Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

420 A.O.C. Wine Bar al fresco amalfi coast american flavors andaluca andrew carmellini andrew friedman animal appetizer appetizers apple apples arancello armagnac asian asian fried chicken aubergine australian gourmet traveller authentic babyback ribs bananas banoffe barbecue beef blood orange bloody mary bone marrow braise Branzino bread breakfast brine brunch budino buttered pecans butterscotch cabbage rolls cacao caciocavello cafe juanita cake canape capers cheese chef chef mcdang chicken chile chiles chilled soup chilli chimchurri china chinese chinese food chinese sausage Chorizo citrus city grocery cocktails Coconut Cold Appetizer connie green cook italy cookbook cooking with italian grandmothers crab cranberry sauce croxetti curry curry leaves cypress grove danny bowien david thompson dean fearing deborah snyder demi dessert dolci dorie greenspan doughnut duck duck egg duck fat dumplings easter eggplant Emeril Emeril Lagasse. Shuksan Every Grain of Rice feenies foie gras fonduta fontina frangipane fried fried chicken fried rice Fritters frozen dessert fuchsia dunlop gingerboy giorgio locatelli gluten free gnocchi goat cheese Gorgonzola Dolce gourmet traveller Grand Marnier greek green bean casserole Guinea Hen ham hawker holly smith Indian indonesian italian italian sausage italy Japanese eel jessica theroux john currence jon shook katie caldesi korean korean fried chicken la tur lamb laurent tourondel lever house limoncello lucques lucy lean made in america made in italy Made in Sicily malaysian marissa guggiana marmalade mascarpone matt molina meatballs Mexican mint mission chinese food mole mondeghini morels mozza mustard festival nancy silverton nettle nettles new york times noodles oaxaca olympic provisions oregon hazelnuts osso buco pad thai Paul Bertolli pear Peking Duck pierre herme pig ears pistachio pistachios pizza pork pork belly prawn primal cuts prosciutto quail quick ragu rain shadow meats recipe red wine ribs Rick Bayless risotto Rob Feenie rosemary Russia rusty nail sable cookies sage saltimboca sambal sang yoon sarah scott saver scalloped potatoes seafood semolina shrimp sichuan sichuan peppercorns sicily Skillet soft shell crab souffléd apple pancakes soup southwestern spicy Star Chefs steak stephan pyles Strawberries street food suckling pig sugo summer Sun dried tomatoes suzanne goin sweet potato sweetbreads szechwan Tacos tart Tartine Teage Ezard tease ezard tex-mex thai thai food the wild table toffee tomatillo tomato tomatoes Tongue Tres Leches Cake Trifle turkey unagi veal vegetarian Vini e Vecchi Sapori vinny dotolo vol au vent wasabi wayne johnson weed whiskey wontons xi'an zombie jesus

Cookbook Club Review and Dry-Fried Chicken Wings Recipe from All Under Heaven

I love Cookbooktober – most of the cookbooks released in the year are released between September and November (with another lesser push every April), to fully ensure we are dirt poor by Christmas.  Thanks, publishers!  My cookbook hoarding collecting is a point of contention in our house; one I’ve worked around (mostly) by setting expectations that no Birthday or Christmas gifts are wanted other than the gift of David’s silence when those magical Amazon boxes start showing up on the front doorstep.  The past few years, this STFU Accord has worked and I can gleefully schedule, time sit on the floor with a drink, my dog, and stacks of books, and lose myself in cookbook heaven to determine what I need to make next. 

Occasionally a book comes along that is so amazing and so inspiring, we gather the troops and use it as fodder for a cookbook club.  Everyone makes a recipe or two and comes together to graze on a huge assortment of dishes.  My normal cookbook club meets every couple of months, and most of the books have been anywhere from good to great.  Naturally there are some exceptions (that’s the subject for another blog post), but we’ve had good luck overall.  Recently I invited a group of friends over to explore the book that in my opinion is THE cookbook of the year, Carolyn Phillips’ comprehensive tome on Chinese cookery, All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China.  I have a large cookbook library, and Chinese cookbooks, both from the US and around the world, are the second largest section in my collection -- second only to Italian.  None of my books come close to covering the breadth of Chinese cuisine explored in Carolyn’s book.  Not even close. This book blew us all away.  We made 10-12 dishes together, and Every. Single. Dish. Was amazing. Every one!  We always rate dishes between 1-10.  Nothing was less than a 9.  That never happens.

These recipes are accessible regardless of your level of cooking experience, but there are some advanced techniques as well.  I’m still trying to master the hand shaved noodles.  Thanks to Carolyn’s patient advice and suggestions in response to my questions, I’m getting there.  I've made them 5 or 6 times, and the last batch was great but not…quite…perfect.  I tried ordering a noodle shaving blade  from China, but it still didn't nail it like I wanted, so I just invested in a single-beveled Japanese knife (in this case a Shun Pro 6-1/2-Inch Usuba Knife) to help me thin out the cuts to get the perfect thickness.  I'll let you know how that progresses...

On the other hand, the easier recipes are impossible to screw up; the dry fried chicken wings are pure gold.  The Chinese version of agrodolce coating these light, crispy wings will make you pretty much want to forget the rest of the meal and just shovel them into your pie hole as quickly as possible.  The Dongan chicken, a Hunan favorite, was so good we wiped it out in about 2 minutes. 

You can find more of Carolyn's recipes on her blog here. I've followed this blog for years, have cooked my way through many of her posts, and was one of the recipe testers for this book, which did nothing but heighten my anticipation for it to be released. I’ve shared the Dry Fried Chicken Wings recipe I mentioned below.  You want this book. Trust me.  This is THE book of 2016, IMO. 

...I'm probably going to need to buy a second copy because I see this one being used...a LOT.

Spicy Cucumbers

Coiled Bread

Carolyn's Hand-Shaved Noodles, my Dan Dan accoutrements

Diced, Braised Pork over Rice

Dongan Chicken

Ginseng Steamed Chicken

Gānpēng jīchì 乾烹雞翅 _

Dry-Fried Chicken Wings

Sichuan • Serves about 4

Most fried chicken has a thick coating, but these wings, simply dusted with cornstarch, offer a nice, light crunch. When making the sauce, be sure to car­amelize the sugar properly: as soon as the vinegar has boiled down and large bubbles start to form, watch the sauce carefully and swirl it around so that it heats evenly. The sugar can burn easily, so this part of the process requires close attention. Once the sauce is done, it should be sticky and syrupy. 

Middle sections from 12 chicken wings (see Tips), or 6 whole chicken wings

¼ cup cornstarch

2 cups (or so) peanut or vegetable oil for frying

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

10 dried Thai chilies, or to taste, broken in half and seeds discarded, and/or smoked paprika

¾ cup pale rice vinegar

6 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon toasted Sichuan peppercorn salt, or to taste

2 teaspoons regular soy sauce 

1. Start this recipe at least 6 hours before you want to serve it. If you are using whole wings, cut off the tips and use them for stock, and then cut the wings between the first and second joints so that you have 12 pieces. Place the wing pieces in a work bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over them. Toss the wings in the bowl until each piece is thoroughly coated.  

2. Place a cake rack on a large plate or small baking sheet, then arrange the wings, not touching, on the pan. Refrigerate uncovered so the cool air slightly dries out the wings. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day. 

3. Pour the oil into a wok and heat over high heat until a wooden chopstick inserted in the oil is imme­diately covered with bubbles. Hold a spatter screen in one hand while using the other hand to carefully add half of the wing pieces to the hot oil. Cover with the screen to reduce the possibility of burns and mess. As soon as the wings are golden on one side, turn them over, adjusting the heat as necessary. Remove the wings to a large work bowl once they are nicely browned and cooked through (see Tips). Repeat with the other half of the wings.  

4. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the wok (or put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan), place it over medium-high heat, and add the garlic, ginger, onions, and chilies. (Smoked paprika can be used instead of, or in addition to, the chilies.) Toss them in the hot oil to release their fragrance, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to high and quickly boil down the sauce. Just before it turns syrupy and starts to caramelize, taste and adjust the seasoning. Once it is the consistency of maple syrup, remove from the heat. Toss the wings in the sauce to coat them com­pletely. Arrange the wings on a serving platter and eat while hot.  

My preference here is for the middle section of the wings, which offers a nice ratio of crispy skin to juicy chicken.  

Chicken wings will generally take 10 to 15 minutes to cook through. The wings will be done when they are a lovely golden brown all over. Blood will seep out of the core if they are not completely cooked, so check them in the work bowl before you toss them with the sauce.  

Thank you Mission Street Food for this dandy way to coat wings.


Cookbook Club Adventure - Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey


Ok, cookbook hoarders—listen up. I know how you sneak those cookbooks into the house without your spouse knowing. I know all the tricks you play at the grocery store to add cash to your pockets to go and buy that new release, hoping you don’t get busted when you tiptoe into the house with it.

Oh, how I know.

Ok, maybe I project a little. But I think you can relate.

How do you take your passion for cookbooks and find a way to explore your latest hardbound obsession in a way that brings people together while simultaneously justifying your purchase? COOKBOOK CLUB!

Cookbook clubs are a blast. You get a group of like-minded friends, an (ideally) inspiring book, an urge to try something new, and the ability to follow a recipe. You add some cocktails, a space that can support multiple people cooking at once, and some ravenous appetites and you have the formula for a very fun afternoon. Sometimes you have a book that is a total bust – but who cares? It’s still a learning experience. (Fortunately we’ve only had two in the different Cookbook Club iterations where I’ve participated. The first was Fat, by Jennifer McLagan. It was a train wreck. We tried at least 20 recipes from the book…all were duds. Consensus was that these books were going to be PERFECT fire starters after the zombie apocalypse. The second was Cooking With Coolio, but we chose that book tongue-in-cheek so the heinous results were funny. His approach is to pretty much add balsamic vinegar to ALL. THE. RECIPES.  All of them).

Cookbook clubs aren’t always as easy as they may seem—You just need to know your participants and set up a structure everyone can enjoy. The first time I was invited to join a cookbook club, I was inspired by the idea of it. Unfortunately it felt less about cooking and more about the organizer wanting to pontificate about the chefs she’d met and the impact she felt she had made on their lives.


Food never tastes as good when it’s liberally sprinkled with narcissism.

Later, when I decided to start my own group we invited a bunch of friends from our local food community. We had many successful gatherings, made and maintained great new friendships, and cooked from some amazing books. Unfortunately, it got large and unwieldy, became hard to schedule, people couldn't always play nicely in the sandbox together, etc. It went from fun to being work so it fizzled out and died a natural death. I really missed the interaction and camaraderie of it, and loved the excuse to cook through the new books that magically show up on my doorstep (Thanks to the gods of Amazon), so recently we decided to give it another go. This time, we kept it small. It’s a group of 5 or 6 couples, all of whom love food, cookbooks and cooking. They also all get along well and are willing to take turns hosting, so it’s pretty effortless. We debuted this time with a book I’ve been obsessed with, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some by John Currence. 

THIS BOOK IS SPECTACULAR!!! We cooked the hell out of this book.  The recipes we shared included: 

Homemade polish sausage with homemade spicy mustard.

Lemon-pickled honeycrisp apples

Spicy Hill Country Meat Pies, Pickled Watermelon rind

Pickled Peaches (not pictured)

Pickled Peach Relish (not pictured)

Chicken Fried Duck with Caramelized Onion Gravy

Pimento Cheese Fritters (I know, RIGHT?)

Smoked Carrots

Grillade and Grits Casserole

Steen’s Syrup-Braised Pork Belly

Bourbon Milk Punch, from our lovely bar wench Sonja

Smoked Sazaracs

Banana-Walnut Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Szechuan Pepper-Blueberry Cobbler with Five Spice Crema

Bourbon Ice Cream with Pralines

My contribution was an off-book cocktail called a Bermuda 100 (Think Negroni meets Mai Tai), the Pimento Cheese Fritters and the Chicken Fried Duck.

        I've shared the duck recipe below with the Chef’s permission.  Speaking of the chef, how cool is this….not only does he put out a book with kick ass recipes and suggested music to go with each dish, but he is also very responsive in email and was kind enough to provide me with recommendations for restaurants and bars for our upcoming road trip through part of the South. Obviously, we are making a trip to Oxford, MS just to have dinner at his restaurant, City Grocery. I can’t wait to try these dishes from the master himself!

With regard to the recipe below, my only change was to chop the cracklings and scatter them over the top of the finished dish for serving. This recipe is pure perfection.  Also, props to David. He baked and he knocked it out of the park! WHO KNEW?!?!?

David and Shannon, serving up dessert deliciousness.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think once you give this a test drive. AND BUY THIS BOOK!

Chicken-Fried Duck with Caramelized Onion Gravy

From Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey by John Currence

Serves 4

Recommended Musical Accompaniment: “If You Want Me to Stay” – Sly and the Family Stone


4 whole duck breasts, skin removed and reserved (about 5 oz each)

1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced from root to tip

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups seasoned flour (recipe below)

6 cups egg wash (recipe below)

4 cups panko bread crumbs

6 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons lard

¼ cup all purpose flour

½ cup dark chicken stock (recipe below)

¾ cup whole milk


  1. Slice the reserved duck skin into thin strips and pat dry with a paper towel. In a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, cook the strips of duck skin until golden brown and crispy, stirring constantly. Remove the duck cracklings from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off the duck fat into a glass measuring cup; return 3 tablespoons of the fat to the sauté pan.
  2. Add the onion, sugar, salt and thyme to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the onion turns transparent and wilts, 5 to 7 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion has caramelized and turned a light brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Cut an incision horizontally into the thickest part of each duck breast, so that when opened up like a book, it will lay flat on the table and have a uniform thickness. Place the breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat-tenderizing hammer, gently pound the breasts to ¼ inch thick. Peel the plastic back and lightly season both sides of each pounded breast with salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge the duck breasts in the seasoned flour, knocking off any excess. Dip them in the egg wash and then roll in the bread crumbs. Place the prepared duck breasts on a plate.
  5. In the cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon ore of the reserved duck fat, 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil, and 1 tablespoon of the lard over medium heat until you see very light wisps of smoke begin to rise from the pan. Put two of the prepared breasts into the hot oil and brown for about 1 ½ minutes. Flip and brown on the second side for 1 minute or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add another 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon lard to the skillet and heat. Cook the remaining two breasts and transfer to the plate to drain. Hold the cooked breasts warm in a very low oven.
  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and 2 more tablespoons of the reserved duck fat ot the skillet. Whisk in the all-purpose flour until smooth. Continue to whisk for 2 more minutes, just until the flour begins to take on a “nutty” aroma and a very light brown color. Whisk in the stock and milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in ½ cup of the caramelized onions and season the gravy with salt and black pepper to taste. Spoon the gravy over the fried duck, or serve on the side from a gravy boat, if you prefer.

Seasoned Flour


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoons cayenne


Makes 3 cups


  1. Toss the flour, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne in a stainless-steel bowl and combine well. Store in an airtight container until needed.

Egg Wash


3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 dashes of Tabasco hot sauce

Makes 3 cups 


  1. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and Tabasco together well. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Dark Chicken Stock


4 pounds chicken bones

2 ½ cups roughly chopped yellow onions

2 cups peeled and roughly chopped carrots

2 cups roughly chopped celery

1 ½ cups roughly chopped fennel stalks (optional)

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups dry white wine

5 fresh bay laurel leaves (or 3 dried)

10 sprigs fresh thyme

12 to 15 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Makes about 6 quarts


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the bones, onions, carrots, celery, fennel, and garlic in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops begin to brown. Stir well to expose the unbrowned parts, continue to roast and stir until the bones and vegetables have lightly browned all over.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and place the contents in a stockpot. Place the roasting pan over low heat and add the white wine. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping and loosening all of the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the stockpot and place the pot on the stovetop over high heat. Add cold water to cover the bones and bring to a boil.
  3. In the meantime, wrap the bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth (or a coffee filter), tie with a length of butcher’s string, and add the sachet to the stockpot.
  4. As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat so the liquid just barely simmers. Cook for about 3 hours. Remove the pot form the heat and strain the liquid into a smaller pot. Discard the solids. Return the stock to the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat, and slide the pot just off center of the heat source; the simmer will push the fat floating on the top ore to one side of the pot. Using a ladle or large spoon, skim off as much of the fat and scum as you can and discard. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until any residual fat congeals on top of the stock. Remove this hardened fat with a spoon and discard. Use the stock within 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.




Beefsteak Tomato, Mortadella, & Wisconsin Emmenthaler Tart

This weekend we had my husband David's dad and sister in town for a much overdue visit. We usually go to eastern Washington to hang out with them over the holidays, but it has been many years since we've been able to host them at our place. The weekend was a whirlwind of playing tour guide, going out for meals with friends, and spending time together at our new place. It was a perfect weekend.

Saturday was an ideal night for a dinner party--we invited some old and new friends to join us and I cooked up a storm: We started with marinated, prosciutto-wrapped and seared shrimp, and moved on to pasta with grilled broccolini and anchovy, braised short ribs in a chile-chipotle broth, fiery elotes, and a peach salad with burrata, mint pesto, prosciutto and pistachios.  For dessert a friend brought pies, because Baketard.

My favorite dish was this tomato tart from the Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel and Charlotte March cookbook. I have cooked 5 or 6 recipes from this book and they have ALL rocked.

The only change I made to the original recipe below was to add a couple of sliced, caramelized onions between the Mortadella and cheese layers. I also used heirloom tomatoes instead of the beefsteak because they are BEAUTIFUL right now.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Beefsteak Tomato, Mortadella, & Wisconsin Emmenthaler Tart

Wisconsin Emmenthaler is similar but worlds better than regular old grocery store Swiss cheese. True Emmenthaler cheese is generally richer because it is made with unpasteurized milk. It’s great in this tart with its slightly piquant and somewhat sharp taste.


1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry, preferably Dufour brand, thawed
2 tablespoons Raye’s whole grain mustard
12 slices Wisconsin Emmenthaler cheese, 1/8 inch thick
6 slices mortadella, 1/4 inch thick
3 large vine-ripened or beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a cool, lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 1/4-inch thickness.

Trim the pastry into a 12-inch round and place it on the prepared baking sheet.

Using a fork, prick the pastry in several places.

Brush the pastry with the mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Lay 6 slices of cheese over the mustard, then top with the mortadella.

Lay the remaining 6 slices of cheese over the mortadella. Arrange, the tomatoes atop the tart, slightly overlapping to form a circular pattern, then scatter the garlic over the tomatoes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown, the cheese is hot and bubbling, and the tomatoes are slightly caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Drizzle the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and serve immediately.

Wine Pairing

Serve this dish with an Alsatian white-inspired blend that offers aromas of nectarines, flowers, and spice, such as Robert Sinskey, “Abraxas,” 2007, Napa Valley, California.


Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry

I looooooove Indian food. If you’ve ever read this blog, you *may* have also gathered that I loooooooove cookbooks. Finding a good Indian cookbook is always a special thrill.

Finding one where I can make the dishes in less than an hour is amazing. Especially if the recipes are mind-numbingly delicious. 

You’re welcome in advance, because Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya is that book.

I initially made a few dishes from this book at home when I received a review copy back in the fall. We were both excited by the depth of flavor and complex combinations of ingredients in the things I made. I tried taking pictures of the completed dishes so I could put them in the blog, but it was December. Between the light and my lack of photography skills, the results looked like something you peel off your car tires after a road trip.  I meant to try again right away, but life happened: We bought a new house, packed up the old one, moved, went on an amazing vacation to Europe with our BFFs, and I started a new job.  Pretty much all of the major life events a couple goes through other than a divorce or death (so he’d better watch himself…I’m just sayin’).

This week I went back to Spices and Seasons and made my favorite dish for lunch on Sunday. I bought some halibut and threw together Rinku’s Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry. It incorporates some of my favorite things about indian cuisine:  Curry Leaves, Black mustard seeds, caramelized onions, tamarind and a lot of chiles. From start to finish, it took about a half hour. Of that, the active prep time was about 10 minutes. Just as I finished taking a couple of photos of the finished dish, David came downstairs with a fake pouty face and whiny voice to ask, “Is there anything to eat”?  Why yes…yes there is….Who’s the best husband EVER!?!?! 

You’re going to love this dish if you like Indian food. If the spices are too intense for you, you can either reduce the chiles or MAN UP!!! 

It’s delicious.

The flavors are very well harmonized.

And you shouldn’t be such a wuss.

Some notes on modifications…I needed to add more than the half cup of water at the beginning of the simmer both times I made this dish. I used more like a cup. Also, I used halibut for the fish because I just find it to be the perfect texture for curries.

Let me know if you give this one a try, and also check Rinku’s other recipes. I’ve linked her book below and you can also find some on her blog at: http://www.spicechronicles.com.

Coastal Coconut and Tamarind Fish Curry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves 6


2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

10 to 15 curry leaves

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced, fresh ginger

1 ½ tablespoons cumin-coriander powder (toast equal parts cumin seeds and whole coriander seeds in a pan until toasty and fragrant—about a minute—and then blitz in a coffee grinder)

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder

1 tsp red cayenne pepper powder

2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (not concentrate)

½ cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 ½ pounds white fish fillets (such as tilapia, perch, or halibut), cut into 2 or 3 pieces each

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves and onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the ginger, cumin-coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, and cayenne pepper powder and stir well for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the tamarind paste and ½ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15 minutes ,until the flavors have mixed and the mixture is thick and a deep shade of red.

Stir in the coconut cream, salt, and another ½ cup water and bring to a simmer.

Add the fish and simmer for about 10 minutes until cooked through.

Stir in the cilantro and serve with hot steamed rice.

On a 1-5 Scale:

Content: 4

Photography: 3.5

Ease of Understanding / Use: 4

Overall: 4


Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles (Chen Shifu Hong You Su Mian)

I’m trying again to get my act together and share some recipes. After a couple months of chaos (we sold our house and bought a new one, moved, took three weeks of vacation, and have been back in the new house for two weeks today) we’re finally starting to get unpacked, settle in and get back to a more normal routine. As normal as it can be in our lives.

As I’ve unpacked infinite boxes of kitchenware, struggled to find everything I’m looking for, and coordinated the events moving has involved I’ve had little time for real cooking. While I’m not typically the “Dinner in 30 minutes or less” guy on the weekends, during the week it’s imperative. To be honest, we eat out far too much when we’re together because by the time we get home we’re fried and don’t feel like hassling with anything. On the nights David works, I’m ALL about simple. Like my single days, I don’t want to mess with cooking for one so my go-tos tend to be making a vat of chili, tacos, puttanesca, burritos, or a bigassed salad. Occasionally I’ll throw together some type of Asian noodle dish if I feel like I can justify the lack of nutritionally redeeming gorging I know I’ll do in a slithery, fatty plate of carbs. Last night was one of those nights.

I doubt I need to tell anyone who knows me what a Fuchsia Dunlop fan I am. I’ve posted some of her recipes in the past, and her books are the reason I went to the Sichuan Culinary Institute a few years back. I stumbled across her Spicy Sesame Noodles recipe when I was looking through Every Grain of Rice recently, and knew I had to make it. Start to finish, it took 10 minutes.

The only adaptations I made were based upon all the noodles I’ve inhaled in various trips to china, and the barrage of questions I asked the chefs and noodle shop owners during my culinary trip. You don’t need to modify this—it’s all to taste. I just added what I like, including a sprinkling of msg, about ½ tsp of sugar, 3 Tbsp chopped ya cai (Chinese pickled vegetables), the amount of garlic called for in the recipe--doubled, and I used both ground Sichuan pepper and a tiny drizzle of the oil.

 Enjoy this. If you have the ingredients on hand, it’s effortless.

Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles (Chen Shifu Hong You Su Mian)

From: Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop

"This is a recipe taught by chef Chen Dailu of the wonderful Chengdu snack restaurant Long Chao Shou," she says. "I was interviewing him for a feature for Saveur magazine and I asked him to tell me about his favorite food. To my surprise, he came up with this scrumptious but blindingly simple vegetarian recipe."

Makes: 2 servings


2 teaspoons sesame paste

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

½ teaspoon dark soy sauce

½ teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Good pinch of ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, or a dash of Sichuan pepper oil

1 ½ tablespoons chilli oil with sediment

7 ounces (200g) Chinese wheat or buckwheat noodles

Handful of pea shoots, green bok choy or choy sum leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion greens


1. Combine all the ingredients - except for the noodles, greens, if using, and spring onions -- in a serving bowl and mix well.

2. Cook the noodles. If you are using the greens, toss them into the cooking water for the last minute to blanch them. Drain the noodles and greens and add to the serving bowl. Scatter with spring onions, mix well, and serve.