COOKING AT HOME

By Cuisine2 Minutes
April 8, 2022By Cuisine

DAVID CHANG & PRIYA KRISHNA, CLARKSON POTTER/TEN SPEED, $60

 

I wasn’t sure I could love this book – let’s be honest, I didn’t know if I could even like it. With the full title Cooking at Home, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (and Love My Microwave), it’s a cookbook by a famous chef (David Chang of Momofuku and Netflix’s Ugly Delicious) that not only gleefully pronounces that it has no recipes, but further proclaims that recipes are needless rules and restrictions that are holding you back. Now, as a recipe editor, this strikes at the very heart of my being. And I don’t own a microwave. But I do get it: he holds that to follow a recipe is to read someone else’s script, while cooking at home should be improv and easy, with whatever shortcuts are necessary to suit you (frozen veg, we applaud you). So what Chang gives you is his basic method for, say, how to boil a chicken, then you take that culinary blueprint and go from there with his ‘recipes-that-aren’t-really- recipes’ (many Korean and Japanese influenced), tasting and adjusting until it tastes how you like it. It’s less of “Did I do it right?’’ and more of “Was it good for you?”. Now that’s all fine if you’re a trained chef with a wealth of experience and food knowledge and the confidence to throw the rules out the window, but what about those of us who are less confident or trying out new cuisines? Before too long though his enthusiasm went some way towards winning me over. “This would never be served at a restaurant. I burned it,” he writes joyfully of his chicken pot pie. “It was delicious.” TRACY WHITMEY