I’ll start with an apology, because you’ve been cheated out of your weekly Tanya-mail. Instead you’re stuck with me, Becky, a known vegetable eater and one of the twisted minds behind @nytcooking’s social accounts. Consider doing me a solid and peeking at our Instagram, TikTok and YouTube channels?
I’d like to dedicate this platform to the light of my life: my rice cooker. Years were spent coveting my parents’ Zojirushi (the little song it sings when the rice is ready? That’s my national anthem) until finally I bought my own. It’s nothing fancy, but even the cheapo 4-cup version has improved my quality of life at least twentyfold. Because, to quote my colleague Nikita Richardson, the motto is: “Money over everything, rice under everything else.” A pot of perfectly-cooked rice opens up days of mealtime possibilities.
Yaki onigiri with pickled shiitakes is a perfect use of starchy sushi rice. The recipe, adapted by Alexa Weibel, comes from Tim Anderson’s book, “Vegan JapanEasy: Classic and Modern Vegan Japanese Recipes to Cook at Home,” and it’s a terrific guide to making rice balls of any sort. Anderson’s tangy, pickled mushroom filling is a treat, but store-bought kimchi, cooked greens, or any other leftovers you’ve got kicking around in the fridge will make terrific substitutes. Even with no filling at all, a crispy, miso-glazed, caramelized rice ball is a worthwhile endeavor.
Speaking of miso: Sam Sifton’s no-recipe recipe for miso-glazed eggplant with a bowl of rice is worthy of a spot in the weeknight rotation. Hot, freshly cooked rice straight out of the cooker makes a cozy bed for tender, creamy eggplant with crunchy, broiled edges. Throw a mess of scallions on top (or, for bonus points, a proper pa muchim) and you have my dream meal.
When leftover rice is on its last legs (and you’ve already made your fill of fried rice), it can be a shortcut to stew-y recipes like Melissa Clark’s Parmesan cabbage soup. Add the rice a little later than you would uncooked rice, and it’ll have the same starchy, thickening effect, creating a comforting soup reinforced with Parmesan rinds (which, by the way, you can also microwave into a crunchy snack. Never stop learning!).
One More Thing!
Marian Burros’s famous plum torte recipe has entered its 40s. It’s our the most-requested recipe ever, with a delightful back story that will make you feel charmed by humankind. It really is a perfect, no-notes recipe. Everyone say, “Happy birthday, Plum Torte!”
Thanks for having me — it’s been an honor to cosplay, albeit unconvincingly, as Tanya. You can find me on Instagram, where I’d love to see some photos of your pets in my DMs. Bisous!