Cooking steak—dirt simple, right? Get your cut of meat, salt and pepper, heat oil in a pan, slap it down, heat till ready. Okay, while it is pretty simple, there are many subtleties you maybe don’t know about involved in selecting, prepping, and cooking various cuts.
MY FIRST RESTAURANT, Momofuku Noodle Bar, had an open kitchen. This wasn’t by choice—I didn’t have enough money or space to put it farther away from the diners. But cooking in front of my customers changed the way I look at food. In the early years, around 2004, we were improvising new recipes every day, and I could instantly tell what was working and what wasn’t by watching people eat. A great dish hits you like a Whip-It: There’s momentary elation, a brief ripple of pure pleasure in the spacetime continuum. That’s what I was chasing, that split second when someone tastes something so delicious that their conversation suddenly derails and they blurt out something guttural like they stubbed their toe.
As a dish, the spicy, saucy stew now called curry has deep roots. Archaeologists have uncovered dishware dating back more than 4,500 years in the town of Farmana (a two-hour drive west of Delhi, India, today), covered in the remains of ancient proto-curries made from ingredients like ginger, garlic and turmeric, which are all still used today in curries around the world. Over thousands of years, the stew evolved as trade brought new ingredients and cooking traditions to spice up the meal: Muslim traders introduced meat into curry sometime around the year 1,000, and later, Indians began incorporating cloves imported from Southeast Asia into the meal, Andrew Lawler writes for Slate. But it wasn’t until the Portuguese began colonizing India that the spicy dish began to become popular in Europe. Recently, a group of British monks stumbled across a 200-year-old cookbook in their library that, among other things, includes a recipe for chicken curry.
Every variation of chicken and rice is great so even though this space version of tumeric chicken and whole red rice looks like the least chicken and rice-y dish ever (for obvious utilitarian reasons), I would totally give it a bite or five. The key to cooking in space (if this can be considered cooking) is making sure all that goop sticks to the tortilla.