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Friday, September 17, 2021

The right sandwich for right now

Here are recipes that are fast and easy enough to break out as soon as you walk through the door.

By: New York Times |
July 25, 2021 10:00:42 pm
An efficient and extremely delicious dinner: Eric Kim sears salmon fillets, then uses the rendered fat from the fish to season and crisp precooked rice thatÕs pressed into the skillet like a pancake. (Bryan Gardner/The New York Times)

Written by by Emily Weinstein

Hello from New York Times headquarters! I’m writing from the office, where I am for the first time since COVID banished me to my home, which I know makes me fortunate. But, wow, I felt stress pangs as I left the house. How will I make dinner when I’ll be commuting more often?

I hope I did not just stress you out, too. We’re fine! Here are recipes that are fast and easy enough to break out as soon as you walk through the door. And of course they are just as good when there is no commute, and especially so on warm evenings when the first order of business is a cold drink.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rolls

Inspired by jiao yan xia, the classic Chinese dish of head-on, fried shrimp finished with a Sichuan or white pepper salt seasoning, these shrimp rolls celebrate the flavors of salt and pepper. Peeled shrimp are seasoned, breaded with cornstarch and fried until super crunchy, then sprinkled with a black pepper-salt. Once cooked, they’re tucked into toasted rolls smeared with a zingy garlic mayo. Fresh cilantro, sliced chile and a squeeze of fresh lime brighten the hearty sandwich. Store any leftover pepper-salt in an airtight container and use it as a seasoning for roasted meats and vegetables.

By: Kay Chun

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 15 minutes


  • Vegetable oil, for frying (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 hot dog buns, preferably top-split
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 shrimp), tails removed
  • 1/4 cup whole (or 2-percent) milk
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
  • Tender cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Lime wedges, for serving


* In a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high until an instant-read thermometer registers 350 degrees.

* Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and garlic; mix well. In a separate small bowl, combine pepper and salt.

* Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Using 1 teaspoon of garlic mayonnaise per bun, spread on outer sides of buns, then toast them until golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plates.

* Season shrimp with about 1 teaspoon of the pepper-salt, dip in milk, then dredge in cornstarch, gently pressing so cornstarch adheres. Working in two batches, fry shrimp until crispy and cooked through, turning halfway, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with more of the pepper-salt mixture.

* Smear some garlic mayonnaise on the inner center of buns, then divide shrimp among buns. Top with chiles, cilantro and more pepper salt. Serve with lime wedges.

Salt and pepper shrimp rolls in New York, June 17, 2021. Food stylist: Simon Andrews. The seasonings are inspired by Chinese salt and pepper fried shrimp; the shrimp here are tucked into a toasted hot dog bun with a swipe of garlic mayonnaise and some chiles, cilantro and squeezes of lime. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

Rotisserie Chicken Salad With Greens and Herbs

This is a no-recipe recipe, a recipe without an ingredients list or steps. It invites you to improvise in the kitchen.

By: Sam Sifton

Pick up a heat-lamp roast chicken at the market on the way home — it’s OK! — and tear it apart to feed four, or half of it for two, shredding the meat with your fingers. Mix the chicken with a few handfuls of baby arugula, a large handful of sliced scallions and a lot of chopped cilantro. Cut an avocado or two into the mix if you have them on hand. Then make a dressing out of lime juice — one juicy squeezed lime will do — a pressed garlic clove and a few glugs of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. Drizzle that over the top and serve. Dinner in 15 minutes, tops.

Gochugaru Salmon With Crispy Rice

Gochugaru, a mild, fragrant red-pepper powder, bedazzles this quick salmon dinner. As a key ingredient in Korean home cooking, gochugaru proves that some chiles provide not only heat but fruity sweetness as well. Here, that’s especially true once it’s bloomed in maple syrup, vinegar and butter. If you like shiny things, you may find great pleasure in watching this pan sauce transform into a mirrored, crimson glaze. Try to get long center-cut salmon fillets for uniform thickness and even cooking. Their crispy skin tastes wonderful with white rice, which toasts in the rendered salmon fat. To balance the richness of the fish, serve it with fresh, crunchy things, like cucumbers or pickles, or a big green salad.

By: Eric Kim

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked white rice, preferably leftovers
  • 4 teaspoons gochugaru (see tip)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, kept whole
  • Sliced cucumbers or pickles, for serving (optional)


*  Season the salmon on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sear the salmon fillets skin side down until the skin is browned and crispy, 2 to 5 minutes. The salmon’s orange flesh will begin to turn pale coral as the heat slowly creeps up the sides of the fish; you want that coral color to come up about two-thirds of the way at this point for a nice medium-rare. Carefully flip the salmon and cook the second side until the flesh feels firm, another 1 to 2 minutes. When you press it, it should not feel wobbly. Transfer the salmon to a plate skin side down and keep the pan with the rendered fat over the heat.

*  Add the rice to the fat in the pan and spread in an even layer, packing it down as if making a rice pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the bottom is lightly browned and toasted, about 5 minutes. You should hear it crackle. Flip the rice like a pancake, using a spatula if needed. You may not be able to flip it all in one piece, but that’s OK. Cook until lightly toasted on the second side, another 1 to 2 minutes. Go longer if you want crispier rice, but the trifecta of crispy-chewy-soft tastes wonderful.

* While the rice is cooking, stir together the gochugaru, maple syrup, rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. When the rice is done, divide it evenly among the plates. In the now empty pan, add the gochugaru mixture and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until it bubbles up and reduces significantly, 15 seconds to 1 minute. It should look pretty sticky. Turn off the heat and add the cold butter, stirring with a wooden spoon or tongs until fully melted and incorporated into the gochugaru mixture. Pour this glaze over the salmon and serve with cucumbers or pickles if you’d like.

TIP: You can find gochugaru, or red-pepper powder, at Korean or Asian supermarkets and at most grocery stores, as well as online. It sometimes comes in larger bags, which is not a problem because it freezes beautifully and tastes great dusted over just about anything.

One-Pot Zucchini-Basil Pasta

This no-colander-necessary, one-pot pasta method isn’t a gimmick: Cooking the noodles in just enough seasoned stock means they’re done in the same amount of time it takes the liquid to reduce into a concentrated, extra flavorful sauce. Mascarpone makes it silky, though crème fraîche or even softened cream cheese would be solid substitutes. While the pasta cooks, make a quick gremolata of chopped parsley, salted almonds and basil, which adds brightness and texture to the finished dish. Though this pasta comes together quickly, it requires more attention than some: Be sure to stir frequently so the noodles cook evenly, and add a splash of water toward the end of cooking, as needed, so they stay saucy.

By: Alexa Weibel

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 12 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 14 ounces total), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces mascarpone, crème fraîche or softened cream cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/3 packed cup thinly sliced basil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted salted almonds

3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


*  In a large, deep 12-inch skillet, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Once stock boils, stir in pasta, zucchini, mascarpone, garlic and half the basil; season generously with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender and liquid is reduced until thickened and creamy, 12 to 13 minutes, adding a splash of water during the last few minutes of cooking if needed to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*  Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata: Chop almonds and parsley with remaining basil until finely chopped and combined; season with salt and pepper.

*  Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve immediately.

(This article originally appeared in The New York Times.)

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