Hello! This is Priya, filling in for Sam Sifton. Anyone know where that guy is?! (Just kidding, he’s on vacation.)
My friend and fellow eating enthusiast Chris Ying once told me that an ingredient you don’t love is just a language you haven’t learned yet. I think about this sentiment often, especially as someone whose job it is to eat and cook. But even food writers have their aversions, and for a long time, mine was eggs. I never understood the appeal of a runny yolk. An egg salad sandwich. Caesar salad dressing. Soft scrambled eggs, even!
So, last year, I set about learning the language of eggs. I bought carton after carton, and cooked them in all manners: poached, fried, soft boiled, simmered in shakshuka and stirred into soup. I think I’m finally getting it. I’ve come to enjoy a soft-boiled (but not too runny) egg atop my noodles. I fry my eggs in chile crisp, as the cookbook author James Park taught me. And thanks to Yewande Komolafe, I’ve finally found the egg-based party snack I could eat by the tray full: kosua ne meko (above), a Ghanaian street food of hard-boiled eggs that have been split and stuffed with a punchy, gingery tomato-onion relish.
Speaking of parties, last week was my birthday. I don’t usually like to do much to mark the occasion, but I was in Los Angeles and feeling extra so I made plans for a big, family-style dinner at a fun restaurant with all my California friends. And then I caught a truly horrible stomach bug and spent most of the day in bed. I rallied in the evening, and while I couldn’t stomach most of the fantastic spread, one of the side dishes brought me back to life: a restorative bowl of chicken soup, swimming with noodles for slurping. This easy sesame-ginger chicken noodle soup by Sue Li reminds me of that. Even when it’s 90 degrees outside, there’s nothing like chicken soup to heal you. There’s a reason they named a beloved book franchise after the dish!
I got to thinking about those meals that bring me back to life, like this tofu and bok choy with ginger-tahini sauce by Kay Chun. You gently steam bok choy and tofu in a pan, and then drizzle it with a simple soy and tahini sauce (when in doubt, soy sauce and sesame will always come to the rescue). Another healer in food form: dal. My body is, after all, 70 percent dal. And tomato Cheddar toasts sprinkled with chaat masala.
Today’s the first day I’m finally feeling like myself, and I’m eyeing the frozen rice cakes I bought at Little Banchan Shop while on a jog through Queens a while ago. Rice cakes are so versatile: plop them into soup, stir-fry them with vegetables, skewer and grill them. I might make Eric Kim’s cheesy cabbage tteokbokki, his take on the royal court dish, gungjung tteokbokki — a hearty meal that I imagine would make for excellent leftovers, too.
What stunk the most about being sick on my birthday is that I didn’t get to fully enjoy either of my birthday desserts: a pandan pie and a strawberry Pavlova. I plan to make up for that, perhaps starting with Samantha Seneviratne’s blueberry pie bars? I was basically sold when I saw that they start with two packages of shortbread cookies and don’t require you to roll out pie dough. My love language is desserts that look fancy but take little effort to make.
See you back here in a few days!