Chef Jacky Lo regularly works more than 12 hours a day at Wild Ginger, where he's been the Executive Chef for the last four years. If you ask him if he has activities he loves other than being in the kitchen and spending time with his family, he'll simply smile and tell you, "No."
I spent an afternoon shopping with Jacky to find out where he shops for groceries in the International District, what types of produce we all should be tossing into our carts this time of year and a couple of delicious and easy recipes.
Three grocery stores to visit in the International District. Jacky took me to three stores while we spent the afternoon grocery shopping. He says he shops at stores in the International District looking for inspiration for his daily Fresh Sheet of dishes.
Our first stop was Lam's Seafood Market, a place best to visit on a weekday because of how incredibly packed it gets on the weekend. At Lam's, Jacky found some fresh white pomelos and champagne mangoes. He says to always look for the smaller pomelos, because they are sweeter. He also recommends dipping the sweet and tiny champagne mangoes in soy sauce to bring out their flavor; a trick he learned from his mother.
Our next two stops were Rising Produce and Hau Hau Market. They're also excellent places for finding great deals on produce. Right now, both stores had tons of bitter melons, mangoes and even limes - which are in high demand.
Produce to buy right now. Jacky's recommendations are mangoes, asparagus, jackfruit, daikon, limes (if you can find them) and small pomelos. The pomelos will be out of season very soon, so get them now!
Seafood to buy right now. Be on the lookout for good prices on Dungeness crab and razor clams.
Two salads for the spring. Here are two recipes from Wild Ginger including ingredients that are amazing right now, or are about to be. You've got about another week or so to grab some pomelos. Lotus root will be coming into season very soon and you should look for them to be covered in dirt, meaning they are fresh.
Wild Ginger's Pomelo Salad
- To taste: fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and Wild Ginger's signature sambal chili sauce (for home cooks, consider Sriracha sauce)
- 1 white pomelo, peeled and sectioned (if you can't find white pomelo, use pink instead)
- 16 shrimp, cooked and peeled
- 1/2 shallot, cooked and peeled
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 thai chili, seeded and minced
- 1 kafir limes leaves, chiffonade
- 2 tbsp. peanuts, toasted and chopped
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- Large bunch of fresh mint, chopped
Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and sambal to your liking to make dressing and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients and dressing in mixing bowl and toss them very gently. Try not to break the pomelo too much. Place salad on plate and serve cold.
Wild Ginger's Lotus Root Salad
- 1lb lotus root, peeled and sliced thin 1/8"
- 2 cups water
- 2 green onions, cut on bias
- 1 tbl Sesame seeds, toasted
- 1tbl dark soy sauce
- 4 tbl soy sauce
- 1tbl sesame oil
- 1 tbl shaoxing rice wine vinegar
- 1.5 tbl sugar
- 4 slices pickled ginger
Slice lotus root and blanch in boiling water for 15 - 20 seconds. Drain and soak in vinegar/water solution. Combine the marinade ingredients in medium bowl. Drain and discard vinegar water and place lotus root slices in marinate for one hour at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator, tossing occasionally to coat. Arrange lotus root on plate and garnish with onions and sesame seeds.