Bryan Washington between curry bread and migas.
Illustration: Eliana Rodgers
"Probably everything," says Bryan Washington, the Houston-based writer, when asked what he likes about Japanese food. Growing up in Houston feels like having "eight kitchens within reach" is perfectly normal, and Washington is a writer whose articles often focus on food – whether achiote or Japanese curry bread – and the strange life and his Investigate hometown. Next week he will be releasing his debut novel, Memorial, about a romantic relationship that may end, set in Houston and Osaka. Already selected as an option by A24, it is his successor to the critically acclaimed Lot, for which he was named a National Book Foundation Prize Winner. Over the past week Washington has spent a lot of time signing books, watching K-dramas, testing its croquettes ("my life's work"), indulging its mother with a breakfast of migas with lump crab, and getting dim sum after the ride. by vote.
Wednesday October 14th
So breakfast consisted of egg curry rice from last night's curry leftover (based on the One Meal a Day recipe) that I ate with my friend. I usually make box curry once a week – I buy golden curry and get the extra hot one – because I think it's a perfect recipe. It's super fast, maybe ten minutes of work. I usually do a little more because I know I'll either be making egg curry rice the next day, or if I'm not lazy this week I'll make a kare pan at some point. So I like to do a little more than I immediately need. Yes, no, one curry a week isn't enough to put it easily, especially when it's a busy week because it's just so quick and so good.
I really like One Meal a Day and I haven't tried a single recipe of theirs that didn't work. I fall into YouTube holes a few times a week just watching people cook. I think the first OMAD I saw was for tuna rice, but I'm not sure. I mean, it's just very easy, very good. I learned how to make some pretty decent rolled omelets out of them, and they have a really good Galbi-Jjim recipe. And then there's her steamed egg recipe, the drunk egg recipe …
Honestly, this has been a weird damn week because I was doing a lot of promoting my novel memorial in the middle of our pandemic, so things are pretty much planned until the hour or whatever. After breakfast, I made a promo plan to see a friend in the park by the Rothko Chapel: Our social revolutions had been our respective significant people and parents since March, so this was the first time we saw anyone do she wasn't in a minute. And there aren't many third places in Houston that don't have to spend your money. So the park is in a nice phase: you have the Menil and Rothko chapels and a number of other museums within walking distance. I've been picnicking out there a lot more this year than ever before. It's just a really nice mood. So we had lunch in the park: bánh mI from My Baguettes, nem nướng from Nem Nướng & Rolls and cà phê sữa đá from Long Coffee.
I really like my baguettes. It's super cold. And the nem nướng place is right next door, right next to Long. Houston has Hella options for boba and iced coffee, but Long Coffee is one of my favorites and I usually go there like once a week. And they're all walking distance apart, so it wasn't a big damn expedition. So I hit that triangle very quickly and then I drove back to Montrose and then my friend and I cried a bit and smoked a bit and caught up with everything and ate it.
I'll be ordering the shredded Bánh Mì chicken most days, but honestly, I think the My Baguettes croissant sandwich with egg and pate and the rest of the fillings is easily one of the top 5 sandwiches in town. Light. But I always get through at 3 p.m. or 4pm and by then they run out of croissants and it's always the same routine. I'll show up and ask for a croissant and they'll say, ", we fucking got nothing because you're late." I'm just happy to be there so everything works out.
That night my friend and I discussed what to cook or pick up as it was quite late when we were thinking about dinner. At the end we fried eggs and made rice with a little drizzled sesame oil. And by the way, we had Kimchee from the Korean odle House. It's this restaurant on Longpoint Drive, delicious, and once a week I get myself a big tub of Kimchee and that's just my luck for the week. I think even if we were in lockdown lockdown and I stayed home and we all really went through it, one thing I would do every week was pick up that tub of kimchee. It was that one solid thing to count on, you know It's just damn good.
Thursday October 15th
I wanted to vote with my friend – we took the ride in the NRG stadium, and it took maybe two minutes, super organized and fluid – and then got dim sum from Fung's kitchen: fried lobster with honey black pepper, fried squid calamari in spicy salt , Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and flat rice noodles with sauce.
We always flirt with the question of whether we actually need to save dim sum because it's really a lot of food, but of course we usually go through it. Dim Sum always wins. And in the end we head to the Ocean Palace or Fung's or that other place at the 99 Ranch in Sugarland. So we took this home with us because I'm not entirely convinced about eating in restaurants yet. I'd rather just pick it up and leave a massive tip.
I ate egg noodles and fried prawns for lunch with my friend. They were essentially leftovers from earlier in the week. And then we used to have leftovers from the dim sum, so this served as refrigerator cleaning in many ways. I cook pretty often. But what a fucking privilege your problem is, having to make more room for the food that you have, you know? (This would be a good time to join the Houston Food Bank and Mutual Aid Hou, too.) I hate wasting food. I hate it.
Dinner consisted of breakfast cheeseburger and fries from the M&M grill to take away. M&M Grill, they are really great. They are Arabic influenced American and Mexican food, but they are also good at Tex-Mex and their meat is halal. The breakfast burger is really just a cheeseburger with an egg on it. But it's a solid burger – and to be honest, I'm just an egg. There is a cookbook by Rachel Khong called "All About Eggs". When it was released, I thought, "This is the best fucking day because what's better than a cookbook that is literally just egg recipes?"
Friday October 16
Breakfast consisted of French toast with challah from Three Bros. Bakery; Eggs coated with soy sauce; sausage cooked in onions; ate with BF.
Three Bros. is maybe ten minutes from where I am; They are a local chain and they have really good challah. So the french toast was pretty simple – I just cracked an egg with some milk and sugar, mixed everything up, and let the bread cool there for a minute before frying it. Then the soy sauce-baked eggs are pretty simple; It's a fried egg with a little soy sauce. When you say "basted" it sounds like a whole damn thing, but it isn't. I usually get aloha soy sauce because I just really like it, but every now and then I choose the Yamasa Usukuchi. These are usually my two default settings. I've also been using sweet soy sauce lately, but I've used it sparingly because it's a lot and can overwhelm a dish. Or maybe I have a cute tooth right now.
I cook a lot of French toast though, or at least recently. I've never made as much French toast as in the past nine months. But it's delicious, so I think, "Okay, if the rest of this day still sucks, I made French toast. I can count on that." There's a Chinese restaurant near me called Hong Kong Food Street, in the French toast is drizzled with condensed milk. But I don't do that to myself because I know if I started it wouldn't be good. ne. I would just never stop.
I'm testing potato korokke for work, so I chewed on this solo. It's partly for a piece I'm working on, partly because I feel like my mission in life is to get this recipe right. I had it a few years ago at a stand next to the Shinjuku Gyoen and have been hunting the dragon ever since. But croquettes are honestly a great way to practice deep frying since everything is already cooked. So you're just working on tweaking the color and crispness to suit your needs. But just figuring out how to get it to do what I want was a challenge.
Just One Cookbook has a great, super firm Potato Korokke recipe, but I also checked out Martha Stewart's website for the croquette recipe. I ended up finding one that was similar to a variation of Nami's recipe from Just One Cookbook and a variation of the Martha Stewart recipe, and I'm using a variation of Jo Cooks that just mix and match details. I'm trying to figure out how to take different components from each of them and make something that will work for me. It's okay if I never get there.
I started using crab meat instead of beef which I originally used and I like how that turns out. So I spent much of Friday trying that and putting off the promo that I have to do. I signed a lot of books this week: I had 70 boxes with memorials. In the weeks before, I only signed the bookplates, and I think there are around 11,000 signed copies worldwide right now. I do not go into the number. So much of this cooking, I was just tempted not to think about the boxes. I had to do these recipe tests, and it takes a bit of work, but it also didn't open 70 boxes (which, other jokes, is actually a nice thing).
My mother stayed with me tonight; She was in the area. I had an asahi, and she had some wine, and I made her doria, which is pretty similar to gratin – rice is the main base for this. Just like a cream chicken dish over rice. I make a creamy chicken stew with some rice on the side, layer the stew on top of the cooked rice, pour a little cheese over it, fry it a little, and add parsley. It's deeply comforting.
I also took some marinated onions out of the fridge (Our Korean cuisine by Rejina Pyo and Jordan Bourke has this really great recipe that takes less than five minutes to prepare, and it goes really well with grilled meat, and I'll find myself for it and hold it and package it), and also made miso soup and a really simple cucumber salad that an old roommate taught me. I usually make my own dashi, but I didn't try to do any of this tonight so I made the powdered dashi. I've started using a few of these since they were all inside and it's less work and still pretty satisfying. We played with my puppy (I have a puppy surprise) and caught up for a couple of hours.
Saturday 17th October
I made migas (a variation on Ford Fry's recipe) with lump crab meat and salsa de aguacate for breakfast with my mother. When it's over I usually try to cook a few things, that is, it's not like fucking a three day old curry.
I usually have tortilla chips in my pantry and they just chill and wait for something to happen. And then I had lump crab scraps from the croquettes so I used this as a protein base and made salsa de aguacate. I moved relatively recently, I guess a month and a half ago now, and that experience was actually the seventh degree of hell, but my only initiatory gift for me was a magic ball. I struggled against it for a while because I'm an idiot, but then I got it and it makes life easier. In order to. With that I made the salsa. And then I made coffee from Third Coast beans too; They have a Laos mix and it is super good. I first got it in Austin a few months ago so I just buy it whenever I see it now.
After my mom left I signed about 20 boxes of books and there is a show called Youn & # 39; s Kitchen that I had in the background. It is really nice. These K-drama actors – how dumb, famous in Korea – are essentially running a restaurant in Spain. This season it was probably Spain. So I looked at this and answered emails and signed a bit until my wrist freaked out and then I went to lunch alone.
I have a croissant sandwich from Nguyen Ngo (another top 5 sandwich from Houston) and coffee from Tapioca House, that boba shop on the other side. I think they might make my favorite coffee in Houston. Their iced coffee is super dark but also super sweet, and they make it so that it is just absolutely delicious. So I got two coffees from them and brought this one and the food back to eat while watching Youn's kitchen and then a bit of Romance Is a Bonus Book that I have already seen and loved.
Dinner consisted of shrimp tacos that my friend and I had cooked. I usually always have two pounds of frozen shrimp in the freezer because we're in the Gulf and shrimp aren't prohibitively expensive here. I buy a few pounds every couple of weeks and cook some of them during the week, then freeze the rest in baggied portions and thaw them whenever I need them.
We made this one with a red salsa, some sriracha, and some cheese, and then we watched the damn cool Blackpink documentary and then we did a couple of episodes of Greenleaf, a K-drama set in Memphis.
Sunday October 18th
Woke up pretty late after breakfast. I had to sign the rest of the books because they had to be shipped by Monday, and I just had to go into the ocean if they weren't done so I made banana nut scones and while they were in the oven, I started again to sign and queued some Ghibli movies in the background. As soon as the scones were done, I chewed on them with some coffee and switched between signing and emailing. I usually have Lee's coffee concentrate; It's half a gallon, or gallon, basically liquid gold.
I wasn't hungry until later in the evening so dinner consisted of fried eggs and tomatoes with crab (the last piece of meat), fried minced pork with basil and peppers, and rice that I cooked with my friend. I love crabs, but it's a little more expensive than shrimp. But I had a lot of crabs; I bought too much for these croquettes and it goes bad quickly.
For the eggs, there's this recipe from someone's mom on YouTube which is just stunning, and I've been trying to replicate it for about two years but now I can't find the video anymore. But lately I've been using the Chinese Cooking Demystified version and then fried fried crabs with it, and we had the fried pork too.
I'm really happy that the neighborhood I grew up in and the street immediately next to it were very different and my parents' friends were very different while the neighborhood I grew up in was very white. We ate a lot of Cuban food, a lot of Filipino food, a good amount of Japanese food; We ate quite a bit of Jamaican food, a lot of Nigerian food. Much of it was just in close proximity to friends and loved ones who ate many different things. The variety of cuisines and the consideration given to the variety of cuisines in Houston is objectively amazing, but not particularly noteworthy among Houstonians. It never struck me as remarkable. Then you get older and then you get more context to see that not everyone in every mall has eight different kitchens next to each other.
My mother is Jamaican and my father is from Florida. They met in Florida. Houston feels very much at home. But I've been very fortunate to be able to travel a bit, and I've come to the conclusion that many places can seem like home. Being open to different places is definitely something I think about a lot. Just being around a group of different people from a whole range of places the idea of being rooted in one place is definitely beautiful and viable, but not essential to me or my point of view. Though I'll say a lot of people leave Houston and then come back because it's so much of itself – I wonder if that would be me if I ever choose to go full time. Maybe home is really just a feeling, wherever you find it.
EAT LIKE THE EXPERTS.
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