Culinary Celebrity Chefs

10th Annual Hill Physicians Asian Heritage Street Celebration

Learn to Cook at the Festival!

By Lloyd Alaban 

This year at the AHSC, fair-goers will be treated to demos from top chefs from across the Bay Area. Here to showcase their talents are Sharon Nahm of E&O Asian Kitchen, Tim Archuleta of ICHI Sushi + NI Bar, Yong Dong “Tony” Wu of M.Y. China, Fred Tang and Wilfred Pacio from Spice Kit, and Thomas Weibull from the Clift Hotel.

Tim Archuleta

Tim Archuleta

Tim Archuleta

Tim Archuleta

In September 2010, Tim Archuleta opened the doors to his first restaurant, ICHI Sushi, capping an almost two-decade-long career as a sushi chef. ICHI Sushi garnered praise from The San Francisco Chronicle and Zagat, and has won Best in the Bay in five outlets. When he’s off the clock as executive chef of ICHI Sushi + NI Bar and ICHI Catering, Tim serves as a volunteer chef for the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s (CUESA) Sunday Supper and Summer Celebration. Archuleta supports and advocates CUESA’s mission for local, sustainable agriculture and fisheries.

Sharon Nahm


Sharon Nahm

Sharon Nahm, chef at E&O Asian Kitchen, rekindled her love of cooking in college as a sweet (and savory) escape from studying. After a friend suggested she should turn take her hobby and “do this for a living somehow,” Nahm left college and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After taking a few chef jobs under various pastry chefs, she joined Kuleto’s Italian restaurant as its executive sous chef. Today, the Korean-born Nahm oversees the kitchen, staff and menu at E&O Asian Kitchen.

Fred Tang and Wilfred Pacio

Fred Tang and Wilfred Pacio

Fred Tang and Wilfred Pacio

Like many who take up culinary arts, Fred Tang began cooking at an early age. His father, a Chinese immigrant raised in Korea, opened his own restaurant in California. After graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Tang teamed up with Iron Chef victor Ron Siegel at The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton. Today, Tang, who earned a Top 30 Chefs Under 30 nod from Zagat, works with Spice Kit founder Wilfred Pacio. Pacio utilizes his fine dining experience at The French Laundry and Per Se to create a fast casual experience that incorporates refined French technique with unfussy Asian flavors. Pacio presides over Spice Kit’s operations, development and expansion, and Tang serves as executive chef.

Thomas Weibull

Thomas Weibull

Thomas Weibull

“I always cooked,” recalls chef Thomas Weibull of the Clift Hotel, whose favorite childhood chore was to whip up meals for his three siblings. “I definitely clocked some time watching Julia Child.” After bringing his talents to different cities across the United States, Weibull finally settled in Northern California. In San Francisco, he took on prestigious positions as executive chef at Rubicon in the Financial District and executive chef at Plouf. He now serves as executive chef at the Clift Hotel, where he had the vision to turn Clift from restaurant service to a hotel food and beverage format. “There is so much going on,” Weibull says of Clift, “But in reality, what that means is that every day is a bigger thrill.”

Yong Dong “Tony” Wu

Tony Wu

Tony Wu

Yong Dong “Tony” Wu brings with him an impressive list of former clients, and an even more impressive litany of accomplishments. The Tian Jin, China, native has prepared his brand of Chinese cooking for such guests as the Prime Minister of Japan, the King and Prime Minister of Thailand and other prominent figures. Wu has won 33 gold medals in various cooking competitions, and set a record pulling 16,000 noodles in two minutes. He now commands the kitchen as executive chef of M.Y. China in San Francisco.

Cooking Demo Schedule

11:30 a.m. — Tony Wu & Lance Shorr of M.Y. China: Chilled Dan Dan Noodles with Spicy Minced Pork

12:15 p.m. — Sharon Nahm of E&O Asian Kitchen: Drunken Noodles

1:00 p.m. — Tim Archuleta of ICHI Sushi: Hawaiian Amberjack Sashimi and Butchery

1:45 p.m. — Wilfred Pacio and Fred Tang of Spice Kit: Sous Vide Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Dashi Broth

2:30 p.m. — Thomas Weibull of Velvet Room, Clift Hotel: 36-Hour Braised Pork Belly Adobo


Recipes from the Chefs


Sharon Nahm’s Pad kee mao (Drunken Noodles)


Drunken noodles. Photo by Tiffany Lin.

Drunken noodles. Photo by Tiffany Lin.



4 oz. chicken thigh, boneless, skinless, either ground or coarsely chopped

2 oz. Chinese broccoli, trimmed, cut on bias, 1 inch in length

1 oz. yellow onion, sliced thin

2 tsp. garlic, sliced thin

6 oz. fresh chow fun noodles, gently separated into individual strands

4 oz. chicken stock

2 tsp. green onion, sliced thin

2 tsp. cilantro, leaves only

1 tbsp. rice bran oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)

2 oz. sauce (see recipe)

Serrano peppers, cut into 6 to 8 pieces of paper-thin rings, seeds removed



1 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

1 tsp. black soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. lime juice

2 tsp. light soy sauce

Heat large sauté pan over high heat. When pan is hot enough, add oil and swirl around pan. Gently place chicken into pan and gently spread out with spatula. Let cook over high heat for 1 to 2 min. or until golden brown on first side. Flip over chicken to brown other side. Use spatula to gently break chicken into smaller pieces. Add Chinese broccoli, onions and garlic to pan. Continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes. At this point, broccoli should start to soften. Add Serrano peppers . Cook for  1 min. Place noodles into pan and toss together, then add chicken stock. Lower heat to medium-high and let all ingredients finish cooking and the stock reduce completely. Add sauce and toss together until all ingredients and sauce are incorporated, and there is no excess liquid in pan. Top with thinly sliced onions and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately. 

Fred Tang’s Sous Vide Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Dashi Broth

Sousvide Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Dashi Broth by Fred Tang.

Sousvide Duck Breast with Soba Noodles and Dashi Broth by Fred Tang.


Dashi Broth

26 1/2 oz. (750 mL) water

0.3 oz. kombu (kelp)

1 oz. katsuobushi (bonito flakes)

200 mL mirin

200 mL low-sodium soy sauce

0.25 lb. whole shiitake mushrooms (de-stemmed and quartered)

Duck Breast

1 duck breast

1 tbsp. orange zest

1 tbsp. Chinese five spice

2 bundles buckwheat soba noodles


1 stalk scallion (sliced thinly on a bias )


Making the Dashi Broth

Combine water, kombu and katsuobushi in pot. Bring to simmer. Do not boil stock. Simmer for 30 min. on low heat.

After 30 min., strain stock into another pot using a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Combine mirin and soy to stock. Place trimmed shiitake into dashi broth and simmer at low heat for 10 min. Set aside and chill broth.

Sous Vide Duck Breast

Place duck breast in bowl and rub orange zest and five spice onto duck. Place into Cryovac bag and seal on highest vacuum setting.

Place duck into 135 °F (57.3 °C) water bath for 45 min. After 45 min., open bag and dry duck breast off with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Scour  the duck breast skin so the fat will render easier. Heat pan at medium heat and sear duck breast skin side down. No oil required due to amount of fat on duck. Render the duck until skin is golden brown. Flip duck and sear for another 30 sec. Take duck out of pan and place onto cutting board. Let rest for 3 to 5 min. and slice thinly.

Soba Noodles

Bring pot of water to boil and drop the bundles of soba noodles into pot. Cook for 4 to 5 min. until noodles are soft. Strain and run under cold water until cool. Toss with sesame oil and set aside.


9th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration


Instagram chefs

By Jay Moon

Visitors can learn how to cook delicious Asian dishes at the AHSC cooking demonstration stage at Ellis and Larkin Streets for the second year in a row. Appearing once again is celebrity chef Martin Yan, along with Thomas Weibull of Velvet Room, Dennis Wong of Le Soleil, Mari Takahashi of Nombe Restaurant and Kyle Itani of Hopscotch. Here’s a look at this year’s chefs.

Martin Yan


Martin Yan at the 8th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration. Photo by Michael Jeong

Martin Yan at the 8th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration. Photo by Michael Jeong

With his engaging personality and memorable catchphrase, “If Yan can cook, so can you,” Martin Yan started on his road to fame in 1978 when he first hosted his Yan Can Cook cooking show. In addition to being a celebrity chef, he is a respected cooking instructor and productive author of 30 books. In 1985, he founded the Yan Can Cooking School, and in 2007, founded The Martin Yan Culinary Arts Center. Earlier this year, Yan opened a San Francisco restaurant, M.Y. China, that sums up his culinary experiences.

Thomas Weibull


Thomas Weibull

Thomas Weibull

While both of his parents were busy working, as a child Thomas Weibull would often cook meals for his three younger siblings. These early experiences inspired him to be a chef. “I definitely clocked some time watching Julia Child, and it became a hobby,” recalls Weibull who is half Swedish and Filipino. He later apprenticed at a small busy restaurant in Sweden while studying at Kristineberg Hotel and Restaurant School. He eventually worked his way to his current position of executive chef at Velvet Room in the Clift Hotel.

Mari Takahashi


Mari Takahashi

Mari Takahashi

Mari Takahashi, who grew up in Yokohama, Japan, worked all over the world in the technology industry before changing her career. In 2004, she started a catering company, Mari’s Catering, Inc., which specialized in Japanese and Californian, cuisine and provided on-site sushi chef catering. Takahashi worked with her husband, Gil Payne, to open Sozai Restaurant and Sake Lounge in 2008, which was voted Best Japanese Food in San Francisco by Citysearch. She and Payne now run Nombe Restaurant in the Mission District.

Dennis Wong


Dennis Wong

Dennis Wong

Dennis Wong’s popular French-Indochinese dishes are a result of his past 30 years of refining his cooking skills. His first restaurant was Thai Café in San Francisco, and his second restaurant, Le Soleil, was voted best restaurant in 1996 by San Francisco Focus magazine. In 2007, a branch of Le Soleil opened at the Royal Garden hotel in Hong Kong. Since then, he has been featured in many cooking shows and magazines, and his restaurant has been recommended by Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau in 2009 and 2010.

Kyle Itani


Kyle Otani

Kyle Otani

Chef Kyle Itani credits his Japanese American heritage for instilling in him a passion for fresh ingredients and diverse cooking techniques at an early age. He honed his culinary skills on both the West and East Coasts, including Yoshi’s in San Francisco and Oakland and New Meatball Shop in New York. Recently, Itani’s riffs on American dishes with Japanese nuances have earned Hopscotch a glowing three star review from the San Francisco Chronicle’s esteemed food critic Michael Bauer, as well as a coveted place on Bauer’s “Best New Restaurants of 2012” list. In March of 2013, Itani was named as one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Rising Star Chefs.”

2013 AHSC Cooking Demo Schedule

11:15 a.m.       Dennis Wong of Le Soleil

12:00 p.m.       Mari Takahashi of Nombe Restaurant

12:45 p.m.       Thomas Weibull of CLIFT

1:30 p.m.         Martin Yan of M.Y. China

2:15 p.m.         Kyle Itani of Hopscotch

*Demos will take place at Larkin and Ellis Streets


Recipes from some of our chefs


British Columbia Savory Clams by Thomas Weibull

British Columbia Savory Clams by Thomas Weibull

British Columbia Savory Clams by Thomas Weibull

With hickory smoked bacon, scallion, dashi/miso aioli and grilled toast

(Serves 4)


4 lbs.    savory clams or Manila clams

3 cups   homemade or powder dashi mixed with water

½ cup smoked bacon

¼ cup  chopped scallions

½ cup white miso

½ tbs   chopped garlic

1 tbs    lemon juice

1 ½ cup mayonnaise or Kewpie mayonnaise

Salt and pepper

4 slices of sourdough toast

Cooking Instructions

1. Miso aioli: Begin with mixing white miso, chopped garlic with mayonnaise or Kewpie mayonnaise and slowly add lemon juice to thin out. Refrigerate after mixing.

2. Clams: Wash under cold water to remove any sand. Check for any open clams or pebbles and discard those.

3. Cut smoked bacon into small strips and sauté over medium heat in a sauce pot until crispy. Add clams and dashi and cook until clams begin to open. Check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.

4. Brush sourdough slices with olive oil and grill on both sides. Add a dollop of miso aioli on each slice.

5. Separate finished clams in four bowls with broth. Top with chopped scallions and miso aioli toast.


Shaken Beef Recipe by Dennis Wong


14 oz. beef tenderloin, cubed

1 tbs    oyster sauce

½ tbs   sugar

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp    minced garlic

¼ cup chopped onions

¼ cup sliced onion

1 lettuce leaf

red chili to taste

green onion

pat of butter

Cooking Instructions:

1. Heat oil and butter.

2. Stir-fry beef until medium rare.

3. Add chopped onions, oyster sauce and sugar until onions just soften.

4. Add minced garlic until lightly cooked.

5. Place on lettuce leaf with sliced onions.

6. Garnish with green onions.



A look back at our 2012 AHSC Cooking Demos


Martin Yan and Local Chefs Demonstrate Asian Cooking

For the first time ever, the 8th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration is offering the public a chance to learn how to cook delicious Asian dishes at the festival’s cooking demonstration booth stage at Ellis and Larkin Streets. Appearing will be celebrity chef Martin Yan, The Slanted Door’s owner and executive chef Charles Phan, co-owner of Nombe Restaurant Mari Takahashi, cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, chef Steve Cortez, and BBC America’s Chef Kayne Raymond.

Martin Yan is “no different from any other chef”

Martin Yan

Having hosted more than 3,600 episodes, Martin Yan has become one of the most famous Asian Americans in the world, but he’s more than just a TV personality.

“I don’t think of myself as a TV chef,” he says. ‘I’m no different from any other chef. You just have to be passionate and have a love of cooking.”

Yan formally began cooking at the age of 13, when he left his native Guangzhou for a cooking apprenticeship in Hong Kong. He eventually moved to California and graduated from UC Davis with a master’s degree in food science. Today, most people know him as the enthusiastic chef with lightning-quick hands who starred on Yan Can Cook, but Yan’s life as a TV chef started by accident.

“I was helping out a friend on a cooking show in Alberta,” said Yan. “The radio station called me and said that the scheduled chef was sick. So I showed up, and they liked me.”

At the festival, Yan will not only be demonstrating his culinary skills. He will also be showing his intense pride of his heritage, a sense he wants to instill in every visitor.

“I hope that young people today are proud of their Asian heritage,” he said. “It’s important to understand your heritage. To know where you are going, you have to know where you came from.”

Andrea Nguyen, non-chef and great cook

Andrea Nguyen

As for Andrea Nguyen, she refuses to be called a chef.

“I’m a professional home cook,” she claims. Nguyen has had no formal culinary training, owing all her cooking experience to what she learned in cookbooks.

For years, Nguyen worked away from the kitchen, in positions as diverse as her cooking ingredients. She has been a university administrator, a bank examiner and a community consultant, among others. It all changed when she decided to give in to her culinary aspirations and worked at a restaurant in Los Angeles for one year.

“After that, I wanted to set my emphasis on other aspects of food.” she said.

After her year in the restaurant business, Nguyen decided to go back to her roots.

“I’ve always been fascinated by cookbooks,” said Nguyen, whose interest started at the age of 10. Today, she is the successful author of several cookbooks.

Her latest book is Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It At Home, which was released in February. Her debut cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award and two International Association of Culinary Professionals awards. She writes a popular culinary blog at

Steve Cortez, not just a chef

Steve Cortez

Unlike Nguyen, Steve Cortez welcomes the title “chef.” But he uses the titles “engineer” and “teacher” as well.

“As much as I enjoy this, there isn’t a lot of money in it,” said Cortez. “I’m doing this for the love, fun and experience.”

According to Cortez, in an industry where the average chef gets paid about $14 per hour, moonlighting is a necessity.

This hasn’t deterred the San Francisco native from spreading his knowledge of Asian cuisine across the Bay Area. Cortez has taught cooking classes and hosted numerous corporate culinary lessons.

“I like to do something elaborate but not too complex,” said Cortez. “My job as an instructor is to make it easy to replicate.”

Having traveled to 80 countries, Cortez has a wide knowledge of global cuisines. By communing with locals in Africa and eating on the streets of Asia, Cortez has discovered a craft that transcends all borders.

“Food is always a great passion anyone can enjoy,” said Cortez. “Not all of us drive sports cars, but all of us eat.”

Charles Phan

Charles Phan, considered to be the inventor of modern Vietnamese cuisine in the United States, is Executive Chef and Owner of The Slanted Door Group of restaurants located in San Francisco, California, which includes: The Slanted Door, Heaven’s Dog, Wo Hing General Store and three locations of Out The Door as well as the California Academy of Sciences’ Academy Café and The Moss Room.

Born in Da Lat, Vietnam, in 1962, the Phan family relocated just before the fall of Saigon, they spent two years in Guam before settling in San Francisco in 1977.

Phan opened his first restaurant, The Slanted Door, on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1995. The restaurant moved to its current location in the historic Ferry Building in 2004. A former architecture student at UC Berkeley, Charles’ vision for The Slanted Door as well as all the restaurants in The Slanted Door Group, has been to create a stylish atmosphere and ingredient-driven menu that figures prominently into the Bay Area’s sensibility for locally sourced products.

Winner of the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: California in 2004, The Slanted Door was also nominated in the Outstanding Restaurant category in 2008. In 2010 & 2011, Charles was nominated for an Outstanding Chef award by the Foundation. In 2011 he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Mari Takahashi

Mari Takahashi

Mari, who grew up in Yokohama, Japan, worked for several multi-billion-dollar American bio-tech and high-tech companies traveling all over the world before changing her career.   She moved on to open her catering company, Mari’s Catering, Inc., which is specialized in Japanese and California cuisine in 2004 to satisfy the needs of on-site Sushi chef catering. With Gil, Mari opened Sozai Restaurant and Sake Lounge, voted Best Japanese Food San Francisco by Citysearch in 2008.

Chef Kayne Raymond 

Kayne Raymond

Chef Kayne Raymond brings his passion for cooking to BBC America’s all-new original adventure cooking competition “No Kitchen Required.” With appearances on Food Network’s “Chopped,” Raymond has served as the Private Executive Chef to a slew of exclusive clients, including the CEO of Oracle.

After extensive training in his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, Raymond took his talents across the globe, cooking in kitchens throughout Australia, England and the US. Raymond worked with some of the culinary world’s best and brightest including: celebrated New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, Henry Harris & Simon Fawcett of Fifth Floor Harvey Nichols of London, OXO Tower at the River Thames and Hugo’s Bondi Beach.

Raymond currently resides in San Francisco, California with his wife and daughter.


8th Annual AHSC Cooking Demo Schedule

10:50 a.m. - Kayne Raymond

11:30 a.m. – Andrea Nguyen

12:30 p.m. – Mari Takahashi

1:30 p.m. – Charles Phan

2:30 p.m. – Martin Yan

3:30 p.m. – Steve Cortez


Recipes from the Chefs

Martin Yan’s Phoenix & Dragon Longevity Noodles

This is a perfect dish to use freshly made noodles. The combination of rice noodles (fun) and hand pulled noodles (la-mein) makes it interesting.  Makes 4 servings.

1/4 pound boneless, pork or chicken, cut into 2-inch juliennes
1/4 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, halved
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup soup stock
3 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
1 tablespoon chili sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red jalapeño, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced diagonally
2 cups rice noodles
1 1/2 cups cooked egg noodles
2 eggs, lightly beaten, made into a thin omelet, shredded
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame seed, toasted

1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, shrimp, cornstarch, salt and pepper stir to coat.
2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
3. Heat a stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic, shallot, and jalapeño; cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add chicken and shrimp; stir-frying until shrimp turn pink (about 2 minutes). Add celery and stir-fry for 1 minute.
4. Add noodles and sauce; cook, stirring gently until chicken is no longer pink and noodles are heated through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, then serve.

Copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc. 2012

Andrea Nguyen’s Cellophane Noodle and Tofu Roll
Cellophane Noodle and Tofu Rolls (Bi Cuon Chay)
Makes 12 rolls, to serve 4 to 6 as a snack

12 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu
1 small bundle (1.3 ounces) cellophane noodles
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon light (regular) soy sauce
2 tablespoons raw long-grain rice
Canola oil for sautéing and shallow-frying
8 ounces jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons packed light palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small Thai or Serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced, optional
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Generous 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
11/2 cups lightly packed thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
12 rice paper rounds, about 8 inches in diameter

1. Halve the tofu crosswise, then cut each half crosswise into rectangular slices, each about 1/3 inch thick. Put into a bowl. Put the cellophane noodles in a different bowl. In a teakettle, bring a generous 4 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. When the boiling has subsided, measure out 2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to dissolve. Pour the salted water over the tofu. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes.

Return the water to a boil, turn off the heat, then measure out 2 more cups. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Stir to dissolve, then pour over the noodles. Let sit for 6 to 8 minutes, until the noodles are clear, pliable, and al dente*. Drain well and set aside.

2. In a small skillet over medium heat, roast the rice for 7-8 minutes over medium heat, shaking the skillet frequently, until the grains are caramel in color. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Working in 2 or 3 batches, transfer to a clean spice grinder (or coffee grinder dedicated to spices) and process to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

3. When the tofu is done soaking, pour off the water. Transfer it to a non-terry dishtowel or double layer of paper towels placed atop a plate. Drain for 10-15 minutes.

4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over high heat. Add the jicama, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more often toward the end. Spread the jicama out after each stirring to allow it to cook evenly and dry out. When done, the jicama will be soft and translucent, with a little browning. It will be roughly one-third of its original volume. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

5. Lower the heat in the skillet to medium-high and add oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. Blot the tofu dry one last time. Working in 2 batches, shallow-fry the tofu for about 5 minutes, turning midway, until golden and crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool.

6. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, stir together a generous 1/4 teaspoon salt with the palm sugar and lime juice. Use the back of the spoon to mash the ingredients to dissolve the sugar. Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce and 1/3 cup water. Taste and adjust the flavors for a tangy-savory finish. Add the chile and garlic, then set aside.

7. Before assembling the rolls, make the “pork” filling. Cut the fried tofu into thin strips, then place in a bowl. Chop the drained noodles into 1- to 2-inch lengths and add to the tofu strips. Add the jicama to the bowl, too. Sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of salt along with the granulated sugar, white pepper, and toasted ground rice. Toss to combine well. Then season with 11/2 tablespoons of the sauce; try to leave out the chiles or your guests will get a whopping surprise. Combine the lettuce with the mint in bowl. Set near the filling.

8. For each roll, dip a rice paper round in warm water and then place it on your work surface. When the rice paper is pliable and tacky, position about 2 tablespoons of lettuce slightly below the midline of the round, arranging it into a 4-inch-wide rectangular bed. Top with 1/4 cup of the filling. Spread it out to cover the lettuce and neaten it up, making sure the tofu strips on top lay horizontally for a nicer presentation.

Lift the bottom edge up and over the filling, tucking the edge under it. Give the rice paper a full roll to secure things, then fold in the sides and continue rolling to close. The rice paper is self-sealing. Repeat to make a total of 12 rolls.

9. Serve the rolls whole or halve each one crosswise. Present the rolls with the sauce. Invite guests to drizzle a little sauce into the rolls to prevent the filling from falling out.

Lighten your load by preparing the tofu, jicama, and roasted rice powder up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate the tofu and jicama and return them to room temperature before using. The noodles and sauce can be made up to 4 hours before serving. You can assemble the rolls at least 2 hours ahead and cover with plastic wrap; rolls made with rice paper brands such as Three Ladies can sit for as long as 4 hours. Do not refrigerate prepared rolls because they will stiffen and dry out.

*Italian for to the tooth. Means to cook noodles until firm, but not hard.

Steve Cortez’s Malaysian Plain Roti Canai (pronounced RO-tee CAN-eye)

Roti canai is a deep-fried, Indian-influenced flatbread found in Malaysia and Indonesia.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup cooking oil


1. Mix the salt into the water.
2. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the salted water gradually.
3. Mix the flour into a dough. Knead until smooth. Make sure the texture of the dough is not too sticky and gooey.
4. Oil your hands with cooking oil and then make the dough into palm sized balls.
5. In a bowl pour some oil so that the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Put in the balls, coating it with oil as you put one on top of another. After the balls are all in a bowl, immerse them completely in oil. Leave overnight.
6. Oil your kneading space. Take out one dough ball, flatten it out into with you palm until the size of a dinner plate.
7. Flip it like a pizza.
8. Flip the dough a couple of times and spread it out until paper-thin.
9. Take one edge and fold it to the middle. Do this three more times so that it will turn into a square.
10. Grease a flat pan or skillet with cooking oil and cook until golden brown. Repeat for the rest of the dough balls.


-By Lloyd Alaban