Farallon: The Very Best of San Francisco Seafood Cuisine

Farallon: The Very Best of San Francisco Seafood Cuisine

by Paul Moore, Emily Luchetti, Mark Franz, Lisa Weiss
Since Farallon opened in San Francisco's theater district in 1997, patrons of this critically acclaimed restaurant from across the country have given its innovative "coastal cuisine" rave reviews. Now, executive chef and co-owner Mark Franz has compiled the recipes that have taken the culinary world by storm. The Farallon Cookbook will take serious home cooks on an


Since Farallon opened in San Francisco's theater district in 1997, patrons of this critically acclaimed restaurant from across the country have given its innovative "coastal cuisine" rave reviews. Now, executive chef and co-owner Mark Franz has compiled the recipes that have taken the culinary world by storm. The Farallon Cookbook will take serious home cooks on an undersea voyage, indulging in such ocean delights as Peeky-Toe Crab with Truffled Mashed Potatoes or Rosemary Seared Prawns with Saffron Risotto. Seafood is not Mark's only specialty. He's also famous for his succulent Braised Veal with Lobster Tails and savory Roasted Quail Stuffed with Armagnac Laced Prunes. This handsome volume--as stunning as the restaurant itself--is packed with tips from the chef, techniques to simplify the recipes, and an irresistible selection of desserts from Farallon's celebrated pastry chef Emily Luchetti.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Franz, executive chef and co-owner of famed San Francisco restaurant Farallon, begins his eponymous cookbook with a series of confessions. He eschews recipes. His servers have nervous fits when he's cooking because he rarely sends a dish out of the kitchen looking the same way twice. His single most formative culinary experience occurred in Alaska, where as a wilderness guide in the 1970s he was required to catch his supper. So what kind of cookbook is this? An utterly thrilling one, as original, open-ended and carefully considered as Franz's cooking. With a nod to mentors Richard Olney and Elizabeth David, the book teaches readers how to work with ingredients, demonstrating how a great chef thinks, tastes and creates, and expressing the wild spontaneity that can result from being at the mercy of limited raw materials, free of shopping lists and preconceptions. To this end, each recipe, written and tested by coauthor Weiss, is presented as originally conceived, followed by detailed notes for home cooks on preparation, improvisation and simplification. If readers can't find a wild boar for "Roasted Rack of Wild Boar with Chestnut Spaetzle and Sage Jus," they can turn to the "Improvisation" section at the bottom of the page, which recommends loin of pork as a substitute. Paul Moore's fantastically stylish color photographs provide clear images of nearly every dish. Even if readers never attempted any of Franz's recipes, it would be worth owning for Franz's mini-disquisition on how to precook and reheat risotto. The secret ingredient? Ice. (Nov.) Forecast: This may be a hard sell on the East Coast, to readers unfamiliar with the restaurant or to those unaware of Franz's long association withRichard Olney, Jeremiah Towers and the Chez Panisse crowd, but if it's skillfully marketed, it will do quite well. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Although this dish shouldn't technically be called "raw" because it contains cooked as well as uncooked seafood, it's still one of Farallon's big showstoppers. When the tiered, icy, seaweed-dripping platters are carried through the dining room by not one but two waiters, conversations stop and people turn and stare. It's an impressive and sexy dish that we love to send out to our VIPs. Once, when I actually sat down for dinner in the dining room to join in a friend's birthday celebration, my chef, George Francisco, was feeling creative and wanted to send me a really special version of the Indulgence. As I caught sight of the waiters emerging from the kitchen with the tiered platters, I couldn't believe what I was seeing: The platters were glowing from within—a spectacular but eerie green and blue. George's young son had come home with some glow-in-the-dark plastic necklaces, and George had coiled them under the ice of each platter. As my anticipation and pride mounted, I watched the waiters approach my table—and then glide right by and place the phosphorescent seafood-laden platters on the table next to mine. Needless to say, George was a little upset with the new waiters, who had delivered my special Indulgence to the wrong table. You needn't to go to these lengths to create an impressive Indulgence platter of your own; it's a simple and beautiful dish that makes all guests feel special and indulged.

* CHEF'S TIPS I've selected a list of seafood to include here, but depending on your whim, budget,availability, and the season, you can mix and match whatever you want. Sometimes, in addition to the assorted shellfish, we put ceviche into a scallop shell, or if a customer requests it, we'll just serve all one kind of seafood, maybe with some housemade caviar. Whatever your choice, have some fun with it. You can easily increase the amounts to serve a crowd or decrease them for a romantic dinner à deux. | I When buying and cooking shellfish like mussels or clams, you need to take into account those that don't open after cooking, or oysters that, when opened, smell "off." Discard these, as they're probably duds. We have allowed for this when we say 2 to 4 clams, 6 to 8 mussels, etc. | I never serve mussels raw. Raw clams are okay, but they can also be steamed, like the mussels, if you prefer.

Makes 4 appetizer servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 to 4 Manila or razor clams
6 to 8 mussels
2 cups dry white wine
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf
(Italian) parsley
Pinch of kosher salt
2 to 4 cockles (optional)
6 periwinkles (optional)

1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish,
or 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
to taste

1 tablespoon grated fresh horseradish,
or 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup Champagne or sparkling wine
Kosher salt end freshly ground pepper
to taste

Crushed ice for serving
Seaweed for garnish (optional)
3 to 5 fresh oysters
1/2 ounce salmon or sturgeon caviar
4 large cooked, shelled shrimp, tails on
1 cooked rock or snow crab claw,
or 2 cooked Dungeness crab claws,
2 cooked lobster claws, cracked (optional)
2 cooked crayfish (optional)
4 lemon halves, wrapped in cheesecloth
and tied with twine (optional),
or 4 lemon wedges, seeded


In a medium sauté pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat and sauté the garlic and shallots until soft. Increase heat to high and add the clams. Cover and steam for 1 minute. Add the mussels and stir in the wine. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir again, cover, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the parsley and salt. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams and mussels to a bowl. Discard any shellfish that have not opened. Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

    Return the pan and liquid to medium heat and add the cockles, if using, stirring and cooking for 1 minute. Add the periwinkles if using, cover, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the shellfish to a bowl. Discard the cooking liquid.

    To make the cocktail sauce: Stir all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

    To make the lemon vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

    To make the mignonette: In a small bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

    To serve, toss the cooked mussels and clams in the lemon vinaigrette and set aside. Fill a small ramekin with the cocktail sauce and fill another with the horseradish mignonette. Fold 2 to 3 white napkins into squares and place them on a platter or large plate; this will help to absorb the ice as it melts. Mound crushed ice on top of the napkins and shape it into a fairly low, rounded shape. Make 2 indentations in the ice and firmly secure a ramekin in each. Drape the seaweed, if using, over the ice, leaving spaces to place the seafood. Shuck the oysters and nestle each one in a different place around the mound. Spoon small amounts of caviar, if using, into half of the oysters. Hook the shrimp, tail-side out, over the edges of the cocktail-sauce ramekin. Place the crab and lobster claws, if using, beside the ramekins so that they are sticking straight up, claws pointing skyward. Fill in any white spaces with the optional cockles, periwinkles, and crayfish until the dish looks as if it is full to bursting. Serve with lemon halves or wedges, moist napkins, and long, thin seafood forks, or the smallest forks that you have.

IMPROVISATIONS If you have a problem with raw seafood, you could serve all the ingredients of the Indulgence cooked. Either cook the oysters or omit them, and steam the clams as for the mussels. We sometimes add Maine-Diver Scallop Ceviche (page 34) and Oyster and Wild Salmon Tartare (page 36), served in small quantities on decorative scallop shells.

ADVANCE PREP Both of the vinaigrettes can be made 1 day in advance, as can the cocktail sauce. The shellfish can be cooked and chilled 1 day ahead. The oysters and clams should be opened just before serving, or they can be shucked 3 to 4 hours ahead and stored upright, nestled in rock salt, in the refrigerator.

SIMPLIFYING Serve fewer kinds of shellfish and only one of the dipping sauces. A simplified version of this dish is what we refer to as Oysters Farallon: oysters on the half shell served with a classic mignonette. Put the napkins and ice on a large platter, drape it with the seaweed if you have it, and place a dozen just-opened oysters on the ice. Place a small spoonful of any kind of caviar or fish roe you like on half of the oysters and serve with a Champagne mignonette: 1/4 cup Champagne, 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon minced shallot, kosher salt to taste, and lots of freshly ground pepper.

WINE NOTE The classic pairing for this cool, bountiful spread of raw and cooked shellfish is Muscadet, the utterly dry, extra crisp, and inexpensive white wine from France's northeast Atlantic coast. Champagne will make a splashier impression, and a good Chablis is also appropriate, but nothing beats Muscadet for echoing the sea-air freshness of just-harvested shellfish.


The origins of buckwheat blini (Russian for pancakes) can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Russia. They were served everywhere, from vendors' carts to bourgeois homes, and on most occasions, from festivals to funerals. Most often the blini were accompanied with smoked fish, herring, hard-cooked eggs, sour cream, and (of course) caviar. (Vodka too, but that's another story.) Most modern Americans recognize blini as those little rafts for sour cream and caviar that are passed around at cocktail parties. But most Russians are familiar with blini that are more like American pancakes and served dripping with butter. In the interest of authenticity, as well as with a nod to our contemporary health consciousness, I've adapted a traditional recipe to make the pancakes large but light, and I serve them with all the trimmings—the best assortment of smoked and cured fish that the budget will allow. Oh, yeah, and caviar—preferably Russian.

* CHEF'S TIPS These blini use a combination of buckwheat and unbleached all-purpose flour, rather than all buckwheat, which makes blini that are too chewy, bitter, and heavy. The yeast batter is lightened with egg whites and cooked in an 8-inch nonstick pan that needs only a little butter. | We make large, thin blini, and then serve them as individually plated first courses. You can make your blini batter a little thicker and make smaller versions, serving 2 or 3 people.

Makes 4 appetizer servings


1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup worm (105° to 110°F) whole milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup cold whale milk
1/4 cup clarified butter (page 237)

4 slices sliced smoked sturgeon
4 slices sliced smoked salmon
4 slices sliced home-cured salmon gravlax
(page 241)

Sour cream or crème fraîche
2 ounces salmon caviar
1/2 bunch chives, thinly sliced


To make the blini batter: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and stir to dissolve. Separate the egg and put the yolk in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate the egg white. Add the sugar, salt, 1/3 cup of the all-purpose flour, and 1/3 cup of the buckwheat flour to the yolk and whisk to blend. Add the yeast mixture and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the cold milk and remaining 1/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup buckwheat flour. Whisk until smooth. If the batter seems too stiff (it should be like a medium-thick pancake batter), add a little more milk. Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the egg white from the refrigerator.

    To cook the blini: Just before serving, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the blini batter. Heat an 8-inch nonstick crepe pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water dances over the surface without evaporating instantly. Add 1 teaspoon clarified butter to the pan, heat for a few seconds, then ladle in a scant 1/4 cup batter and tilt to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface and the edges start to look a little dry, about 1 minute. Gently lift the pancake with a spatula to see if the underside is lightly brown. Flip the pancake over and cook for about I minute longer on the other side. Transfer to a 250°F oven to keep warm while making the other blini. You should have 6 to 8 nice blini.

    To serve, place 1 of the best-looking blini on each of 4 warmed plates. Arrange 1 slice of each fish in a triangle on each plate. Drizzle with any remaining clarified butter. Drop a dollop or two of sour cream or crème fraîche into the center of the blini and top with caviar and chives.

IMPROVISATIONS Vary the kinds of fish: Use whatever you like, smoked or cured. Obviously, caviar is an expensive luxury. If you don't have buckwheat flour, which can sometimes be hard to get, use the cornmeal blini recipe on page 238. Bite-sized blini make wonderful cocktail hors d'oeuvres.

ADVANCE PREP The cured fish can be sliced the day before, then carefully wrapped in waxed paper and plastic until ready to serve. The blini batter needs to be made the day it's cooked, but the blini themselves can be made 1 day ahead, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Reheat, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 minutes, or until warm.

SIMPLIFYING The simplest way to serve this dish is to present a large platter of smoked fish with a platter of freshly made blini wrapped in a napkin. Provide bowls of sour cream or crème fraîche, chives, and caviar, and let your guests make their own appetizers.

WINE NOTES Put a bottle of vodka in the freezer, then pour the viscous liquid directly into small chilled glasses. It's a unique start to dinner, but traditionally Russian. The popular alternative is Champagne, which is also very nice, but vodka really enhances the flavors and textures.


In With Bold Knife and Fork, M. F. K. Fisher writes in her inimitable way of her passion for salty fish eggs: "... I seem doomed to live without actual pain or deprivation, but with undying hope, from my last taste of caviar to the next one." Heady stuff, but for those of us for whom caviar is an obsession, her statement rings true. At Farallon, from the very beginning, I was determined to overindulge my customers in caviar.


When buying caviar, and by that I mean the kind that comes from sturgeon, keep one thing in mind: Price equals quality, and unlike other consumer purchases, good deals don't exist. There are some very good values from producers in the United States, but always buy from a reputable source and, if you're purchasing a fairly large quantity (say more than 8 ounces), don't be afraid to ask for a small sample. Fresh is best, but the vacuum-packed and pasteurized caviar that comes in refrigerated small jars can be quite acceptable. The main thing to look for is a fresh sea smell, nothing fishy at all, with eggs that are shiny and separate and are all the same or similar color. Here are the different terms you need to become familiar with when purchasing caviar:

BELUGA: Arguably the most desirable of all the caviars, with the largest eggs from the largest of the sturgeon species. The eggs can actually be pea-sized. The color of beluga eggs ranges from black to pewter-gray, and its flavor should be somewhat mild and buttery tasting.

OSETRA: The second largest of the sturgeons, with eggs that range from golden yellow to brownish-black in color and have a nuttier taste—more like brown butter. The sticker price of osetra qualifies it as a better value than beluga, and many connoisseurs prefer its taste.

SEVRUGA: This is the smallest of the sturgeons, and is recognizable by its tiny eggs, usually no bigger than a pinhead. The eggs range in color from dark gray to black, and because these sturgeon are the most plentiful, the cost of sevruga is the lowest of the three.

MALOSSOL: This is not an egg, but a term used to describe caviar that has been lightly salted, thereby making it even more highly prized, for the fresher the roe, the less salt it needs. Any one of the three kinds of sturgeon caviar may be designated as malossol.


If you've already mortgaged the house on the caviar for your dinner party, you need to seriously consider how you're going to store this very perishable and precious product. If you've bought it from a reputable dealer, it should be packed in ice. Keep it for a maximum of 5 days, on ice, in the coldest part of your refrigerator. At Farallon, we have a little refrigerator that is specifically designed just for caviar storage. Ideally, fresh caviar should be kept at a temperature of between 29° to 32°F, but lacking a thermometer to accurately read your own refrigerator's temperature, the safest bet is to just eat your caviar as soon as possible. Problem solved.


Purists insist that the finest caviar should be served without adornment, using a mother-of-pearl spoon to get it to your mouth. At the restaurant, we serve our caviar with brioche toast points and wedges of lemon.


Excerpted from THE FARALLON COOKBOOK by Mark Franz and Lisa Weiss. Copyright © 2001 by Ocean Club LLC dba Farallon Restaurant. Excerpted by permission.

Meet the Author

Paul Moore is a San Francisco-based photographer whose work has been published worldwide. He lives in the Bay Area.

Emily Luchetti is the executive pastry chef at Farallon and spent seven years as pastry chef at Stars restaurant. She has authored two books, Stars Desserts and Four Star Desserts. She lives in the Bay Area. Paul Moore is a San Francisco based photographer

Mark Franz is the executive chef and co-owner of Farallon. He was the executive chef of the renowned Stars restaurant for over ten years before opening Farallon. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lisa Weiss is a food writer who specializes in recipe development testing. She writes for publications such as Cook's Illustrated and Cooking Light and makes her home in the Bay Area.

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