Congratulations to ravenouscouple, whose KFC: Korean Fried Chicken Wings won this week's contest for Your Best Chicken Wings -- earning them a $200 gift card from Williams-Sonoma, plus big prizes from Viking and OXO, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!
Q&A with ravenouscouple
Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
Hong: Growing up as the only boy in family with 3 sisters, I was often helping my mom in the kitchen, doing grunt work like pounding blue crab shells to make bun rieu (crab soup), cranking the pasta for fresh egg noodles, and pressing soy bean to make soy milk and fresh tofu. So I did mom's dirty work, but experiences taught me good food takes attention and effort -- but your efforts of making good food can engage family and people to bring them closer, not just create good food.
Kim: I really enjoy throwing dinner parties and love that food brings people together. The first time I realized this was when I prepared a Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings for my family when I was 16. Prior to this our family would always go out to eat for Thanksgiving dinner at home.
What's your least favorite food?
Hong: Don't think I have a least favorite, but more like least exciting would be chicken breast.
Kim: Too cheesy macaroni and cheese.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Hong: Deep fried bananas (chuoi chien) would have to be my favorite because of the experience making it. I was out in the Vietnamese fruit market selecting the ripest banana when an earthquake hit. Everyone around me ran outside, yet I was almost oblivious to that, concentrating on choosing the best ones. In the meanwhile Kim was at home waiting for me, worrying that something might have happened.
Kim: Vietnamese cuisine has a classic whole roasted catfish (ca nuong) where we take the fish and marinate it in glaze of honey, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and roast the entire fish until the skin is crispy. The fish is then topped with scallion oil and peanuts and served family-style, where the meat would then be wrapped in rice paper along with various Vietnamese herbs.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
Hong: First attempt at making Vietnamese blood sausauge. The kitchen looked like the set of Friday the 13th and Freddy Krueger was my sous chef.
Kim: I was distracted by a phone call one time and placed a hot pan of fried rice on a glass table and while talking on the phone, the glass shattered. Clean up was a pain with intermixed fried rice and shards of glass. Ouch.
What is your idea of comfort food?
Kim: A traditional Vietnamese dinner is comfort food. A traditional dinner would always have rice, a protein such as thit kho (caramelized pork), pickled vegetables, and a soup.
Hong: Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho) is my comfort food. It has such wonderful fragrance of star anise, cinnamon, cloves mixed with tendonous shank -- I can eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Apron or no apron?
No apron for either of us!
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Hong: The dueling crispy beef noodle vs. sweet sour pork dishes from two Kung Fu cooking masters in The Chinese Feast.
Kim: The scene in Lady and the Tramp where they eat opposite ends of a single strand until meeting together in the middle.
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Kim: My grandma because I never got to cook for her even though most of our family recipes are from her.
Hong: I'll help Kim.
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
Depends on mood. A kitchen can really be your sanctuary so it sometimes takes a lot patience to share it.
When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
Kim: Definitely clean as I cook.
Hong: Definitely a shamble. Kim calls me the tornado in the kitchen.