You know what? I predict that salty, pungent, Chinese fermented black beans will not only sound less creepy but become more widely embraced by American cooks in the near future. Why? Well, we’ve familiarized ourselves with soy sauce pretty well, dabbled with miso paste aplenty, and foraged into Asian grocery shelves for sauces like Korean gochujang and Sichuan doubanjiang (chili bean sauce). All are made from fermented beans. It seems a good time to take a look at them up … Read More
Maybe I’m just not understanding something. But when a vegetable is so naturally sweet as to have “sweet” in its name, why smother them with marshmallows and syrupy goo? It’s like sprinkling salt on your prosciutto or lox. I know it’s tradition, but “candied yams” can go with dessert then. For the main meal, why not roast some sunny-orange slices with savory herbs and a hint of spice?
I never regret buying lots of carrots. They’re great for snacking, for roasting as an elegant side dish, and they’re entirely soup-worthy as well. Bonus points for staying crisp quite a while in the fridge. But as much as carrots play a quintessential role in a mirepoix, the basis for so many soups, I’ve never seen them quite fit to play the starring role in one. Carrot ginger? Just not quite enticing enough, sorry. But if we’re going with a … Read More
One great misconception about Asian food is that there isn’t much use of tomatoes. In everyday Chinese cooking, for example, there are tomatoes: in scrambled eggs (which is exactly the way it sounds), in eggdrop soup (as soft, vibrant wedges), and as a base for sauces (like a stir-fry of shrimp). Well, I can think of one space where tomatoes don’t factor in too much in Asian food: noodles. And that happens to be where we encounter tomatoes in Western, … Read More
Being burglarized is not fun. You come home, find out someone’s snuck in through your window, pushing around your tomato plants on the fire escape to steal your stuff inside. I lost my Macbook Pro, and a camera. No, not fun. But what they didn’t steal were my plants, my food, my goshdarn enthusiasm for all that, and a crusty laptop tucked in the closet, going seven years strong.
I’m not sure why tomatillos aren’t as popular as tomatoes around the world. They’re as easy to grow as tomatoes, and they’re even covered with a natural, papery husk to protect from bruising or the need to even rinse dirt off. Yet tomatillos don’t appear to be as well integrated into cuisines outside of Latin America, which is too bad, because I love their intense tanginess, and thick, jammy consistency when cooked. So I’m using them as a base for … Read More
Some like it smoky. If you’ve been cooking out a great deal this summer, perhaps you’ve grown fond of the lingering woodsmoke scent in your hair and clothes (designer fragrance idea: “Campfire”) and that bitter, mineral edge on slightly burnt food. You can embrace this essence when cooking indoors as well; I especially like it on eggplant, and to reinforce that smokiness, with a hint of chipotle, too.
Serving punch in watermelon bowls, clam chowder in bread loaf bowls, grilled beef in lettuce cups — who doesn’t love edible vessels? They can elevate humble-looking dishes to eye-catching hors d’oeuvres, but they’re not always the most practical, no-fuss solutions. Here, it just made sense: I was making a chunky, whole grain salad, and instead of chopping tomatoes to toss in it, I stuffed the ripe fruits to the brim.
When pickling, you either ferment the food itself, or add something fermented to it–often vinegar. Both methods not only preserve the vegetables throughout a long winter, but add layers of flavor, piquant, pucker-worthy ones at that. For a refreshing experiment this summer, I eschewed my common brines and procedures for a pack of white miso, that fermented soybean paste, for a sweet and really simple traditional Japanese pickle, misozuke.