What to Cook This Weekend

21 Jan, 2022
Try Ligaya Mishan’s adaptation for a Hawaiian steamed red snapper over somen noodles.
Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food stylist: Sue Li. Prop stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver.

What to Cook This Weekend

Good morning. Ligaya Mishan is in The New York Times Magazine this week with an excellent column about a dish she looks forward to eating all year long, a harbinger of good luck in coming months: onaga, Hawaiian steamed red snapper (above).

It’s a variation on a local specialty, she reports: “a Chinese-style steamed fish, salty-sour from a stuffing of preserved vegetable and faintly sweet from the flesh of the fish itself. Skeins of Japanese somen noodles are tucked beneath and hot oil poured over at the end. Done right, it crackles.”

I’d like to make that this weekend and, if I can’t find the long-tailed red snapper they use in Hawaii, I’ll substitute red snapper or another firm, white-fleshed fish. It’s that crackle I’m looking for, and the juxtaposition of textures, and the joy of the preparation. Project time! If I get it right, I might reprise the recipe when the Lunar New Year arrives on Feb. 1.

But that’s not all I’ll cook in the next few days. I’d like some classic French toast for breakfast tomorrow, in advance of my weekly shopping, or waffles if anyone kicks at the toast. Hash browns on the side, with sausage and cheese? You don’t need a recipe for that, but a simple prompt, what we call a no-recipe recipe: shredded potatoes fried in butter and dotted with crumbles of cooked breakfast sausage. Use a cast-iron pan and, when you’ve got a good crust going on the potatoes, sprinkle some shredded Cheddar over the top and run everything under your broiler for a few minutes to melt it into the starch. That’ll fortify you all the way through to the steamed fish for dinner.

Oatmeal for Sunday breakfast! A tuna melt for lunch. And then pasta for dinner. That might mean spaghetti and meatballs for some. I’m looking instead at this creamy butternut squash pasta with sage and walnuts, and this fried tagliatelle with chickpeas and smoky tomatoes. Then again, is it ever a bad time to make spicy sesame noodles with chicken and peanuts? It is not!

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Now, it’s nothing to do with mushrooms or coffee syrup, but have you watched the second season of “Cheer” on Netflix? It is both dark and hopeful, and left me feeling uncomfortable, very anti-fame.

Miss the days of cityside tabloid columnists and their stories of good and evil? Try Michael Daly’s “The Finest,” stories of the New York Police Department at a most difficult time.

Then read Ben Ryder Howe in New York Magazine, on the strange back story of a deadly 2018 limo disaster outside Albany.

Finally, a correction. In Monday’s newsletter I placed Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon on loving your enemies in the late 1950s, in Birmingham, Ala. It is of course in Montgomery. Apologies. I’ll see you on Sunday.

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