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35 Butternut Squash Recipes to Make the Most of Your Fall Stash

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A trusty list of butternut squash recipes is essential for fall and winter, when the orange, bulbous roots are at their peak—hefty, creamy, and perfect. Thanks to its natural sweetness, butternut squash is at home in both sweet and savory settings. Try it fried up with chorizo in this hearty hash. Hold the apples and sub in butternut in this show-stopping tarte tatin. Opt for a seasonal alternative in our cheesy take on the classic eggplant parmesan. And spice up your life with a comforting, squash-forward shakshuka. No matter what you go with, this line-up of butternut squash recipes will make the most of your cold-weather haul.

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56 Casserole Recipes We Constantly Crave

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Casserole recipes are our saving grace throughout fall and winter—they’re hearty, creamy, and often come with a built-in crispy topping. But first, you might be wondering, what exactly makes something a casserole? The name itself comes from the French word for sauce pan, so here at BA, we define casseroles as baked one-pan meals. Sweet or savory, they rely on the heat from an oven to unite—melt, roast, and caramelize—all the disparate ingredients into a whole. Casseroles are truly the sum of their parts! Think cheesy gratin, oozy lasagna, jammy fruit cobbler, and shepherd’s pie. Here we’ve rounded up our favorite casserole recipes.

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My Perfect Nice Day Order Includes, Uh, One of Everything

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This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.

I consider myself to be very easy-breezy when it comes to ordering takeout from new spots. I will say, “Surprise me!” to the voice on the line, then quickly clarify my preferences. This frustrating dance translates into: Feed me whatever you want…so long as it is also what I want. Like I said, easy-breezy!

The folks at Nice Day—a new Chinese American pop-up by Junzi Kitchen, which has been running out of its Bleecker Street location since August—handled this conundrum expertly. In addition to my very unsubtle pleas for mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, and beef chow mein (“Ha ha, oh, truly, whatever you recommend though!”), they added a surprise to my ticket: shake shake shrimp, a.k.a. an excellent take on the Chinese American classic orange shrimp.

Executive chef Lucas Sin’s goal is for the restaurant to carry on the legacies and techniques—like velveting and egg drop—developed by Chinese people living and cooking in the United States for over 150 years. In his mind, that is authentic. “It’s just authentic to a community and to a culture that isn’t in China itself,” he says. “Our job, opening a restaurant like this, is to stay faithful to our understanding of this regional cuisine.”

While conceived before the pandemic, Nice Day is certainly a child of our current crisis. According to Sin, many of the Chinese takeout joints across the U.S. lost business not just because of COVID-19 closures but because of the associated anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiments. Combine this with a wave of Chinese restaurant owners retiring and you have another crisis on your hands—a whole cuisine in mass decline. Sin hopes to “double-down” on making and serving Chinese American food “the way it’s supposed to be.” To the chef, that means a menu full of fresh takes on old favorites, perfected for this new era of takeout and delivery.

My chicken wings, an order ubiquitous to most Chinese restaurants across the country, arrived encased in an impossibly light batter. “It’s just salt, garlic, and onion,” says Sin, upon further interrogation. “No funny tricks here.” The kung pao chicken packed a perfectly spicy and peanutty punch. The beef chow mein was loaded with a rainbow of fresh bell peppers and bean sprouts and the chewiest egg noodles I’ve ever eaten. And the mapo tofu was rich, thick, and laced with tingly Sichuan peppercorns.

Then came the wildcard: shake shake shrimp. The crunchy little nuggets are fried in the same barely-there coating as the wings and delivered with a sauce—orange, General Tso’s, or sweet and sour—on the side. The idea, as you may have guessed, is that the sauce is poured on top of the piping shot shrimp and shaken up right before eating. Why? “Because I love when crispy food is delivered crispy,” Sin says, of America’s favorite texture.

As someone who is not only not-Chinese, but also not-American ( 🐨), what I can say is that everything at Nice Day is delicious. Towards the end of our meal, the friend I had over for my living room floor picnic eyed our almost-empty paper box of shrimp, looked back at me, and demanded: “How is this so good?” 

Sin is not only making exceptional food but honoring the generations before him while building a restaurant for the future. Starting a new restaurant in a pandemic may seem like a gamble, but maybe it’s for the best that sometimes the path chooses us. By which I mean: GET THE SHAKE SHAKE SHRIMP.

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Chinese Fermented Black Beans – How to Cook With Douchi

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Steaming is a different process altogether, but the philosophy is the same: Combine aromatics with douchi to form the foundation of the dish. But instead of heating everything up in a wok, add the douchi on top of the meat right before steaming.

For steamed fish, Chinese cuisine normally dictates that a whole freshly slaughtered fish is best. This is especially important for family gatherings like the Chinese New Year, because a whole fish symbolizes unity within the family. A whole fish is also traditionally indicative of freshness as if it were caught and butchered that morning. Although modern supply chains have rendered this obsolete, it is still a strong cultural preference that’s relevant all across the greater China area. I’m not a stickler for tradition though, and my husband and I like it deboned and filleted already because we’re lazy eaters. 

Start with 1 lb. fish. Soft, white-fleshed fish is best; I personally like tilapia, sea bass, or halibut. Pat the fish dry and put it on top of a plate safe for steaming. Season with thin slices of ginger, some finely chopped garlic, and 2 Tbsp. douchi. Steam the fish on high heat for 10 minutes. When done, take it off the heat. Mix together 4 Tbsp. light soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. sugar and pour that sauce over the fish. Garnish with finely chopped scallions and more ginger. Finish off with a drizzle of searing hot canola oil, which gives the dish a nice finishing sheen. Douchi can also be steamed with pork ribs, but you’ll want to marinate the pork ribs first with seasoning and cornstarch for at least an hour. Sprinkle on the douchi right before steaming and then cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

The natural saltiness of douchi is also great for neutralizing bitter flavors. Chefs I’ve met in China have informed me that bitterness can be softened with salt; in Chinese cooking philosophy, the opposite of bitter is not sweet—it’s salty. 

Bitter melon is by far the best vegetable to showcase this trick. Known for its intense astringency, bitter melon can be quite difficult to mellow out, but here’s a method how: Halve the melon, seed it, and cut lengthwise into pieces. Coat the pieces in salt and let them sit for at least 15 minutes. Next, blanch the melon and then drop it in an ice bath to prevent overcooking. Finally, drain, pat dry, and quickly stir-fry for less than a minute in a hot and seasoned wok with finely chopped garlic and douchi. As always, finishing with a dash of soy sauce and cooking wine is good for sealing in the flavors.

In short douchi can be incorporated into a variety of dishes and can be used as an alternative to plain old salt. It’s also a reliable source of umami, heightened through the power of fermentation and time. It’s no wonder that it has been a pantry staple for more than 2,000 years.

Clarissa Wei is an American freelance journalist and video producer based in Taiwan.

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