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This week: Jet Tila on Thai food. He tells us about real Thai sriracha, what it takes to make the world’s largest stir-fry and why working at his family’s market sometimes meant visiting the set of “Star Trek.” Plus, we explore the wild world of cooking manga with Deb Aoki; Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette tell us what food you’re obsessed with if you’re a turophile; and we make one of Brazil’s signature meat stews.
Questions in this episode:
“My dad’s bread has been burning at the bottom. Why is that?”
“I made a Zanzibar curry and the potatoes did not end up soft. Can you help?”
“Is skin crispiness worth having a dry pork roast?”
“Why is my granola coming out soggy?”
Christopher Kimball: I'm Christopher Kimball, this is Milk Street Radio from PRX. And this is Food Wars. Food Wars, which is now a Netflix TV show was originally a manga, or comic from Japan. Back in the 1970s, Manga comics started branching into new areas, such as food and farming, with over 1000 gourmet manga published today, many of them crossing over into television, such as Samurai Gourmet. To help us understand gourmet Maga. I'm joined by Deb Aoki, writer, artist and co-host of the podcast, Mangasplaining. Deb, welcome to Milk Street.
Deb Aoki: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.
CK: So, I read that in 2020, the manga market hit a new record over 600 billion yen, which I guess is like 5 billion US dollars. So, let's do that. That's our that's an amazing number. It's huge.
DA: Yeah, I don't think most people understand how big the manga market is compared to the market in America. I mean, and even in America, manga readership has gone up, like 120%, like in the last two years, you know, it's just it's it's addictive stuff. It's like, once they get gets a little hooks in you, you keep reading. You just want more
CK: Well, first of all, let's just say a lot of these are black and white. (Yes) So, it's not like you have all this, you know, Marvel Comics color. So, it's about the storytelling. And what is it that defines the storytelling that makes it so addictive?
DA: Well, a lot of how manga is serialized in Japan, it's a lot of it's in magazines, like thick phonebook type magazines. So, they're printed on this cheap newsprint. And new issues come up every week or every month. So, the key to surviving in these magazines is a great cliffhanger that gets people to keep coming back for more.
CK: There's 1000 so called in this is the point of this discussion today, Gourmet Manga. So now food has been incorporated into the storylines, but in really interesting ways. And in I think I'm quoting from you, young men from disadvantaged backgrounds enter profession to become the best in Japan as one of the themes you want to just elaborate.
DA: Yeah, that's that's a classic shōnen manga theme. The shōnen means boy, so it basically needs comics for teen boys. And a common theme and shown in Maga is that every guy who starts from nothing or starts from very basic circumstances, and through friendship and heart, you know, effort, he becomes the best in whatever field he's in. And the case of gourmet manga or cooking manga, he becomes the best chef. So, the cooking manga fits into that style of story very nicely. Because as we all know, cooking is a journey, right? Like your mastering skills and your mastering techniques and ingredients. And there's just so much to learn.
CK: So, let's just talk about some of them. The Drops of God is one, where the whole thing is about learning about wine, right?
DA: Yeah, definitely. The young man is basically his father is a world-famous wine critic. And he has this wine collection that's worth millions of dollars, but he's rejected his father's ways. And he gets a job at a beer distributor. (ouch) But then, when his father dies, and leaves a Will says, I've described 12 wines that I consider the greatest wines, and he makes these poetic descriptions and then he challenges this young man. If you figure out what these 12 wines are, you will inherit my multimillion-dollar wine collection. And so, what this does is this takes them on this journey through expensive wines inexpensive wines, wine regions around the world. And you learn about wine in a really fascinating way. Because, you know, like wine appreciated was not a big thing in Japan or throughout much of Asia. Thanks to Drops of God and Drops of God highlights real wines, real vintages that you can actually go to the store and buy.
CK: Well, you said some of the wines featured in the series Drops of God went on to sell out.
DA: Oh yeah, instantly. And the way that they describe it, right, it's not just like saying like, oh, you know, it smells like flowers, or it tastes like cloves. It's like the way they depict it. Like the sensation of drinking of really powerful full-bodied wine is like listening to Queen Bohemian Rhapsody you know, we think wow, I want to try that. That looks like it tastes amazing.
CK: A friend of mine who's actually in the TV business United States loves Food Wars. (Oh, really?) So, describe Food Wars.
DA: Food Wars. Keep in mind that its original audience’s teen boys, but it's spot on boy. His father runs a family restaurant. So, he sends him off to this elite boarding school. that trains the best chefs in Japan, as you know, like as high schoolers as teenagers. And this is such an elite high school, that they have the equivalent of an Iron Chef type cooking arena where they compete against each other in these battles of honor. But what makes it a teen boy manga, is that the way they express how good the food tastes like, if the boy serves you something that's really tasty. The people who eat it are so overtaken by ecstasy that their clothes explode off of themselves.
CK: Okay, yeah, I would have thought of that.
DA: But there's also it's really smart about food to like, introduce things like molecular gastronomy and fermentation and smoking and very sophisticated cooking techniques.
CK: Now, some of this goes back in time, it either has a sci fi aspect or has historical so there's Samurai Gourmet, for example. So that's what a great title it is, by the way, so some of these are not real-world dramas or melodramas they they incorporate other kinds of fiction, right?
DA: Yeah, that's going really fun and interesting development recently, because one of the most popular genres of manga now is called isa chi, which is someone ordinary goes to another world, like isa chi means other world. And so, if you, if you say, like, oh, you know, it's like, Die Hard, but in a kitchen, right? Like, I think delicious, and dungeon is really funny, because it's about adventurers going into this dungeon to try to find this dragon that ate one of the adventurers’ sisters. But along the way, they discover, oh, if we go into the dungeon, we have to take supplies with us, and they're heavy and expensive. And you know, that can't be right, you have to take all your supplies with you. So why should we bring all these supplies, these heavy supplies, when we could just cook what's in the dungeon. So big start cooking the creatures and the things that they find in the dungeon like these walking mushrooms or the slimes and things like that. And then they'll provide recipes like oh, you know, you can make sauteed dragon cutlets. And then it's a real recipe, but you just have to imagine getting rid of the dragon cutlet and putting pork instead.
CK: So, the popularity of food manga has inspired people to go into food, or is the fact that foods so popular that that is inspired the food manga’s or neither?
DA: I think it's a little bit of both. Like, like, for example, like ____, the cook inspired a lot of people to go into cooking. And to that point, there's several restaurants just named like ____ in tribute to this manga. There's a lot of like __ shimbo, for example, depicts a lot of different real farms and real foods. And so, then the impact there is like people think, oh, farming is cool. Silver Spoon, for example, is about a young boy who goes to agriculture college. And it kind of has this impact of making people think yeah, farming in Japan, it's important, you should get into it. So, it opens people's minds up to all kinds of possibilities.
CK: So, it's sort of like a way for people to promote different trades, right? By having manga’s which actually show farming is fun and cool. Yeah. Whereas the reality of farming is actually really really hard. But that's another matter
DA: It is hard, and Silver Spoon doesn't doesn't gloss it over. I would encourage you to check that one out it’s pretty special. He’s a city boy and he gets to raise his own pig and he has to kind of come to terms with he has to kill it to make it into bacon.
CK: Deb, thank you. The world of food manga thanks.
DA: Thank you. This is fun.
CK: Deb Aoki is a writer artist and the co-host podcast Mangasplaining, you can see a full list of the manga we spoke about today at Mangasplaining.com.
Now it's time for me and my co-host Sara Moulton to answer some of your cooking questions. Sara is of course the author of Home Cooking 101 also stars in Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television. So, Sara, you are a French aficionado, especially in the kitchen. You worked at La Tulipe etc. Have you now three revisionist culinary experience gone back and decided there were some parts of the French repertoire you now have abandoned or techniques you think that just make no sense for you now?
Sara Moulton: Well, yeah, some of the I was getting called silliness. I'm going to be shot at dawn. But you know, things like clarifying stock for consommé. I mean, really, why it's so much work, why bother? Or the thing of you know, black pepper for dark things and white pepper for other things that seem silly and really the most heretical thing that I've come to is, to heck with mise en plus, it's useless
CK: You and I might not come, you're a very good cook. And so, for you, you can do the mise en plus you need to do ahead of time. And then when there's unattended cooking time, you can finish doing other things. So, you know how to integrate mise en plus into recipes. For most people, doing all the medium plus all the prep, the cutting, the chopping, etc. measuring ahead of time everything's done, the kitchens clean, and then you can just focus on the cooking, I think is really helpful to people. You've worked in a restaurant, you’re a professional cook for the rest of us, I think having all that done, it relieves your mind of oh, I forgot to slice the garlic or I didn't measure the cinnamon, it's all done. And now you can just enjoy and focus on the cooking.
SM: Well, I agree with you, when you're a new cook, it's really a recipe for disaster not to have everything figured out ahead of time. However, I came to this realization naturally, because I was working full-time, I'd get home at 6:30 After picking up the kids, and I'd have to get dinner on the table. I could not do the mise en plus first it was a waste of time. If you're a middle, good cook, which you know, the people we talk to on the phone are amazing. They're serious home cooks, I bet you any one of them could try this approach that I have, which is to look at a recipe, get out all the ingredients, throw them on the counter, and then you know, get the first thing on first and then do the prep while that's cooking.
CK: It reminds me of a friend of mine in Vermont, who’s in construction for years, he's now retired, he would get to the job site at 5:30 or six in the morning, lay out all the tools get everything organized. So, when the crew came in, at like 7:30-8, the mise en plus was done. And it was a very organized job site. There is a huge emotional and psychological pleasure to having everything done. So now you can just do the fun part. The fun part, the cooking. I just like emotionally knowing it's done.
SM: You really do enjoy cooking very much. But I have to say like my mother, you know, working all day, and then coming home and having the two kids under foot. I started cutting corners.
CK: I'm talking about Saturday afternoon cooking where you have endless time.
SM: Well, that's a whole different ballgame. Then you pour glass wine you put on some nice music
CK: But that's the ballgame I want to go. I like that ball game. Yeah. Okay, time to take some calls. .
SM: Yes. Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?
Caller: This is Lee,
SM: Hi Lee where are you calling from?
Caller: Sherwood, Oregon.
SM: Nice. How can we help you today?
Caller: I'm actually calling with a question on behalf of my dad. And he lives in Indiana. And he and I bake a lot of bread, and both compare our experiences over the phone. And he does the no knead bread recipe. Pretty standard, you know, nothing fancy. But he's been having a lot of issues where the bottom of his bread burns, or it is like very dark and crunchy. We're struggling to figure out what his issue is. He has recently lowered the temperature of the oven. And he uses a Dutch oven to bake his bread, which he preheats. And then he puts a piece of parchment paper, to see if maybe that helps and he's really not having any success.
SM: Is his Dutch oven. ceramic coated?
SM: Okay. Does he have gas or electric?
SM: So, in his oven, the heat source is where?
Caller: Oh gosh, I actually don't know because I haven't seen his new oven.
SM: Right. If he has the pan all the way down at the bottom of the oven and the heat source is mainly coming from there. That could be part of the problem. Is this like the one that was in the New York Times Mark Bittman, Jim Lahey version?
SM: Yeah. So that would be my first guess. That maybe put it on the middle rack, not on the bottom rack? Yeah, I think that might be what the problem is. Chris, what do you think?
CK: I would not preheat the Dutch oven. I've made this recipe many times. I actually can't remember if you're supposed to preheat it.
Caller: Yes, you are.
CK: But I would try not preheating it. Go just try it. Sara has given me that. I gave you an opportunity to say something smart. You just said something stupid. Like also is this say, what ___
Caller: I believe it's a Le Creuset
CK: Has he had this problem just recently or is this something that's happened a lot over time?
Caller: I think it's happened a lot over time. I think originally, he did a lot of the recipes by Ken Forkish, which is a book that I love.
CK: Yeah, I know that book
Caller: They're a little more complicated. So, I didn't know if it was partly the recipe, you know, like there's not a lot of kneading if that mattered,
CK: I would say something even simpler and potentially dumber, which is if his oven is not calibrated properly. His oven just may be running 35-40 degrees hot. Yeah. Now you did mention something about turning the oven down. He tried that and what happened then?
Caller: You know most bread recipe, say to preheat for 475 and bake it at that temperature. He does that too. He was still having the issue. So, I think he preheats to 450 and drops to 430. And he said he's still having the same problem. But I really truly wonder about the heat source. Maybe that is it that it's just too close.
CK: Yeah, I mean, I agree you should try the middle rack or upper middle rack. The problem with Le Creuset, you know doesn't fit. Yeah, you could put on the middle rack, maybe depending on the size the oven, I would try not pre-heating. Just give it a shot.
CK: I baked pizza, for example, in round pans that are not preheated. Yeah, just throw in the oven. So, it'll work. And if it does work, just write a personal note to Sara, I'll give your email just tell her what a great idea this was. Anyway, that's give that a shot.
Caller: I’ll tell him and hopefully it helps him out.
SM: Yeah, you know, let us know how it goes. I always like to hear back.
Caller: Okay for sure
CK: Especially if I'm right.
SM: Yeah, right.
Caller: Thank you.
CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you want to change the way you cook, give us a ring anytime. Our number is 855-426-9843- one more time 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Jen calling from Seattle.
CK: And how can we help you?
Caller: Well, a few weeks ago was making a Zanzibar curry. And the directions had you sauté a diced onion, and then add some spices within the spices for a minute. And then you were to add in a can of crushed tomatoes, and then add a diced potato. And then you were to simmer that until the potato was soft. And the recipe said maybe 20 minutes. And so, I simmered in simmered, and maybe 60 minutes went by and the potato was still not soft. And so, we ended up having a curry with some pretty tough potatoes.
CK: It was a raw curry that’s good. Well, it's the old. It's the old pectin thing. I once baked beans years ago in Vermont for a big party. And after seven hours, they still weren't soft, because I had put in acid tomatoes into the mixture early on.
CK: So, acid will make the pectin and beans or potatoes not dissolve. it'll stabilize them. That's probably what happened was salt added before the potatoes went in.
Caller: Yeah, salt was added.
CK: The choices are adding the tomato later cook the potatoes separately. Add them at the end. You could soak the diced potatoes in salted water first and then put them in because that might soften the pectin. But it's clearly a problem of acid stabilizing pectin, so it doesn't break down. Sara?
SM: I actually agree with you, which is so rare
SM: So, if you like the flavor of the stew that what you could do the next time is just cook the potatoes separately in a pot of boiling salted water, and then drain them and add them to the curry later on.
Caller: Okay. And to be honest, the recipe wasn't that great to begin with. So,
Caller: it won't be one I’ll make again, but it's just nice to have the food science understood.
CK: Curries interesting. One of my editors went to Mumbai a couple years ago. It's a five-step process. It's more of a technique than a recipe. But once you get the technique down, you know, you can make hundreds of curries and a potato vegetable curries, a typical curry so it's really a great technique to master. It's sort of like a stir fry. Right. It's a thing. Yeah, I mean, maybe you should try. Try a better recipe.
Caller: I will definitely try a better resume.
SM: Yes, Jennifer.
CK: Thanks for calling.
Caller Thank you. Okay, bye.
CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio. Up next Jet Tila talks about Thai food. That's right up after the break.
This is Milk Street Radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball right now it's my interview with Jet Tila, chef, cookbook author and Food Network personality. His latest book is 101 Thai Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die. Jet, welcome to Milk Street.
Jet Tila: Chris, thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
CK: So, your dad opens up the Bangkok Market in Hollywood in 72. Then the first I guess, Thai restaurant in West LA Royal Thai cuisine. That was a long time ago. And (oh, man) So well, what was that like? Then when people had no idea, you know what dragon fruit was or whatever
JT: My memories are very early days at this tiny little 600 square foot grocery store. We were the first-time market, but I think concurrently, California cuisine was popping. And all this Asian introduction fusion when it was confusion, a lot of the times, we were the only place in LA that would cater to a lot of the chefs like Jonathan Waxman, and the two Hot Tamales and Joe came. So, I was bagging groceries and cutting meat and delivering, you know, items to all of the chefs that we just mentioned. So those were my fond memories, because I knew they were kind of like the chefs. And they were just kind of circling through our grocery store kind of yelling at our drivers and me. And it was a really, it was really fun times,
CK: You have this little quote about things you did early on security guards, selling cell phones, then you say quote, those are all the good things I can talk about. Were there anything other things you want to talk about?
JT: You know, Christopher, you know, it's been 20 years. And oh, you know, why the hell not man like it? Not everyone knows. But I think it's okay to talk about, you know, my dad came to this country in ’66 because he got into a lot of trouble in Thailand. So, he basically had to come here, or he'd end up in jail. And, and I haven't really talked about it, if ever on the media, but, you know, I changed my name to Tila from Tilakamonkul, for a specific reason. Because if you Google Tilakamonkul (um) you'll see some of the things my dad did that, you know, were against the law. And in that vein, you know, I got into a good amount of trouble. You know, I just, I just always knew kind of when to stop where the line was to not permanently kind of ruin my life. So, how's that, that's a juiciness in there without, without incriminating myself too much
CK: Without someone showing up at your door or with a badge. So, were there any moments in all of this that were kind of pivotal moments for you when either you figured out this is what you wanted to do or some ridiculous moment when, when everything just fell apart?
JT: One one good one was, you know, I dropped out of high school. And I was like, I don't know what I'm doing myself. And we had this diehard group of non-Asian shoppers that wanted to learn cooking, and they were like, Jet how do I make Pad Thai, how to make dum ___how do I make satay and I would, I would write out recipes for them. And they are really they asked me to do a cooking class. And I was like, you know what, what the heck right? I did this series of cooking classes out of my mom's backyard. And Barbara Hanson from the times you know, we all know her well, she snuck into the class wrote it wrote an article about it.
CK: I read the article, no way. She was quite complimentary.
JT: No way! Man, that changed my life. It really did. It gave an aimless, troublemaking kid, a vision of the ability to succeed in life.
CK: This has always interested me, you end up going to the Cordon Bleu, and the California Sushi Academy. It's so interesting, because did you learn things at Cordon Bleu, you know, basic techniques which have stood you in good stead over the years? Yeah,
JT: I think that all of us culinarians speak a language that's framed in, in French technique. Right, so I needed French culinary school to help me teach Asian food with the language of French cuisine. The French have a very established language of cooking and the Japanese have a very established language of cooking and that's why I went to those two types of schools. You know, the Thai also do but the access to the books and the translations don't exist, like they do in French and Japanese cooking. So yes, I think Northeastern Thai gramma and Southern Thai gramma can talk the language of curry paste. But we don't have a universally agreed upon term for the paste technique, the wood mortar versus the stone mortar.
CK: You know, in French cooking its depth. It's sort of one note with slight variations in depth. And then you look at, like Thai cooking, and it's about a variety of very different flavors melding together into some harmony, but each not losing its distinctiveness right, you discuss this in your book. Salty, savory, sour, spicy sweet is sort of being the underpinning for much of Thai cuisine.
JT: Yeah, those five and also the word there's a term yum. And not the American yummy in my tummy. But, you know, dum yum, yum nua, right. Like these Thai words, yum is the actual means. Hot, sour, salty, sweet, savory in balance in a sauce or seasoning. But it's that palate friendliness and then bending. We're also a culture that allows food to be changed. So, I have a Thai grandmother and a Chinese grandmother, my Chinese grandmother would make you a dish. And if you tried to alter it anyway, she would be offended, and she would try to attack you. And my Thai grandmother would say, Chris, here's your dish. Here's a little dab of fish sauce. Here's a little dab of sugar. Here's some chili. Make it how you want to be. Here's how I think it should begin.
CK: So, one is Mozart, the other’s Grateful Dead
JT: They're exactly
CK: Just improvise.
JT: Phish versus primus maybe as well. Right, there's another way to go
CK: Don’t talk about Phish. If you're a Deadhead you don't talk about Phish
JT: I know. That's why I jammed it in there, sorry.
CK: You could say you could write a book about soy sauce. I've learned a little bit more about it over the years. But could you talk about it? Because I find it's so interesting than we think it's a thing. But obviously it's more than a thing, right?
JT: Yeah, the best best way to explain it is like those of us that when we were kids, we drank box wine. And we're like, okay, I get it. It's kind of acidic, and it's come from a grape. And then you start to understand the depth of terroir and kind of the different methodologies and making wine and soy sauce is that large of a world, right? I just want people to expand their repertoire. So, you're using Japanese soy right now. And you might have a red cap, like high sodium, you might have a green cap, just go get yourself a Thai soybean sauce. And I think they called soybean just as a differentiator. But it's basically a hydrolyzed soy sauce with a little more sugar and some umami in it, and then start to pull in a Chinese Sweet Soy which has a high percentage of molasses. And then you can get a dark soy if you want, which is going to give you more color less salt. And between the right there with those three new soy sauces, you're going to open up 20 to 50 more dishes into your repertoire.
CK: Three or four other key pantry gradients, you think are critical here.
JT: Yeah. Good, good fish sauce. But most fish sauces nowadays are really great. Chili paste in soybean oil will change your life. It's like it's you know, chili crisp was getting hot right now, right? But Thai people make this chili paste which is very little chili in it. It's more like roasting shallots and garlic and shrimp paste. So, it's sweet and it's deep, and it's umami. And there's just the hint of chili it and that's going to give you the read in like dum yum soup. That's going to give you another dimension of savory sweet in your stir fries. And another really good tip is you can use curry paste instead of trying to find all the individual ingredients. Curry Paste is one of those ingredients it has like 10 or 12 things in it that are integral so someone else has already found you galanga and garlic and lime and lemongrass smashed it together. And you know that's really a flavor shortcut. That doesn't really, you're not shorting yourself in authenticity.
CK: And the bottle with a rooster on it Siracha is not the real thing.
JT: Oh, you hurt my feelings. Now we’re back to Phish and the Dead again. Yeah, you know, great family. Amazing product
CK: in California. Right?
JT: It's it's California, and I can't imagine fah and I can't imagine spicy tuna rolls without it. Just it's a completely different flavor than the Thai that's the only difference Thai Siracha is smooth. It's sweeter. You know again, the five-flavor wheel nothing's overdone. It's a very mellow sauce. It's that is not the flavor of Sriracha.
CK: There’s so much bad Pad Thai to talk about the most popular dish (yeah) you know, sort of glutinous block of noodles, etc. So, so what goes wrong with Pad Thai in so many restaurants?
JT: Right, bad Pad Thai, is kind of a bad pizza, though, isn't it? I mean, they're, you're still going to sit there and eat it. But what went wrong early days was ketchup. There should be no tomato product, and not really understanding the application of acid. And as long as you have a tamarind fish sauce or vinegar and fish sauce, and then sugar, you should be good to go. But most people just kind of made it up as they went along. And most of that was just a ton of sugar and a ton of ketchup. And that's what messed up Pad Thai.
CK: 4000 pound stir fry?
JT: Yes, sir. I've broken
CK: So, I mean, you were bored. You're out of work. You were trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records?
c Check, check check.
CK: So how do you so okay, how do you do 4000 pounds of stir fry?
JT: Yes. So you hire a metal worker to take a quarter inch steel and weld plates together. So, you at that point, I think we had an 18-foot wok. Yeah. And of course, you couldn't slope it. So, I just hadn't put sides on it. Six-inch sides, quarter inch steel, you lower down on a crane, and you dig a pit and then you sink a few tons of charcoal, you get it smoking and the crane becomes your elevator. And, and then you get a team to prep 2000 pounds of meat and you get these giant paddles. These like 15-foot paddles and you get the 10 biggest people you can find the tallest people you can find and and you name the knock it out. It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun.
CK: You started out no one knew anything about Thai ingredients or Thai food. I think you mentioned that some of the Star Trek episodes actually used vegetables and fruits from your father's market because no one knew what it looked like. And now obviously things have changed. Is that all good news?
JT: Oh, man, I think so. I mean, that's the history of, of Thai food in America. And, you know, I'm really, I really was really lucky mean to be part of that first Thai food family and weave in all these life experiences. I think it's only good news. And I think it's only the beginning. I mean, you know, yeah, Paramount Studios was right down the street, so durian jackfruit bitter melon became like Romulan food and ____ food. And that was awesome, man. And now now we've got people seeking out Southern Thai versus North-eastern Thai. It is it is such a fun time. I mean, I feel really lucky to have been there from the beginning. But, you know, I'm 50 like, I'm going to be handing off the keys next to the next generation. But
CK: Oh, please, just a kid. Stop this 50 stuff. Come on.
JT: Thanks, Chris.
CK: if I was 50, I would be dancing in the streets right now. Jet. It's been a real pleasure,
JT: Chris. Thanks man. One off the bucket list. Huge fan. Thanks for all this.
CK: Thank you so much. That was Jed Tila. His book is 101 Thai dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. It's time to chat with JM Hersh about this week's recipe. Brazilian black beans stew with pork and beef. JM how are you?
J M Hirsch: I'm doing great.
CK: You know, one of my favorite recipes, the last two months at Milk Street, you know, every hour. So, someone comes by with something delicious, but it's a Brazilian black beans stew with meat in it. And was so good. Now I'm partial to beans and meat. But this was really extraordinary.
JM: This blew me away I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect from this. So, I was in Sao Paulo. And one of the recipes I wanted to learn is kind of the de facto national dish of Brazil and it's called feijoada, which is Brazilian black beans stew with a whole lot of meat. When I say a whole lot of meat, I mean sometimes it would be 12 or more meats per stew. Now that was on the outer rim there, but you know there were plenty of simpler versions because really, and this is what I love about this story. This is you know cucina por favora you know, to go Italian here it is simple food rustic cooking. You know, it started out using kind of the also ran cuts of meat. But in the late 1800s In Brazil, the dish went mainstream, and the cuts of meat used in it improved. And so today you see it eaten all over and with any variety of meats, and boy, the taste is just phenomenal, so rich, and yet not heavy. That's kind of one of the things that surprised me because especially you're talking a dozen different cuts of meat, you know, usually pork and beef. It nonetheless tastes light and bright. It's really good.
CK: I hasten to ask you know our recipe we're not using 12 different cuts, right?
JM: Now I'm happy to say we did scale it back. You know, we've got it down to three. We've got some bone in beef short ribs, a ham hock and some chorizo sausage, which gives it a real richness. And I mean, that's wonderful stuff. And you combine that with black beings. And what really brightens it though, is really interesting. This is a very traditional part of this dish is they use orange juice as kind of the acid in the dish, which really brings a lot of bright citrus flavor and combined to some tomatoes that really lightens things and it's really quite delicious.
CK: So, unlike a European stew many Europeans stews, you’re not browning the meat, right? That's a step we can skip here.
JM: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have so much flavor going on in this stew that’s absolutely unnecessary. I mean, the Chorizo alone makes it unnecessary. But then when you got the orange juice and rum, there's cumin in there, there's cilantro, there’s garlic, there's so much happening in this dish. No need to brown save your time.
CK: So, what's the basic recipe?
JM: Alright, so basically, you're going to cook what amounts to almost a sofrito. You know, you get some celery, get some onion, got some garlic and cilantro stems in and some seasonings. You know cook that for a little while. And then you deglaze with rum and the orange juice and you're going to scrape up all those bits. And then you're going to throw in the beans and let that cook for a while. Then you start adding in the meats. And that's when the flavor really goes like wow, all those meats, throw in some tomatoes and let it go. And it's going to be so delicious.
CK: So, if you're a little tired of American beef stew you might want to try Brazilian black stew with pork and beef. Really interesting flavors. easy to make. And by the way, JM You're right. It's not heavy. Thank you.
JM: Thank you. You can get this recipe for Brazilian black bean stew at Milk Street Radio.com.
CK: This is Milk Street Radio coming up Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette tell us to cheez-it we'll be right back.
I'm Christopher Kimball and you're listening to Milk Street Radio. Right now. Sara Moulton and I will be answering a few more of your cooking questions.
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Christa from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
SM: Hello, Christa. How can we help you today?
Caller: I made a permil for the first time. My dad is a lover of all thing’s pork, so I decided to make this permil. And the adobo was wonderful. Lots of garlic oregano. I didn't have access to sour orange but I use lime juice and little orange juice. All was great. I had it marinating until I got to the roasting method. And the recipe I used called for a roasting method of uncovered at 400 degrees. And any bone-in pork shoulder that I've ever roasted before I've roasted covered at a cooler temperature which has yielded more of a pull apart fall apart product in the end. This one was more sliced and a little drier. The question is, is the skin crispiness worth it that much to have a dry pork roast in the end?
SM: I would say absolutely not. First of all, we should say that permil is a Puerto Rican dish usually with pork shoulder it's rubbed with garlic and spices and as you mentioned the citrus and you know my understanding is it's usually slow roasted but what it has on it is this wonderful skin that gets very crispy. I would roast it in a pan covered with some liquid at the bottom of the pan just water and just keep making sure there's a little bit of water down there to keep a steamy environment for most of the way and then at the end. Take off the foil up the heat you know for like the last half an hour to say 400 and hopefully you'll get the best of both worlds with the tender, yummy meat that pulls apart with the crispy skin on top. Yeah, but let's see what Chris has to say
CK: For the first time in my life, I have nothing to add. I would do exactly the same thing.
SM: Oh, well, how nice.
CK: You definitely don't want to roast uncovered the whole way at 350. That's not going to work.
SM: Yeah, or 400
CK: You should be able to slow roast a pork shoulder.
Caller: Well, we'll try it again at a lower speed and ignore the recipe directions.
SM: And some liquid in the bottom of the pan and keep you know, adding some said there's a moist environment. I will Okay.
CK: All right. Thanks. Thank you.
Caller: Thank you.
CK: Take care.
SM: Bye bye.
CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you have a kitchen disaster, give us a call. We're here to help. The number is 855-426-9843 one more time 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Kayla from Hadley, MA.
CK: How can we help?
Caller: Well, I have a granola recipe that I love. It's a Sam Sifton recipe from the New York Times and I've been making it for several years, with a little bit of a modification. And recently it started turning out different. In the past it was not shiny and light colored. And more recently, it's been shiny and darker. And more importantly, it's been a little on the soggy, chewy side instead of crisp. I’m wondering what might have changed?
CK: Well, what's in the coating? Let's start with that.
Caller: Brown sugar, maple syrup, olive oil.
CK: And you cook that on the stove briefly to create a syrup.
CK: What changes did you make in the recipe?
Caller: I believe the recipe calls for half cup of brown sugar and I reduced it to a quarter cup. I don't think that made a change. But one thing I'm wondering about is the kind of maple syrup. And I'm wondering if using a darker syrup might have affected it.
CK: I actually boil my own syrup too. And we like the dark stuff. But the reason it's dark doesn't have to do with the percentage of sugar, it has to do with organic compounds in the sap and other things. So, I don't think that would be it. I do think if you cut the sugar in half, the sugar is going to make it crunchy. If I were you, I’d go back to the half cup.
SM: Did you change anything else at all?
Caller: It also called for a tablespoon of salt which I found to be too much so, I cut that to about two teaspoons rather than a tablespoon.
SM: Okay, because things I was thinking is oh, if it was quick cooking oats, they’d get mushier. Or if you were using different size pans, you might be crowding it. You know if it's not spread out enough, it's not going to crisp. It's like when you make vegetables, and you want to roast them, and you crowd them. They steam they don't caramelize you know what I'm saying, but you say that this problem did not start as soon as you cut back on the sugar. It just has happened recently.
Caller: Correct. It didn't happen when I cut back on the sugar. It may have happened after I moved to a new house.
CK: Oh, come on!
SM: Oh, it’s a new oven, that's a different calibration. No, that was a major detail come on Kayla. I think that's it. Have you checked the temperature on this oven?
Caller: I haven't.
CK: Okay, we're done.
SM: We feel a little better now. I didn't mean to give you a hard time we just don’t like to be stumped
CK: This is like a good doctor. Someone comes in and said they have symptoms, but they forget to mention like the key piece of data. Yeah, I think we're agreed.
It’s your oven
SM: You need to remember oven calibrated. I mean, you could also just try it, you know cooking it at 25 degrees or 50 degrees. Yeah, I think that's it.
CK: That's it. It's definitely just up the oven. Yeah, give it a shot.
Caller: Thank you very much. I look forward to trying it.
SM: Thank you.
CK: Thanks for calling. Next up, it's Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette hosts of A Way with Words. Grant and Martha How're you guys doing?
Martha Barnette: We’re doing great
Grant Barrett: Hi Chris, we’re talking about cheese this week
MB: Yes, Grant is a turophile.
GB: I am indeed.
MB: The word turos comes from the Greek word turos, which means cheese. So, Chris, I'm assuming that you're a turophile.
CK: I don't know if someone came up to me in the street and said You look like a turophile. I'm not sure how I take that actually.
GB: Let me ask you. Have you ever run across somebody who collects the labels or the packaging of cheese?
CK: No, but I'm sure there has to be a national association of cheese packaging collectors.
GB: Well, these people are Tyro simio files. They are people who collect those things, because some cheese labels are beautiful, but also, it's a way of keeping track of what you've eaten and where it's from.
CK: a lot cheaper than collecting expensive wine labels.
MB: Yeah, very much so
GB: Now Martha, there's a connection between that Greek word for cheese. And what we put on toast right?
MB: There sure is. Before we leave the Greek word turos, we should mention that it is the second element in the English word butter. The first element is the Greek word bous which means cow. And so boútȳron in ancient Greek is cow cheese.
GB: Right So it comes to us from Latin through French and becomes butter.
MB: Yeah, it's related to the word bovine.
CK: So please pass the boútȳron
GB: Exactly. And it's got some other connections. Cows are called bossy sometimes. And that is directly connected to the boss. Yeah. And butter coming from Norman French replaced the Anglo-Saxon word, which was ______, which was related to the modern word schmear. And to smore in the word smorgasbord, which we borrowed from the Swedish
CK: or I'll just have a bagel with a schmear.
MB: Exactly, exactly.
CK: Yeah, that's pretty good.
GB: So, we're done with butter. But we're not done with cheese.
MB No, we're not done with cheese at all. Because of course, the words cheese itself is, been used in the English language to mean a whole lot of different things, hasn't it Grant?
GB: Yeah. So, in British English, something is cheese means its first trade. It's top notch. Specifically, it has something to do with wealth and fame. And it's recorded as early as the 1830s. There is a quote from the 1900s. Van Duson rang the bell in a shocking manner as it was an electric bill, the high cheese of society overlooked the manner of it being rung. So, the high cheese, and we're going to connect this to what you're thinking of, which is Big Cheese. Yes.
MB: Right, which doesn't really have anything to do with cheese at all. The expression the big cheese probably got introduced into English from Hindi or Urdu or Farsi, where the word ch iz cheese means things. So, the big cheese is really just the big thing, the big deal. Yeah, how about that?
CK: I thought it was like the big wheel of cheddar.
GB: Well, and since you brought up big wheels of cheddar, there is a wonderful German word for describing the size of a little kid. It's the Dreikäsehoch which means literally three cheeses high. So, if you're talking about a little kid, you can say they're the same size as three stack wheels of cheese.
CK: I think my four-year-old is a Dreikäsehoch. He's four cheeses’ high, he's a big cheese.
GB: In Italian, too, if you're a person of small stature, you might be described as per essere alto come un centesimo di formaggio to be as tall as a penny's worth of cheese.
CK: Ouch that hurts.
CK: Ouch. So, what about that expression cheese it the cops?
GB: Yeah, cheese it the cops.
CK: What is that? I never could figure that out
GB: Yeah, so it's a little opaque because like a lot of slang, it's lost in the mists of time. This one originally meant stop or cut it out or be quiet, especially if what someone just said is nonsense, or they're telling lies, but it's all about the word cease. So, it's thought that the cheese is just kind of intentional mispronunciation of cease meaning to to quit, says cheese
MB: Cheese and desist. Yeah,
GB: Cheese and desist So it's about 200 years old and comes from underworld slang
CK: Cheese at the cops is much better than hey, let's desist.
GB: Yeah, actually
CK: Well, okay, so we have cheese, we have butter.
GB: Yes, Spanish has some too Martha, right?
GB: Some cheesy ones.
MB: Yes, in Spanish. If you're talking about deceiving or swindling somebody, you might say dárselo a alguien con queso which means to give it to somebody with cheese, which sounds pretty cruel. I mean, it may come from baiting a mousetrap. Although there's an old story that in the Middle Ages, you might trick somebody who's going to buy wine from you by giving them a spicy, pungent piece of cheese before you know sample this and then sample my wine and it won't taste so bad. So, to give it to somebody with cheese means to deceive or swindle them.
GB: And also, in Spanish. If you smell cheese, it's kind of the equivalent of the English something smells fishy. It means that something smells not quite right.
MB: And say cheese! You know that's that's what photographers say to you, right?
GB: No, they say marmoset
MB: in French they do
GB: Yeah, and French Chris they say ouistiti it's the French word for Maresat. Happy birthday,
CK: Happy birthday, say maresat.
MB: Yes, that's one thing that you can be told to say in French to make you smile. But it turns out that there are lots of food terms in languages all over the world that people use to make you smile besides cheese, for example, in Norwegian and Danish. It's appelsin which means orange they tell you to say orange and in Swedish they tell you to say the Swedish equivalent of omelet in Bulgarian you're told to say the Bulgarian equivalent of cabbage. And I love that the Greek word for cheese which is used by photographers who are trying to get you to smile, they say tupi, which means cheese.
GB: And we’ll say to da loo Chris, thank you so much for having us on this week.
CK: And to da loo comes to the old Gaelic, right? Grant and Martha, thank you so much, say cheese!
CK: That was Grant Barrett and Martha Barnett hosts of A Way with Words. Early in the show, I spoke with Deb Aoki about gourmet manga. You know, I started reading comic books in the 1950s starting with Superman and Richie Rich and Batman. And then on to X Men the Fantastic Four and then Tales of Suspense. But then I discovered Japanese manga and I fell in love. This was the first time I realized that other cultures were driving American culture, and not the other way around. Now this is of course true of food from sushi to Pad Thai. But the influence reaches far deeper from the South Korean film industry, to Japanese novels to design architecture, fashion, and even philosophy. After World War Two, America changed the world by exporting a free-market economy and the white bread and blue jeans that went along with it. But now the tables have turned. So being proud to be an American means to be open to the future, no matter who builds the better mousetrap.
That's it for this week's show. If you tuned in to later want to binge listen every single episode, you can download Milk Street Radio on Apple podcasts, Spotify, wherever you find your podcast. To learn more about Milk Street just go to 177 Milk Street .com There you can download each week's recipe, watch the latest season of our television show or learn about our magazine and latest cookbook Vegetables. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball Milk Street on Instagram and Twitter at 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week with more food stories and thanks as always for listening.
Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH media director Melissa Baldino, executive producer Annie Sensabaugh, senior audio editor Melissa Allison, producer Sarah Clapp with production help from Debby Paddock. Additional editing by Sidney Lewis audio mixing by Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The music by Toubab Krewe. Additional music by George Brandl Egloff. Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX.