ZAK: It's Food Friday and today on the show a smorgasbord of cooking advice.
ELI: My name's Eli Sussman. I'm talking to you from Brooklyn, New York and I'm one of the co-founders and chefs of Samesa Restaurant which is a Mediterranean restaurant.
ZAK: Today's advice revolved around being resourceful in the kitchen and the first thing to consider, says Eli, is that recipes are meant to be fungible.
ELI: You need to understand that it's not a legally-binding document. You can navigate away from that recipe. So think about ways that you can use what's in your cabinet and not have to rush out and buy 100-dollars of ingredients every time you want to make a recipe. So think about spice substitutions. If it calls for a certain, specific type of spice that you don't have on hand, google it, figure out what it may sort of taste like and see, ok, I don't have Aleppo flake which is something we use a lot in cooking at the restaurant. But ok, I can use chili flake and achieve a similar result. Ok, I don't have sea salt. Can I use regular salt? These are certain things you learn overtime while cooking...just what works as a good substitution. The recipe calls for brown rice. I don't have that but I do have, you know, spaghetti. Is it gonna be weird if I cook it and serve it over spaghetti? Or is it gonna be fine? Is it gonna be better? So there are all these different ways where you can tweak recipes and move to a place where you're actually using up the things that are in your cabinets as opposed to just always buying new stuff which leads to this scenario where you have so many things that you just have sitting around that you never end up using because you're afraid to experiment and use them in a way where you're substituting for a specific other items in recipes.
ZAK: That's great. Do you have advice about how to use up the odd stuff in the kitchen?
ELI: Yeah, totally. I think the best way to use up vegetables that are just sitting around in your fridge is to just do a stir-fry. And basically a stir-fry works in any ethnic style of cuisine that you like. If you're going for a Vietnamese, Italian, Indian root, whatever type of food you may feel comfortable cooking, or not, but just simply roasting some vegetables in a pan, getting the pan hot, sautéing them, letting them get some caramelization, break down a little bit. Covering them with a good amount of spice that you're comfortable with and then serving them just with either a grain that you have. Like that's a full meal. You don't need protein in every single meal and that's an awesome way to get rid of just vegetables that are just sitting around. And then if you have a lot of starches around, I love to cook potatoes and have them in my fridge as a building block to a meal. So a lot of people will peep and blanche potatoes right before the meal. But I say get a big bag of sweet potatoes or Yukon Golds. Two sort of things that cook very quickly and easily just by boiling them in water and are delicious on their own and then you can use them breakfast. You can turn that into a hash. You can put it in a salad and eat it cold for lunch and then for dinner, you can take those cold pieces of potato, toss them in a little bit of oil and roast in a pan or in the oven till they get crispy and then serve them with a piece of chicken. You don't beed to cook everything to order for every single meal that you have and that's a good way to get rid of a bunch of stuff.
ZAK: Eli Sussman and his older brother, Max, are the authors of several cookbooks. Most recently, Classic Recipes for Modern People. This has been another episode of Food Friday. Thank you so much for listening. And as always, I want to hear your advice...your food related advice especially. Give me a call on the hotline at 844-935-BEST