In Myers + Chang At Home, Joanne Chang and Chris Myers invite you to join their restaurant’s neighborhood family—and to have fun with Asian ingredients.
Weeknight Dinners or Showoff Feasts? This is comfort food with recipes I’d make for lunch, dinner, brunch and dinner-for-breakfast, and casual parties for friends.
Wanderlust Factor: Welcome to Boston’s South End.
Learning Potential: Good, especially for cooks who have yet to get comfortable with Asian ingredients. The instructions are specific and clear without being too technical or cheffy.
How’s the Read? You’ll miss out on some Wanderlust Factor if you skip the preface. It’s where you get to know the chefs (and their love story), the restaurant, and its community. Headnotes are personal and fun, and the instructions are thorough and easy to work through.
Aesthetics: They had me at the pretty end sheets and the embossed dragon on the cover.
. . .
I have to admit I’m not fluidly comfortable using ingredients in the Asian repertoire—I follow recipes closely because I don’t feel familiar enough to experiment. But then, I grew up in a home where there wasn’t much culinary adventure. I’d never even been to a Chinese restaurant until I was a freshman in college, and I didn’t try sushi until much later.
Joanne Chang writes in the intro of her new cookbook, Myers + Chang at Home, that the chef she hired for the restaurant, Karen Akunowicz, had the same apprehensions. “She was initially hesitant about learning how to cook a style of food she had never been formally trained in; preparing Asian food seemed inaccessible, mysterious, and foreign. I assured her that Myers + Chang was everything she knew how to do already but simply looked at through a different lens.”
“If you ask what we do at Myers + Chang, I’d humbly say we’re interpreting traditional Asian fare and adding our own personality.”
Time to be liberated. Myers + Chang at Home is the story of a couple who share a love for Asian cuisines and how they cook for each other, for family, and for the guests and staff of their South End neighborhood restaurant in Boston. As you read about their passion and inspiration for dishes, you discover that they love traditional dishes done well—and they love to experiment and have fun in the kitchen, too.They encourage readers to get into both, too, with recipes like Kung Pao Chickpeas, Indonesian Fried Chicken and Ginger-Sesame Waffles, and Sweet Soy Bacon and Egg Banh Mi (one of the best hangover cures in Boston). This is their comfort food.
What Chang writes about the cuisine drawing on methods you already know is true, if you have a little experience as a home cook. Tiger’s Tears has elements common in many salads. It features a steak seasoned with a rub (just open a jar of red curry if you’re in a time crunch), bell peppers and herbs, a 5-ingredient dressing that doesn’t require emulsifying, and crunch (fragrant Khao Koor—just toast some rice with two other ingredients, then grind it in a blender).The Vanilla Bean Parfait with Orange Granita is a grown-up interpretation of a Creamsicle—it’s salted, and the different textures make it fun and interesting to eat. It’s one of the dessert recipes where Chang shares some of her pastry know-how. She’s good at teaching pastry—she’s been a guest instructor at the Boston University Culinary Arts program, which was my first experience with her cuisine. The parfait starts with a pâte à bombe—hot sugar syrup whisked into beaten egg yolks, a common way to make mousse. Don’t worry, it’s easy. The term sounds impressive, though, so throw it around when you want a little cred. Pâte à bombe. I made my granita with beet-orange juice for the lovely color.
You’ll also learn several ways to fold dumplings, and there’s a great guide on how to shop for ingredients and equip your kitchen that’s nearly 30 pages long. For home cooks, Myers + Chang At Home is really about gaining enough comfort to be inspired to make the food yours, as Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang do.
Myers + Chang At Home: Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery (affiliate link)
Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz
$32; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt