I’ve been in a cooking rut lately, but I’ve been searching for unusual dishes to try and spice things up a little. I also love a good memoir, so I was excited to find that MPL had Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen, the new memoir/cookbook from Top Chef contestant Edward Lee.
Lee is a Korean-American chef who has trained in Brooklyn, France, Kentucky, as well as his grandmother’s traditional Korean kitchen. His new book offers readers an array of dishes that fuse what would otherwise seem to be wildly dissimilar traditions: Korean food and Southern cuisine. Think fried chicken with kimchi waffles, or rice bowls with remoulade.
But there is more to Smoke & Pickles than its offbeat recipes. Lee chronicles his culinary journey from a bratty Brooklyn teenager to a jaded hipster chef to a passionate and socially conscious restauranteur. Each chapter focuses on a different period in his life, followed by recipes focused on a different type of a food, e.g., “Seafood & Scrutiny,” “Pickles & Matrimony,” and “Cows & Clover.” Lee’s recipes are unexpected, to be sure, but for those looking to shake things up a bit, it’s fun to see recipes that throw caution to the wind. I probably won’t be trading my chocolate chip cookie recipe for Lee’s Tobacco Cookies anytime soon, but as it goes in the culinary world, it was worthwhile to experiment.