Samin Nosrat on Stocking Your Kitchen Comfort Food and Her All-New “Home Cooking” Podcast


Photo Credit:Vogue Magazine

The chef tells Vogue about her grocery store go-tos and the dinner recipe she turns to for food on the table in 10 minutes flat.

premiered on Netflix, the culinary establishment and home cooks alike have eagerly awaited star chef Samin Nosrat’s next undertaking. Now, it’s finally here: Nosrat recently teamed up with her friend, producer, and co-host Hrishikesh Hirway, to create
Home Cooking
, a podcast devoted to solving the woes of amateur cooks under lockdown.
“It’s definitely been a little bit of a journey to figure it out,” Nosrat says of working within an audio-only medium. “And I’m a perfectionist. If I had my way, I would spend three years perfecting the audio, taping everything 60 times, and doing all the research, but that’s not what this time is about. It’s about putting something out there to make people feel comforted and like they have technical support in the kitchen and some way to pass the time by hanging out with these funny, very dorky friends.”
Nosrat recently spoke with
over the phone from her home in Oakland, California about how she stocks her kitchen, the hardiest vegetables you can buy at the supermarket, the miracle-condiment she swears by, and the dinner recipe she turns to for food on the table in 10 minutes flat.
In the first episode of
Home Cooking
, you spoke of the importance not hoarding during this time. Instead you advocated for keeping your kitchen stocked in a rational way. How do you do this?
It’s been a long journey of trial and error. As a cook I have been trained to have certain things but it’s funny because I think a lot of what I rely on is not necessarily from my fancy cooking background. It took me many, many years to realize that it would be really smart for me to have a lot of fruits and vegetables in my freezer, and that it’s not a crime against humanity to have frozen vegetables! In fact, most fruits and vegetables, especially peas and corn, are frozen at the peak of their season, so they’re better than certainly anything you could buy fresh but out of season at the grocery store.
I have a rich selection of frozen vegetables in the freezer. My favorite for sure is frozen peas. I love having frozen peas. At the very least I think I can make something like fried rice or pasta with some vegetables in it. Also, some of my friends who are amazing farmers drop off tomatoes to me at the peak in the summer when their vendors are drowning in them. I used to be so ambitious and I would can tomatoes, trying to do all this stuff. And now I just do the very laziest possible thing: I either freeze them whole or I roast the tomatoes and then puree them and then I just freeze the bags of roasted tomato. So I have a bunch of that in my freezer.
I also usually have a bag in my freezer where I collect chicken bones and carrots that are about to go bad, or that last piece of celery or spare onions. And then once a month or so I make chicken stock. So I always have chicken stock in my freezer and that is probably the only thing I felt hoarding instincts about. But it wasn’t even hoarding, it was just feeling like I had to go to the store and make a pot of chicken stock. But now I have
much chicken stock in my freezer. I had to boil it down to reduce it by half. So now I have a double concentrated chicken stock.
The pantry is also a strong focus for a lot of people right now. What are some of the basics you like to keep on hand in there?
I love, love, love, canned tuna. I splurge when I can and buy the fancy Spanish or Italian canned tuna in olive oil, but even just regular albacore, it’s delicious. I have multiple kinds of noodles: pasta and soba noodles and rice noodles. I also have Korean sweet potato noodles which are so good stir-fried in this Korean dish called japchae which I love. It’s similar to fried rice but with noodles. Also, jasmine rice. I love jasmine rice.
I do have multiple kinds of beans. They sort of pile up over time and I work my way through them. I would say in the last two weeks I’ve made baked beans, I’ve made hummus, I made a chickpea and farro soup. I made chickpeas with rice. Yesterday, I realized during this time I’ve eaten exactly zero Mexican food. I’m thinking maybe next time I’ll get black beans from the store.

Then I have a little basket with onion, garlic, shallots, and sweet potatoes.
Photo: Smeeta Mahanti
Being that many of us are now indoors under stay-at-home orders, how would you suggest adding some bright and fresh flavors to meals?
There’s nothing too fancy going on but I just make sure to sort of garnish everything with something fresh so it doesn’t taste like cabinet and freezer all the time. I’m pretty lucky over where I live because we have lemon trees and lime trees here. I have my garden with lots of herbs. Even if I didn’t have that, one thing I did a couple weeks ago was I bought a basil plant from Trader Joe’s that just sat on my window. So for a while I just put basil on everything.
Even before I lived somewhere where there were all these citrus trees I always made sure to have a lemon or a lime around. A fresh squeeze of citrus really wakes things up. Another thing that’s very vibrant and fresh-tasting is fresh ginger, and that lasts forever.
What does your fridge look like these days?
I always have eggs, parmesan cheese, and I always have yogurt and buttermilk around. Those are very useful for cooking and just eating but also for baking.
For vegetables, I had a cabbage the other day that had sat for at least six weeks in my fridge. Cabbage is sometimes so unglamorous that you just will keep choosing every other vegetable over it. But cabbage is always there for you. It’s so steadfast. Cauliflower I feel the same way about. A head of cauliflower will last really long time in the fridge. Parsnips as well. Things like parsnips really will last so long. We’re coming up on the end of this but like things like butternut squash, or delicata squash also have a long life and are nice to have around.
Photo: Smeeta Mahanti
What are some of the dishes you like to put together when you have those basics on hand?
Well if I have rice and chicken stock I can make I can make rice cooked in chicken stock, which is so delicious. I can make congee, which is a rice porridge that’s so filling and delicious. If I have chicken stock and an egg I can put an egg in it with some parmesan cheese on top. Or, I can make stracciatella. It’s a Roman soup which is made of egg mixed up with Parmesan cheese that you pour into a simmering pot of stock and they cook on together on top of the stock. I can take frozen peas and make split pea soup. I feel the most strong when I have homemade chicken stock around.
Lately there have been so many hashbrowns and latkes and potato pancakes on my mind. I might want to make a sweet potato pancake. You can use a lot of those root vegetables for that, like a rutabaga or parsnip, you could mix some of that with a turnip too.
If we’re talking about the cabbage, a very vibrant, fresh way to eat cabbage is to make slaw. I might actually do that when I make my rice and beans later this week. I might make a Mexican slaw with cabbage, pickled onions, cilantro, jalapenos and maybe a little bit of dried oregano and lime juice. That’s very fresh, and it’s nice too, because that tastes good the next day.
Building off of that, are there any multi-use condiments or spices that you find yourself like reaching for again and again to dress up those dishes?
The thing I put on literally everything I eat—I mean, I would say I use it every day if not multiple times a day—is some form of chili crisp, or chili oil. I put it on my scrambled eggs, I put it on my poached eggs, I put it on my pasta or on my congee, I put it on my rice, I put it on my soup, I put it on my mac and cheese. I put it on everything. So chili crisp I love. I have a whole tray of five different brands of it on my counter. It makes things such a joy because it’s a textural and a flavor enhancement you know?
I have a pretty full spice shelf. I can’t say that I lean on any one. I mean, I always joke that I just put cumin in everything and I put bay leaves in everything. I don’t know if that’s actually true. But cumin is my most used savory spice for sure.

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