Friday Bread Basket 10/28/22
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. I’m still working up that shokupain de mie recipe I promised earlier in the week, so keep an eye out for it someday soon. One thing I forgot to mention is that it’ll also include an alternative formula for making mini hot dog buns, which is something I worked up for Liz Cook and the excellent/gross Substack newsletter Haterade, to accompany a post about eating as many styles of hot dogs as possible at once.
Bread salad, yummy yummy
I’ve long been a fan of Judy Rodgers’ Zuni Café roast chicken and warm bread salad. You roast the chicken in a skillet on a bed of hefty cubes of crusty bread, which saturates them with chicken fat and juices, transforming them into a chickeny crouton/stuffing hybrid that you then add to an arugula salad. Alas, my roast chicken days are mostly behind me now that I am 97.3% vegetarian, which is why I was intrigued by Tejal Rao’s description of a hypothetical vegetarian mushroom version:
Here’s what I imagined: little pieces of open-crumb bread, browned in olive oil; mixed with vinegar-soaked currants, toasted pine nuts and sautéed garlic and scallions; and soaked in hot pan juices. The bread, soggy in places but still crisp in others, would tangle with wispy salad greens in a little vinaigrette, and a big pile of crisp, brown mushrooms would nestle on top. Once I started imagining it, it became impossible not to cook it!
Rao shared a recipe, which is behind a paywall, but even if you don’t have access to it, you could probably pull it off from the description alone.
I’m still working on my perfected bành mì sandwich roll recipe, which is why I was intrigued by this story about DJ Lee, Perth’s king of bành mì. The EDM DJ’s Le Vietnam is considered one of the best Viet spots in the city, and it sounds like their bread is one reason why:
Bread is the key. The first step is that traditional bread. We could’ve gone down the path where we made longer breads or bigger breads, but the Vietnamese community knows what’s right and what’s not. We decided to go strictly, one hundred percent, authentic; learn what’s traditionally done in Vietnam and keep it to what is found on the streets. My uncle is the baker and he bakes our bread on site. We make sure to never sell yesterday’s bread as well. We’re very strict on that. I want customers to have the most top quality [bread], freshest as possible, straight from the oven to the mouth.
Mighty Mock Duck
I got a copy of Hannah Che’s The Vegan Chinese Kitchen a few weeks back, and immediately knew I wanted to share something from it here. It contains numerous recipes for homemade wheat-gluten-based “mock” meats; I’ve eaten these plenty, but I’ve never made them from scratch before, which sounds like a fun project (admittedly, anything having to do with gluten is a fun project for me). I’m still working on lining up an excerpt or interview for Wordloaf, but in the meantime, you should check out this interview with Che over at The Taste:
When I started thinking about this book, there were three categories of recipes I felt I could include. First there’s temple cooking, which was developed at Buddhist monasteries in China. A lot of these dishes don’t use alliums like garlic, onions, or scallions and are intentionally subtle in flavor. That’s super-traditional vegan Chinese food.
The second category is palace cooking, which was developed in imperial kitchens over the centuries for banquets. This is where you get mock meats like vegetarian duck—dishes that are meant to replicate the look and taste of meat for nonvegetarians like the royal court for lavish banquets.
The third one is what my book is ultimately focused on: home cooking or popular vegetarianism, which was happening not in temples and palaces but in the homes of common Chinese people. These are the types of dishes that my parents would make or that I’d have at the home of a Chinese American friend growing up: endless variations of vegetable dishes to eat with rice. It shows how delicious, nourishing, and heavily vegetable-focused Chinese cooking can be.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend (I’ll be having a BBPC packing and shipping party myself), see you on Monday.
Bahn Mi is so amazing with the right bread. I can't wait for you to hone your recipe. I have a great recipe for the meat and pickled veggies, but struggle to find a good bread. Sometimes I give up and make fresh spring rolls with the ingredients instead of fussing around for bread.
The bread salad and everything bagel tortillas make this email a keeper!
For years, I've shown my high school culinary class a video from Jaime Oliver's site that shows a young woman making a roast chicken salad. It's filled with intentional sanitation and safety errors and I have my students make a list as they find each.
This year, I decided to try and find the real recipe. It's Zuni's Roast Chicken & Bread Salad. We made it the week after watching the video in August. My students still talk about how delicious it was. I'm intrigued by the vegetarian version.