon zest until smooth. Gradually add cream, beating just until smooth.
  6. Spread filling over prepared crust. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature with blueberry compote.
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Blueberry Compote
Makes about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh blueberries
  2. 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. Zest of 1/2 lemon
  4. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, and cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until the compote thickens and coats the back of a cold spoon.
  2. Cool pan in an ice bath, then transfer the compote to a covered container, and refrigerate until ready to use.
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 Photography by Ed Anderson