Hot Honey Shrimp


Beginning in July, my job changed and became a lot more time consuming. As a result, my cooking and baking has gone down quite a lot. All I can say is thank god for the amazing food delivery options we have in New York city. In order to still eat some home-cooked meals, I’m on the lookout for recipes that are quick and don’t require a lot of energy, because even if I have time at the end of the time, I am often too tired to prepare a more elaborate dinner.

This is one of those recipes. You can prepare it in less than 10 minutes and it takes no more than 5 minutes in the oven before it’s ready to eat. The shrimp comes out juicy and incredibly fragrant from the combination of honey, chili, ginger, garlic, and lime. It’s spicy (and you can adjust the spice level to your taste) and sweet, which kind of makes it irresistible. It’s perfect with rice (which we now eat much more often since we bought this rice cooker and wonder how we ever lived without it) and perhaps a side of pickled vegetables (like these pickled carrots or pickled watermelon rind), whose acidity complements the shrimp flavors well.dsc05321

Hot Honey Shrimp – Adapted from the New York Times

Makes 2 servings


1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon grated lime zest
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated on a Microplane or finely minced
1 red thai chili (bird’s eye chili), very thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound cleaned medium or large shrimp, patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon chives or scallion greens, finely chopped, for serving


Heat oven to 500 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine honey, oil, cayenne, lime zest, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, salt and pepper. Toss in shrimp to coat.

Spread shrimp on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until shrimp is pink and opaque, but before the edges have started to curl, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with fresh lime juice and toss with chives or scallions. Serve with rice.

Caramel Garlic Chicken


One of the gifts Steve gave me for Christmas was a book called “The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs.” Unlike a cookbook, this is more of a reference book. Let’s say you found some sorrel in your local market and you’ve never cooked with it before. You don’t even know what it tastes like. A quick look at the book will tell you that sorrel goes with lentils, fish, and eggs but that it should be avoided in a salad. Or that sorrel, nutmeg, and ricotta cheese is a great combination.


I’d like to think that I have a really good appreciation for flavor combinations. Often when I cook without a recipe, I can actually imagine how different things will taste together and know what I should add to a dish to make it better without actually tasting it. Or at least I think I do. There are times when my flavor experiments fail, but others when they are really successful (like my broccoli, anchovy, black garlic concoction that ended up being incredibly addictive; I’m working on a recipe and will post soon).


So, when I saw a recipe for Caramel Chicken in Bon Appétit I was instantly intrigued and suspicious. I just couldn’t imagine those two flavors working together, which only made me more curious. So, I tried it and I was amazed at how well the recipe worked. Though, to be fair, the caramel here is very subtle. It’s more of a sour/salty sauce with caramel undertones. But it works. The problem with the original recipe was that it resulted in tough pieces of chicken covered in unappetizing fatty skin. So, I made a few changes and tried it again. This time, not only was the taste amazing, but the chicken was incredibly tender, with no fatty skin to distract from its caramel goodness. And I realized that the recipe name (Caramel Chicken) omitted a major component of the dish: the slow cooked garlic cloves that melt in your mouth and deliver the much needed depth to this dish. So, in addition to modifying the recipe, I adjusted its name.

Try it. You won’t be disappointed.


Caramel Garlic Chicken – Adapted from Bon Appétit

Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
8 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed with back of knife
⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
3 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
black sesame seeds (optional)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice (for serving)


Preheat oven at 325° F.

Heat oil in a large wide oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add three or four thighs in the pot. The thighs should not be crowded. Cook for 10-15 seconds on one side, turn and cook for another 10-15 seconds on second side (the thighs will not brown; they will just start to turn white). Remove thighs from pot and transfer to a plate. Don’t worry if a little bit of meat gets stuck at the bottom of the pot. Just leave it in there. Repeat the process for all the thighs.

Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits of chicken. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover and place in oven. Cook for one hour, until thighs are fully cooked.

Remove thighs and garlic from the pot and transfer to a plate. Using two forks, separate thighs in bite-sized pieces. Discard ginger slices.

Place the pot on high heat and bring cooking liquid to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 10-12 minutes. Return chicken and garlic to pot; turn to coat.

Serve over plain white rice and top with black sesame seeds (optional) and chopped scallions.

Thai Chicken with Basil

When I tell people that I love to cook, the first thing many of them ask me is “what’s your favorite thing to cook?” I am always stumped by that question. I mean, with all the different foods and cuisines and ingredients in the world, how could I have just one thing that is my favorite thing to cook?


Some ask me a variation of that question: “What type of cuisine do you most like to cook?” That’s a better question but one that I still have no answer for. There was a definite time about 20 years ago when I went through a Chinese phase. I bought books and woks and steamers and cooked Chinese food all the time. I had a mini Caribbean phase, mainly due to a cookbook someone gave me, and a mini Indonesian phase, again because of a cookbook I bought at a used-bookstore. But nowadays I cook food from many different cuisines.


However, there is one type of cuisine that I have cooked very little from even though it’s one of my absolute favorites to eat: Thai food. I don’t know why but I never cooked much Thai food. Maybe it’s because nobody ever gave me a Thai cookbook. Nevertheless, Thai food (good Thai food) is an absolute delight to eat. Sweet and spicy, with huge umami flavors thanks to the use of fermented fish in the form of dried shrimp or fish sauce (nam pla), with abundant use of chiles and herbs, Thai food is a real party for your mouth.


Unfortunately, most of the time in New York we get to eat bad Thai food with goopy sauces and huge chucks of the ubiquitous green and red italian peppers. I once ordered a pad thai at a restaurant in my neighborhood that was downright inedible. I mean, how difficult is it to make pad thai?


So a couple of years ago I decided that I would take matters into my own hands for at least one Thai dish. I chose chicken with basil because I had a lot of basil that I needed to use and because I generally like the dish when I get it in restaurants. I did a pretty extensive research online and found a lot of recipes but I finally settled on one. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I got it. Fortunately, it’s a winner


This is a deceptively simple dish to make. It takes a little time to prepare and almost no time to cook. But it packs so much flavor, it will knock your socks off. Don’t be concerned that there is only a little sauce in your pan when you’ve finished cooking. It doesn’t need a thick and syrupy sauce like what you’d get in most restaurants. Serve it over plain white rice and you’ll see what I mean.

Thai Chicken with Basil

Makes 2 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 medium onion, cut into very thin slices
2-3 fresh red chiles, cut into very thin slices
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups lightly packed basil leaves (holy basil or thai basil is best but regular green basil works fine too)

Using a very sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts crosswise into thin strips, about 1/4 inch wide. Then turn the cutting board 90° and chop the chicken strips into very small pieces. It should end up looking like coarse ground chicken. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with the fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

In a large nonstick frying pan or a wok, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the chiles and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds longer.

Remove the chicken from the marinade with a slotted spoon and add it to the hot pan (very little marinade will remain in the bowl). Cook until no longer pink, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the marinade left in the bowl and cook 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil until it’s wilted.

Serve immediately over plain rice.