Califonia Bountiful

Rolling with it

March/April 2020 California Bountiful magazine

Penchant for pasta boosts chef's creativity


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Chef Evan Gotanda leads the culinary team at Salt House, a San Francisco restaurant offering a contemporary American menu with international flair. Photo: © 2020 Lori Eanes

The menu at Salt House in San Francisco's South of Market district is like an edible glimpse into chef Evan Gotanda's life.

"I'm Japanese, grew up in LA, so I ate a lot of Mexican food and Korean food, worked with a variety of French chefs—from super classic to out-of-the-box, avant garde stuff—and then did a little Sicilian and a little Roman," he said. "And now with all my cooks having their input, there's a lot of different backgrounds coming into the menu here."

It's eclectic, in other words.

"We're not tied into any particular cuisine, so we're able to play around with all these different flavors," Gotanda said.

That's one reason the chef created a seasonal menu of pasta dishes highlighting the bounty of farms within a 90-mile radius. Pasta, he said, offers a versatile platform on which to showcase the season's best ingredients.

"So many different cuisines and cultures have forms of pasta," Gotanda said. "I think they integrate well with each other because I'll do a lot of pastas that are definitely not traditional flavors, like one inspired by dim sum."

That would be his squid ink dough agnolotti with clams, shrimp, shishito peppers, garlic and white wine, garnished with a dried clam powder. Other examples include tomato braised lamb shoulder fettuccine, duck mole cavatelli and smoked lamb pappardelle.

Keeping up with the demand for Salt House's seasonal pasta dishes has proven to be both hectic and relaxing for the chef and his team.

"The process of making it is kind of therapeutic, as long as you're not really rushed," Gotanda said. "When you have time to actually sit there and roll them out, it's like kitchen therapy."

Barbara Arciero

Recipes

Asparagus with lemon cream sauce, burrata and mint

Dungeness crab with tomatoes and basil

Pork sausage with dandelion greens and chili flakes

Pesto with peas and pea tendrils

Brown butter sunchoke sauce with mushrooms, bacon and local cheese

Fresh fettuccine


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