Archive for May, 2010

Cheaters Sometimes Prosper

May 31, 2010 2 comments

Hard core pit masters with the time and equipment will baby ribs for up to seven hours in their smokers.  Without the aid of gas or electricity, much effort is put into keeping the temperature and smoke just right.  As much as I revere this ever-so-pure form of authentic All-American BBQ, the reality of limited time and a cheap smoker brings out the cheatin’ heart in me!  I’ll clarify later.

If you want good ribs, you can’t cut corners in the preparation.  First off, I prefer spare ribs, as opposed to the yuppy choice, baby backs.  Spares come from the belly of the pig and are bigger and much meatier.  But they require some surgery.  There are two distinct sections in whole spare ribs: the tips and the actual ribs.  The tips have a whole bunch of cartilage and gristle and cook up differently.  We split the sections, BBQ the ribs, and use the tips to make some killer New Mexican-style Green Chile Stew (the tips make some crazy good broth).  Also, there’s a rubbery membrane on the back of the ribs that needs to be removed.

Removing the membrane is a cinch.  Use a knife to get under it right on top of a bone.  That's one slippery booger, so use a rag or paper towel to just pull it right off...

Removing the membrane is a cinch. Use a knife to get under it right on top of a bone. That's one slippery booger, so use a rag or paper towel to just pull it right off...

See, just like that!

With the ribs properly trimmed and peeled, they’re ready for a good rub.  My seasoning rub consists of (in order of prevalance): celery salt, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, New Mexican red chile powder, chipotle chile powder, black pepper and cumin.  I like to let the rack and rub get to know each other for a couple hours.

I’ve come to prefer “grill smoking” ribs.  That means I put them directly over a thin layer of lump charcoal along with a chunk of hickory that smolders over to the side.  You’ve got to be careful with this method, as you can torch your ribs if you don’t keep the temperature low.  Let ’em brown on the meaty side for about five minutes (depending on how hot your coals are), then flip to the bone side.  I keep it in the smoker this way for about an hour.  The initial blast of heat makes for a tasty crust, then the coals slowly cool off enough to gently smoke.  The flavor is unbelievable this way.  But here’s where the cheatin’ comes in.  After the hour in the smoker, I wrap the ribs real tight in foil and finish them off in a 225-250 degree oven.  Total cooking time will be between 4-5 hours.  I like my ribs to be tender, but still have some integrity (not quite “fall off the bone”).  At the very end, slather generously with your favorite BBQ sauce (try this Dr. Pepper sauce sometime) and char under the broiler or, better yet, over some lump charcoal.

Cheatin’ never tasted so good!

Categories: BBQ, Recipes Tags: ,

D.J. Bibingkahan

May 25, 2010 5 comments

Choices galore at D.J. Bibingkahan!

The intersection of Amar and Azusa is a bit of a “Little Manila” on the south side of West Covina.  Two Asian supermarkets anchor the shopping centers that are filled with Japanese vehicles and older Filipino men enjoying their SSI over a cigarette and/or a game of majong.  This is the place to come for fresh seafood, traditional Filipino attire, and sell phones.  That’s no typo, folks:

Okay, let’s get to the food.  There are five or six “turo-turo” restaurants in the immediate area.  Pinoy Pinay is actually my favorite of the bunch.  I believe they offer the best balance of taste and value.  D.J. Bibingkahan has the biggest selection, but I think some of their food is a bit funky and they tend to skimp on portions.  But a sign for their $3.50 breakfast special (with free coffee) pulled me in.  The Fun Wife wasn’t in the mood for a hearty Filipino breakfast, so I dropped her off to do some shopping and had a breakfast date with The Fun Son #1.

The breakfast special includes your choice of garlic fried or steamed rice, two fried eggs and an entree.  We both ordered garlic fried rice, one plate of with Longanisa, the other with Pork Tocino.  Longanisa is a sweet and super garlicky pork sausage that is not for the faint of heart.  First, it has a high fat content, so it could stop your heart.  Second, you’ll be burping up garlic all stinkin’ day!  Make sure you’ll be around people who love you for you.  D.J.’s Longanisa is really good, but I would prefer better charring/searing on the outside for extra depth of flavor.  Tocino is cured pork shoulder meat, that is even sweeter than Longanisa, but with a very different flavor profile because of the curing process.  Think of it as an exotic combination of bacon and ham, minus the smoke.  Once again, very good, but I think most people would be put off by the amount of fat and gristle in the pork slices.  Their garlic fried rice is right on!  Many Filipino restaurants aren’t bold enough with garlic.  D.J.’s is just about the best I’ve had not made at home.  Nice amounts of caramelized garlic with bits of scrambled egg.  The fried eggs are terribly over-cooked, the yolks pretty much taking on the texture of hard boiled eggs.  But they’re fine when considering the great deal you’re getting.

Longanisa Plate.

Pork Tocino Plate.

D J Bibingkahan on Urbanspoon

Fab Hot Dogs

May 14, 2010 3 comments

From left to right: The Chicago Dog, Firecracker Polish Sausage, The Hillbilly Hot Dog.

Fab Hot Dogs is truly fabulous!  Variety, creativity and freshness are the keys to Fab’s success.  Along with a little help from Food Network’s Guy Fieri.  A feature on “Triple D” has pretty much overwhelmed the tiny restaurant that had seating for maybe 10 people.  Details on their move to a bigger location are on their website.  But now with a review from The Fun Foodie, they might have to consider taking over the Staples Center.  Okay, maybe not.  

Anywizzle, before stumbling upon Fab Hot Dogs on Yelp, the legendary L.A. institution that is Pink’s Hot Dogs was my easy favorite.   Pink’s dog has a unique “snap” that is unforgettable, along with a rich and savory chili that just completes the whole experience.  But Fab is even better.  Their wonderful wieners have that great snap, but you can also get them steamed, grilled or — get this — deep fried.  Aw, yeah, baby, they’re even better than they sound!  

Known as “The Ripper”, the deep fried dog gets slightly charred and pleasantly crisp on the outside, and just explodes with flavor and juicy-ness in your mouth!  My first visit there, I tried “The Bald Eagle” which is as majestic as its name.  It features a ripper topped with Fab’s own mustard relish, which is a tangy mixture of mustard, pickles, onions, cabbage and magic (seriously, that’s got to be the secret to making it so good).  My most recent visit is pictured up top.  The Fun Wife (who doesn’t like hot dogs, mind you) has fallen in love with the Chicago Dog, which is authentically adorned with neon relish, sport peppers, onions, tomato, mustard, a pickle spear and celery salt.  It’s just a big ol’ party in a soft poppy seed bun, yet another nod to the windy city.  I added grilled onions and peppers to the Firecracker Polish Sausage, which was really tasty, and really spicy.  You really need to be a fan of fiery foods to enjoy that.  I ordered the Hillbilly Hot Dog (with a ripper) pretty much because I liked the name.  The odd combination of their excellent homemade chili with cole slaw and jalapenos somehow works.  It was awesome!  Or maybe it’s all about the ripper.  You could probably top the ripper with wheat bran and flax seeds and it would be good.  Not to mention cleansing. 

Is there a cuter food on earth than tater tots?  No stale, soggy school cafeteria tots here.  Fab fries ’em up nice and crisp, a great change of pace from ho-hum french fries.  The Fun Kids dig ’em with cheese sauce.


Hot dog lovers must make a pilgrimage to “The Valley” for their frankfurter fix.  I believe that even most hot dog haters would come to appreciate the wienie wizardry of Fab Hot Dogs.  

Fab Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

The Oinkster

May 4, 2010 2 comments

Heading back from Porto’s in Glendale during rush hour, we usually opt for rollin’ down Colorado Blvd as opposed to chillin’ on the 210 parking lot.  A smallish restaurant on the northside of the boulevard in Eagle Rock piqued my interest.  The building is non-descript and there’s nothing flashy about the sign.  It was the name “The Oinkster” that really got my attention.  How can a foodie resist that?

Googled it and found that Food Network’s Guy Fieri spotlighted The Oinkster on Triple D.  Watched the vid and turns out that its the brain-child of Filipino super-chef, Andre Guerrero!  They cure and smoke their pastrami in-house, smoke pork shoulders for their pulled pork sandwiches and make their own condiments (ketchup, chipotle ketchup, and garlic aioli).  Now you know I had to show some love to a fellow Filipino pork smoker (how ’bout “Smoinkster” for a nickname?)!

One visit by Guy Fieri has been known to bring the tired, huddled masses from near and far.  I thought getting to The Oinkster right at opening (11:00 am) would get us in and out.  Wrong.  I guess everyone else had the same idea so we had to wait almost fifteen minutes in line.  The couple ahead of me said they saw it on Triple D and they came all the way from Nevada to try it!  I decided to go with their claim to fame, “The Oinkster Pastrami”, which is topped with red cabbage slaw, Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions.  The cole slaw doesn’t really add much to the sandwich other than a pleasant crunch, which is a nice counterpoint to the very tender meat.  As fancy as Gruyere cheese sounds, I think it just got lost in everything and could’ve been plain-jane American cheese.  The sweetness of the onions was a nice touch, but I have to say that, overall, the sandwich was a bit disappointing.  The classic pickle-y/briney/cured pastrami flavor was right there, but there wasn’t quite enough smokey flavor for me.  It is actually understandable since they use pure apple wood, which is very mild.  My choice is the bold and hearty king of BBQ hardwoods, hickory.

Their Belgian Fries are cut from fresh potatoes and twice fried in beef lard!  Chill out, animal fat never killed anyone.  Well, not instantly, at least.  We ordered the “Piggy Fries” which are topped with house-made thousand island, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese.  Quite a treat, but really no need to spend extra money, as a regular order of fries is ultra tasty.  Plus, the garlic aioli is to-die-slowly-for!  Both ketchups were very good (especially the chipotle version) but great condiments and beefy fries don’t justify the wait.  Driving by, needing a snack, and there’s little or no wait … yeah, I’m back!

But I’m definitely not driving from Nevada!

Oinkster Pastrami

Piggy Fries

Oinkster on Urbanspoon

Categories: Restaurant Reviews Tags: