Category Archives: Pork

We make chorizo

The pound of ground pork that’s been hanging out in our freezer for a couple of months was put to good use this week. We picked a recipe from this site (“Chorizo Mexicano”), halved it, and added a couple of chopped Scotch bonnets for extra heat. Sadly, we had to omit the extra quarter pound of pork fat since we didn’t have any on hand. We also didn’t have the time to store it for a few days in a crock (nor did we really have a suitable crock). Still, the chorizo came out very well (if a bit leaner than we’re used to), and it was a really quick process – maybe 30 minutes from start to finish.

Gimme a Pigfoot

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party has come and gone months ago, but I forgot about these pictures. Although we didn’t get to sample Mitchell’s Whole Hog BBQ at the festival, Mr. Mitchell graciously allowed us to take a large aluminum tray filled with excess crackling, legs, and various other pieces parts home with us (basically, stuff slated for the garbage bucket). We (ok – mostly Al) schlepped a 10-plus pound container of warm pork leavings home in the 95º heat, and managed to salvage at least a pound of meat. We’re not proud. It was delicious.

He’s Back!

The Greenpoint Taco Man reappeared yesterday (parked on the triangle of concrete between Bedford and Nassau), and I was finally able to try the lengua. The verdict: two greasy thumbs up. The meat was very tender from a combo of boiling and griddling; slightly smoky and slightly sweet with a hint of gaminess. Definitely better than the cecina. I had the avocado sauce this time, which seemed like a mildly spicy guacamole thinned with crema. I hope that GTM sticks around, because a summer spent lazing around McCarren Park while feasting on tacos would be a nice thing indeed.

Not that the neighborhood is entirely bereft without him, though… Another treat that I finally got around to sampling comes from El Encanto, a Mexican grocery with a small menu for take-away. Al and I split a carne enchilda torta, and I can’t remember the last time that half of a sandwich left me so full. The roll failed to hold all of the ingredients, which included several thick planks of cheese, pickled jalapeno strips, a generous number of avocado slices, a few handfuls of iceberg lettuce, and about three-quarters of a pound of spicy, reddish-orange pork. I had to use a fork to eat the thing, and while a stickler would no doubt deduct points for the fact that the bread was rendered unusable by a combination of grease and overstuffing, I still give the sandwich pretty high marks.

El Encanto, 1005 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Tacos (LA Edition)


If I haven’t made it clear before, I love tacos. We tried a few places on our CA visit (above are the specimens from Loteria Grill in the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market), and here’s what we thought:

Loteria: Yes, I know that this place is super-touristy. We tried one pollo al pipian rojo taco and one cochinita pibil taco. The latter was a bit bland (though with a good pickled onion topping), but the former was fantastic. I’ve never had a red pipian sauce (just the green variety), and I loved it.

Yuca’s: Yes, I know that this place is also kind of touristy. We had a couple of carne asada and carne enchilda tacos. Honestly? Eh. After the build-up (I’d read such praise!), Yuca’s let us down. The tortillas were dry, and the meats were kind of dry without much smokiness or spiciness. I didn’t finish one of mine, which is really rare. Perhaps we should have tried the cochinita pibil?

The Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada: Bingo! These were great. I had a fish taco and a shrimp taco, and I could have easily eaten another two of each. In both cases, the meat was sweet, firm, and perfectly fried, and the radish relish available at the condiment station was fantastic (and a nice twist on the usual plain radish slices). Tortillas should be better, though.

Loteria Grill, 6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Yuca’s, 2056 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Best Fish Tacos In Ensenada, 1650 Hillhurst, Los Angeles, CA 90027

World Tong Revisited

It’s frustrating to wake up at 8:11 on Sunday morning, but my restlessness had its own reward in form of a trip to World Tong. We arrived just before 10am and were seated immediately. The place was about two-thirds full with several carts and trays circulating, and without tons of people milling around in the paths between tables the food got around quickly. We’ve sometimes had cold or soggy dishes in the past due to traffic jams, but this time things were perfect. In fact, it was perhaps the best experience we’ve had there to date. WT just plain outperforms every other place I’ve tried in terms of taste and creativity. Pacificana, I like you but there’s just no comparison. Some highlights:

– Butterflied shrimp garnished with roe, atop discs of egg custard

– Hollowed-out rounds of squash stuffed with chopped seafood

– Wedges of fried shrimp cake sandwiched in sliced eggplant, topped with a confetti of red pepper and chilis

– The famous miniature shrimp and pea shoot dumplings

– Garlicky beef balls with shards of spinach in a worcestershire-laced brown sauce

– Duck tongues (whoa) in a spicy/sweet ginger sauce

The last item came courtesy of our tablemates, an older Chinese couple. I thought that they had some kind of octopus dish and asked what it was. They told us that it was actually duck tongue and insisted that we try some. We did, and we liked it. The tongues are very small (duh), and they have a small stem of cartilege in the middle. You grasp the tongue at the base, puts the whole thing in your mouth, and strip the meat from the stem. They’re not chewy or spongy, just a meaty little treat. Who knew?

World Tong, 6202 18th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11204

Pacificana Revisited

I still stubbornly cling to World Tong as my favorite, but Pacificana has earned a place in my heart. Our last visit was basically a sampling of the dim sum hit parade: shiu mai, har gow, chicken feet, cheong fun, riblets, fried scallion dumplings, shrimp-stuffed peppers, and a scallion pancake. With the exception of the scallion pancake (not my choice), which might be the worst version I’ve ever had, it was all pretty much spot-on.

We also tried one dish, baby pig with jellyfish salad, that veered a bit from the standard offerings. This was where Pacificana put its stamp on a standby. The glossy, crackling-topped pork was served on a bed of jellyfish mixed with a julienne of pickled carrots and daikon so that you got a mix of tastes and textures: crispy, almost candied skin; tender and savory meat; chewy, sweet-sour strands of jellyfish; and the astringency of the pickled vegetables. If you’ve got more than a couple of people in your party, order two. You’ll need the extra.

Pacificana, 813 55th Street, Brooklyn NY 11220

And Now For Some Tacos

We had some tasty, if overstuffed, specimens this afternoon at Castro’s. The carnitas was outstanding – really juicy and smoky – and the chorizo was quite savory with a good level of heat. I also had one with lengua, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The meat was of the spongy, thickly cut variety, though, which grosses Al out. He passed on that one, choosing instead to have the second chicken taco that his mother was too full to eat. We washed it all down with a fantastic tamarind agua fresca and some real Coca-Cola. Thank you, Castro’s.

Castro’s, 511 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11205