How-To & Diy

It Only Took Me 3 Waking Hours in Portland to Find My New Secret Sauce 

September 17, 2015

Kenzi’s writing to us from Portland for the next few days—here’s her latest discovery.

And that’s saying nothing of my investigative powers, even if I did come prepared with a fedora and P.I.-style trench coat. (Seriously—this is me right now.) It’s saying everything of Portland, and its glorious, brimming, melting pot of a food scene. 

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My very first food stop—after coffee at the comically large Coava on Grand (I’m not kidding; I did a cartwheel in the bathroom)—was Nong’s Khao Man Gai for chicken and rice. It was a thing of beauty, much like I expected it to be—all simple, white foods cooked perfectly so they tasted neither simple nor white—but it was here that I remembered the beauty of sticky soy sauce.

Kenzi's chicken and rice, pre-douse.


I sat in the corner by the window, dumping it generously over my whole plate—maniacally, maybe, they way only that much concentrated sugar and salt can inspire. And then I vowed to make myself a bottle the minute I got home, and keep it in my pantry forever and ever amen. 

Here’s the method I’ve used before—but I’d love to know yours: Combine 4 parts soy to 1 part mirin in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it’s reached a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half. The sauce should be the consistency of honey. 

Cool, store, then do as I did and go eat a donut. I did say melting pot, right? 

Check back on the site or at @kenziwilbur or @butterandsaltblog to follow Kenzi and Leslie as they eat their ways around Portland for Feast

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


Leslie S. September 22, 2015
I really hope that the cartwheel anecdote is real and I'm crying real tears that Nong's isn't in Manhattan
Sarah J. September 17, 2015
No wonder you have "PRIVATE EYE" on the door of your apartment!
Lindsay-Jean H. September 17, 2015
Wait -- you did a cartwheel?!