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Read (part of) The Food Lab

Read The Food Lab

Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)—and use a foolproof method that works every time?

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new—but simple—techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.

This is a tome so I only made it through the first 200ish pages in the three weeks I had it from the library: the breakfast chapter and the tools / supplies sections. There were a few more chapters I wanted to read but much of the book is about meat so I don’t need that info. And lbh, right now I’m basically just cooking breakfast anyway so good thing for me to read.

I failed at his poached and soft-boiled eggs but his fried egg technique and biscuit recipe were both great if annoyingly a little more hassle. He includes sour cream in his biscuits…and laminates the dough. Tender and flaky, not overworked at all.

His kitchen recommendations I want to get, assuming I decide I want to start cooking again:

  • 12-15″ carbon steel flat bottomed wok (look for 4-5″ flat area)
  • 2.5-3 quart saucier
  • 7″ Wusthof hollow ground santoku (his rec for small hands) or MAC Superior 6 1/2″ santoku (budget)
  • 1000-1200 grit water stone and fixer
  • rice cooker
  • stainless steel prep bowls
  • spider
  • fridge thermometer (keep coldest part of fridge at minimum 34, keep whole fridge below 39)

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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