Here are some suggested dishes to accompany the stories in this issue, directly from a few of the authors who wrote them.
I make a bowl of oatmeal on the stove—the cheap, one-minute kind of oats—following the directions on the box that tell you how much oatmeal, how much water. Always use water. Boil it, add the oats, stir. I throw in a little rosemary, black pepper. Once the oats are cooked, I take the pot off the stove and pour the stuff into a bowl, spoon on some shredded parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil. You can use butter instead of oil, if you want. That’s it. Poor man’s risotto, you might call it. When I’m feeling decadent, I might add sautéed porcini mushrooms. Or bacon.
These are the most amazingly easy treats to make. I love making them for other people because they’re delicious, and it’s not too often you see a mango muffin. Everyone’s always making banana or pumpkin bread.
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups diced fresh mango
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
3. Make a well and add remaining ingredients.
4. Mix until well blended.
5. Pour into a greased and floured muffin pan.
6. Bake at 350°F until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. A nine-cup muffin pan might take 25–30 minutes.
—A. L. Major
This recipe comes from my Buddhist teacher, who grew up in Sikkim, India. He taught it to my mom when he came to her place for dinner once, and she taught it to me. It is very cheap and easy to make. You need an onion, tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, red lentils, olive oil, and basmati rice. You also need spices: cumin, coriander, mustard seed, and turmeric.
You chop the onion and cook it on low heat, in olive oil. You cook it so slowly—as slowly as you can take it—that it should take about half an hour to brown. Then you turn up the heat and toss in a spoonful of mustard seeds, stir them around, and add a spoonful of turmeric. Sauté it a few minutes and then add the red lentils (about two cups washed and drained). Sauté them in the oil, and then add a few inches of water to cover the lentils. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer. Keep an eye on it while you make the rice in a separate pot, and chop up the tomato, cilantro, and jalapeño.
When the rice is done, the dal should be, too. Add a small spoonful each of cumin and coriander, and then add salt. Serve like this: put rice in a bowl, add dal, then add tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeño.
There are food vendors on almost every corner in Seoul, South Korea, who sell a variety of piping hot street snacks. My absolute favorite is ddeokbokki, a dish of spicy rice cakes marinated in sweet-red-pepper-paste sauce. The vendors would add deep-fried dumplings, chopped intestines, or noodles on request. I’d stand on the street with strangers and eat this snack with toothpicks.
1 pound tube-shaped rice cakes
4 cups water
7 large dried anchovies
1/3 cup hot-pepper paste
1 tablespoon hot-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 green onions
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 carrots (optional)
handful of cabbage (optional)
1/2 pound fish cakes (optional)
(Hint: For extra-soft rice cakes, soak in warm water for 30 minutes before cooking.)
1. To make stock, bring water to boil in a shallow pot. Add anchovies and simmer ten–15 minutes.
2. Mix hot-pepper paste, hot-pepper flakes, and sugar in a small bowl.
3. Remove anchovies from pot and add the rice cake, hot-pepper mixture, chopped green onion, carrots, cabbage, fish cakes, and hard-boiled eggs.
4. Stir while simmering for about ten minutes, until rice cakes soften and sauce thickens.
5. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
—Hannah H. Kim
Illustrations by Rich Guzmán
More from this year's Fiction Issue: