Ask the Chef

August 30, 2006  ...  by Chef John Pisto

Pulled pork sandwiches - almost. Sunday night, cousin Nino prepared a great roast pork dinner - moist and juicy. First he barbecued it and browned it well, then 6 hours in a 250-degree oven – not bad Nin! I figured I’d take some home and make pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Toss some shredded pork in vinegary barbecue sauce, place on white bread, add some cole slaw to the sandwich and watch out! So the next morning, I’m running out the door, “Cheri, where’s the pork?” No answer. Then I looked in Sir Alfie’s food dish, “Oh my God! My roasted pork!”, I cried. I caught my wife scooting very quickly out a side door. Alfie has won again -
ribs, lamb shanks, hamburger lightly sautéed in olive oil – and now pulled pork. It’s a dog’s world out there folks.

Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes – Only one place I know that these babies are minutes picked. That’s The Farm on Hwy 68 (831) 455-2575. Don’t pass up an opportunity to visit a
place like The Farm this time of year and see what you can’t get in a supermarket. They also now have basil with the roots that will actually stay alive for days – pick as you need. Their price for Heirlooms, Beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes - $1.99 a lb. Now that’s a bargain. How do I like my tomatoes? Real easy - sliced thick with salt and pepper, dried oregano, olive oil and a thick slice of flat red Italian sweet onion. And. when I can get it, some very, very soft fresh buffalo mozzarella. Lately I’ve been using a domestic mozzarella made from California resident water buffaloes.


Q). I am a faithful watcher from Connecticut and have a question about sardines. First of all, yours are HUGE. Ours come in a tin with oil. My uncle, now passed away, used to eat them in a sandwich. Any idea how I can ease into eating them? I know they are good for you, but I am kind of a chicken to try them.
Lyn Coy Via e-mail

A). The ones in the small cans are usually not even sardines. If you want to try fresh (or fresh-frozen)  sardines, that’s another story. As for easing into trying sardines for health benefits, you might want to consider taking a handful of omega3 pills every day instead. Now, if you to try barbecuing sardines, you must first ask a good fish monger to get them for you. Barbecued or fried in a cast iron skillet with just a sprinkling of

salt, some green onions, tomato wedges and wine, you will be guaranteed a great experience – a true culinary revelation! Don’t be put off by the bones. After cooking, run your knife along the back and just pull the meat away. Most people have never tasted a fresh-cooked sardine and I have seen so many first-timers eyes light up with that first bite. The sardine’s flesh turns a pale color when cooked (just like tuna) and the taste is very mild, not at all fishy. Because they grow and reproduce quickly, sardines are among the best of the sustainable fish. Abundant, delicious, low in toxins, high in omega3 – what more could you ask for.

Q). My neighbor gave me what he swears is oregano that he grew in his back yard. I have bought good quality imported oregano on the stem before and his stuff does

look very similar and has a great aroma. Have you heard of anyone growing oregano locally? My neighbor said he’d let me have some cuttings for my yard. I’d like to give it a try.
C. Santangelo, Monterey
Via e-mail

A). Monterey oregano? Folks, have any of you ever considered growing your own oregano? It’s easy, in fact it grows like a weed around here. It’s very inexpensive and all you do is plant some and wait until it flowers. Then cut and tie it into bundles and hang in a brown paper bag until dry. When it’s good and dry, crumble and shake it loose from the stems on a table. Now, gather it all up in a jar with a lid and, when needed, just crumble it with your hands.


Q). I always enjoy your show and was looking for the pasta and peas recipe, but couldn’t find it on your site. Is it available?
Doug Bomengen, Via e-mail

A). Here we go with a classic, simple Vegetarian Pasta Recipe. Are you ready! For 4 people

6 garlic cloves chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 diced carrots
1 bunch parsley chopped

salt and pepper
dash of red pepper
3 cups frozen peas

Sauté everything in olive oil. When it turns light brown, add a 28oz. can of whole tomatoes in puree (you can break up the tomatoes in a food processor first if you want) and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Get four quarts of well-salted water boiling and add 1 lb. of linguine. When the pasta is done, combine with the sauce and finish with some freshly grated Pecorino. Ahhhh, fantastic!
Fish Find: Just found another great source for fresh whole fish. I believe the source’s source is New Zealand. Whole Bonita, snapper, pompano and other exotics including vegetables. Indian/Filipino Market at 1914 North Fremont St. Call for directions (831) 393-9175.
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