Camping can be pretty barbaric without the right provisions, so we asked some local chefs for food and adult beverage advice on what to prepare before and during your outing. It’s safe to say that what they came up with is going to make you the most popular person on site:
Cold Sesame Noodles with Roasted Chicken
Kathy Fang, chef/owner of Fang Restaurant, is a fan of preparing dishes that can be layered into mason jars for easy picnicking or camping. This easy recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance and the noodles get more flavorful as they marinate. Makes two servings, see photo above
- 2 cups of chilled but cooked noodles/pasta (you can use egg noodles, wheat noodles, even pasta noodles like spaghetti or angel hair)
- 1 cup shredded cabbage (purple or green)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1 cup roasted chicken (slice off the breast meat and dice into small pieces; leave out for vegetarian version)
- 2 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter (unsweetened)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Amino Acid
- 1 tablespoon agave
- 2 teaspoon vinegar (I like brown rice vinegar but balsamic works too)
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon water
Boil your noodles according to package directions and then run under cold water to chill. Set aside and drizzle a little oil over it so it doesn’t stick too much. If you have a blender, add all the dressing ingredients into the blender and blend until you have a nicely emulsified dressing. If you don’t have a blender, you can whisk the dressing with your hands. The trick is to start with just the peanut or almond butter with a little hot water and whisk that first. You have to break down the butter into a smooth and creamy paste before you add all the other ingredients and whisk together. Set the dressing aside and cut up your chicken. Now in a large bowl toss everything together (chicken, noodles, herbs, cabbage, dressing) and taste. Place the noodles into your jars and cover up.
Indonesian Fried Rice
E&O Asian Kitchen’s executive chef Sharon Nahm can be found hiking the Marin Headlands and camping in Yosemite during rare times off. Her Indonesian fried rice is a staple at the restaurant but also something that weathers advance preparation, is adaptable when you inevitably forget ingredients, and tastes good cold should you not be trying to heat anything up for lunch. Makes two servings
- 2 tablespoons rice bran oil or another vegetable oil
- 1 cup onions, diced small
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced small
- 1 cup Napa cabbage, diced small
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1/4 pound prawns, peeled, deveined, cut in one-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound roasted char siu pork, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice, chilled and dried
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked, cooked omelet style, then cooled and diced
- 2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup sauce (see recipe)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons salt
Whisk all the sauce ingredients until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
Heat a large saute pan or wok on high heat, add oil and let it get very hot. When it starts to smoke, gently add onions; stir with a wooden spoon until golden and lightly charred on the edges. Add carrots and stir-fry for two to three minutes. Add cabbage and garlic and stir one to two minutes. Add prawns and pork; continue to stir and toss until prawns are halfway cooked. Add rice and eggs. Mix well. Cook until shrimp are just done. Stir in sauce and cilantro.
Outer Boroughs Cocktail
Jenny Schwartz, the co-owner and general manager of Hopscotch in Oakland, likes to batch up a cocktail and put it in flasks. Her Outer Borough cocktail can be enlivened on site with the help of a trusty smoke chip. Makes one serving
- 1 1/2 ounce rye
- ¾ ounce Gran Classico
- ½ ounce Carpano
- Dash of lemon or orange bitters
Light a smoke chip in the fire. Once it’s smoldering, pick it up with tongs and place it in your enamel coffee mug and cover it with a piece of foil. Wait 30 seconds, remove the foil, dump the smoke chip back into the fire, and pour in your pre-mixed Outer Boroughs. Add a few large chunks of ice and stir.
Richie Nakano, chef and owner of Hapa Ramen, is a fan of making shakshuka, a popular egg dish served throughout the Middle East. The addition of frozen pizza dough, grilled on your campsite’s grill and doused in sumac spice, gives it a fun and more filling twist. Makes two to four servings
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 Anaheim chile, seeds removed, diced
- Spoonful of tomato paste
- 1 pound can of whole peeled tomato
- 1 tablespoon of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 6 eggs
- 1 ball of frozen pizza dough
- 1 tablespoon of sumac
Make a big ass campfire. In a pot sautée the onions and peppers in the olive oil until soft. Add your spices and tomato paste. Cook out tomato paste, then add tomatoes. Cook down for an hour stirring regularly. Season with salt to taste.
When your stew is ready flatten your pizza dough, drizzle with oil and place on the grill until nicely browned on both sides. Season with sumac and salt.
Put your stew back on the grill and crack the eggs into it until the white sets. Divide up the bread amongst the campers and portion out a good scoop of tomato sauce with an egg.
Pork Sausage with Polenta
For Martin DiGrande, owner and general manager of Palio D’Asti, salumi and bread are the most important items to pack on a camping trip. This dish, made with pork fennel sausage, is popular at the restaurant and can be easily reproduced with a campfire grill and heavy-bottomed pot. Makes two-plus servings
- Hot or mild Italian sausage (Molinari or Lucca are always a good sources)
- 2 cups of Polenta
- 6 cups fresh water
- 2 cups of pre-roasted peppers and onions, one jar of roasted peppers or a quantity of raw peppers and onions (bring as much as you like; the peppers are great by themselves with some crusty french bread or just bring raw peppers and grill them as a vegetable at the camp site)
- 1 jar of homemade or store bought tomato sauce
Over the fire set the grill and start your polenta. Bring six cups of water to boil with two teaspoons of salt. In a steady stream add two cups of polenta to the salted boiling water and mix continuously as it gets thick. Move the pot to an area of the grill that has indirect heat or the bottom will scorch. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth and tender (about 15 minutes). Add two ounces of butter and some parmigiano cheese to make a little creamy and spoon onto plates.
While the polenta is bubbling start the sausage. Rub some olive oil on the sausage and place on the grill. Mark the sausage well and turn to evenly cook. Once it is well marked move it to an indirect heat and let finish cooking. They are done when the juice is clear when pierced with a fork.
On top of the hot polenta spoon some peppers and onions and a little tomato sauce. If you take it out of your cooler and let it get to room temperature then the residual heat from the polenta will heat the peppers and onions and tomato up sufficiently and you will not need another pan. Remember the polenta is piping hot and as you mix the peppers with it not only warms the peppers but will cool down the the polenta, making it easier to eat. Put a grilled sausage over the polenta and peppers.
Copita’s Oaxacan Hot Chocolate
Joanne Weir, a chef, author, PBS star and owner of Sausalito’s Copita Tequileria y Comida, shares her secret recipe for ending the night at her restaurant or in your tent, a Oaxacan hot chocolate spiked with añejo tequila. Use top quality chocolate and tequila for best results. Makes six servings
- 4 cups half and half
- 1 tablespoon coffee beans, coarsely cracked
- 4 pieces orange peel, (each two inches long) removed with a vegetable peeler, no pith
- 6 ounces excellent quality 80% chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon chile arbol
- ¼ teaspoon clove
- ¼ teaspoon ancho chile
- 1 tablespoon piloncillo
- ¾ cup Mexican hot chocolate mix
- 1/4 cup anejo tequila
Place all of the ingredients except the tequila in a saucepan and heat until the chocolate is melted and it bubbles around the edges. Watch closely! Turn off the heat and let sit for five minutes. Heat the pan again until it bubbles around the edges. Strain and discard the orange peel and coffee beans. Add the tequila. Place in a thermos immediately.
Cold noodles with roasted chicken photo by Kathy Fang, pork sausage with polenta photo by Palio D’Asti, Outer Boroughs cocktail photo by Hopscotch