In this stressful, challenging time, I scroll social media for glimpses of good news: chefs donating food to hospital workers, folks grocery-shopping for elderly neighbors, and everyday people trying to help lighten the mood with cheery videos and haikus.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible recognition. I share it with the talented team whom I had the privilege to work with to make this book a reality: photographer Eva Kolenko, Clair Mack at Rule & Level Studio, Figure 1, and of course, all the chefs and restaurateurs who participated.
I salute you all with a virtual toast — as well as this easy, addictive recipe from the book to enjoy. After all, times like these when we limit trips to the grocery store, call for dishes that come together with few ingredients.
At times like this especially, it pays to have a well-stocked pantry loaded with spices, condiments, and dry goods from around the world.
My husband used to joke that our kitchen shelves runneth over with star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, cumin, pimenton, garam masala, za’atar, togarashi, and so much more.
Now, with a mandate to shelter in place during the coronavirus crisis, he is definitely grateful that I am such a culinary pack-rat.
Because that meant that after grabbing a bunch of fresh spring asparagus at the market just before the request came down to stay home as much as possible, I was able to easily make “Asparagus with Scrambled Egg Scattered Sushi.”
As the name implies, the recipes all require seven ingredients or fewer. Barber takes a little liberty with that because some recipes will require the making of sub-recipes to complete, which will add up to more than seven ingredients all together.
The book is by Emilie Holmes, an avowed non-coffee drinker in the United Kingdom, who started her own company, Good & Proper Tea, to source and sell top-notch whole-leaf teas. With crowd-funding resources, she first started an adorable mobile tea bar out of a converted 1974 Citroen in 2012 before opening a brick-and-mortar tea shop and cafe in 2019.
It’s the first one that spotlights a recipe that wasn’t tested by me — but instead by my husband.
Because “Pork Curry From the Box” has special meaning for him.
Like so many of us of ethnic heritages, he grew up doing his darndest to disavow his. Wanting to “fit in” and be more “American” as a kid, he turned his back on the traditional Japanese foods his mother would cook. For a spell, he simply wouldn’t eat much of it. Not surprisingly, he never learned to cook any of it, either.
But now, like so many of us, he has deep regrets about that. He misses the aromas and tastes of home-cooked Japanese food. He longs for certain dishes his Mom would make, especially now that she’s no longer alive to cook them. Older and wiser, he now appreciates them in a way that he couldn’t before.
I know people who subsist on food from delivery services day in and day out, and others who pilfer free food from tech campus cafes to take home even if they’re not supposed to.
Yes, we are all strapped for time these days. But not cooking at all is denying yourself one of the true pleasures in life to create something with your own two hands to enjoy with immediate joy and satisfaction.
Imagine being able to tell yourself proudly as you dig in, “Yeah, I made that!” rather than sheepishly admitting, “Uh, I pulled up an app for it.”
And honestly, a dish like “Chunky Black Pepper Honey Beef” can be put on the table faster than you can order and wait for take-out to be delivered.