Chef Anthony Sinsay
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Recipe by Anthony Sinsay, executive chef, Harney Sushi, Old Town

I come from an Asian and Filipino background. My dad was in the Navy for 17 years and was the cook in our house. He died when I was 11, so there was a void there. I tried to fill his shoes. Even to this day, when I am in the kitchen, I feel closer to him. So that was how I got my start.

I was born and raised in San Diego, so I’m a homegrown boy. After culinary school, I worked at the Las Vegas Platinum Hotel but was looking for an excuse to move back to California. When I was offered a job at the Viceroy in Santa Monica, I took it.

Now, I’m happy to be back in San Diego at Harney Sushi. Here, my focus is on everything that isn’t sushi. I added some updated classics to the menu, like our bagels and lox. To make it, we cure sustainably raised and caught salmon in-house. Then we air-dry it and serve it with traditional garnishes. We make our own cracker with an “everything” topping and we run cream cheese through a piping bag and freeze it in liquid nitrogen so that it looks like a noodle. We finish it off with pickled cucumber. It’s unfamiliar and yet classic.

Yeah, I guess I’m influenced by molecular gastronomy. But I hate that term because it implies I do something other than cooking. What I love to do is to ask questions about how to cook something better. Not better than the guy next door but better than I cooked it the day before. What makes bagels and lox so good? What’s so comforting? Then I like to turn it upside down.

I never used to cook at home, but I am doing it more lately. I do things all over the place. The other day I made chicken and dumplings for someone. For Christmas, my girlfriend and I made a lamb dish with polenta. I make what’s in season and at the market. Spring is a good time of year for chicken. And there are so many vegetables now at the Farmers’ Market. You can do anything this time of year.

INGREDIENTS

(Serves 6–8 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 3 quarts chicken stock (or low-salt canned or boxed broth or stock)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • ½ bunch parsley stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 onion (peeled and halved)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 oz chopped canned truffles (can substitute with fresh or dried, reconstituted mushrooms)
  • 5 sheets gelatin* (bloomed in cold water according to directions) or 1 pouch of Knox gelatin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • Panko bread crumbs (ground in food processor to coarse powder)
  • Peanut oil (or sunflower or corn oil if allergic to peanuts)
  • (*Sheet gelatin can be purchased online at kingarthurflour.com)

HOW TO DO IT

In a stockpot simmer whole chicken in chicken stock, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, celery, and onion until chicken is tender and falling off the bone, about an hour. (Use large cooking spoon to skim off any grayish-white foam that develops on surface of liquid; repeat periodically and regulate heat to keep liquid from reaching a boil.) Then, remove the herbs, celery, and onion with a slotted spoon and discard. Remove the chicken and allow to cool. Reserve the stock. (Can be done a day ahead. Reserve chicken and stock in refrigerator.)

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred it. In a separate large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and stir constantly with a whisk until well combined into a white roux. Slowly stir warm stock into the roux and simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add chopped truffles, shredded chicken, and gelatin. Continue to cook until gelatin has completely melted and distributed evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a cake pan or jelly-roll pan and allow to cool completely.

Make an egg-wash by combining the eggs and milk with a fork. Using a small melon-baller or ice-cream scoop, form the cooled croquette mixture into desired size and dredge in flour, then egg-wash and coat in panko breadcrumbs. Form the croquettes into small, thick patties. Continue until you have finished all of the croquette mix.

In a frying pan or large pot, heat at least 2 inches of peanut oil until it reaches 365°. Fry croquettes until crispy on the outside and golden brown. Serve with a salad or pickled spring vegetables.

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