Vagabond Cookbook

The best you ate on vacation? Make it at home tonight.

Image of Spanish tuna poke

Spanish Tuna Poke

After last year’s string of rants, everyone knows my thoughts on summer. This year’s no different. The sooner everyone trades their board shorts and bellinis for textbooks and tea, the better. Let’s leave it at that. A hot summer day plays tricks with your palate, though. I’ve never been one to shy away from a rich meal (hell, I’ve roasted turkeys in July with all the fixin’s). But, it’s been creeping into the 80s here in Seattle this week and the heat’s knocking me dead. Suddenly, pot after pot of Texas chili doesn’t sound so good. Even my old standbys — pizza, takeout Thai, gyros — are too heavy for sitting pantsless in front of the fan, binge-watching Stranger Things. So, I’ve done as the clichés commanded — I couldn’t handle the heat and I got out of the kitchen. Instead, I’m looking to the masters of off-the-cuff hot weather […]

Image of shrimp jungle curry cooking

Girl, this curry’s gonna make you sweat (a la la la la long)

Clearly, we’re at the end of days. Maniacs are terrorizing the planet. Disease and destruction abound. The greatest rock stars in history are knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door to sound the seven trumpets (as if Prince couldn’t handle it himself). His Purpleness could do anything. All the media panic over the state of our world misses one big question, though: What’re you gonna eat when the Rapture comes to town? “Whoa! Lighten up, D! No need to go all Jim Bakker on us!” You’re totally right. Still, it’s worth considering how you’ll survive in an emergency. Even in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland, you’re gonna have to make dinner. At least we’ll have forks covered. If you’re like me, you have an old pirate trunk stuffed with storage water and cans of Chunky Chicken à la King. (Or, you’re a normal person who’s never given it a thought.) Either […]


What’s cooking… without cooking?

Riddle me this! What’s cooking… without cooking? The dream of single mothers everywhere? Probably. But, let’s try a little harder. Need a hint? How ‘bout this li’l ditty? Bright and fresh with ocean brine I go great with crisp white wine Especially on the Latin coast (Mexico, sure, but Peru the most). Tart and tangy, soft and sweet, I am cooked, but without heat. Acid turns me firm and white, Without any fire in sight. What am I? Give up? Clearly you’re not the Riddler-loving, brain-teasing dork I am. That’s OK, though. Ceviche doesn’t discriminate. Ceviche (say it with me now, “suh-VEE-chay”) rules the school of raw-ish fish preparations that now dominate restaurant menus and cooking TV shows (sorry, pesca crudo). At its simplest, it’s just sea critters and lime juice (although tomatoes, cucumbers, and chilies often find their way into the mix). The lime juice denatures the proteins in […]

Chinese black bean mussels

What I always want when I order Chinese food

When I see people eat Chinese food in the movies, it always gets me down. Sage words from Dr. Venkman. True, I lived in China and I’ve got strong opinions on all things sweet ‘n’ sour, but it’s not what you think. It’s not the mispronounced words, the bad chopstick technique, the “inauthentic” dishes (whatever those are). It’s the takeout cartons. From Manhattan to The Lost Boys, Chinese takeout on screen means those little paper cartons. BFFs pass them back and forth, shoveling lo mein and moo goo gai pan into their faces while we all laugh or cry or shriek at their antics. They’re awesome. But, you don’t get those cartons in Canada. You don’t get them in China. In real life, Chinese delivery comes in Styrofoam containers like a 1990s McDLT. Remember this fossil? Until recently, I thought those cartons (called oyster pails) were fake, a myth dreamt […]

Pan-Fried Cod with Stewed Lentils and Smoked Paprika Aioli

This surprising ingredient is a huge waste of money

“If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack / to sit in the synagogue and pray / and maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.” – Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof Sadly, Reb Tevye and I just don’t see eye to eye. Now, I love Fiddler on the Roof (weirdo that I am). The Imperial Russian setting. TheChagall nods. The klezmer wailing. But, if I were a rich man (ya ba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dum), there would be no big, tall house with rooms by the dozen. There’d be no discussing holy books with learned men. No, if I had a small fortune, it’d look more like these guys. Not that it matters. Agree with Tevye or not, I still ain’t rollin’ on 20s. Cash rules everything around me and I need to take note when I go to get CREAM. Rather than […]


Bum rush the show with Flavor bouncin’

Need a showstopping dish for a hot date this summer? Clueless where to begin? No worries — Cook Somethin’ has you covered. Now, there’s a sunny summer dish that’ll drive your she-bear wild. Here we’ve got some coffee-crusted scallops, carrot-orange puree, pickled fennel, and some coffee-roasted carrots. Bonan apetiton! “Dude, your Esperanto is outstanding. But coffee and scallops? Sounds grody to the max!” You’d think that, wouldn’t you? But, it’s not. This dish works. It works really, really well. And there’s a reason behind it. Welcome to the magic world of flavour bouncing. Did somebody say Flava? It’s a simple idea, really. Pick an ingredient. Pick another one that goes with it. Then a third flavour that matches them both. Then a fourth, and so on. (Don’t trust me, though. Watch one of the world’s greatest chefs explain the concept here.) Flavour bouncing is the foundation of everything* that tastes good. Pizza margherita? […]