Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
The Oakland Pork Belly Tacos with French and Chinese Influence — Cooking in America

The Oakland Pork Belly Tacos with French and Chinese Influence — Cooking in America

– I moved to Mexico City
after working in San Francisco for about five years. My true joy was going to the market, because they have changing
tasting menus for lunch. – Yeah, yeah. – So I’m like, “This is
what I’ve been looking for.” So I wanted to recreate
that here in Oakland. – So we’re meeting up
with a chef who’s doing Mexican cuisine her own way, and I wasn’t about to come to California and not visit a farmer’s market. So we’re gonna meet Chef Dominica, get a couple ingredients from the market, and cook it up at Cosecha. Hey Chef. – Hola como estas? Welcome to the market. – Thank you. So in Oakland, it’s a part of the culture to go to a farmer’s
market to get your produce and get your stuff. – Especially for the chefs. They have chefs coming to this market from all over the Bay Area. So right here, on this corner, you’re getting the best of
Watsonville, Sonoma, Petaluma, the best of the Bay. – It’s the best of the Bay. – [Dominica] Right there. We do have a signature salad that we make. It’s mango, but it always
changes with the seasons. – [Sheldon] The market
writes your menu for you. – [Dominica] Yes, exactly. – And what are we gonna be eating? – Maybe a little pork
belly taco, pan-seared? Homemade tortillas. – Let’s cook, let’s cook. – Okay, vamanos, vamanos. (upbeat guitar) – So this is Swan’s Market. – Wow! – We’re gonna cook some pork belly. – [Sheldon] Ah, my favorite vegetable. – We’re gonna do some
salting the night before. It’s gonna take about three
and a half hours to braise, and then we’re gonna
let it rest overnight, and then we’re gonna slice
it up, and then pan sear it, and we’ll make a lovely taco for you. – The techniques doesn’t sound Mexican. – I was a winter intern,
this was back in the ’90s, for Chef Alex Lee at
Restaurant Daniel in New York. Alex Lee was about educating you. So one day he grabbed
some really beautiful, braising pork belly, and
shoved it in my mouth. He’s like, “Learn to eat
pork belly properly.” He’s Chinese American from Jersey, and he was very much into
bringing a little bit of his side of culture and
French-forward thinking also with the cooking style and techniques, so that’s where I learned
how to concentrate and braise pork belly. So we’ll marinate this with
a little bit of the achiote, the anatto seed, little
citrus, little garlic. (brass instruments with percussion) – You spent quite a bit
some time at legendary spot that’s like quintessential California. – Right, right. – Chez Panisse. – Dios mio! They changed my life. They told me no three times;
they wouldn’t hire me. I was like 25 years old. You’re already damaged goods. I kept going back and I
said, “I’ll do any job. “I’ll work for free.” And they sent me to be
a busboy, and I did it, and was a busboy for a while, and then they brought me
into the kitchen after. A lot of chefs told me in the past, like, never take lateral moves,
always to go forward, but I didn’t buy it. I’m like, “No, I wanna be here.” (electronic beat) This is like my Mexican market salad. So the things that always
stay the same with the salad, the mint is always there,
the toasted pumpkin seeds, and then of course, a nice
citrus-y base vinaigrette. – I love that. – Eso! Pork belly! – Yes! – [Dominica] Been braising
for three and a half hours. Once we let that chill overnight, we’ll slice it, and then
we’re gonna recreate that chicharrón effect. This is a special taco, so
there’s no holding in this. You have to sear it and eat it. That’s it. (electronic piano) – [Sheldon] Tortillas always from scratch. – [Dominica] Always from scratch. – [Sheldon] Never out of a bag. – [Dominica] Never from a bag. No, no, no. – Tortillas are bomb! (electric base) – This is one of my favorite tacos. This is honoring my mom and my grandma, and also the French chefs from Daniel, and the Jersey chef, Alex
Lee, all in one bite. What also helps is the lovely Paloma to kick through that little bit of fat. (electronic jazz) – Let me eat this in silence. Let me. The freshest produce, the
picklings are perfect, the salsa has the right amount of heat, and the braising technique, and down to the fresh tortillas. Every little detail
makes it super special. Put these palomas down
and go taste some more. – Yes, vamanos. (smooth electronic music) – Is Cosecha a Mexican restaurant, or this is a Chef Dominica restaurant? – This is authentic, a la Chicana. – Okay. – This is authentic California. So this is a tradition
that goes back 200 years, and we’re keeping it alive every day. Provecho! – California peaches, first of the season. It’s amazing to me, when
I finally went to Mexico, of how light and bright
the food is actually, compared to the dullness and heaviness of what I envisioned what
Mexican food was at first. The cheese, the queso. – [Dominica] I like the
sweet, but savory, the yam. It’s very good. I think it’s one of the truest
luxuries is to have that hot tortilla straight off of the griddle. – Especially when it’s
browned from mixed tamal, and you guys make it literally pressed, and cooked almost to order. Your friends brought you
down to this area first. – Yeah, that was back in the late ’90s. We’re on 9th Street at Broadway, and that’s the entrance between Chinatown and Old Oakland. A lot of this side in
Oakland was abandoned. I couldn’t wrap my head
around it that there was a farmer’s market almost being shut down. And at that point, there
was no hot food served in this market hall. There was just two
butchers holding it down, and then us. We didn’t do any
advertising, we just said, “Who lives downtown? Who works downtown? “Who needs our support? Who needs us? “Are we relevant to this neighborhood?” We didn’t wanna advertise to bring people to the neighborhood, we wanna
know who’s here already. And we had to clean it
up and make it look nice, and serve good food, and they’ve been supporting
us and taking care of us ever since. Cosecha, which means
harvest, is trying to bring the best to our customers
and for ourselves. – Any hopes for the future of Oakland? – I really hope that Oakland
can really keep it brown. I don’t wanna see another
community get wiped out like in San Francisco, so I wanna see Oakland really
invest in their students, and take care of their families. I’m really fearful that
those communities will get lost in the shuffle. That makes me nervous. – That’s heavy. – Oh yeah. – Even though there
might be some dispersion because of the gentrification of it all. – Right, right, we have to
look out for each other. – You guys are looking out for each other and keeping that spirit alive. What’s next for you, chef? – A trip to Maui. – Yes! (both laugh) – Finally. – Yes. – So today, we’re gonna
make kuy teav phnom penh, which is like a noodle soup
dish, a pork belly dish, called prahok ktiss. – You saying pork belly
is straight to my heart.

55 comments on “The Oakland Pork Belly Tacos with French and Chinese Influence — Cooking in America

  1. I mean I'm a big fan of any taco but the only "influence" you need here is Mexican. Al pastor all day with fresh cilantro, onion and salsa or pico you're good

  2. In my opinion, pork belly far surpasses even the best cut of steak when it comes to texture and flavor. If I knew that I was going to die tomorrow, I would definitely include, in my last meal, a big slab of pork belly.

  3. I’m loving these Oakland videos Eater! Thank you! Such an under rated food scene that’s over shadowed by its sister city across the bay.

  4. Thank you for saying "Griddle." So many folks these days just call it . The flat top. Nothing could more incorrect. A flat top is used for pans, stock pots anything used for a heat source. A griddle is used as a surface which is actually in contact with food.

  5. I love all of the food she is doing. Sheldon is great. But that damn dirty glove she has on all video long. Makes my skin crawl.

  6. Worked for and in the company of Daniel Boulud and Alice Waters. Yup. Chef Dominica probably knows a thing or two. Really enjoyed this episode…great commentary and excellent looking food. 👍

  7. Real Mexican food is the only cuisine named by the UNESCO as a Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Why do Americans are obsessed with ruin it?

  8. I'm literally drooling. That pork belly taco looked delicious and the yam and queso even more!!! Why do I watch this at 3am and die of hunger?! The chef seems so lovely! Congrats on her perseverance and outlook on her business/community!

  9. Oh gawd, now I'm hungry! I'm reminded of the time I had Chinese roast duck with cilantro, chili garlic sauce, all on a fresh homemade tortilla…HEAVEN!

  10. When I lived in Oakland I would go here basically every week to eat these tacos. Today, I searched for "pork belly taco recipes" because now that I don't live there, I wanted to make some pork belly tacos and pretend I was back Oakland at Cosecha. And what was the first result on youtube? I saw the title and I KNEW IT WAS THIS PLACE.

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