Jamie Oliver Is a Decent Bloke! Getting to Know the Real Jamie Oliver | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 806
March 14, 2024

Jamie Oliver Is a Decent Bloke! Getting to Know the Real Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver Is a Decent Bloke! Getting to Know the Real Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has been on your TV for over 20 years, but how well do you really know him? This week, Jamie Oliver returns to Milk Street Radio and we get up close and personal! Plus, flavor scientist Arielle Johnson shares the unexpected ways she uses prosciutto and olives; J. Kenji López-Alt reveals his ultimate breakfast; and we divulge our new favorite spin on chicken soup, Korean Hand-Torn Noodle Soup with Chicken.

We’re working on a story about the battles we have in our kitchens at home, and we want to hear about your kitchen drama—from the biggest food fights to your everyday grievances. Please leave us a voicemail at 617-249-3167 or send a voice memo to radiotips@177milkstreet.com

Image credit: Chris Terry.

Questions in this episode

I have a lot of anxiety about a very large breakfast that I need to cook for my son's high school swim team this year. What should I make?

I'm trying to make the perfect octopus. Can you help?

I'm following up about my couscous question.

Can you suggest any sides for your Pork Chops with Kimchi, Scallions and Browned Butter?

Copy of Jamie Oliver 4 c Chris Terry

Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX. I'm your host, Christopher Kimball. Jamie Oliver has been on your TV and on your bookshelves for more than 20 years. And hopefully he's not going away anytime soon.

Jamie Oliver: As I approach 50, I was trying to like, look at people that I looked up to like David Attenborough that work in a really high level, but to a ripe age. And I just thought, well, if I'm lucky enough to have a go the next 20 years, like how am I going to do it?

CK: Later in the show Jamie Oliver up close and personal. But first flavor chemist Dr. Arielle Johnson, joins us to share a few of her favorite science lessons in the kitchen. She co-founded the Fermentation Lab at Noma in Copenhagen and served as the Science officer for Alton Brown's Good Eats, her new book is called Flavorama. Arielle, welcome back to Milk Street.

Arielle Johnson: Thank you so much for having me.

CK: You write flavor is a figment of your perception. Just In short, what does that mean?

AJ: So, we sometimes talk about flavor, like it's something that is like inside of a food or is kind of like an intrinsic property. But flavor doesn't exist until you, you know, put food in your mouth, activate your smell and taste receptors, and then your brain creates the experience in your head. So, it's an entirely you know, psychological, neurological perceptual phenomenon, rather than a strictly physical one. It has physical components, but it's, it lives in your brain.

CK: So, ham salts, you talk pretty interesting. You talked about taking I think prosciutto and oven drying it and then throwing it in the food processor. Do you want to talk about that? Yeah, that was kind of a cool idea.

AJ: Yeah, well, you know, you can add saltiness to a dish by adding pure salt. But then there's a lot of ingredients out there that are really salty, you know, preserved ones especially so you know, if you want to add a bit more excitement than just salt or more complexity of flavor, or you know, take it in a meatier or a funkier or, you know, fishy or direction, then using very salty ingredients as your source of salt is a great way to do that. So yeah, the ham salts. The idea of that is that hams, prosciutto, hamon things like that, use a lot of salts. So, if you concentrate that salt further by, you know, drying them out removing some of the water, you get a you know, basically like a ham chip kind of thing that you can crush into a powder and then use like you would use salt, but then you also have these kind of delicious, like toasty umami flavors as well. I think in the in part three, there's a similar recipe for dried olive powder. So, if you dehydrate olives like black olives, and then powder them, you get this nice. I mean, it's also like a little bit bitter and tangy.

CK: But, yes, you can walk around your kitchen, pretending you're a really cool chef too see oh, yeah, real street cred. You have a lot of charts in your book, which, which were really interesting. But there were two two things in the charts that really struck me. One is the acidity chart. And limes are like almost at the top of the chart was 7.5%. Lemons six and a half. But then grapefruit juice is like under two. Yeah, grapefruits not very sour, which is also interesting. Now, umami. This this really was interesting. Marmite has 1960 this is glutamate per 1000 grams. And dry cured ham, which I put it high in the umami category. I just think it's just filled with it only has 350. (Right) So, Marmite if you want to cook a stew or something and you wanted some extra umami in, you could put anchovies in or, you know, tomato paste are Parmesan rind or whatever. But a little jar of Marmite might be a good secret ingredient.

AJ: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think nutritional yeast is like not not as intense as Marmite, but that is a you know, very favored umami booster and a lot of like vegetarian and vegan cooking.

CK: So, let's talk about cooking because you spend a lot of time with the science of flavor, you know, with Rene Redzepi, and other people. So, give me a few things you've learned through all this that are takeaways for a home cook, what are some things people might not normally think of to boost or improve flavor with their home cooking?

AJ: Yeah, I mean, I think one is taste more ingredients, taste them before you add them and see what they taste like, how intense they are, how not intense they are, how the flavor might change. You know, think about cooking techniques. That's it dilute versus concentrate flavor, so you know if you're cooking, even something like cauliflower if you boil it or cook it in a lot of water the flavor will become milder, more delicate, maybe more flavorless versus roasting and an oven which you know removes some of the water and then concentrates the flavor in addition to adding things like brown flavor. Then things like steaming or especially steaming in the microwave where you know all the water inside of the vegetable is literally inside of the vegetable. You can get much, much more intense flavors that way.

CK: If there are two or three pantry staples, you know, I have my own list of things that I think are really transformative in the kitchen. What three things would you pick that maybe people don't have right now?

AJ: I would say smoked paprika, just in terms of what I use a lot. Smoked paprika is great.

CK: And how do you use it?

AJ: I'll add it to most things that have like cooked things with tomato in them I'll add at least a little bit you know even some like pasta sauces but also like braises and things like that or it can be great added just to like mayonnaise to make a more kind of smoky and interesting sauce. I think capers are excellent. And I you know I add those add those two braises, add those two pasta sauces. Sometimes I chopped them up and fry them and then you know put that on top of like a salad. You know, smoked paprika is good for smokiness, as a smell dimension capers is it's kind of more salty, sour, funky. And then if you eat dairy, I would say creme fraiche just because it is delicious. So creme fraiche is you know lacto fermented cream. So, you can add it to things for the fatty deliciousness of cream fat, but also really great. tankiness and this kind of like buttery flavor.

CK: Yeah, I found in the last few years. A lot of recipes put in creme fraiche, like ice cream, for example. (oh yeah, yeah) it's totally transformative. And I see in lots of other recipes I you know, put in pancakes, batters, all sorts of things. It's pretty good.

AJ: I use it like as a like brown, like sausage or even sometimes just some like shallots and capers. And then like, essentially deglaze with creme fraiche and it melts into like a beautiful sauce. If you don't want as much dietary fat, I think labneh which is strained yogurt is a fantastic condiment. You can kind of put it on almost anything as a really delicious sauce. Yeah, I mean, lacto fermented dairy is excellent. I think sorry, this is a fourth one. But in terms of spices, like a really nice like, Ras el Hanout or baharat or advia. basically an interesting spice blend that you like, you can Yeah, taste a few of them and see what you like, but they're delicious in like lots and lots of things to add complexity.

CK: Arielle, thank you so much. I learned a lot. I got inspired. And thank you.

AJ: Fantastic it was my pleasure.

CK: That was Dr. Arielle Johnson, author of Flavorama, A Guide to Unlocking the Art and Science of Flavor. Now I'm joined by my co-host Sara Moulton to answer a few of your cooking questions. Sara is of course the star of Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television. Her latest book is Home Cooking 101.

SM: Chris, before we take any calls, I'm just wondering, what have you learned recently? What's something new?

CK: No, I'm at a point in life. I just forget things. What have you forgotten lately would be a better question. Well, just one of the things doesn't have recently but years ago, I was in Mexico City, and they made a corn cake, which was delicious. It was sort of in between it wasn't cornbread it was more like cake. It was great texture. With condensed milk and it wasn't too sweet. But it's made in a blender. That is the batter is mixed in the blender. Yeah. And of course, in Mexico blenders are used for sauces. They're used for soups and everything else. But we came back and have now come up with a bunch of cakes. You can make actually a 123 cake with a simple formula you can make in a blender. That's kind of like breaks all the rules.

SM: What do you think the blender does? Do you think it adds air?

CK: No not over a stand mixer, certainly with a paddle. I just think that if you fix the fat to flour ratio, you get the ratios right. I think using a blender very quickly to mix it is just a quick way of mixing. (Okay) And since their culture, a lot of things, they use a blender. They have pressure cookers and blenders is two of their big appliances. (Interesting.) They just adapted it to the thing they use in the kitchen all the time.

SM: So, when you eat a blender cake, can you tell that it's a blender cake?

CK: No, no Rose our in-house baker. She worked on this whole week and its delicious cake.

SM: That's exciting.

CK: Yeah. And it's got a nice light texture so much you know.

SM: Much easier. I like that.

CK: That's pretty cool.

SM: Okay, this is coming soon to the magazine

CK: It’s coming soon to the world.

SM: I love it.

CK: It's good.

SM: Okay, that was worth it. And now let's take a call.

CK: Okay. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, this is Sierra calling from Madison.

CK: I love Madison. Great town. So how can we help you?

Caller: I have a lot I have anxiety about a very large breakfast that I need to cook for my son's high school swim team this year. Basically, one of the requirements all of the parents need to sign up for making breakfast for the boys. And he's a freshman. And so, we're kind of new to this. And it's 35

CK: 35 people for breakfast.

Caller: Yeah, but it's double. Because they're very, very large eaters.

CK: Are you sure, wait a minute 70 portions? Oh, my Lord. Yeah.

Caller: Well, more like 65

CK: Oh, that's much better

SM: Oh, wow. Oh, now. Well, get a grip on it.

CK: That’s fine. is this early in the morning? When is this?

Caller: Oh, yeah. So, they go to practice around 5:45 In the morning, so it needs to be dropped up around seven when they're done

CK: Oh Lord, what you have to do is get big disposable casserole pans. And you have to make something like a French toast casserole, something that's going to be layered and can be done ahead of time and then heated up. That's the only thing you could possibly do. It has to be something in bulk that can be reheated.

Caller: You think you would make the casserole like the night before and then reheat it or you soaking it overnight and then baking it in the morning for the first time? That's

CK: That's a good question. It's a little risky, but I think something like a French toast casserole probably could be in the fridge soaking and then baked off at the last minute. I think you could get away with that probably use less liquid. You want to test that on one of them first. I mean, I'm a good cook. But

Caller: Yeah, I'm not excited. I've been putting this off. I'm kind of one of the last parents to do it

CK: So let me just ask though, what did other parents prepare?

Caller: They are making the breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos that you're steering me away from

CK: The burritos interesting, do a wrap because you could do beans, you know, which is the basis of it. You could have a salsa which is easy to throw together large quantities. And if you wanted you could add eggs to it but beans and salsa as a burrito that can be done in bulk easily and you just have to roll them up at the end. But actually, that's not a bad idea. But anyway, that's a mini casserole. And now Sara’s going to tell you some fancy French No,

SM: No, no, no, I came across this recipe. Ready for this? It sounds fancy but it's not cheese sandwich souffle. So, you take two pieces of bread. (Yeah) you layer him with either ham prosciutto or smoked turkey. That's the filling with some sliced cheese, your choice. And then you put them all in, you know, like lasagna pans or whatever. You just put them sandwiches in there and maybe cut them in half. And then you make a French toast mixture. Similar to what Chris was saying, except that you end up with portions. You pour it over; leave it you know to soak for about an hour or so and then bake it off. I think you could do that that morning and then just take it but you could put other fillings in if you didn't want to put the ham or the other meat. Maybe you'd want to put some vegetables in or I don't know, but it's a beautiful it's yummy. Actually,

Caller: I love that idea.

CK: When they're done with this. Nobody's going to remember what you made the next day. (Nope) No one's going to remember (true). So I would not stop worrying.

SM: Yeah, well, we're rooting for you. And if you feel like it, reach back out and let us know how it went

CK: I want a photograph of everybody eating in the locker room. Anyway, all right. Take care.

SM: Yes, oh dear. Bye

Caller: Goodbye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you're having trouble in the kitchen, Sara and I are here to help. Give us a ring anytime 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 Aaron Smith from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

CK: How are you?

Caller: I'm doing well.

CK: How can we help you?

Caller: I am trying to perfect octopus. I've done it successfully and highly unsuccessfully a number of times and I have a particular dish that my family loves. Everybody loves it unless I really mess it up. And then it's just inedible.

CK: What's the recipe and how do you make it.

Caller: I started with the Joy of Cooking recipe for preparing octopus to start with. So I would par boil it and then I would marinate it overnight with a lot of lime juice, cilantro, mint, basil, fish sauce. That's the basic marinade and I would marinate it overnight and then I would grill it and then I would chop it up put it on a salad with some mango and cilantro and I'd use the marinade. I've reserved some as a salad dressing and it was always a big hit. That's the basic recipe with some tweaks here and there whenever I feel like adding them. But I often have issues with octopus the first time I cooked it, it was perfect. It was wonderful. The second time it was rubbery, the third time I'm the suckers are kind of sloughing off. And was disgusting I've tried everything. Maybe I read the book and said something about people used to throw octopus on the wall to tenderize them so I tried that. That felt ridiculous so then I slapped it on the counter. And I didn't know if you could over slap an octopus, so I stopped doing that. That didn't seem to have good results.

CK: First of all, let me be honest, I've never cooked octopus. The closest I've gotten is watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, where he gets one of his apprentices to massage it for 45 minutes. And that's which I'm not actually suggesting you do. But that's how he does it. It's obvious what's going on. Every time you buy octopus, it's different. Yeah, yeah, it's not in the same condition. And so, parboiling you would have to adjust the time that you parboil it based upon the condition of the octopus, how you figure that out, you can probably figure it out better than I can. But sometimes you just have to give it more parboiling time to bring it down to something that's going to be edible. Sara, any thoughts?

SM: I've cooked it with a wonderful chef, Dave Pasternak, he and I cooked octopus together for my cookbook. He's of the old school Italian variety that insists on throwing some quarks into tenderize it

CK What does that mean?

SM: The Italians think if you throw three quarks in, or at least one that helps tenderize (when you're parboiling it?). He would say no, you completely cook it before you do anything else with it.

CK: But what about the marinating overnight?

SM: He wouldn't marinate overnight, although not with lime juice. As we both know that acid can change the texture of protein. Here's what I would do. If you want to listen to Dave Pasternak. He starts in cold water. Other people say you don't have to, but you need to cook it like baby octopus at least 45 minutes and large octopus, you know, like two and a half, three pounds, more like an hour and a half until a knife goes through easily or just until a knife goes through easily. But I would also say that if you're going to marinate it overnight, don't use a lot of acid. You know, you can add that the next day.

CK: I think it's all that you're starting with different kinds of octopus, and you have to cook it more or less depending on what it is. I don't think it's the marinating. I think it's just as you said, a baby octopus (45 minutes) a mama bear daddy bear whatever.

SM: Yeah exactly. Dave also recommends if for some reason you got it fresh to freeze it overnight.

Caller: Oh really?

SM: Yeah. The texture of frozen works better when you cook it.

CK: I think just adjust the cooking time at the front end.

SM: Yes, exactly.

CK Okay.

Caller: I’ll give it a go

SM: All right.

Caller: Thank you very much.

SM: Okay Aaron bye bye.

CK: You’re listening to Milk Street Radio. After the break. It's my latest conversation with Jamie Oliver. That's coming right up. This is Mlkl Street Radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Right now it's my conversation with Jamie Oliver. He makes his return to the show with a new book. Five Ingredients Mediterranean Simple Incredible food. Jamie, welcome back to Milk Street. It's been a while.

Jamie Oliver: Thank you very much for having me. Yeah, it has been a while.

CK: Let me start with an abbreviated resume for those people who don't know the story. You started cooking at age 8 with your parent’s gastropub The Cricketers, which they had for over four decades. You found that a band you are the drummer. I've actually watched your YouTube of sundial the song which was really good. You remember the Order of the British Empire? Although I can't call you Sir Jamie. I guess quite (yeah) This is the one I just discovered this. You sold 50 million books? Yeah, some huge number external think you're the someone said you're the best-selling nonfiction author and England of all time. You did have you had dyslexia but that seems don't overcome that. You want a TED Prize in 2010 with your TED talk about food? 2019 obviously, you had some economic issues with the restaurants, but you've recovered. You just wrote Billy and the Giant Adventure a kid's book. But here are my three things I love most. You're in Star Wars as a stormtrooper. Okay, that's pretty cool. Yeah. You were the voice of the health inspector on Ratatouille, which I did not know. I guess you had to come up with a French accent.

JO: I did. Yeah. But I filled in after my voice. But no, it was a French accent.

CK: And this is the thing I like the most. You watched The Bear you tried to and you got discouraged because you notice their knife skills were obviously not proficient. And that just ruined the whole thing for you. Right? I mean that. Yeah, I just got to watch it. I have to

JO: Yeah, I just couldn’t watch it. I have to get back came because everyone's like, look, it's, it's too good. And actually, he can, he can now. And I think it was those early first programs. And wait. Sometimes I hear this from surgeons like when they watch films or dramas about like hospitals. It's like, you know, when you just the reality is gone for you. But I know I have to try harder and get back in The Bear.

CK: Well, you probably could watch Star Wars so if you can watch Star Wars you can watch The Bear. So, so let's let's talk about your TV show from almost 20 years ago, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution you came to the US and you earnestly tried to help kids eat healthier both at home and in school. You blasted schools for using pink slime and their ground meat. And you've been working on this issue with kids, parents’, government, you're still working on it. In fact, you have a new project called Bite Back 2030. But childhood nutrition hasn't gotten better, it's gotten worse. So, you're older and wiser now. So do you have any hope for the future here? And if you do have hope, what is that based on, ou know, what is really working?

JO: Yeah, I mean, I think like in my let's call it an apprenticeship of telling stories, documentaries, creating little revolutions trying to change legislation in child health, or around the food industry in farming. Like, I think I've done it in a kind of, dare I say it's sort of quite maybe logical, sensible, bit by bit kind of way. And we've had a fair amount of success, which is great, but it hasn't even touched the sides. And without sounding too dark I think the biggest hope that we've got is that we're so proficient at hurting ourselves, and the farming industry, and you know, the quality of the soil and everything around sort of regenerative farming, I think it has to get worse before it can get better. This is just my opinion. But in both of our democracies, that sort of three four-year cycle of voting and trying to land grab policies that kind of work quickly, or sound good. That's everything that's against anything to do with a child health or food revolution, you know, which really genuinely has to be like a 20-to-30-year plan. And I don't think it, I don't think it's hard but what you do need is a government that takes it seriously and sees currency in child health and putting that central to all policies. Again, it's not rocket science, it's both Britain and the United States have incredible potential. But at the moment, things around food, child health, teaching kids about food at school, or teaching them 10 recipes to save their life. It's all seen as a rather middle class, kind of luxury, not a necessity. So that has to change. So, I am optimistic but for all the wrong reasons.

CK: Let's talk about restaurants. So, you had dozens of restaurants at one time you started out at River Cafe and some other places. You now just opened a new restaurant. So, you've obviously with your new restaurant, thought about, yeah, what you've been through and the right way and the wrong way. So, what have you learned here?

JO: Oh, so many things. Really. I mean, I was 28 when I set up my Restaurant Group. And the first seven years, were extraordinary on every kind of measurable really. And we're as far as culture, training, you know, not churning so many staff like taking people literally from the pot wash to a head chef. So, we we did so well but I mean, the short of it is we pay too much for rents. And then the rates that the government charge based on the rents were like, grew by like 40% in two years. So, we just kind of ended up with essentially, like the Titanic, we we had these incredible businesses that were amazing and we had two things happen, the rents were we'd paid, we'd stupidly paid and I was too naive to smell it, see it or know any better 20% over the odds, they would obviously increase. And then we had in the UK, which is probably what happened in the US as well. We had like in these incredibly busy parts of town, which is where we were high street decline of about 16%. And if you put those three things together, like I did everything to be efficient and not die, but ultimately, the whole point of the project in the first place was can you get high-quality high-level food and ingredients into a mid-market setting? And I kind of partly proved it, yes, right but then I got it wrong at the end. So obviously You know, the best way to learn in life is, is to get hurt. And I'll never forget that lesson. So theoretically, I'm still reasonably young. So, and I felt the naked chef felt naked without a restaurant. So, I was very lucky to reopen in November last year.

CK: I have to say, though, and I watched some of your interviews at the time, you did stand up and take credit for it, though, for what happened, which I thought was, that doesn't happen very often was celebrity chefs. And you stood up and said, hey, you know, we messed up and sorry, and, you know, we're going to learn and move on. But you at least at least you stood up and did the right thing. I thought so

JO: Yeah, it's, it's, it's it's an incredible education about how important mentors and advices for, for young chefs and I was a young chef when I started that. And also, like, you know, a small whine, if I may, I think, what's the shame about governments is they don't see any difference between a mom and pops sort of restaurant that takes people, young people and trains them to be chefs, these, these mom and pops restaurants that make up all the patchwork quilt of America and the UK. Like, that's what makes towns and countries really special like, because by default, they tap into local meat, they tap into local cheesemakers, fruit, and veg. And they're not kind of necessarily go into the big companies that sort of shift stuff all over the country left, right and center that they really are tapping in. So, I mean, for me, if I had a magic, literally, on my deathbed, if I had a magic wand, I would wish that every child leaves school at 16 now with 10 recipes to save their life.

CK: But I want to go back, you have taken a lot of risk. And you've been flat out there, building a career and also doing the school lunch program. I mean, that talk about brave, you had mothers screaming at you about ruining their kids lunches.

JO: but I didn't enjoy it. That was like 18 months of hell doing that.

CK: It doesn't matter if you enjoyed it, but you did it. I mean, brave isn't about enjoying it, brave is about doing it, right? I think. So now, I'm going to compliment you on your new book because obviously, I review books all the time, I've done a lot of books myself, you know, your Five Ingredient Mediterranean, it's hard to do. Because you have to come up, you only have five ingredients, obviously, you got to have something that's visually appealing, you have to have something that has something clever to it so it feels fresh. And you've got a package in a way where it feels doable. So, I spent some time with this book. And most of the recipes have something quite clever, but practical in it. The color, someone's spent a lot of time on that because it's colorful, the dishes are colorful. I liked the way each ingredient is photographed at the bottom. But it is actually inspirational. I mean, they're good recipes. And they're smart recipes. So how did you approach this? How much time do you spend up because you obviously are somebody who spent a lot of time thinking about this? Well,

JO: Well, first and foremost. And this might be a shock to your, your listeners, but I write my own cookbooks. And many famous chefs don't. And I'm at all the shoots, and I play up every plate, or certainly 99% of them. And I love it. And I feel like it's the center of my world. So sometimes I get to write a book that I want to write from my heart. And that's not this book. And sometimes I write a book, which is trying to answer a problem. And Five Ingredients Mediterranean is really answering where we are now. And whether you like it or not, there's there's no two ways about it. We are where we are right. So, the reality is, is people don't like stressful long list of ingredients. They don't want to have like really hard to get ingredients that you can't get from a regular supermarket. There's a lot more vegetarians now than they used to be. But also, people want comfort foods, but they also want a whole myriad of different types of food for different occasions, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner. So, before I even write a recipe, I locked myself in a room about five meters by five meters, which has glass walls, and I use little stickies. And I first of all, develop what I think the chapter breakdown should be. And then within the chapter I break it down into the right theoretical blend of meat dishes, meat, reduced dishes, fish dishes, veggie vegan dishes, I haven't even written the recipe yet. And then I try and think about the different countries that I want to pull ideas from my brain and my experiences and my travels. And for this book, we did travel to a myriad of parts of the Mediterranean. And then I start to write

CK: When you're sitting down to figure out how to do a five ingredient recipe, what goes through your mind, you have, obviously texture issues, you have different kinds of flavors you want to offset. If I was going to go home and do a simple dish, what would you tell me? to sort of get me thinking like the way you think about throwing together something simple.

JO: Let's try and do a good job of this. And first of all, I think every night when I cook for my family, or my wife, I say like, how are you doing? Like, how do you feel? What do you think you need? I know, it sounds a bit hippie, but like, I really believe in that I think like, you don't just cook for the sake of is like, well, what, you know, is it cold outside? How do you feel like, do you need something that's warming or something refreshing? So, there's a bit of that going on? And then there's also sort of like, what have we got? So, I think there's all this kind of matrix going on. But ultimately, it normally centralizes around a protein or a hero veg. And then we build off of that. So, if you're kind of working with chicken, it might be chicken legs, so and then you might want to a carb. So, what would that carb be? Would it be a potato, would it be rice, so maybe, maybe the first part of the recipe is we would like roast off the chicken. Let's get some veg happening. Okay, we'll go like red onions, or a pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper. And we'll roast that. And then when it's just becoming tender, then we'll go in with the rice and some water and have like, you have the rice cooks into the chicken and into the veg and it just becomes this sumptuous thing. And actually, when you think about that, like, that's like you can probably put that together in three minutes in the oven for the first part. And then like after half an hour, you know, you've come home, you've done a few little jobs, half an hour goes really quick. Then you throw the rice in. And then you just got this sumptuous, delicious thing that you put in the middle of a table with some tzatziki. And there you go. You got a five-ingredient meal. You got a couple of veg in there, you got crispy, tender chicken, and like rice that makes you feel really happy.

CK: So I read somewhere that in the house you have there's a pond or whatever. There was a treasure in the in the pond or the lake for 150 years. (Oh, yeah) What what was that story?

JO: Well, I live in quite an old house, it’s probably 1000 years old. And the story goes that I think like the old owner accused his wife of having an affair of sorts and was somehow proved wrong. And because it was proved wrong. He did seven years of solace and dug seven massive lakes so that we know as a fact. And yeah, there's this one time, a few 100 years ago where the house got burgled. And it was really raining. And they got stuck trying to get away and the horse and cart too heavy and slippy, so they just threw all the less valuable bits and pieces in the lake. And there they sat for about 150 200 years, until the previous owners drained the lake and dug it out. You know, because you do that every now and again when they sort of dry up and, and there it all was in the silt all in spanking condition. I don't have any of that stuff. The old owners took it with them. But you know, definitely the house has got, you know, lots of stories to tell. And I mean, for me it was the reason that we moved there was there's a bunch of reasons. But the main reason was I was I just done 20 years since The Naked Chef and I was trying to as I approach 50, I was trying to like, look at people that I looked up to and aspire to like David Attenborough. And there's a few characters in the UK that work in a really high level, but to a ripe age. And I just thought, well, if I'm lucky enough to have a go at the next 20 years, like how am I going to do it? So, I my my theory was that I would do as much of it from home as possible. And actually, we've already made a series that comes out this year called Seasons, which is basically just cooking every month, throughout the seasons, really responding to what's coming out of the ground. Like there and then.

CK: I hope you get more than 20 years though you seem a little short sighted there. From where I'm sitting 20 years doesn't seem enough.

JO: Yeah, I'd like to get to 70 and hopefully see some really positive change in that time.

CK: Well, as you said at the outset, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

JO: Yeah, and we’ve got to keep on going right. Got to keep on spreading the word.

CK: Jamie, it's been, as always an enormous pleasure having you on the show. Take care.

JO: Thank you so much for your time.

CK: That was Jamie Oliver. His latest cookbook is Five Ingredients Mediterranean. You can find his recipe for lemon Satsuki chicken at Milk Street Radio.com. Some celebrities come and go while others seem to endure. The Rolling Stones are still performing more than 50 years later, whereas the Dave Clark Five quickly fell into obscurity. Their hit Glad all Over made the top of the charts and 64 displacing the Beatles. They toured the US before the Beatles did, and also starred in their own movie. Yet few music lovers have heard of them today. Jamie Oliver is still the best-selling nonfiction author in the UK after he survived the collapse of his sprawling restaurant empire while many other celebrity chefs are now forgotten. So maybe the secret is doing something you love and just keep doing it. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. After the break more of your cooking questions with my co-host Sara Melton, star of Sara's weeknight meals and author of Home Cooking 101. I'm Christopher Kimball, you're listening to Milk Street Radio. Right now, my co-host Sara Moulton and I will be answering a few more of your cooking questions.

SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, my name is Diane and I'm calling from the Berkshires, and this is a follow-up call.

SM: Oh, okay. So, what was our conundrum in the beginning and have you found the solution?

Caller: I have thanks to the both of you. So my husband and I had attended a wedding and we love the way they prepared the couscous. It was the larger size the pearl size Israeli, but I could not get that tangy, almost sweet flavor. I was trying all sorts of things at home, and everything was awful. And you suggested orange juice or cranberry juice. So, we tried to different mixes of cranberry juice and orange juice separately half you know the full cup as required? Fresh squeezed and by far orange juice not from concentrate. full cup was the winner. It was definitely we were able to replicate what we ate at that wedding and it's been tasty ever since.

SM: Well, yay that's a happy ending.

CK: What did you mix this with broth like a chicken broth? Or was it all orange juice or water and orange juice?

Caller: Water and orange juice that's what I did. We tried it with the broth and it just it wasn't there. And that was it was the orange juice. The cranberry juice was oh. I knew my dogs would suck. The cranberry juice was actually awful. Well, the orange juice was very tasty. And we were enjoying it.

SM: Fresh orange juice. That makes sense

Caller: Yes.

CK: Well, good. We had a winner. That's great. Good for you.

SM: Okay, Diane. so glad we like that follow up

CK: Thanks for calling.

SM: Bye. Bye.


This is Milk Street Radio. Sara and I would love to solve your culinary mysteries. Please call us anytime. 855-426-9843 one more time 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com

SM: Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?

Caller: This is Laurie Brainon.

SM: Where are you calling from?

Caller: Bonner Springs, Kansas.

SM: Okay, then how can we help you today?

Caller: Well, I was just reading actually in the Milk Street magazine and there is a pork chop kimchi scallions and brown butter recipe. I was wondering if you could suggest any sides that would be good for pork chop and kimchi dish or kimchi in general?

SM: Well, I think you'd want to stay in the Korean mode or Asian mode you know why not? One of my favorite things is edamame mash, which is sort of like mashed potatoes, but it's made out of edamame, if you buy the shelled edamame. So, this is frozen. You only cook it in water for like three minutes or something because you want them to be crunchy. But to make the mash, you cook them for like 20 minutes until they get very soft. Then you drain them, and you puree them in a food processor with butter and buttermilk. And it is so good. You know it's bland compared to the kimchi and the scallions and brown butter but it's a nice backdrop because you've got that brown butter sauce so it's sort of like the mashed potatoes with the butter. And one other thought and I know Chris is going to have a lot of ideas from the magazine would be I love to roast broccoli florets. And so, you know I get them pretty small so they get pretty crispy. So, since I think the pork chop is on top of the stove, you could turn on the oven to like 425 or so take the florets and roast them and then when they come out, drizzle them with a mixture of toasted sesame oil, garlic and freshly grated ginger and maybe some toasted sesame seeds. I think that would be nice. But Chris?

CK: I would have something very bland as a side I would just do white rice or I would take rice and make a pesto of some kind and swirl it into the rice at the last minute. And sometimes I'll just serve something like that with a salad. I just keep it simple because you want to focus on the scallions, the kimchi, the pork chop. That's your big flavor. And then don't worry about creating two things with big flavors just have one thing with big flavor. That's my I'm getting lazy in my old

SM: Although the edamame mash is pretty bland too, I think that would be yummy.

Caller: I definitely want to try that. But yeah, they're all very good suggestions.

CK: Laurie thank you.

Caller All right. Well, thanks for taking my call.

SM: Bye bye.

Caller: Bye bye.

CK: I'm Christopher Kimball and this is Milk Street Radio. I'm joined now by JM Hirsch to talk about this week's recipe, Korean and torn noodle soup with chicken. JM, how are you?

JM Hirsch: I am great.

CK: Korea, South Korea. You went there ostensibly for the fried chicken because there are 1000s of fried chicken places in South Korea. But you came up with the world's most popular recipe chicken soup. Again, we've discovered yet another chicken soup. And this one is about the noodles more than the chicken, right?

JH: Yeah, I mean, it is a lovely chicken soup. And it's boldly flavored because of course this is Korea. So, there's Gochujang, that fermented chili paste in it. They add some toasted sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, and then you know your usual vegetables of carrots, onions, and zucchini. It's a delicious, lovely chicken soup. But the magic is in these noodles. Now if I told you that you're going to make fresh noodles to make chicken noodle soup. I'm pretty sure you tell me I'm crazy.

CK: No, I tell you I'm not going to do it.

JH: Exactly. But what if I said it's as simple as say playing with Play Doh, because that's what it is. So, this recipe came out around the time of the Korean War when rice was in short supply. What was easy to access was wheat flour. So instead of using rice in their chicken soup, a lot of South Koreans were using homemade noodles. And again, people like ease so they created this hand torn noodle soup. And it's as simple as mixing flour, salt, and water into a lump. Okay, there's nothing fancy. We are not rolling out dough to make noodles. We're not cutting noodles. We're not using anything. We are just mixing flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and water into a lump. And then you literally when the vegetables and the chicken are just about cooked, you take that lump, you hold it in one hand and with the other hand, you just tear off little hunks and you flatten them between your fingers. almost the size and shape of orecchiette you know the little ear pasta in Italy. It's a little discs but they're not quite as even because you're just yanking pieces off this lump of dough in your hand and flattening them a little bit and throwing them in simmering soup where they very quickly plump up and become very tender and of course they absorb all those flavors that's in that broth the go to Jiang the sesame oil, the garlic and everything else. And it becomes almost a cross between a dumpling and a really tender pasta. I mean, it takes an already wonderful chicken soup because of all those flavors that are going on. And then it adds this like deeply comforting element, these chewy tender noodles that are really more like dumplings and I don't care what you call them. They were so good.

CK: So hand torn noodle soup with chicken, I think probably one of the most interesting versions of chicken noodle soup we've ever encountered here at Milk Street. Thank you, Jim.

JH: Thank you. You get the recipe for Korean hand torn noodle soup with chicken at Milk Street Radio.com

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. Now it's time to check in with our friend Kenji Lopez Alt. Kenji how are you?

Kenji Lopez Alt: How's it going? Chris?

CK: You've been nosing around your kitchen I'm sure doing something interesting.

KA: Yes, yeah. Mainly trying to make sure that kids get fed in with as minimal fuss as possible.

CK: And I've tried that too as we've discussed before, your success in terms of the range of options is infinitely greater than what I'm doing.

KA: Well, today I went classic this morning. I fed my kids the same breakfast that was my favorite breakfast when I was a kid which is a dish called Tamago kake gohan it means egg on top of rice in Japanese. It's essentially leftover rice, day old rice if you have it warm in a rice cooker great. If not, I usually just microwave it from the fridge until it's nice and piping hot. You put it in a bowl, you break an egg over it, drizzle it with a little bit of soy sauce. We usually season it with a pinch of salt, a little pinch of MSG, and then you whip it really really thoroughly with a pair of chopsticks and yeah idea is that the egg kind of whips up into this really sort of porridge like texture, but it incorporates a lot of air, so it becomes really light and frothy. So, it's a really simple breakfast. You know, it takes all of two minutes to make, for me and my kids. It's a total comfort food. I think for a lot of Japanese people, you'll find it's a comfort food,

CK: I am interested in the technique. So, the chopstick technique is simple to master?

KA: I suppose simple to master, you know, I say that without even knowing whether it is or not, you know, I hold the chopsticks the way I'd normally would, so you know, between my fingers slightly separated at the tip. So that almost mimics the end of a very small whisk you don't you don't you it's very hard to do with one chopstick, it's very hard to do if your chopsticks are together. So, you want a little bit of a gap between the chopsticks, you can also do it with a fork, and then you kind of want to whip it around and up and down. So that you're really trying to incorporate as much air as possible into there. If you don't do it properly, it does end up sort of, I don't know, slimy and mucousy, which is not really the picture that you want. Although although in Japan, people do tend to like they're mucousy and slimy is not necessarily a bad thing. But in the case of this dish, you're really going for sort of light and frothy.

CK: I don't think you should switch careers and become a salesman though. You know, I don't I wasn't that appealing. So so, let's just talk about the safety thing. So, you have two young kids still (I do) so you're not you would recommend people to want to use pasteurized eggs or

KA: I would recommend people to sort of you know, be their own Rabbi for this you know, in food safety is is everything is a question of risk and what what kind of risk you're you're willing to take right? I'm fine with it. But I can also understand why people wouldn't want to use __. I wouldn't serve this to a guest’s young baby. I wouldn't serve this to someone who is immunocompromised for example. In those cases, you have a couple options. You can either buy pasteurized eggs, which some people have access to, or you can pasteurize your own eggs in a couple of ways. sous vide devices a lot of people have sous vide devices, you can hold an egg at 135 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. And that will pasteurize it without really cooking it. So, you can do that and use that egg. You can also lightly coddle an egg, you know, so bring up water to a sub simmer, you know, 180 degrees or so put your egg in there, leave it for a few minutes, just so that the whites are sort of barely set and the yolk and everything is warm through but it's not, you know, not fully set yet. And that'll work fine as well. And the other thing is that although some people on the internet will tell you that the rice ends up cooking the egg and therefore it's safe. I've tested the temperature, it doesn't even with piping hot rice and a room temperature egg. It doesn't really come up too much above you know 115 maybe 100 If you're if you got really really hot rice and a high ratio of rice to egg you might get it to like 130 but you're not going to get it hot enough to actually properly pasteurize the eggs.

CK: So, you know a lot of dishes are about the toppings I assume the toppings are critical here or fun here or optional?

KA: I would say they're a fun addition definitely not critical though. You know most of the time growing up we had it just plain soy rice, warm rice, a raw egg, a drizzle of soy sauce, a sprinkle of salt and a little pinch of MSG and of course even the MSG depending on how you feel about that. That's of course optional as well. At most at home when we were growing up, what we would do is add a sprinkle of furikake. So, it's sort of a rice seasoning that goes well either on plain rice or it goes well on Tamago kake gohan. Our favorite style of furikake included candied Benito or dried shaved bonito flakes, as well as sesame seeds and naughty and dehydrated egg it's store about you can just buy it at the store, my grandmother would give us a sheet of nori, the kind that you use to wrap seaweed, we'd fold it up into like thirds, and then we'd have a pair of scissors and just very thinly sliced. So, you get these really fine shreds like hairs like hair size shreds of nori almost that you mix in. That's about all I do at home, you know, sometimes we might do a little side of some kind of Japanese pickles, something like that. But really, this is meant to be a very, very simple comforting dish that you make. It's inexpensive, it's made with leftover rice. It's something that you can whip up in a couple minutes for me, is really the fastest breakfast that I can think of making other than pouring out a bowl of cereal. For my kids, like most most comforting foods, it's meant to be simple.

CK: Next time you're in Boston, you're going to have to come over I'll introduce you as Chef Kenji (to your kids) You can you have to cook three meals for them and see what happens. (Alright) Kenji egg on rice whipped rice sounds actually sounds delicious. Thank you so much.

KA: Yeah, thanks for having me.

CK: That was Kenji Lopez Alt, he’s a food columnist for the New York Times and also author of The Wok, Recipes and Techniques. He also co-hosts the podcast, The Recipe with Kenji and Deb. And that's it for this week's show. Please don't forget you can find more than 250 episodes of Milk Street Radio, at our website, Milk Street Radio.com or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find out more about Milk Street at 177 Milk street.com. There you can become a member and get 1000s of recipes, access our online cooking classes and get free shipping on all orders for The Milk Street store can also learn about our latest cookbook, Milk Street Simple. Please check us out on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street on Instagram at 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week and thanks as always for listening.

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH co-founder Melissa Baldino, executive producer Annie Sensabaugh, senior editor Melissa Allison, producer Sarah Clapp, Assistant Producer Caroline Davis with production help from Debby Paddock. Additional editing by Sidney Lewis, audio mixing by Jay Allison and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole Massachusetts. Theme music by Toubab Krewe, additional music by George Brandl Egloff, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX.