Yet, a dearth of celebrity endorsements might not be tofu's sole setback. The whitish block, usually a pound in weight and marked ready to eat, is inscrutable at first approach. Bland and sometimes jiggly, it can present as a medium striving to become matter, or matter yearning, Buddha-like, to find perfection in freedom from flavor. But that's not fair. Tofu, like life, is what you make of it. Marinated, it absorbs; fried, it crisps; enrobed it in a righteous sauce, it high steps like a chorus dancer.
In today's recipe we arranged a playdate of tofu, green beans, garlic, and sesame seeds, with an à la minute teriyaki sauce playing the dance music. I hope you'll give it a try and let it serve as inspiration for further experiments with an underused ingredient that's also a powerhouse of cheap, sustainable protein.
As recipes go, it doesn't get much easier. Ground turkey, minced onion, bread crumps, salt, pepper, a squirt of ketchup and heat. The trick, if there is one, is temperature regulation. It's important to start with a smoking hot pan, so the burger sears shut from the start. If the pan isn't hot enough, the meat will turn out grey in color and taste, and never develop that beloved layer of crisp caramelization. Once the initial sear is done, the heat needs to be dialed back a touch, so the turkey has time to cook thoroughly without burning. The trick is keeping the pan hot enough to prevent the burger from sweating out, but not so hot that the oil in the pan and the burger smoke and burn. But it's not brain surgery. Eight to ten minutes of semi-focussed attention is all it takes. Give it a try, and let us know what you think.
Lemongrass, a tropical herb used extensively in southeast Asian cuisine, has a powerful aroma of citrus fruit, but with little of its acidity, and unlike lemon, it keeps much more of its brightness after cooking. In this recipe, the lemongrass infuses the chicken via a long marinade, while adding crunch in the final cooking. You'll be hard pressed to find a recipe that delivers more flavor and easy novelty in the 20 minutes it takes to whip this up.
If you typically eat squid as fried calamari, you may be surprised by how much flavor these critters attain when cooked quickly over high heat and coated in a vinegar reduction. We love deep fried calamari rings but squid have a whole other side to their flavor personality, and it's worth exploring. One other bonus with this recipe: you'll have plenty of left over chimichurri sauce for any grilled or roasted meats you might be having later in the week.
The result is magical, a concentrated flavor potion in which individual ingredients announce themselves clearly yet combine into a whole that's both more and distinct from the sum of the parts. We love, love, love this dish.
One word of caution. The sauce is on the salty side. So don't add any salt to the accompanying rice. The sodium level will be just right when you ladle the adobo sauce on top.
Sometimes known as taquitos here in the States, flautas – literally "flutes" – are a staple Mexican snack food that can be filled with just about anything. Traditionally, flautas are made with corn tortillas and filled with cooked chopped meats like beef, pork, or chicken. You can also use flour tortillas and stuff them with refried beans, cheese, or avocado.
Flautas are perfect for entertaining a crowd while watching the big game on TV, but they're also a fantastic way to make use of leftovers. We stuffed ours with last night's chopped carnitas, some refried beans, and a filling of ricotta with chopped cilantro.
A big game deserves big flavor, and boy, do these wings have it. Smoky, spicy, vinegary, and slightly sweet, they pack more excitement and intensity than many a Super Bowl. The key ingredient, as the title suggests, is chipotle chile, specifically the canned kind that comes enrobed in adobo sauce. It's intensely flavorful and quite spicy, but also nicely rounded once combined with other ingredients. If you've never cooked with it, let this be the opportunity.
Chipotle in adobo is available in most groceries (usually under the La Morena brand), and you probably already have the other ingredients you need, apart from the wings. I can almost guarantee these little suckers will be the best chicken wings you've ever tasted, at home or anywhere else.
But that doesn't mean it can't have its silver linings. In my family, we made a pact: to treat each other more kindly, to be more patient, to make our time together count, and to find ways to grow. In that spirit, my wife Nicole and I have started cooking together, which is harder than it sounds given how tyrannical I can be in the kitchen.
This bold, brightly flavored cod recipe is where we started. It was happy-dance delicious and for a moment transported us to a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. We returned to our home, and the third week of lockdown, to do the dishes.
By the way, if you happen to live in Brooklyn, you should try our new favorite fish supplier, Pierless Fish. They use to distribute exclusive to high-end restaurants, but they're now delivering directly to people's doors. Some of the freshest, most delicious fish we've ever had. Be kind, be safe, and enjoy the small things.
The dish deserves better. We make ours with fresh ingredients and we thicken the sauce with tangy-sweet tomato paste instead of flour. The resulting sauce is a little thinner than traditional gravy but tangier and more dimensional, yet just as happy draped over mashed potatoes or sopped up by crusty bread. Yum. If there's a straighter, quicker path to flavor and comfort, I'd sure like to find it.
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