“What’s this?” I asked on my first visit to Seki, an unassuming izakaya — a Japanese bar with food — in a quiet corner of Washington. The menu was typically simple, listing sashimi, fried octopus, grilled eel, tempura, pickles, skewered chicken hearts and monkfish livers. And something I’d never seen before: ara yaki.
“Oh,” said Cizuka Seki, who runs the restaurant with her father, Hiroshi, a short, stout, gruff but pleasant man who trained in washoku, traditional Japanese cuisine, in Tokyo. “We roast fish scraps, the leftovers from butchering the best fish.”
“And you serve it with . . . ?”
We’re talking about grilling this month on #BittmanTopics, and Mexican-style grilled corn makes an easy, vegetarian snack or side dish. Lots of ways to sauce it, too—I’ve included six here. What are you grilling? Let me know in the comments.
Everyone has an opinion about the best way to grill corn. Some swear you have to soak the ears in the husk before grilling. Some say you should peel back the husk, remove the silk, then butter and season the corn and wrap it back up to grill.
Personally, I love the charred, popcorn-like flavor that corn gets when it’s exposed directly to the flame, so I grill my corn out of the husk and until it’s browned — really browned — in a few places; as it happens, this usually leaves other parts bright yellow. Not only is this super-easy but it results in the kind of flavor I associate with the crunchy street corn of Mexico. Read the rest of this article and get the recipe here.
6 Sauces for Grilled Corn
- Mayonnaise with lime juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper
- Olive oil, chopped basil, and Parmesan
- Crumbled feta, plain yogurt, lemon juice, oregano and cumin
- Mayo, minced garlic, pimentón and parsley
- Coconut milk, cilantro, and mint
- Simplest: Butter, salt, and black pepper
In public appearances and classes this semester, I’ve talked about eating better and improving the food system in ways that would enable more of us to do so. That’s a discussion about food.
Invariably, someone asks me, “How do you help people eat well when they can’t afford food?”
That’s not a food question but a justice question. Without economic justice there is no nutritional literacy, there is no good eating, there is no health.
Read the rest of this column here.
Here’s how to make steamed fish without a recipe, with any vegetables you like or have on hand—a foolproof, versatile technique with a built-in side dish.
There is some talk about the food movement’s winning. I’m not even sure such a thing as a food movement exists.
Yes, we have seen some encouraging developments: a promised reduction in the use of antibiotics by Tyson Foods and McDonald’s, a marginal wage increase by McDonald’s for a small portion of its worst-paid workers, a reduction of the use of artificial colors by Nestlé, Kraft and others; the elimination of aspartame in some diet drinks by Pepsi (to be replaced by different artificial sweeteners, of course); a more sweeping (and credible) announcement on additives by Panera; and Chipotle’s claim to have all-but-eliminated foods produced using genetic engineering.
Wage increases and reduced antibiotics are welcome developments; the rest of this barely registers in its significance. Replacing aspartame with sucralose or high fructose corn syrup with sugar is rearranging the deck chairs. (The Panera move seems exceptional, but Panera is a new-wave company and has shown some principles from the start. They’re not reacting to pressure from the food movement but from their enlightened chief executive, Ron Shaich.)
Read the rest of this column here.
My latest book, A Bone to Pick, goes on sale today. I’m particularly excited to share this book with you because it brings us one step closer to addressing the shortcomings in our flawed food system.
Until pretty recently, most of us didn’t know what a “food system” was, let alone that ours wasn’t working. But as issues of how our food is produced and consumed—and the impact of both on our health and environment—creep further into mainstream culture, media, and politics, more of us are realizing what’s at stake and speaking up about it.
So read the book, then share it with someone. Keep the conversation going on social media with #ABoneToPick, and see how it ties in for you with this month’s #BittmanTopics. There’s a whole lot to say.
Whether you’re cooking it, eating it, growing it, or reading about it, food brings people together. Welcome to #BittmanTopics: a place where we can all share ideas about a different food-related topic each month. In case you missed the first installment, here’s how it works, and here’s what we talked about in April.
For many of us, May is a transitional month: it starts as spring and ends around Memorial Day, often with heat and humidity. Grills are coming out of hibernation; I’d like to hear what you’re doing about that.
There is nothing more iconic than the burger, and there’s no denying that the grilled burger is pretty tasty. But there are lots of ways to venture beyond the basic, whether you’re doing it for taste or because the true cost of a cheeseburger is so high. You don’t even need meat: I’ve been doing the less-meatarian thing for a while now (and even wrote a book on it), and most of these 101 fast recipes for grilling are vegetarian. Have a look.
Meanwhile, what’s your favorite—or most unexpected—thing to throw on the grill? How do you cook vegetables outside? Do you cut back on meat when you’re grilling, or go (forgive me) whole hog? Whether you’re a grillmaster or a first-timer, join us this month on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below with #BittmanTopics. And keep an eye out for details about a tweetchat, which I’ll be hosting later this month thanks to Natalie Shrock’s suggestion on Facebook.
I introduced #BittmanTopics a few weeks ago as a way to share ideas. We started—unsurprisingly, maybe—with spring produce, and were happy to see all your thoughts here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Regardless of the stage spring is at in your nabe, by the looks of it we’ve all been eating well.
Below are some comments and photos that you might find interesting. (Don’t worry; I had to look up murcotts, too.) Check back here on Monday for May’s theme.
“Spring ‘Succotash’…peas, favas, asparagus, spring onions, young carrots. We’ll be sick of this dish just as soon as some others take their place at the table!!!”
“Spring here means harvesting the fava beans, turning the stalks & leaves into the soil to prepare the beds for tomatoes and sharing the shucking & pealing of the favas with a few neighbors. Then enjoying green caviar for dinner. #suburbounty”
-Armelle Vanazzi Futterman, Facebook
“One neighbor is harvesting morels from his yard and another neighbor has an impressive spread of water cress growing in our valley’s spring. I am eyeing the morels, gathering wild onions for stock, putting dandelion greens in everything and eating as much rice, watercress and pecan salad as I can. I use a walnut oil vinaigrette and add some corn and edamame for heft. If there isn’t time for a salad, the watercress is delicious all by itself. The bright, peppery leaves scream Spring.”
-Anna Lingo, markbittman.com
“Favorite 20 minute spring produce dinner – chard sautéed with green garlic, stirred into scrambled eggs, served with murcotts #onepictureisworth140characters”
“I grow in the southeast, zone 8b in high tunnel, so my seasons are a bit mixed up. This past winter we grew an English pea called ‘Willet wonder’ that we harvested as immature young pods and discovered they’re even more delicious than green beans when simply steamed and add a bit of butter and salt. Plus, they just kept coming. I didn’t see this suggestion to grill them until after the season was over, but I’m keeping it in mind for next year. http://ourfourforks.com/grilled-sugar-snap-peas/”
-c. hennes, markbittman.com
“I have a pizza crust recipe to use when I have a little of this and that for veggie toppings and a scone recipe when I have just a few berries or fruits. I’ve made some things so many times I don’t use a recipe anymore, and know what kinds of things I can substitute. The main idea behind seasonal eating is flexibility and developing a taste for new things. When I find a recipe that allows creative substitutions I save it. When I have a lot of some ingredients I oven roast and freeze. I currently have a lot of red cabbage and I’m looking for ideas.”
-Carolyn Hennes, Facebook
“Mint. Mix ¼ cup of fine shreds with a cup of Greek yogurt and put it in lentils; on beets; fresh fruit; pancakes. Mint Julips are nice too.”
-Jacqueline Chama, markbittman.com