Welcome to the second August installment of What We Share! This has been a difficult month, and I’m so glad to have made it this far. Here’s a recipe to try out and a playlist to listen to.
This month’s playlist is a little different, because this month, Trent Reznor and Danny Elfman released a collaboration. Both of these artists have done a million brilliant things, including being the frontmen for Nine Inch Nails and Oingo Boingo. The collaboration they released — a song called True — is somehow, miraculously, wholly Nine Inch Nails and wholly Oingo Boingo. In celebration of this, I tapped in my partner to create a compilation of some of the best tracks from both bands, culminating in the collaboration.
If you don’t like Nine Inch Nails, or if you don’t like Oingo Boingo, this playlist will probably not be your favorite. Personally, I am having a blast with it.
As always, you can listen in any order. If you don’t have Spotify but want to put the playlist together for yourself some other way, the songs are all right here.
Right now I’m having a love affair with homemade citrus sauce. Think orange chicken, but with any citrus — I’ve tried lemon, grapefruit, and tangerine so far. Make this to get a thick sweet-tart sauce that will happily coat any fried or baked thing you decide to put it on. For the base recipe I’m using oranges, but check the variation notes for other options.
Step Zero — Prep!
- Zest an orange. If you don’t have a zester, slice the very surface of the peel from the orange and then chop it up as finely as you can. You don’t want any white pith in there.
- Juice some oranges. You’ll need about 1 cup of juice.
- Finely chop or crush 2 cloves of garlic and an equivalent amount of ginger (or, if you’re like me, keep a big jar of garlic-ginger paste in the fridge and just use A Scoop of it)
- Combine one tablespoon of potato starch with three tablespoons of water to form a slurry.
Step One — Aromatics. Put the zest, ginger, and garlic into a small, high-sided pot with a little glug of oil. Stir them around over the heat until fragrant (about a minute).
Step Two — Boil stuff. Add the juice to the pot before the ginger and garlic start to brown. Then add ½ cup of sugar, a dash of rice vinegar, and a dash of soy sauce. Give ‘er a stir and then bring to a high boil for three minutes.
Step Three — Thicken it up. Add your starch slurry and let the whole thing simmer, stirring here and there, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
That's it! You did it! You made a citrus sauce that will drape beautifully over whatever else you happen to have around! I love putting this on fried chicken, fried cauliflower, baked salmon, or (in a pinch) just plain rice.
That's just the base recipe. You can make basically infinite modifications.
- Citrus type. As I said up top, I used oranges for the example recipe, but any citrus will work for this! Lemon comes out more sweet and subtle, while tangerine comes out bright and insistent. Grapefruit is sharp in a way that works really well with fish and eggplant. I’d pair lime with a spicy tilapia. I’m sure that you could try non-citrus juices — a cranberry glaze on pork, for instance — but I don’t have the chemistry of less acidic juices locked in, so if you try one of those, let us know how they turn out!
- Aromatics. Ginger and garlic are pretty important to the flavor of this, but neither is a dealbreaker! If you don’t do ginger, try lemongrass or wasabi paste for a little brightness and kick. If you don’t do garlic, consider onion or even celery for a bit of complexity.
- Sugar. I don’t know if sugar substitutes will work well here, since part of the structure of the sauce is the heat reaction that turns sugar into a syrup. You should be fine using non-cane sugars, like beet sugar. As always, remember to never heat an artificial sweetener that contains aspartame! Heatsafe sweeteners include sucralose (Splenda®) and xylitol/birch sugar (XyloSweet®, Lite&Sweet®).
- Starch. I use potato starch because I think it has the cleanest texture, but you can also use rice starch, cornstarch, or the thickening agent of your choice. Just remember that the quantity needed might be different depending on how potent your thickener is!
- Soy and vinegar. If you don’t do soy sauce, sub in tamari, coconut aminos, or even a healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce. If you don’t do vinegar, leave it out altogether, it’s not crucial.
- Spice level. This is the moment for those red pepper flakes to shine. I add a few healthy shakes’ worth of them during Step Two, so they boil with the sauce and bring a friendly heat to the equation. Go with your personal comfort level here, and remember: acids draw heat out of peppers very effectively, so a small amount of your spicy ingredient will go a long way!
I can’t encourage experimentation enough here. Try different things! Add more ingredients if you want to add different levels of complexity to the flavor! I can't wait to find out what you all come up with. Don’t forget to share in the weekly subscriber chat!
Thanks for being here, friends. If you haven't heard the news yet, my debut comic miniseries EAT THE RICH is coming out this Wednesday, August 18th! You can find it at your local comic book shop or at the BOOM! Studios webstore.
If you’ve been experiencing the August book and beverage, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Tell us what you like, what you don’t like, what you’ve been modifying and substituting as needed. Remember, our conversations about these experiences aren’t limited to a particular time — there’s nothing quite like connecting over things we share across time and space.
If you have a couple of clicks to spare, I'd be so thankful for retweets and/or quote-tweets! Let's grow our amazing community.
Now, let’s put some good music on and cook together.