Far from it for me to disparage this “Drunken Noodles with Chicken” recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.
But I think someone might have been hitting the sauce when writing this one.
America’s Test Kitchen, with its meticulous and detailed recipe testing, is typically the holy grail. But when I saw that this recipe that uses 8 ounces of noodles called for half a cup of brown sugar in the sauce, I was aghast. A tablespoon or two maybe. But half a cup?!?
Still, because I like to adhere to new recipes exactly the first time I make them, I followed suit. The result was what I feared — noodles as sweet as candy. Definitely not what you want. The noodles also were swimming in that sauce.
So, the next time, I cut the sauce amount in half, but kept the quantities the same for everything else. What I ended up with was far more delicious and balanced.
My childhood memories of Chinese soy sauce chicken revolve around my mom trekking to a deli in San Francisco Chinatown with me toddling by her side. There, she’d carefully point to a plump one hanging in the window, which would get chopped ferociously with a cleaver into manageable pieces, and wrapped up in a takeout box for our dinner that night.
At home, I’d help plug in the rice cooker for fresh steamed white rice, while my mom stir-fried some asparagus, bok choy or gai lan from the fridge. It was the makings for a quick, simple, and satisfying weeknight family meal.
Pineapple was not something she’d necessarily think to pair with it. But thankfully, food writer Cathy Erway, whose mother hails from pineapple-growing Taiwan, had that light-bulb moment. Because like Tom Cruise to Renee Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” pineapple completes soy sauce chicken.
The fresh juicy chunks add sweetness and tropical bright acidity, providing another level of flavor to the soy-caramelized chicken. After all, who among us doesn’t zero in on the pineapple pieces in a dish of sweet and sour pork, right? Best yet, Erway makes this complete dish in a sheet pan in the oven for utmost convenience.
“Mom’s Soy Sauce Chicken with Pineapple and Bok Choy” is from her new cookbook, “Sheet Pan Chicken: 50 Simple and Satisfying Ways to Cook Dinner” (Ten Speed Press). Erway, a Brooklyn-based James Beard Award-winning writer, has created 50 recipes for everyone’s favorite protein using the “it” method of laying it all on a sheet pan, sliding it into the oven, and forgetting about it until the timer goes off.
Nik Sharma is not a triple, but a quadruple threat. And we’re all the better for it.
Writer, photographer, recipe developer, and food scientist, he does it all. And those talents are on big display in his new cookbook, “The Flavor Equation” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.
Born in Bombay (Mumbai), Sharma studied molecular genetics at the University of Cincinnati, before getting a a full-time research job at Georgetown University’s Department of Medicine. His creative side soon took hold, though, as he started cooking his mother’s recipes, as well as developing his own, which he chronicled on his award-winning blog, A Brown Table.
That led to his first cookbook, “Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food” (Chronicle Books, 2018). His follow-up makes use of his science background even more, along with his always beautiful food photography.
Through more than 100 recipes, he teaches how certain techniques or ingredient additions can heighten brightness, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, savoriness, fieriness, and richness — the flavors that make food taste so good. Sharma also delves into how sight, sound, mouthfeel, aroma and taste all play into how we react to food.
It’s by Dzung Lewis, a financial analyst in the Bay Area who moved to Los Angeles and pursued her real passion of cooking. Born to Vietnamese immigrants, she started the popular YouTube channel “Honeysuckle.”
Lewis’ forte is taking familiar dishes and adding a fun spin, such as in “Matcha-Almond Breakfast Loaf,” “Miso Udon Carbonara” and “Ginger-Cardamom Lemon Bars.”
Kimchi is a staple in my fridge, so I was eager to add it to mac and cheese. It did not disappoint, adding a touch of acidity and a real depth in the way that Dijon mustard often does in this classic.