Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

ARGH. I’m in the middle of another week of graveyard shifts, and between work and kids and Halloween and cooking and getting ready for our cookbook launch (planning a release party and book tour is no small task!), I barely have time to feed and bathe—let alone get this Forky Friday post done.

In fact, you’re probably reading this on Saturday. I’m such a loser.

In keeping with my Debbie Downer mood tonight, I’m going to front-load this post with links to a whole host of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad news. Ready?

Ai-Ya! The Sky is Falling!

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

One of the week’s biggest food news stories was that the southern California city of Irwindale filed a lawsuit to shut down the production of sriracha at Huy Fong Foods’ nearby plant. The city claims that the fumes from the recently-opened $40 million factory are irritating residents, and hopes to halt sriracha production until Huy Fong takes steps to reduce the offending odors and spicy irritants. A production stoppage, however, would leave sriracha lovers stricken.

Sriracha’s passionate defenders have quickly rallied around their beloved “Rooster Sauce.” Matthew Inman, creator of the Oatmeal (and aficionado of sriracha) had this to say about the sriracha standoff in Irwindale:

“I personally would relish in the opportunity to live in a neighborhood bathed in rooster sauce. The thought of watching a blood-red sunrise soaked in clouds of red peppers and garlic would pretty much be my ideal morning. I feel like our country is still recovering from the near Twinkie extinction in 2012, and now we get hit with this?

The dinosaurs had their meteorite. We’ve got our sriracha shortage. If a sriracha shortage isn’t one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, then I don’t know what is. Now is the time to stock your fallout shelters full of tasty rooster juice. The end is nigh.”

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

Luckily for hot sauce lovers across the universe, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge denied Irwindale’s request for a preliminary injunction, which means that sriracha production can resume at Huy Fong’s plant—for now.

But the next court hearing’s set for November 22, at which time the court may decide to pull the plug. According to Huy Fong owner, David Tran, “If the city shuts us down, the price of sriracha will jump a lot.” (If you wanna take a peek inside Tran’s gigantic hot sauce operation, check out this video.)

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

But don’t worry. You don’t have to rely on Huy Fong to make your favorite condiment. Even if the company’s sriracha production is halted, you can always use my recipe to make your own Paleo Sriracha at home—minus the preservatives and sugar! (I even have a Whole30-compliant sriracha recipe!)

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

But At Least We Still Have Chocolate, Right?

Sriracha isn’t the only food you’ll want to start hoarding. Another terrible shortage is looming, and this one’s absolutely terrifying. According to this NBC News report, we’re staring in the face of a worldwide cocoa bean shortage. In as little as seven years, chocolate bars made without fillers and chemicals may  become affordable only to the rich.


Be afraid. Be very afraid. (But in the meantime, make some Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème.)

It Gets Even Worse…

Let’s face it: there is no easier way to wake up your palate than with a sprinkle of exotic spices. But a new report has found that approximately 12% of all spices imported to the United States are contaminated with insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things—including salmonella.

I don’t have a problem with eating bugs (I’m still eagerly awaiting my shipment of cricket bars), but BLECH. When I add a dash of dried herbs on my dinner, I’m not expecting to feast on pestilence and disease.

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

Will this stop me from buying spices? No—but I’ll be a lot more vigilant about where my spices come from.

And Worse Still.

Many gastro-tourists like to channel their inner Anthony Bourdain and sample local street food when they’re trekking around in exotic lands. But a word of warning: You might want to think twice before you go hog-wild on the streets of China. After all, your food might be cooked in carcinogenic “gutter oil,” an illegal black-market cooking oil recycled from garbage and sewage.

According to this report, as much as 10%(!) of all foods cooked in oil in China are prepared using “gutter oil.”

I think I’m gonna be sick.

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

Fish Sauce: It’s Ancestral!

Whaddaya say we wash the nastiness out of our mouths with some tasty links about condiments? First up: Garum.

Even though we all use Red Boat Fish Sauce in all sorts of savory dishes (right?), just about everyone—including me—thinks of umami-packed fish sauce as an Asian ingredient. But did you know that fermented fish sauce has a loooooong history that dates back to Ancient Rome? There, it was called garum (a.k.a. liquamen)—an aromatic, flavorful condiment made from…well, rotten fish guts. And now, the ancient form of fish sauce is making a comeback.

The product was barely known even in Italy just a few years ago, but it is gradually being rediscovered… [Chef Josh McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon] uses fish sauce to finish dishes, and also, like the ancient Romans, adopts it as the basis for other sauces, bringing out the flavor of everything from grilled meats to raw vegetables.

He pulls out one of these combination sauces for a taste—the fish sauce is laced with sweet-hot peppers, garlic, and white wine vinegar. “It’s so good, right?” he says, adding, “There’s just so much going on, so many different dimensions.”

Read all about it!

Anchovy Fever

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

No access to fish sauce? Don’t fret. Use anchovies to amp up the umami factor in your dishes. Serious Eats recently posted an in-depth look at oil-packed anchovies, salt-packed anchovies, and anchovy paste. Guess which won the taste test?

Hint: You’ll probably want to avoid the one described by Cook’s Illustrated as “heinous,“ “vile,” “gritty, bony, and salty.”

Someone Stole The Coolio Cookbook From The Restroom At Momofuku Ko

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

The shelves above the toilet at Momofuku Ko in NYC are famously crammed with cookbooks, but when I was there, I can’t say I was tempted to leave with any of those tomes. Because eeeww.

But evidently, someone couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the crapper without purloining the Coolio cookbook, Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price. Good thing Coolio’s replacing it, or David Chang was going to go on the warpath.

There’s An App For That

I love waking to the fragrant aroma of short ribs in my slow cooker. Seriously: put on a pot of my Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs before you go to bed, and you’ll have an incredible meal waiting for you when you emerge from your bedroom in your jammies.

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

Your other option? Get this gadget for your smartphone, and download an app that pumps chemicals into the air to mimic food smells.



I haven’t posted about my adventures in sous vide cookery in a while, but if you’re itching to play around with your water oven again, take a look at this super-detailed piece by J. Kenji Alt-Lopez, in which he explains how to perfectly slow-cook your eggs with a sous vide cooker.

And If You’d Rather Just Eat Than Cook…

Forky Friday: 11/1/13 by Michelle Tam

I’ve got the perfect holiday gift for that special someone in your life who loves Paleo, CrossFit, and Maui: Destino Retreats is hosting an all-inclusive weeklong stay in Ka’anapali next month, where guests will stay in a 4-star resort and dine on deliciously-prepared (and officially Nom Nom Paleo-approved!) meals—in between WODs, skill sessions on the beach, paddle boarding, group activities, and rest and relaxation, too. Check it out!

And if you want a glimpse of a recent Destino Retreats trip to Cabo San Lucas, watch this video—and see if you can spot our friends Tim and Kristen of CrossFit Palo Alto while you’re at it:

Man, I wish I was still on a beach somewhere. Back to the grind!

Looking for recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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