San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon may contain over a hundred years of history within its walls, but the dishes its chef cranks out are anything but ancient.
With items like lo mein cacio e pepe and unicorn tuna tartare on the menu, chef de cuisine Jason Raffin has proven already he’s willing to push the boundaries of what’s possible with food. His latest dish, a take on sweet and sour chicken, does just that, fusing together a wide diversity of ingredients that unite in an orchestra of flavor.
The sweet and sour fried chicken uses half a pound of cubed chicken meat, but also features Columbus Craft Meats Italian Dry Salame, epazote (also known as Vietnamese sawtooth), jalapenos, and fermented pineapples. All of those are dredged in a 15-spice corn starch and rice flour blend, deep fried, and tossed with a house sweet and sour sauce. For garnish, Raffin adds more cubes of the salame, fried shallots, toasted white sesame seeds, and micro red shiso.
Since Comstock Saloon is located on Columbus Avenue, at the intersection of SF’s Little Italy and Chinatown, it makes sense that Raffin would draw from both food worlds in this dish. It’s also a quick shout-out to the salame itself, which started in SF just over 100 years ago on the same street.
The Columbus salame, which is locally made, does for the dish what Chinese dried sausage might do, but with an Italian twist. Its fermented, salty flavors intermingle with all of the other aromas and tastes each individual ingredient combines for an experience that’ll take your tastebuds on a wild adventure.