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Om curry with dill from LAcha Somtum in Thai Town.

I attended a highly educational and also highly entertaining Zocalo Public Square lecture about food fads on Monday, with journalist David Sax of The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue, and it got me thinking about foods that could easily become trendy. My fellow home-cook brother and I exchanged a few emails about it, and here’s my list.

My brother and I are both a little obsessed. Miso, MSG, and fish sauce have all had their moments in the food media spotlight as ways to add flavor, umami, and saltiness to food, so, we wondered, why not one of the most ubiquitous of Korean condiments? Among foodies, it’s not for lack of trying. Gochujang — also known as hot pepper paste or red chili paste or some combination thereof — is a thick, sticky paste of red chilis, sweet rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It’s been in (near constant) use in Korea for about 500 years, since trade routes opened up in the far east, and it is traditionally fermented in the sun. To me, it’s equal parts sweet, salty, and spicy, felt in that order. Some ascribe a fermented stink to it, but I don’t get it. It’s no kimchee. Read the rest of this entry »

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A recipe for sweetbreads in Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cookbook.

Tripe Alla Parmigiana ($10)
Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Avenue, 90038

Tripe has enjoyed quite the rags to riches story over the last fifty years, especially for a cut I’ve heard likened to a wet rag. When my grandmother took my mom to a taping of Julia Child in the late 1960s wherein she prepared tripe, my grandmother reportedly declined to try the dish because it was considered such a throwaway. Today, it can be found on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the country. Case in point: Osteria Mozza. Read the rest of this entry »

President and secretary of the Kona welcoming committee.

When we arrived yesterday, it seemed like a family’s cat had wandered onto the resort property. I pet her–she looked a little dirty and on the thin side, but feral cats don’t approach people and press their forehead against ankles and knuckles and purr. But it becomes apparent when we wake up and see the young orange tabby sitting outside our sliding glass door on our little first-floor balcony that perhaps this cat has nowhere else to be. We see a dumpster not far off, and near it, another cat. In all, there are three, who we’ll come to refer to as Nice Cat (ours), Not As Nice Cat (same orange and white stripes, but not as nice), and Mean Cat (a true black and orange tabby, who sometimes bullies Nice Cat). A well behaved stray, Nice Cat never tries to come inside our condo–she just wants us to come outside and pet her. She probably wants food, too, but we see that there’s a food dish near the dumpster. (Not to mention the dumpster.)

We establish our morning routines–mom with her prayers and walks, my sister with her runs, dad and me with our, sigh, work email. We all take turns sitting on the patio, listening to the birds, and probably watching the cats more than we’d like to admit. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the story of two recipes for Asian noodle dishes I loved in the past and wanted to recreate. One took months to develop the recipe for, and the other took 15 minutes. They’re both ridiculously good.

Thai peanut noodles

As a young Naval Academy graduate, my dad found himself stationed in Honolulu, and as a young dietician with a degree in home economics, my mom found herself experimenting with Asian cuisine when he was home from deployments. I don’t know if her recipe for Thai peanut noodles came from this time (the soft corners of the recipe card suggests it might be), but living in Hawaii definitely made my mom keen to Asian cuisine for the rest of her life. And thank God for that. Growing up, if I saw chicken defrosting in the kitchen sink in the morning, I would delight in learning it was for stir fry or yellow curry or — best of all — Thai peanut noodles. I used to beg my mom to abandon plans to cook anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

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