Jackfruit is a shreddable, savory substitute for shredded meat in this Mexican-style tinga taco.
Although it's related to the tiny fig, the jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world, weighing up to 80 pounds! In its mature (that is, ripe) form, jackfruit tastes like a combination of papaya, pineapple, and mango. However, green, immature jackfruit is altogether different: vegetal, dense, and very fibrous. When canned in water or brine, green jackfruit tastes more like an artichoke heart than a fruit, and it is widely used in many Asian cuisines as a meat substitute. Once cooked, it shreds beautifully into tender morsels reminiscent of pulled pork or chicken. We tried jackfruit as a substitute for shredded meat in a range of recipes (shawarmas, gyros, barbecue-style sandwiches), and our favorite was this Mexican-style tinga taco. We started by crisping the jackfruit in the skillet and then set it aside and built a savory sauce using tomato sauce enriched with aromatic onion, garlic, and oregano, plus some chipotle chiles in adobo sauce for smoky depth. After a few minutes simmering in the sauce, the jackfruit was tender enough to mash into a rich, flavorful taco filling, which we served in corn tortillas, topped with a bright, aromatic slaw and creamy avocado pieces.
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The secret ingredient for supermoist, perfectly cooked salmon? Time.
Though slow roasting is an uncommon method for cooking fish, here it gave us ultratender, buttery salmon. First we sprinkled the fish with a mixture of brown sugar and salt to evoke the flavors of cured salmon. A very low 250-degree oven kept the fish from overcooking and minimized any carryover cooking once it was out of the oven. We then poured a light, bright mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chives over the succulent fish.
For hundreds of years, Tuscan cooks have made pici pasta using just their hands. You can, too.
Pici (pronounced “PEE-chee,” or sometimes “PEE-shee”), are made of long, wonderfully chewy strands that have been rolled out on Tuscan tables since Etruscan times. Pici are inherently frugal too and simple to make. Just mix together a dough of mostly flour and water then knead until smooth, let it relax a bit, then roll pieces of dough into slim ropes. Once boiled, they’re an ideal canvas for all sorts of sauces and toppings from mushrooms and sausage to tomato sauce and 'nduja. Pair this hearty, homey dish with a crisp, light salad.
This Durban-style roast chicken one-pan dinner couldn't be easier.
Inspired by Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, we wanted to make a full chicken dinner with a similar flavor profile. We chose bone-in chicken pieces to avoid having to carve a whole bird. For the vegetables, we opted for cauliflower and potatoes since they would cook at a similar rate. We coated the chicken and vegetables in a spice puree made of lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, garlic, sweet curry powder, and garam masala, which provided a deeply complex hit of fragrant spice. Placing the chicken skin side up atop the vegetables in a baking dish and baking everything together in a 425-degree oven ensured that the fat in the chicken skin was rendered nicely. Since the vegetables were still a smidge too firm when the chicken was finished cooking, we removed the chicken and popped the vegetables back into the oven for 10 minutes while the chicken rested.
We scoured Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood for the secrets to these popular dumplings.
The authentic recipe we tried for these Polish dumplings (traditionally stuffed with a mixture of mashed potatoes and cheese or sauerkraut) called for a mix of all-purpose and semolina flours, and the dumplings couldn’t have been better. But what if you can’t find semolina flour at your local market? We tried substituting bread flour for the two flours and were happy with the pillowy, tender results. We found that the key to a perfect filling is to melt the butter and fully incorporate the other filling ingredients into the mashed potatoes. An easy-to-follow filling and folding technique makes quick work of forming the dumplings.
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This rich, tender, fun-to-make babka has a luscious chocolate filling.
For a rich, chocolaty babka loaf, we started with a yeasted dough that we flavored with orange zest and vanilla. Then we made a luscious chocolate filling by microwaving butter and chocolate together and stirring in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, and salt until the filling was smooth. To combine them, we rolled the dough out to an 18 by 12-inch rectangle, spread the filling over it, and rolled it into a tight log. To ensure layers of chocolate throughout the loaf, we split the log in half lengthwise, laid the halves next to each other cut sides up, and twisted them together five times total. We baked the loaf uncovered for 30 minutes and then covered it with foil to finish baking. For an extra-special finish, we made a sugar syrup and brushed it over the warm babka.
Chickpeas are your ticket to a straightforward and satisfying chopped salad.
Our hearty, chickpea-centric chopped salad began with zapping the chickpeas in the microwave to dry out their plump interiors and rupture their exteriors. Then, pan-frying the slightly dehydrated legumes caused their papery skins to blister and crackle while their dense insides puffed and crisped. We tossed the crunchy chickpeas with a zippy spice mix and set them aside to cool before scattering them atop a salad of arugula, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sweet-hot Peppadew peppers, and salty-rich feta. A gutsy honey-Dijon vinaigrette finished things off with sweetness and tang.
Crispy tofu takes the place of chicken in this vegetarian version of katsu.
We wanted a crispy tofu version of a Japanese favorite often made with crunchy chicken. To complement the crispy fried tofu, we served the tofu with a light cabbage salad with scallions and lemon. In order to help season the tofu breading, we add soy sauce to our egg and flour dredging mixture. For our coating and panko to stick, we pat our tofu cubes dry before breading and shallow frying them in a nonstick skillet. After just 3 minutes per side our tofu was perfectly golden and crunchy. For ease, we used bottled tonkatsu sauce to drizzle over our tofu just before serving.
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For sweet potato fries that were impressively crispy, we gave them a boost of starch.
Despite their namesake, sweet potatoes have little in common with russet potatoes—arguably the ideal potato variety for making french fries. To compensate for sweet potatoes’ lack of sufficient starch, we coated thick-cut sweet potato wedges with a cornstarch slurry that quickly turned crispy when fried. To ensure well-seasoned creamy, sweet interiors, we first treated the sweet potatoes to a blanch in water spiked with salt. Adding baking soda to the blanching water caused the potatoes’ exteriors to turn mushy and slough into the slurry, creating a more substantial, pleasingly orange crust. To limit sticking and cut down drastically on frying oil, we switched from frying in a Dutch oven to a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Finally (and optionally), we ditched commonplace supersweet ketchup in favor of an easy spicy, creamy fry sauce for serving.
Eggs poached in a spicy sauce is equally as good for a meatless supper as it is for breakfast.
There were moments in our quest to perfect this popular Italian American dish when we weren’t sure we’d find our way out. We let the sauce thicken slightly and then take the pan off the heat. Before adding the eggs to the pan one at a time, we use a rubber spatula to clear 2-inch-long wells in the sauce to hold the eggs (exposing the skillet bottom). To evenly fit all eight eggs in the pan, we place seven eggs around the perimeter of the pan and one in the middle. Covering the skillet and cooking the eggs over medium heat helps start setting the whites; then, a flash of enveloping heat from the oven finishes the whites while leaving the yolks silky.
Soy sauce and chili-garlic sauce add plenty of flavor to tender baby bok choy.
When preparing baby bok choy, two main issues arise: cleaning the notoriously dirty vegetables and getting the stalks to achieve a perfectly tender-crisp texture before the leaves get too limp. Unlike mature bok choy, which is often chopped into small pieces for cooking, part of the allure of baby bok choy is showcasing its diminutive size. In this recipe, we struck a balance by cutting the bok choy in half lengthwise; this provided access to the areas where most of the dirt and grit typically hide so we could thoroughly clean them, and it helped the vegetables cook more evenly than if they were left whole. An initial stint of steaming gave the stems the head start they needed to soften slightly before sautéing. A mixture of soy and chili-garlic sauces formed the base of a salty and mildly spicy sauce.
Meticulously crafted crystal shrimp dumplings are one of the great joys of a dim sum feast.
A semisheer wrapper allows a hazy glimpse of the blush-pink mixture that rests inside. Its tacky surface clings lightly to the bamboo steamer and your chopsticks, momentarily prolonging the anticipation. Then you pop it in your mouth: At first, the dumpling resists your chew, but it soon gives way, baring a pristine, delicately sweet, juicy shrimp filling. This is har gow, a “small, small bite,” per Sarah Leung, writer for the authoritative The Woks of Life blog, who classifies each dumpling as “its own experience” with “its own interplay of texture and taste.” On a video call, Leung went so far as to say that the one-bite treasures are “emblematic of dim sum.”
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