Tittsworth manhandling his mighty grill
In this space, I bring you recipes for food stories from the globe's most cookin-est DJs, paired with carefully selected music for culinary enhancement.
Ever since kicking off my column on DJs and their food porn, I always knew Tittsworth would find his way in here. For over a decade, the club music guru has been churning out Baltimore club and moombahton hits while dancing on the edge of culinary experimentation. It's difficult to convey how hard this man reps the DJs-cooking-dope-food game. He munches on live octopus on the reg, he has tattoos of octopi all over his enviably svelte torso, and even his logo is of a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-type of monster octopus. The dude's obsession doesn't end with tentacles; he also owns a club in Washington DC that sells pho-infused hot dogs. And he titled one of his LPs Old Bay Seasoning. In other words, he just gets it.
Originally, we were going to try to cook something at my place in Philly using a Sichuan pepper (collected from his mom in Maryland) that makes your whole face numb. Mercifully for my tongue, those plans fell through. Instead, Tittsworth emailed me a few photos of the inner sleeve of his Club EP from the mid-2000s. He had used a sharpie to write all over it, and interspersed with some insults and a shopping list akin to the demands Brendan Fraser makes to the cops in Airheads, there it was: a recipe for Tittsworth's Fried Chicken Wings—a recipe he calls his "identity dish."
THUMP: Sir Tittsworth, welcome to Cooking With The DJ. Tell the folks about yourself.
Tittsworth: My name is Jesse Randol Tittsworth. I'm a half-redneck, half-Chinese military brat that lived in four cities before the fourth grade. I did two decades living all around the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. I helped open U Street Music Hall and once it turned two, I moved to LA. I live in downtown LA, three blocks from Skid Row, in a highly gentrified neighborhood.
I [just] finished DJing in 40 cities [throughout] the second half of last year, with a quick stop-off in Asia. I've been producing for quite a while and co-run T&A Records with my homie DJ Ayres [DJ Ayres also gave us his world-famous chili recipe in a previous column -ed]. I'm known for being a pretty adventurous eater and have "TRIPE LIFE" tattooed on my inner lip.
You have a reputation as an adventurous eater. Name me your top five foods you've eaten that are either A) alive or B) organs, or C) both.
My top five live animals are Japanese-style live octopus, Korean-style live octopus (but they still have to be whole), oysters, lobster, and Singapore-style drunken prawns. My top five offal are izakaya-style chicken hearts, dim sum-style tripe and chicken feet, lengua tacos, fish eye broiled Chinese-style (a tradition with me and my mom), and pig ear that's been roasted American BBQ-style.
Tiitsworth on one of his many culinary adventures
OK, so what are we cooking right now?
Fried chicken that my homegirl Magda calls my "identity dish" because it has ingredients reflecting my inner redneck, Asian, Marylander, and fat kid.
How did you come up with this recipe?
Being drunk and fat. Seriously, I used to be 100 lbs heavier, and would have homies over to just start frying shit while chugging out of a handle.
Do I have to be a genius to make this? What's the trick to making the dish work?
Not at all. Although you might need a genius to spring you out of cardiac arrest after. I'd say experiment with what seasonings you like in your batter. For example, I might throw Old Bay and some Sichuan pepper salt in with the flour batter, but save just a light sprinkling of five-spice powder for a dusting before serving, along with more pepper salt. But that's me. Also don't let that oil get too hot. Take the pot on and off if you need to regulate, and keep in mind that dumping a bunch of chicken in there at once is gonna drop that temperature.
What should we be listening to while we cook this?
Thanks Jesse! Bon appétit!
Tittsworth's Fried Chicken Wings
6 eggs, scrambled
Quart-sized bag of flour
Salt and pepper
Old Bay seasoning
Optional, to taste:
2 beach towels
2 boxes of tampons
1 carton of cotton balls
3 industrial-sized fans
Tittsworth left us with only the instructions on the record sleeve as guidance. When asked to elaborate, he declined to get technical. So for some articulate instructions for egg battering, flour dredging, and frying chicken wings, we recommend checking out Patrick and Gina Neely's recipe on Food Network. Merely substitute Tittsworth's seasonings for those in their recipe, and you're golden.
Tittsworth's next release is on Dim Mak with Valentino Khan. He also has upcoming collaborations with Blass, Disgraceland and Theophilus London. Follow him on Twitter - @tittsworth
Michael Fichman is a DJ, producerm and writer living in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter - @djaptone