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Chinese Cooking Wine Brings Tangy Depth to, Well…Everything

I love cooking with alcohol. The magnificent aromas, the satisfying glug of rich liquid pouring from the bottle, and, of course, the drinking. Sure, French cooking gets well-deserved attention for its liberal use of wine, and Japanese cooking wouldn’t …

I love cooking with alcohol. The magnificent aromas, the satisfying glug of rich liquid pouring from the bottle, and, of course, the drinking. Sure, French cooking gets well-deserved attention for its liberal use of wine, and Japanese cooking wouldn’t be nearly as delicious without mirin and sake, but there are few places where alcohol is used as effectively, or as liberally, as in Chinese cuisines. If your pantry (or liquor cabinet) is short a bottle of Chinese wine, for cooking and for drinking, it’s time to fix that. And we’re here to help.

What Is Chinese Cooking Wine?

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All About Minari, the Peppery, Bright, Wonderful Vegetable

If you haven’t seen Minari yet, drop everything now and go watch it. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s award-winning semi-autobiographical film is a profoundly moving tale of a multigenerational Korean American family setting down roots in the Arkansas…

If you haven’t seen Minari yet, drop everything now and go watch it. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s award-winning semi-autobiographical film is a profoundly moving tale of a multigenerational Korean American family setting down roots in the Arkansas Ozarks of the 1980s. The father, Jacob (played by Steven Yeun), dreams of success as a farmer after a decade of grueling labor in the poultry industry in California. But the move strains the family’s bonds, particularly on the arrival of Jacob’s mother-in-law Soonja (played by the legendary Youn Yuh-jung), from South Korea. Amidst the current wave of anti-Asian hate crimes across the country, part of a long legacy of violence toward, and erasure of, Asian communities and identities within the broader American story, this film is all the more powerful and urgent.

Once you have finished watching Minari, though, the next thing you should do is eat it. The film’s namesake, which halmoni Soonja plants on the bank of a stream early in the film, is a hollow-stemmed, leafy vegetable with a green, peppery flavor and a hint of bitterness. As director Chung explains, “[t]he interesting thing about it is that it’s a plant that will grow very strongly in its second season after it has died and come back. So there’s an element of that in the film…. It’s a poetic plant in a way for me.” It is also delicious. If this is the first you’re hearing about minari (or Minari), let this serve as an introduction.

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Can You Freeze Potatoes? We Investigated.

A dear friend of mine is famous (infamous?) for once dropping her purse only to have several raw potatoes roll out onto the floor—intended for just the sort of emergency one might encounter in a place with a microwave but no food, like an office, for m…

A dear friend of mine is famous (infamous?) for once dropping her purse only to have several raw potatoes roll out onto the floor—intended for just the sort of emergency one might encounter in a place with a microwave but no food, like an office, for many, in "the before times." For those of us without such forethought, the frozen potato offers a glimmer of hope.

This year has seen the frozen sweet potato seize its rightful place in the zeitgeist (the traditional Chinese technique makes sweet potatoes fluffier and more flavorful), but what of other potatoes? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of losing sleep over that bag of potatoes growing eyes and going green on the countertop, or arriving at work only to find your purse short a spud, you could rest easy in the knowledge that they were waiting for you in the freezer? It was a beautiful idea. And so I decided to investigate.

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DIY Corned Beef Is Cornier, Beefier, Better

We know how you got here—you want to know how to make corned beef. And so you will. But how did corned beef get here? Who thought to cure thick cuts of beef in salt and nitrates, and declare them ‘corned’?

According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: …

We know how you got here—you want to know how to make corned beef. And so you will. But how did corned beef get here? Who thought to cure thick cuts of beef in salt and nitrates, and declare them ‘corned’?

According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History, the Irish began salting, spicing, and curing beef in the Middle Ages, finding that this process preserved the meat from spoilage (and particularly from the danger of C. Botulinum, the toxin-producing bacterium best known for causing Botulism...and Botox). The Irish, most likely, originally referred to this product as spiced beef (as they still do today). But when the British seized control of the Emerald Isle, trampling its fields with cattle and its culture with Imperial force, they dubbed the preserved meat ‘corned.’ The word corn, back then, was not yet associated primarily with the American crop, instead referring broadly to grains or small pieces. In this case, the ‘corns’ were likely grains of salt, or granules of potassium nitrate, known as saltpeter (also the name of my future celebrity child).

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What the Heck is Vegemite (& How Do You Eat It)?

Cut off from the rest of the populated landmass of planet Earth for several millennia, Australia had plenty of time to develop some natural quirks. Take marsupials (pouches, hopping), for example, or the duck-billed platypus (duck-bill, poison spur), o…

Cut off from the rest of the populated landmass of planet Earth for several millennia, Australia had plenty of time to develop some natural quirks. Take marsupials (pouches, hopping), for example, or the duck-billed platypus (duck-bill, poison spur), or the disturbing preponderance of poisonous snakes, for example. But it was with the invention of Vegemite in 1922 that things really went off the rails. What is Vegemite? So glad you asked.

Vegemite is a thick, dark spread extracted from the yeasty waste of the beer-brewing process, seasoned with celery, onion, salt, and some undisclosed extra flavors. Salty, umami-rich, with a hint of bitterness, Vegemite is an Australian obsession. But it wasn’t always this way.

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7 Tomato Paste Substitutes for Pantry Pasta Emergencies (& More!)

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richnes…

Tomato paste is having a moment. Made by boiling down tomato juice into smooth, concentrated form, tomato paste is absolutely packed with umami. Just a tablespoon can transform a braise, stew, or soup, imbuing it with an unplaceable but vibrant richness. Knead it into bread dough for a ruby-red pop, or add it to tomato sauce to make it even more tomato-y. The opportunities are endless, but this rich, sweet vermillion substance is just the kind of thing I’m constantly forgetting on my grocery runs. So if you’re staring down a recipe that calls for some paste and need a quick tomato paste substitute, we have your back.

Here are 7 tomato paste substitutes you probably have on hand:

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How to Cook Black Beans for Stews, Burritos & Dips

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s …

Everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to cook black beans. If the idea of beans that don’t come from a can is news to you, I’m not here to judge. We all start somewhere. Even in the U.S., where beans have been cultivated for millenia, there’s been an explosion of heirloom varieties just in the past few years as people move beyond the can. Heirloom bean producers like Rancho Gordo have spread awareness that the variety of delicious dried legumes available is nearly infinite. But when it comes to burritos, I have strong feelings. As much as I love pinto and refried beans, I think a good burrito needs black beans. They’re meaty, and almost mushroomy at the same time, and great on their own. In fact, they’re the beans I cook most often at home. And they’re much, much better when made from scratch. If you’ve always eaten your beans from a can, here’s a simple guide for how to cook black beans.


Black Beans, Explained

The common bean—the species that includes black as well as pinto, kidney, and cranberry beans—was first cultivated in southwestern Mexico around 7,000 years ago. The bean itself is a seed, consisting of an embryonic plant (which becomes the sprout), surrounded by two hard, nutrient-rich leaves called cotyledons, which are in turn encased in a hard, water-resistant seed-coat. Beans are full of nutrients, particularly starch and protein (three times as much as in wheat or rice), and also packed with flavor. Like many other seeds, dried beans are tough, and need some coaxing to transform into the tender, creamy morsels I spoon over, well, everything.

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12 Warming Whiskey Cocktails to Slow-Sip This Winter

Before I’d ever tried a cocktail, I knew my future with whiskey was bright. It was the prom after-party, and everyone was smashed.I, still in my rumpled prom suit, was taking swigs from a full bottle of Laphroaig Scotch I had borrowed from my parents’…

Before I’d ever tried a cocktail, I knew my future with whiskey was bright. It was the prom after-party, and everyone was smashed.I, still in my rumpled prom suit, was taking swigs from a full bottle of Laphroaig Scotch I had borrowed from my parents’ liquor cabinet—I figured they wouldn’t miss it. I remember—just barely—my friend Justin’s dad (hosting on some “chill parenting” or harm-reduction tip) approaching me at the party and telling me, “son, you have good taste in whiskey. All these other kids are gonna have terrible hangovers in the morning, but you’ll be just fine.” With those reassuring words still lingering in my mind, I lay down in the middle of the dining room floor, and passed out.

Ever since this Laphroig-fueled experience, I’ve been a lover of whiskey. Scotch, yes, but also bourbon, rye, Japanese, Canadian, and Irish. Though I will still happily sip a fine whiskey straight or on the rocks (occasionally I’ll even take a swig from the bottle), I now consume most of my whiskey in cocktail-form. As the first snow settles on the eaves, there’s really nothing better than a rich, bone-warming whiskey cocktail or two as you watch the world go by.

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9 Cream of Tartar Substitutes You Probably Have in the Kitchen

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of …

Where would we be without grapes? Think of all the culinary marvels the fruit yields: Jelly, balsamic and red wine vinegars, and of course wine. But lofty cakes, ethereal meringues, and chewy snickerdoodles also owe their existence to another child of the grape: cream of tartar. The white powder is most often found in baked goods, where it serves as a stabilizer, a leavening agent, or a crystallization inhibitor (more on this later).

If you’ve just embarked on some baking endeavor only to find your jar of cream of tartar empty, there’s no cause for alarm. There are plenty of substitutions for cream of tartar, you just have to decide which purpose that sub needs to serve.

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How to Brine a Turkey for the. Juiciest. Bird. Ever.

Thanksgiving was always at our house. Every year, friends, family, neighbors we barely knew wound their way through the fog to our home in the Berkeley hills, bearing pecan and pumpkin pies, sweet potato casseroles bobbing with marshmallows, tureens of…

Thanksgiving was always at our house. Every year, friends, family, neighbors we barely knew wound their way through the fog to our home in the Berkeley hills, bearing pecan and pumpkin pies, sweet potato casseroles bobbing with marshmallows, tureens of green beans, and bowls of guacamole (this last one always arrived with a particularly time-challenged guest after dessert, but was polished off nonetheless).

My father, a vegetarian since his twenties, was for some inscrutable reason in charge of the turkey. A few hours before guests arrived, he’d pull the bird out of its bag of brine (a major Snowden-level leak one November left our fridge permanently frosted in turkey salt) and haul it onto the barbecue. He’d bring out bottles of liquor that had accumulated at the back of our cabinet over the year, and pour them over the bird in their entirety, to dubious effect. There was a lot of head-scratching and bird poking, and eventually he’d decide the turkey was probably done. Someone would take the electric turkey saw to it, and a few minutes later we’d be heaping our plates with steaming slices of miraculously succulent meat.

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