A few years ago, when I was doing my final tests of this recipe—one of my favorites from Bowl—it was peak August. My poorly ventilated apartment was very much a sweat lodge, and the last thing I wanted to do was bring a pot of liquid to simmer. But I had no choice. I was on deadline. I’d learned in my research about the principle—popular throughout many East Asian cuisines—of battling hot food with hot weather, but as I sat over this bowl of steaming “summer” ramen, my hair, face, and clothes matted with sweat, I didn’t buy it.
Then I took a taste. It was so good! So clear with summeriness, such a glorious, fresh way to show off those juicy, late-summer gems. Did it help to make the heat more bearable? Perhaps. At the very least I was temporarily distracted from it. Nonetheless, I was excited to make it this year, and I’ll look forward to it next, too. Continue reading
As you know, not much needs to be done to a tomato when it’s perfectly ripe. Salt, pepper, maybe some olive oil. Still, it’s nice to shake things up a little—but maintain that same spirit of simplicity. An easy dish I like is thick slices of ripe tomato sprinkled with soy sauce, scallions, and pepper, maybe a little bit of grated ginger. The following recipe is an evolution of that idea: I applied butter and heat.
It’s one of those 5-minute recipes that hardly merit an actual recipe. Chopped tomatoes get a quick stir in a hot skillet, along with a little butter and a few aromatics. But it blossoms into something more than the sum of its parts. Soy sauce gives ripe tomatoes a lovely savory depth, especially with the slight caramelizing that happens in the hot pan. Fresh ginger brings a little burn. And that brief application of heat in the pan makes the tomatoes extra succulent. Continue reading
Here’s a salad for these final dog days of summer, one that’s juicy and refreshing and not too much work. It’s not very different from other watermelon salads out there except for the addition of cornichons, those little French pickled gherkins. They add a crunchy, vinegary zing that I never knew was missing from watermelon salads. I first tried it this way at Saraghina, an Italian restaurant in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Saraghina does things like that—adding quartered cornichons to their watermelon salad—tricks that seem obvious and revelatory at the same time. They’re quartered lengthwise, too. Why does that matter—why can’t you just chop them up into little rounds? I don’t know. Maybe it’s that they’re easier to spear with your fork, or that you get the right amount of puckery zing per bite. You just have to do it.
It’s best served very cold—start with a cold, refrigerated watermelon, or allow time for the salad to chill before serving. This might even be the time to chill your salad plates and serving platter, too. Serve it over a pile of arugula or other favorite salad greens, as directed here, or make it into a heartier main by adding a scoop of cooked quinoa to the greens. Most summery, juicy fruits and vegetables are good additions—stone fruits, cucumbers, even halved grapes. In one round for this recipe I added some torn chunks of fresh mozzarella, which made it terrifically decadent. Be creative and let the farmer’s market inspire you, but make haste. September is approaching. Continue reading