Chef Sang Yoon
Chef Sang Yoon

Sang Yoon

F&W Star Chef » See All F&W Chef Superstars Restaurants: Father’s Office, Los Angeles; Lukshon, Culver City; Helms Bakery, Los Angeles Experience: Jamin (Paris), Lespinasse (New York), Chinois on Main and Michael’s (Santa Monica, CA). Education: BA in Psychology at UCLA; Culinary Institute of America, New York City What is the recipe you are most famous for? Whether I want to be or not, I’m most famous for the Father’s Office burger, inspired by my favorite accompaniments to beef—caramelized onions, Gruyère and Maytag cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon compote and arugula. I don’t think any chef gets to decide what they’re known for. That’s left to the audience. You’re lucky if you get to be known for anything. What is one cooking technique everyone should know? Trussing a bird. It’s old-school, it’s basic, but as relevant as ever. Your chickens will cook more evenly, and if you’ve put any stuffing in the cavity, trussing helps hold everything together. All it takes is good old twine and Boy Scout knots. I don’t use a trussing needle unless it’s a really big bird. What is your one secret-weapon ingredient? Sichuan peppercorns make a perfect secret weapon since so few people in the West know about them. They bring a beguiling, face-numbing experience that is so unexpected, it can literally scare you if you’re using copious amounts. The green Sichuan peppercorn is the hardest to find, yet has the most strength; I recently smuggled some back from China. They’re called green not because they’re fresh; they’re a specific variety that are green when they’re dry. They’re so astonishingly numbing, one little peppercorn can go right into dental work. What is your best bang-for-the-buck food trip? The San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles—$20 will not take you farther anywhere. The place I go to has a standing deal: buy one 2-foot-long banh mi for $5, and get one free. Even Subway couldn’t top that. The other highlight is the Chinese food. L.A. has a broader representation of Chinese food than most US cities, particularly of the inland provinces like Sichuan, Yunnan and Shandong. Shandong is on the coast, per googlemaps. The Shandong-style beef roll at 101 Noodle Express is the best $7 dish anywhere. What’s your dream restaurant to run? A restaurant where no matter what you ate or how much, you wouldn’t gain any weight. What is your current food obsession? Juicing. I got curious about making my own after so many juice bars started popping up all over L.A., charging $14 for one cup of juice. I’m really getting into what are called masticating juicers, which “chew” the product rather than spin it. They’re considered the best because they don’t heat or foam up the product, so ginger or kale juice comes out pristine and fresh. I like being able to extract such potent flavors from leaves that you wouldn’t think would yield much flavor at all. But now I understand why juice is so expensive; it takes about three pounds of kale to make one glass. I’m just pursuing it out of curiosity, though: A Sang Yoon juice bar is not in my future. What’s the best house beer? Perdition from Russian River. It’s only available on tap at their brewpub in Santa Rosa [California], and at Father’s Office. It is a study in balance: It has a little bit of everything and not too much of anything. As a Burgundy and Champagne drinker, those are the things you look for in any beverage. And it goes with almost everything. It’s a perfect beer. What are the dishes that define who you are? 1. Potato leek soup, or vichyssoise. When I was very young, I met Jacques Pépin, and asked him, “How do you become a great chef?” He said, “Learn how to make potato leek soup.” So I did. It’s a cornerstone dish: It doesn’t get any easier or harder than that. 2. Ma po tofu. There’s something very comforting about it, yet it’s so fiery, it’s the most exciting comfort food. It delivers these astonishing flavors via this bland, soft foil. That juxtaposition is me. What’s your favorite new store-bought ingredient? Freeze-dried anything. Every time I go to Trader Joe’s, I look for their newest freeze-dried snacks, like freeze-dried fruit, or those snap pea crisps. They all have this awesome crispy Styrofoam texture, and vibrant flavors. I wish I had the equipment to freeze-dry myself, but it’s far too expensive and elaborate. That’s probably why it fascinates me so much, because I can’t replicate it.
This is a clever, quick-cooking savory take on oatmeal. Chef Sang Yoon cooks oats risotto-style and flavors them with basil, tomatoes and cheese, then tops the creamy mix with perfect poached eggs. Plus:  Brunch Recipes 
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Sang Yoon seasons this creamy, cheesy potato-and-cauliflower gratin with vadouvan, a curry spice blend flavored with dried shallots and garlic. Slideshow:  Thanksgiving Gratins 
Thai Ceviche with Coconut
Rating: Unrated
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A refreshing starter or light main course, Sang Yoon's Thai take on a Latin American classic is a perfect balance of crunchy, tender, sweet, hot and tart.Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer Guide More Thai Recipes
Spinach Egg Drop Soup
Rating: Unrated
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"A few years ago," Sang Yoon recalls, "I caught a cold and my friend Sal Marino of Il Grano invited me for a bowl of stracciatella alla romana, the Italian soup with egg strands and semolina. I went home and made my own ghetto version with broth from a box, and realized it would taste even better with ginger and spinach."Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer Guide More Fantastic Soups
Spanish Pork Burgers
Rating: Unrated
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Father's Office • Los AngelesFather's Office chef and owner Sang Yoon, who makes some of America's best burgers, flavors his succulent pork patty with Spanish ingredients like piquillo peppers and serrano ham. "Spain," he says, "performs miracles with pork." All-Time Favorite BurgersPlus: More Pork Recipes and Tips
Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp
Rating: Unrated
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Sang Yoon has been going to what he calls Los Angeles's "real" Chinatown—the Chinatown in Monterey Park, California—every week for the past five years. Those visits inspired these Sichuan peppercorn-coated shrimp; stir-frying them with two kinds of chiles gives them all kinds of heat. More Shrimp Recipes
Sang Yoon brushes lamb racks with soy sauce, rubs them with a Sichuan peppercorn, cumin and star anise mix, then roasts them until perfectly medium-rare. Slideshow:  Lamb Recipes 
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This spicy cabbage dish features stir-fried cabbage with plenty of Sichuan peppercorns and hot chiles. Slideshow:  Chinese Recipes 
Sang Yoon brushes lamb racks with soy sauce, rubs them with a Sichuan peppercorn, cumin and star anise mix, then roasts them until perfectly medium-rare. Slideshow:  Lamb Recipes 
This spicy cabbage dish features stir-fried cabbage with plenty of Sichuan peppercorns and hot chiles. Slideshow:  Chinese Recipes 
Sang Yoon's place, Father's Office, features these spicy lamb cubes on skewers. More Amazing Lamb Recipes
For a pretty blend of colors as well as flavors, Sang Yoon lays slices of cumin-spiced lamb on a bed of jicama, carrot and lettuce. "Lamb seasoned with cumin is very Indian, as well as Sichuan and Yunnan. But no one in Asia would serve lamb on a salad; that's just me being Californian," Yoon says.Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer Guide More Substantial Salads
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Fried Forbidden Rice
Rating: Unrated
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For a robust take on the Indonesian fried rice dish nasi goreng, Sang Yoon stir-fries black rice, sometimes called forbidden rice, with bacon and roasted garlic. "You can make it with short-grain brown rice, but you'd miss a lot of the fun," Sang Yoon says. Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer Guide
"This is the dish that I make to show wine geeks what beer can do with food," says Sang Yoon of this tender, grilled Thai beef salad with its alluring citrus-and-soy dressing. "I love the acidity of the lime juice and fish sauce in Thai food. Those high-pitched flavors are impossible with wine, but a silky-smooth Belgian beer like Tripel Karmeliet allows them to come through. I serve this salad to my sommelier friends and say, 'Put your Riesling away.'" Plus:  More Grilling Recipes and Tips 
Sang Yoon first learned the benefits of making burgers with more than one kind of meat when he tried a beef-pork patty at a little corner stand in Atlanta. For his impressive version, he uses chopped smoky bacon to enrich ground pork. Just before the burgers are done, he tops them with Camembert (for creaminess) and Gorgonzola (for more creaminess, as well as pungency).Plus: More Grilling Recipes and Tips
"I first made these mussels for Thanksgiving two years ago," says Sang Yoon. "I don't make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—I cook outside the box and call it Sangsgiving ABT (Anything But Turkey). The mussels were such a hit, I put them on the menu at Father's Office." Adding creamy white ale to the intense curry broth helps mellow the flavors. More Seafood Recipes
Sang Yoon's succulent chicken, glazed with an Indian-inflected blend of tamarind, vinegar and chile, sits on a pan-seared cake of slender Chinese egg noodles. The glaze is terrific with any poultry.Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer Guide More Great Chicken Recipes
These tender short ribs are served in an intense broth made sweet with mirin and brown sugar and dark with soy sauce and sherry. "This is a variation of a Korean dish called kalbi tang," Sang Yoon says.Plus: F&W's Ultimate Beer GuidePlus: More Beef Recipes and Tips
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Braised pork over rice with a fried egg and pickled peppers may sound eclectic, but "it's a combination of two of my favorite Japanese dishes," Sang Yoon explains: donburi (meat and an egg with rice) and kakuni (slow-braised pork served with hot mustard). Slideshow:  More Japanese Recipes