063: Digestivo's Life Plan for the Week
A weekly newsletter where we share our personal notes and recap every little detail from our previous week’s videos (follow us on tiktok, youtube, instagram, and twitter @digestivo)
(JS) Team, I write to you not so fresh off the plane from Los Angeles, where I spent the long weekend working (east coast hours), hanging (west coast hours), eating (basically all hours), and playing a shit ton of Dutch Blitz. (For those who are unfamiliar, this is, in fact, a card game for children and not at all related to the Golden State’s booming marijuana industry; two enthusiastic thumbs up, fine family fun.) Immediate bodily filth aside (is there a less pleasant sensation than post-flight skin?), it was a refreshing if whirlwind trip and I once again come before you half-heartedly threatening to simply pack my things and flee this increasingly dark and chilly town. Major thanks to my freshly microbladed bestie Marg for hosting me at her sun-drenched treehouse in Highland Park.
Transparently there was not a lot of cooking on my end this week (save for another successful Home-y Made Meals sesh with friend of the letter Tosh, prepping twenty-two Nancy Silverton-inspired antipasti salads for the unhoused), but I was pretty well fed. Highlights included:
Fried chicken shawarma (nothing especially shawarma like about it but otherwise delish) and rosewater olive oil dates from Dune (would 100% recreate @ home)
A variety of rolled treats, including purple rice fan tuan at Huge Tree Pastry, beef roll at Pine & Crane, and a few pre-rolls because when in Rome, patronize the high quality pot market I guess? The latter pair well with Lodge Bread Co. pizza on the beach (my Saturn return has coincided with a newfound appreciation for indica, in case you were curious)
(SB) My beloved readers, thanks for joining us for another wacky week. As I write this, the weather has formally shifted into the colder registers (though there are rumors of a bounce back to the mid-70s shortly, I credit Jake dragging in some warmth from the left coast) and I have begun to dedicate myself with new vigor to making my apartment cozy. Those early sunsets are coming whether I’m ready or not, you know? Last week was an unambiguously celebratory time in my world. Willis released the first (and very good) single off his forthcoming album (listen here) and my impending birthday offered plenty of fodder for spoiling myself, so I spent a good chunk of my Friday afternoon wandering lower Manhattan listening to the former and basking in the latter. I’ve also engaged in all manner of Libra grooming and preening rituals, indulged in plenty of impromptu purchasing and eating, and transported two dozen oysters successfully on the B44. The cherry on top was celebrating another turn around the sun with several of you in the park on Sunday. My birthday week always leaves me feeling a little humbled by the generosity and love of the people in my life, and this year was no exception. So, thanks everyone. The moon and my heart are both full. We can return to our regularly scheduled seasonal depression content next week.
Here’s what I ate:
Willis and l kicked things off this weekend with all manner of raw fish cooked in acid from King of Fish, followed by a delicious honey cornbread leftover from another libra’s birthday at Sunny’s in Red Hook.
Birthday picnic treats abounded, thanks to many sweet friends. Highlights included pumpkin pastries and pumpkin samosas; the best pignoli I’ve had in a minute from the Fortunato Bros; my favorite sourdough focaccia; tasty low key This & That chocolates; chopped liver, pickled herring, and the tiniest slices of rye bread; and some of the finest oysters Long Island had to offer.
I also consumed a lot of toast points with sour cream and lumpfish roe caviar and a fair amount of gravlax.
IT TAKES TWO: Not Another Take On That Salmon Rice
Did you know Emily Mariko is on Substack? Neither did we, but we did make that viral TikTok recipe. Tired: Sporty & Rich. Wired: GI-distressed & Plagued by Self Doubt.
(JS) Contrary to what you might think, my FYP is rather sparing when it comes to food content, instead coddling me with a delightfully chaotic cocktail of accent challenges, thirsty gay memes, and auntie humor from around the globe. I open with this only to add that the “best lunch of the week” surprisingly managed to infiltrate my sacred screen space one night as I was scrolling before bed. In terms of first impressions, BamaRush Tok this was not – to borrow a phrase, “recipe is normal,” or so it seemed. Frankly the salmon smushing specifically was a bit like anti-ASMR and I didn’t think much of the dish until the swathes of the internet declared it 🔥 🔥 🔥 a few days later. Now roughly three weeks post going viral, there’s no shortage of hot takes on Emily’s microwaveable magic, but as devout fans of both salmon and leveled up leftovers desperate to join the conversation, we simply had to opine.
First thing’s first: I famously don’t own a microwave, so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of the “ice cube trick.” Instead I cooked a pot of rice just for this dish, adding the freshly steamed grains to a bowl atop my delicately flaked fish (a leftover filet of Eric Kim’s gochugaru glazed salmon – truthfully the only salmon I’ll regularly cook on my stovetop rather than roast slow and slow). To this I added soy sauce, Kewpie mayo, and gochujang in lieu of Sriracha, mixing everything together and finishing with a sprinkle of furikake. I sliced up an avocado, prepped a side plate of wasabi roasted nori (per Sifted’s rec) and took my first bites. Readers, this meal is rich – like, maybe too rich to enjoy as a midday meal for my decidedly millennial (SB: middle aged millennial?) metabolism. The avocado/salmon/Kewpie combo definitely needs a hit of acid to balance things out. Pickles would be your quickest fix, though tragically I was out of kimchi – pickled red onions and ginger would probably be nice. I also think starting with a sushi-style vinegared rice might also help lighten things up for future iterations – rice vinegar is perhaps the obvious choice, but I’m intrigued by the addition of something like a yuzu vinegar or Yesfolk’s kombucha vinegar.
(SB) Readers, I won’t lie to you: I have a fraught relationship with our TikTok trend towards thin women pivoting from orthorexia content to white rice mukbang. Is it nice to do away with all the hand-wringing about “good” and “bad” foods? Yes. Does food media, like all media, have a nearly limitless appetite for our fast-metabolism sisters and a tetchy attitude towards the rest of us? Also yes. In any case, I’m never one to scoff at the opportunity to drizzle Kewpie mayo and hot sauce on something and I’ve been plotting my time with thee salmon rice for some time now. Despite a few well-meaning plans to procure ingredients, committing to a long weekend of celebrating my birth to the hilt meant that I woke up today facing a choice: actually work on my dissertation or concoct a thinly veiled excuse to peruse the aisles of the Astor Place H-Mart. Long time fans might be shocked to learn that I chose to do a little dissertation work and adapt accordingly – is this 29???
In part, my pivot felt in the spirit of the salmon bowl itself: an easy weekday lunch that repurposes what’s on-hand to create a satisfying and sumptuous meal. In fact, as someone who basically hates ASMR, the best part of the salmon bowl to moi is easily its dextrous use of little snack-sized seaweed bites. I had planned to use up some leftover gravlax from the weekend for this task, but found myself with no leftovers. So, I took an hour of the day to wander my (new) neighborhood and purchase a little jerk salmon and spinach rice and drag it back to my lair. Since there was no need to microwave (though, at this point I think we can all agree that the ice and parchment paper is a nice touch) I flaked half my filet into the rice, topped the combo with kewpie mayo and a little Brooklyn Delhi garlic aachar, and piled on a little bit of mango-pineapple salsa. I had my seaweed at the ready and was pleased to find that my irreverent and naughty fusion was rather delicious: mayo adds a fatty tang to well-flavored rice. I ate my bowl around 4, but would have admittedly found it a little intense for a midday meal. (Unless, of course, a siesta is on the table.) I was grateful for the citrus fruit and a little onion in the mix, as well. Honestly, the success of this far-fetched experiment leads me to believe that the EM Salmon Bowl technique might have implications I hadn’t fully considered. Here are some ideas that I’m already scheming on: spam, egg, and rice; rice and peas as a base; brown rice and ginger miso salmon; marinated tofu and plenty of sesame seeds; or a sprinkling of french fried onions on the rice. The world is your oyster — just as long as you don’t have any late afternoon meetings.
TMYK: Oven-Baked Rice Noodles
(SB) I never really made it on to the Great British Bake Off bandwagon (“there’s still time,” roar several of my dearest friends, my co-editor pointedly not among them) but found myself immediately charmed by Nadiya Hussein upon encountering her Netflix special via the algorithm. Though I was watching in the depths of summer when turning on an oven sounded impossible, I filed away a recipe for rice noodles baked in the oven with broth for a chillier time. Nadiya’s version involves savory-sweet teriyaki chicken thighs that get a head start in the oven before being nestled into dried noodles, doused with broth, and left to absorb the moisture for about ten minutes. The dish is then topped with an assortment of green aromatics (spring onions, cilantro) and enjoyed hot.
I was captivated immediately in part because rice noodles pretty much always evoke my childhood favorite in many forms: rice hoppers, nool puttu, or sevai. The first two (are they synonyms? I think so) are often served with potato stew (potatoes, curry leaves, coconut milk… heavenly) or another coconut based curry, and while I love the combination, making the traditional nest-shaped hoppers has always been a little bit beyond my comfort zone and kitchen capacity. Last year, I tried Meera Sodha’s excellent tomato and green bean sevai, which came together quickly on the stove top and was extremely tasty. The Nadiya method promised to perhaps bring these two worlds together.
My first go-around was borne of an attempt to clear out the fridge and make dinner fast: I browned pre-seasoned Laotian ground beef and shallots on the stove, added a little chopped kale, and nestled in 8 ounces of dried rice noodles once things were looking nice and cooked. I added two 14 ounce cans of coconut milk, a little splash of water, and put everything into a 350°F oven. I topped my creation with zhoug and some nuts and slapped it on the front of the newsletter a couple of weeks ago (JS: transparency, baby!). The coconut milk worked beautifully, and I couldn’t help but dream up another (very beige!) version: preheat the oven and temper plenty of mustard seeds, ten curry leaves, a couple of tablespoons of grated ginger, and two small green chiles in coconut oil. Add in par-boiled and cubed potatoes, 28 ounces of coconut milk, and a little bit of water. Simmer for some time until the flavors meld. When the broth is fragrant (let’s say in about ten minutes), add in your rice noodles. Make sure that they are fairly covered in liquid, adding more water or (if you’re luxe) coconut milk if needed. Place the pan in the oven for about ten minutes and top with mint chutney, zhoug, and more of the same tempering as before. Just be sure not to take any pictures for your weekly food newsletter.
GLD: Carrot Ginger Sesame Loaf
(JS) While my LA long weekend was indeed jam-packed with eating, one former fave that’s not longer on my hit list is Sqirl. Moldgate was obviously not the finest hour for what was until then a media darling, but the broader allegations of years of mismanagement, bad boss behavior, and a general tendency toward gentrification fuckery left a truly unsavory taste in my mouth (it’s giving Great Jones, as the kids like to say). I mention this not as some performative holier than thou declaration – cancelation is rarely black and white, and while I’ve opted to stop patronizing the restaurant, I still find myself returning to a handful of recipes from the owner’s debut cookbook, Everything I Want To Eat. Although Jessica Koslow remains listed as the sole author, a number of staffers have come forward insisting they played a vital role in shaping the menu at Sqirl and its official book, despite receiving minimal if any credit. Former Sqirl pastry chef Meadow Ramsey, for example, is mentioned in a headnote once by first name only, while Ria Dolly Barbosa and Javier Ramos are erased from the narrative completely. I offer this context to explain that while this week’s recipe – a carrot ginger (black) sesame loaf – has become a staple of my autumn baking rotation, I’m not quite sure who is really responsible for it.
As for tasting notes, this is carrot cake for people who believe carrot cake is merely a vehicle for cream cheese frosting. (To be absolutely clear: I fucking love cream creese frosting, but there is another way!) Flecked with fragrant ginger and topped with a crunchy coating of sesame seeds, it’s categorically a snacking cake but could easily pass for breakfast. The black and orange color combination is Halloween appropriate, but an El Rey-inspired combo of black and white sesame would be no less chic; if it’s all you’ve got, plain white will of course work in a pinch. It requires two bowls and no specialty equipment. Applesauce imparts moisture and natural sweetness – bonus points if yours is homemade (s/o boyfriend of the newsletter’s mother Diane), but the packaged stuff is absolutely fine. You could certainly make swaps for the almond milk (oat, coconut, hemp), vegetable oil (olive, in part or in full), and cinnamon (baharat, berbere, garam masala). And it just so happens to be vegan. Bake one tonight as a hump day treat and enjoy it through the end of the week.
Delicious though she may be, sharing the recipe still gives me a bit of pause. Authorship is a notoriously tricky topic in the food space, but if anyone has any intel on the origins of this particular autumnal treat, I’d love to know more.
PERMANENT ROTATION: One of my (SB) ultimate quick and comforting dinners is based off something my mother often makes from the Williams Sonoma Pasta Cookbook. Here’s a rough cut that I frequently adapt: dice leeks, carrots, and celery and soften in a pan with a generous slick of olive oil. Salt. Add in a bay leaf and a 24oz can of crushed tomatoes, and simmer until looking sumptuous. Serve with spaghetti.
(SB) True Friend and one of the most supportive friends of the newsletter sent a birthday present involving these goop Sleep Chews my way (29 going on 30 amirite) and I’m a very big fan.
(JS & SB) Don’t get us started on the speed with which the new Diaspora Co x Tipoi tadka spoon sold out. Suffice it to say that Alice Waters is shaking and so are we.
Unlike Emily Mariko we do not have an Amazon Storefront (lean in!!!), but we are on Instagram.