Monthly Archives: November 2020

Eat A Peach


David Chang’s memoir about his journey leading to Momofuku Noodle in New York City in 2004 is a seemingly honest reflection about his struggle with personal demons, which are legion. To name a few, David had a rocky relationship with his parents, but mostly with his father, and that left him feeling worthless as a child and teenager. Add to that a lackluster academic career, and the feeling of being an outsider at his Virginia high school because he didn’t look like his mostly white classmates, despite being born and raised there. And if that’s not enoough to make the road to adulthood difficult, throw in depression, addictive behavior and rage. Although David had been a golf prodigy as a child he lost the magic in his teen years and struggled to find his identity.

THE BEAUTY: David’s relationship history revealed a man so devoted to his profession that almost all of his romantic relationships were short-lived. His belief going in was that the outcome was not going to be positive, so he really never learned the skills of developing a close bond with a woman. Until he met Grace, lending credibility to the old chestnut that when you meet the right one, your whole world changes. David and Grace eloped in 2017 and became parents to baby Hugo in November of 2018. Being a father was transformative in Chang’s life. When Grace found out she was pregnant, the couple FaceTimed their parents to share the news. “…Between the tears and sobbing wails, I realized I was witnessing a form of joy I’d never seen before. I wept, too. This was the pure, uncut version of the feeling I got from cooking for people. And yet it had nothing to do with restaurants. If anything Momofuku had made it harder for me to encounter it.” There are no miracle cures, but fatherhood

THE FOOD: When people began lining up at Momofuku, waiting for a table to open up, David was surprised that so many had warmed to the type of cooking they were doing there. He was shocked when others began copying his recipes. When he wrote the Momofuku cookbook, he put in an ingredient that doesn’t exist, “red dragon sauce,” when in fact what he used in his roasted rice cakes with onions and sesame seeds was basically gochugang, a spicy paste made of red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, rice and salt. He continued to get a laugh when red dragon sauce showed up on restaurant menus.

Roasted Rice Cakes

For the roasted onions:
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
For the Korean Red Dragon Sauce:
¼ C water
¼ C sugar
⅓ C ssamjang (fermented bean and chile sauce)
1 T light soy sauce
½ tsp sherry vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
For the roasted rice cakes:
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup chicken broth
2 T canola oil
1 pound rice cake sticks
1 T sesame seeds
2 scallions, ends trimmed, green parts thinly sliced

Heat oil in 12-inch cast-ion skillet over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until richly caramelized, about 30 minutes longer. Adjust heat as needed to prevent burning. Transfer cooked onions to bowl.

Meanwhile, make the dragon sauce. Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat. Let cool for one minute, then stir in ssamjang until dissolved. Add soy, sherry vinegar, and sesame oil.

For the rice cakes, pour mirin and broth into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high and cook until lightly thickened, about two minutes. Add red dragon sauce, reduce heat to medium, and cook until glossy and thick, about six minutes. Add roasted onions and stir well.

Meanwhile, clean out iron skillet, and return to stove. Add two tablespoons canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add rice cakes and reduce heat to medium. Cook until light brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.

Toss rice cakes with sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

The rice cakes weren’t as crunchy as I think they were supposed to be, so I need to find out more about them. The sauce was outstanding, and the presentation was pretty good too!

The Warmth of Other Suns

THE BOOK: The great migration saw southern blacks move to cities on the east coast, midwest and west coast from 1915 to 1970. Six million people uprooted themselves from family and friends in the Jim Crow South to find a better way of life in the north and west.

Wilkerson masterfully weaves history and narrative in this complex horror story that every American should know about. Told through the experiences of three people who journeyed far from home under terrible circumstances, the facts of being Black in the South are laid bare: painful to read, hard to believe, but resoundingly real.

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney’s life changed the morning a group of white men, including the boss man, came knocking on her door, waking her and scaring her children. Threatening her with a chain, they demanded the whereabouts of Joe Lee, her husband George’s cousin. They claimed Lee stole some turkeys. When they found him, they beat him half to death and put him in jail with his blood-soaked clothes sticking to what was left of his flesh. After that, fearing that violence could just as soon be visited upon them, George told Ida Mae they were packing up and heading north.

George Swanson Starling was a citrus picker in Wildwood, Florida. He was also a labor leader who led his team of pickers to ask for more money per bushel when the white buyers were short of men to do the job. When George received whispered warnings that the buyers were coming for him, he made the life-altering decision to head North, and was gone within twenty-four hours of hearing the news.

Robert Joseph Pershing Foster aspired to be a doctor. After chasing a medical degree throughout the south, he joined the Army, where his commanding officer assured him that he would be Chief of Surgery at his Salzburg, Germany posting. Robert began to believe that all his hard work had finally begun to pay off. High hopes were quickly dashed when the white doctors in Germany refused to take orders from a Black man. Determined to rise above the laws that restrained him, he decided to head for California when his tour of duty was over.

Because we learn about the circumstances of Blacks during this time period from real people, the reader becomes emotionally involved and begins to to care about thses characters. This personal connection is key to helping readers of all colors truly understand and think about how they were treated and what that means about who we, as a country are, who support the laws and policies that cruelly suppress people based onthe color of their skin. It is not a pretty picture.


THE FOOD: Hush puppies were served at Ida Mae’s birthday party. Looking for recipes, I couldn’t help but notice how many people raved about their love for them.

Hush Puppies

vegetable oil, for deep-frying
¾ C yellow cornmeal 
½ C all-purpose flour 
2 tsp sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp baking soda 
Kosher salt 
½ C buttermilk 
2 large eggs 
2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
3 scallions, finely chopped 

Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, deep cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven to 365º F.

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and a good pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Beat in the buttermilk and eggs until combined, then stir in the melted butter and scallions to make a thick batter.

In two batches, drop the batter by the tablespoonful into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels; season immediately with salt.

While I enjoyed the novelty of them, I’m not a convert. i don’t much like donuts, either!