First of all, thank you! It’s been overwhelming to have so many readers engaged, sending in questions and comments. Four food centric posts in and we’ve already received over 75 emails. With so many avid cooks reaching out, I decided to do a mail-bag post this week. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to all the questions received, but I’ll try to make this a regular thing so long as there is interest. Let’s get to the questions.
"Ryan! I’ve been learning so much from your posts. You seem to have a knack for distilling the most crucial aspects of home cooking. The best part of it all is that you present ideas in such a humorous and accessible manner. Love you, nephew! Take care! (Auntie Loretta / Seattle, WA)"
Gee, thanks Aunt Loretta. That’s not really a question, but I appreciate the sentiment.
"Hey Ryan, long time listener, first time caller. So what up with MSG? Is it bad, good, what gives? (Ted Logan / San Dimas, CA)"
Great question. First off, MSG (monosodium glutamate) is delicious. I have a bottle in my spice cabinet. I am still learning how to season with it, but it certainly can make your food taste better. MSG adds umami (savory-ness) to food. Unfortunately due to anecdotal comments from the medical community, shoddy research, and a bit of xenophobia, MSG is maligned by the public. Luckily, scientists have debunked the early research and have found MSG to be perfectly safe. A number of prominent chefs in America are also speaking up about the benefits of cooking with MSG, which is helping to remove stigma. I’m a fairly science literate person, so I’d be happy to go over research that is contrary to my opinion. Just add a comment below.
"Dear Ryan, I’m a big time home cook. I love the content here. One thing I wish you’d speak more about is the rumor floating around about Drake stealing your dance moves. (Amy Stoch / Cleveland, OH)"
Ha! I get his one A LOT! Unfortunately I can’t speak on this topic as there is current litigation in progress. I hope to speak freely on the topic once this matter is settled.
"Yo, Ryan, I’m a college kid who sustains himself primarily on Instant Ramen Noodles. I’d like to kick them up a notch, if you know what I’m say’n? Any suggestions? (John Blutarsky / Faber College)"
Thanks for the question, John. The most obvious and delicious addition to instant ramen is an egg. As soon as it comes off the boil (or the microwave), crack an egg and drop it in. I like to brighten my ramen with a splash of acid, lime juice or black vinegar preferably. A little Sambal or Sriracha are great for adding heat as well as some garlicky funky depth. Chopped scallions are another one of my favorite additions. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Whatever you think might work, give it a whirl. Hell, Roy Choi has been known to add cheese to his instant ramen.
"Good day, Ryan, thanks for all the great cooking tips. I’m in the market for kitchen knives, you have any suggestions? (Connor MacLeod / New York, NY)"
I don’t have anything novel to say on the topic. I’ll echo the sentiments of Michael Ruhlman; don’t buy a “Set” of knives. Spend your money on a 7 to 8 inch chef knife and a paring knife (maybe a bread knife if you bake a lot). Whether it’s stainless or carbon steel, western or Japanese; the most important things about the knife is that it’s comfortable in your hand and sharp. KEEP YOUR KNIVES SHARP. It may sound counter intuitive, but sharp knives are safer. You use much less pressure when cutting with a sharp knife. Trying to mash a dull knife through a tough cut is a good way to get injured.
Sharp knives are also much more enjoyable to use. I’m amazed at how few people maintain sharp knives at home. It’s my biggest gripe when cooking at a friend’s place. I can deal with cheap pans and electric burners, but there is no making up for a dull knife. I beg you, keep your knives sharp. If not for you, do it for your friends.
That’s all the time I have this week. I will get to more of your questions in the near future. Thanks again for reading.
Dinner & a Movie
Bringing you food and drinks so that you can make movie night that much more delicious.
"Food is essential for life; therefore make it good"
Shannon does it Julie & Julia style as she cooks through a cookbook and shares thoughts and recipes along the way.