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Love Letter Day 14: recipes/receipts
Love Letter Day 14.
Food is a love language. Hunger is the most satisfying pain to alleviate and food is all you need. Food will have been “a thing” in my life for as long as I exist, existed, will exist. I roll my eyes a little when I hear “my stinky lunch” stories at this point, tellement j’en avais entendu des histoires c’est devenu banale.
My regal wealthy grandmother, being told by a cab driver in Tokyo that he can tell she’s Korean because she stinks like garlic. No one stinks like garlic the way you Koreans do. My grandmother—unmovable, laconic, matriarch—apologizes and bows her head. I am appalled for her but when we get home we immediately eat four different kinds of kimchi in her opulent estate gilded in marble and cherrywood while watching Minomonta host Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Japan.
My sister, whose eyes light up in a way that you’d think she was approaching religious ecstasy, whenever she eats something decadent, precisely because her eating was violently disordered by this cruel world. She can’t go a day without feeding her inexorable loneliness with physical pain. It’s OK, sis. I’ll make us some dinner until they tell us we’re loved, lovable.
These are the receipts of hunger. Here is my recipe for love. A bird broth, because love is liquid. Love is warm. Love is full of fat and is extruded from the marrow of our outermost parts because love is everything.
1 pound each of duck wings, chicken feet.
2 giant carrots, the kind you get at the Asian market.
In fact, do all your shopping there and treat yourself to some jello or steamed buns after you’re done.
I got in a fight with someone for a parking spot there the other day, and later I realized I was yelling at a dad whose kids were in the back seat and I felt both like “gosh I hope those kids know their dad is fallible” and “gosh I should never embarrass an adult in front of their kids.”
Onions, Cilantro, Ginger should all be in your fridge around the clock.
Chinese Chives and or Chinese Leeks.
Kombu and don’t you dare ask what it has to do with kombucha.
Pickled mustard greens, you salty salty crunchy perfect specimen. I could legitimately live off pickled mustard greens and root on rice or noodles, forever.
Garlic is my god.
Start a kombu dashi by soaking two sheets of dry kombu in like, I dunno, six cups (?) of water overnight. Don’t heat it or anything just let it soak like it’s on vacation. Eventually when you have the time, Sis, roast the bird parts with the carrots and 2 onions and a knob of ginger and leeks/chives for 2 hours on 375. Oh, and it should go without saying but you should douse this stuff with your favorite salt and as much or as little of that as you want. Don’t feel like you have to impress anyone or hurry this stuff. Just do it if you feel like it. I highly recommend you sip on some vermouth on ice while working.
When the roast is done—you’ll know because the smell will make you want to eat something else entirely like a pizza or instant ramen—drown the whole affair with the kombu dashi. Trust me, that water is tasty enough and will get tastier once you start cooking. Deglaze that baby. Scrape it all into your stock pot. I finally invested in a nice one but don’t worry if you don’t have that around. Just push everything into a couple pots if it doesn’t fit, and then you can even experiment with two kinds of bird broth.
Bring that soup to a simmer and let it do its thing for as long as you want. It’s bird, not cow or pig, so it doesn’t have to cook that long. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. You now have broth.
You can add aromatics and whatever, but I’ll be honest, you can do more with the additions at the tail end, and this isn’t a pho or bakmi recipe after all. This is just your baseline broth.
Here’s how I would dress it up if I were serving you. Here’s how I would honor you with my food love:
I would make sure this soup had as much fat as you would tolerate. I would even sneak it in there. I might prepare a subtle fat like a soft boiled egg, its yolk slipping into your system like a late night text. Sup. Otherwise I’d go for a full blown pork belly, but like you know, purchased. I am not about to stay up all night making a kakuni. I would chop so much cilantro and fresh ginger and coat the top of the bowl with it. Those mustard greens I mentioned? I’d make sure you got an introduction to it but if it’s a texture issue, I’d happily replace it with more fat or more acid. If the texture doesn’t bother you, I’d introduce poached mushrooms, pickled kombu, wakame. If you love the way your tongue feels as much as I love the way my tongue feels, I would heap a big spoon of either chili crisp oil, or a homemade scallion oil. Scallion oil is simply scallions blended with a light oil. I like to add a preserved lemon and some thai chili peppers because like I said I love the way my tongue feels when it feels.
I am not going to mention the noodle or whatever else we need to put in the broth as a vehicle for the various ingredients. I want that to be your call. Pho, bifun, maifun, lamyun, lanzhou noodles, rice, carb-free carbs, spaghetti, dumplings, my heart, your hands, you get the idea.
Let me feed you. It is all I have ever wanted to do.