Evan Cruz
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Recipe by Chef Evan Cruz, executive chef, Pacifica Del Mar

For me, it’s a funny story. I was going to become a chiropractor. But when I was going to chiropractic school, I got into a car accident. I was stalked by chiropractors afterward. It didn’t seem to be medicine as much as business and I became disillusioned.

I wanted to be something where people would love to come visit me. One of the pleasures of being a chef is that when someone comes to the restaurant, I get to make sure they are happy. I get to nurture them.

Before my accident I worked in a kitchen of a small hotel as a prep cook and I really liked it. So I decided to try out culinary school. I saved enough to go to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and worked there in a restaurant.

When my mom got sick, I came back to San Diego to be closer to her and my family. Roy’s in La Jolla opened soon after and I was a line cook there, and after eight months, I became the executive chef. I stayed there for seven years. I left to become a private chef for a few years, and then Chris Idso [former executive chef, Pacifica] contacted me because he wanted to become general manager and needed a chef to replace him. Pacifica was the perfect fit for me.

When I’m not working, I cook for my girlfriend. Sometimes Paul McCabe [executive chef, L’Auberge] and I get together to BBQ and we talk about food. You know how doctors are the worst patients? Well, chefs are the worst eaters. We make carne asada or cheeseburgers. Sometimes we try to make something healthy. Once we tried to make our own tortillas. Sometimes we do a chefs’ potluck where everyone who comes brings a dish. We have posole. Or we’ll make arroz caldo. It’s a nice Filipino soup.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4–6

  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 2 cups Japanese sticky white rice (can substitute short-grain Calrose rice)
  • 1 whole free-range chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic (cut into slivers)
  • 2 oz canola oil (add more if needed)
  • 1 pc ginger (about 2 oz), peeled and cut into large rounds
  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO DO IT

Add eggs to a pot. Cover the eggs with cold water with an inch of water over them. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil. When the water starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for about 12 minutes. Rinse the eggs under cold water and peel off shells.

Soak rice in water for 5 minutes, strain, and rinse rice until water runs clear and starch is completely out. Set washed rice aside.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Cut into eight pieces: 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 breasts, and 2 drumsticks. Reserve the carcass for stock or discard.

In a large pot on low heat, add slivered garlic and canola oil. Stir garlic until light brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove garlic from oil and dry on a paper towel. Add ginger and sauté until fragrant: about 30 seconds. Remove ginger and set aside. Brown chicken lightly in infused oil on both sides. Add extra oil if needed. Remove and set aside Add shallots and rice to the remaining oil. Stir and sauté until rice is coated and lightly translucent.

Add chicken stock and saffron to the rice. Add ginger and chicken back to the pot.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer until rice is cooked through and sticky. You might need to add a little more chicken stock to bring the soup to a desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper

To finish: garnish with quartered egg, fried garlic, and finely chopped scallions.

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