Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A with J. Kenji López-Alt. (Nov 11, 2016 11am PT)

I loved reading about your China trip, you have a unique voice and an eye for detail. Ever considered writing a travel book? Because that might be an excellent side gig.


Ever had a food experiment gone spectacularly wrong at home?


What really happened between you and Reddit? How did you feel about the situation?

Since you now live in Alice Waters country where people obsess about ingredients. For your own meals, how much does quality of ingredients matter to you versus technique?

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Where do you like shopping for food now that you are in the Bay Area?

You are a pescatarian. People grill, saute, bake fishes in this country. Other cultures steam, ferment, salt them. Any uncommon/ underutilized approaches that you have explored/ want to explore that potentially makes interesting and delicious fish prep?

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As a non-scientific person, it is interesting to read about all the scientific facts in your book. How do you generally go about researching scientific observations like ‘salt affects eggs by weakening the magnetic attraction that yolk proteins have for one another.’ Academic journals?

As soon as Kenji is ready, he’ll join us.

I want to give a warm welcome to Kenji- thanks for taking the time to be with us here!

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An update- Kenji will be here soon!

I’m not a health expert so I can’t tell you about the health aspects with any credibility. Flavorwise, I don’t find it to be bad, unless there is a lot of mineral/black scum. This can sometimes come out of bones at the beginning so I do recommend skimming if you see anything that looks like what floats at the top of a pond. Fat, debris, etc are all fine as far as flavor goes. If you value clarity, skim a lot, or make your stock in a pressure cooker!

Just try and remember that the point of cooking, once we are past a basic subsistence level, is to bring people together and to enjoy each others’ company over a meal. Once you’re sitting down at the table, the food has already really done its job, so it’s OK if something goes wrong. Laugh it off, learn from it, do better next time, and pour more wine!


I do often write about the properties of various metals when writing about pans and cookware! Check any of my articles about the subject or my book.

As for copper, it’s a great conductor and great metal for making cookware… other than the cost and the upkeep. It’s just out of the range of most home cooks and realistically, not essential for good cooking. That said, I’ve got a couple of Falk pieces that I adore. Mostly because they are pretty :wink:

Hi Kenji,
I’m going to be alone for Thanksgiving weekend (my fiancé is flying out to CA), so I’ve decided to cook up a storm and fill my brand-new chest freezer with Thanksgiving goodness for the winter. Do you have recommendations for what will freeze well? I’m prepared to sous-vide stuff, as well as more standard cooking methods.


Very similar style in terms of explaining the science and technique of home cooking. Different set of techniques and recipes. I consider the first Food Lab book to be mostly “things you cook on weekends” The second will focus more on everyday foods and will include some of the techniques I use most often like stir-frying and pressure cooking, with more of an emphasis on casual foods. Pizza, sandwiches, tacos, stir-fries, salads, snacks, etc.

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I have a basic philosophy in the kitchen: don’t question the person holding the knife.

If I’m lucky enough to have my wife cook a meal for me, I let her do it how she likes to do it and enjoy the process and the meal. If she asks me for advice or help, I’m happy to offer it, but if she has a method that works for her, that’s good enough for me!


Thanks Kenji- do you mean making stock in a pressure cooker will create less of this scum?

As far as I know, cooking salt should have no impact on its nutritional qualities.

But there is a good reason not to season your broth until after it is done cooking: seasoning it will limit its uses. You can’t use a seasoned stock to make a pan sauce or a reduction, for instance, as the salt will concentrate and become too much.


Yes, fresh eggs are marginally harder to peel, but unless you’re getting your eggs straight from the chicken, chances are you aren’t getting super-fresh eggs anyway. Eggs can be laid up to 30 days before packaging, then can have an expiration date a further 30 days after they are packaged. Most of the sticking problems in shells goes away after the first couple days so for all intents and purposes, if you buy your eggs at the supermarket, age doesn’t really matter.


It definitely affects it! I can’t test recipes that include raw nuts, so… I never call for them!

I also don’t have many recipes with raw stone fruits (though sometimes I just eat them anyway and deal with the consequences).

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Thank you. Excellent point. I will try not to pipe up in the future in the kitchen.

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr