A Hakka feast

Minced Pork with Lettuce Wraps

I discovered the Hakka Restaurant when I was almost done with the research for my book. Luckily I was able to include talented Chef Jin Hua Li and a couple of his recipes in my book. When the San Francisco Professional Food Society (SFPFS) asked me to put together a menu from the Hakka Restaurant for their Traveling Table, a program that explores the bay area’s unique restaurants, I was happy to share his delicious food with them. Here’s the menu.

Minced Pork with Lettuce Wraps
Bamboo Pith Seafood Soup
Chinese Bacon with Preserved Greens
House Special Pan-Fried Tofu
Fried Pumpkin Strips coated with Salted Egg Yolk
Chicken Stuffed with Preserved Greens (recipe pg. 233)
Stir-fried Chinese Broccoli with Rice Wine (recipe pg. 230)
Clams with Spicy Salt and Black Beans
Home-Style Steamed Sea Bass
House Special Eggplant
Steamed Rice

The lettuce wraps uses a well-seasoned pork as a simple filling for crunchy lettuce leaves. The mild soup, focuses on natural flavors and offers a light contrast to the more robust flavors in the meal.  The House Special Pan-Fried Tofu and the Chinese Bacon with Preserved Greens are Hakka classics. The Chicken Stuffed with Preserved Greens is one of Chef Li’s specialties, order a day in advance. The chicken is filled with a savory mix of preserved mustard greens, mushrooms, and pork, then braised.

Chicken stuffed with Preserved Mustard Greens at the Hakka Restaurant

The steamed fish is topped with a shower of typical Hakka ingredients pickled mustard greens and shreds of pork. Both the clams and eggplant dish reflect adaptations to local tastes as the Hakka migrated. The clams exude a spiciness reminiscent of Sichuan province.  The clams are deep-fried in their shells then stir-fried with fermented black beans, ground pork, chiles, garlic, and sometimes Sichuan peppercorns.  The tender eggplant tastes mildly sweet, sour, hot and aromatic with basil and cilantro, hinting of Thai seasonings. Hakka settled in both these areas, China’s Sichuan province and Thailand.

Everyone loved the meal. I think you will, too. The Hakka Restaurant is located at 4401-A Cabrillo Street (corner of 45th Avenue), San Francisco, CA 94121. Tel. 415. 876. 6898.