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Cooking Class with Chef Anita Lo

Cooking Class with Chef Anita Lo


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Three delicious duck recipes from The Culinary Experience

Photo courtesy of The Daily Meal

Duck Live Frisee Salad

The title of Chef Anita Lo’s class at the New York Culinary Experience pulled no punches – it truly was “The Whole Duck.” In a matter of two hours, we went from butchering a raw duck to creating a three-course meal in a classroom at The French Culinary Institute. Our whole Peking-Mallard (Pallard?) hybrid duck, suitably rich and gamey, became two Asian-inspired dishes and one very simple but elegant salad.

Set out by the culinary school’s students who assisted in the classes, the 20 + ingredients included Chinese black vinegar, whole star anise and green grapes. All of the food and materials are provided by the school, but those in the know bring their own chef's knives. Co-hosted by The FCI and New York Magazine, the Experience offers anyone willing to ante up for a ticket the opportunity to learn from chefs they’ve probably only seen on television or in Food & Wine magazine. That means that people like me who are, let’s say, “home trained” can work alongside celebrated chefs like Alain Ducasse and Laurent Tourondel.

After carefully following Chef Lo’s disappointing loss in the next-to-last episode of Top Chef Masters’ first season, we were curious to see what this serious, thoughtful chef would have us cook up. As she told us in the beginning of the class, eating sustainably means eating the whole animal. She walked us through the butchering (one tip: “let knife do the work”) and suggested ways to use what usually goes to waste, like extra skin around the neck for cracklings and the skinned legs and wings for the pho soup broth.

Here are the threee recipes from Chef Anita Lo's class:


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


Cooking for one? Renowned chef Anita Lo shares some tips, and a recipe

Cooking for one. As with a handful of other activities — eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, catching a new film — cooking for ourselves isn’t something most of us plan for, let alone celebrate. Still, we’ve all been there. Because everyone has to eat, right?

In her new cookbook, “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One,” chef Anita Lo tackles the stigma and challenges when it comes to fending for ourselves in the kitchen. At once humorous, self-deprecating and utterly relatable, she weaves her history with recipes from around the world, each reflecting a particular time and place in her life. Containing 101 recipes ranging from vegetable-focused mains to sides, noodles and rice, various proteins (fish, poultry, meat) and sweets, “Solo” also includes handy tips for readers covering everything from staple ingredients to equipment and organization. It’s an excellent addition to any cookbook library, whether you’re cooking for one or many (each of the recipes can be easily multiplied).

In addition to working at restaurants including Bouley, Maxim’s in New York and Chanterelle, Lo ran her own Michelin-starred restaurant, Annisa, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich village for 17 years, and has also appeared on Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America. Lo was also the first female guest chef invited to cook a State Dinner at the White House, in 2015. Just last year, Eater named “Solo” its cookbook of the year.

Recently, I caught up with Lo over the phone to chat about her book and the art of cooking for one. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Noelle Carter: In your book’s introduction, you write, “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself. Too often we forget about the latter.” Can you tell me about how the book came to be?

Anita Lo: There’s almost something taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous. The book came about when I was on a call with a friend, and we got on the subject of potential cookbook titles playing with my last name. We must have gone through 50. (laughs) And then we came to “Alone” and I was like, "Oh my God, I have to write that.” It could be really challenging, but also really funny. There’s something almost taboo about being alone. And it’s ridiculous.

NC: So many of us think of cooking as a community thing. We’re bringing family and friends together and the food we make is an extension of ourselves, as the cliches go. Why is it so hard to find books — let alone recipes — devoted to simply cooking for ourselves?

AL: Eating alone could be considered a feminist issue on some level. You know, we’re supposed to — generally women — are meant to be coupled with their men and take care of other people instead of themselves. And I think [the dearth of cookbooks and recipes for one] stems from this, the cultural taboo.

I also think it’s difficult to cook for one because we have this problem of the grocery store providing family-sized packaging.

NC: You begin the book talking about your history of relationships and heartbreak and you write how cooking can often seem depressing. It’s something we can all relate to. But you also show how solitary cooking can be a happy experience and, dare I say, even celebratory.

AL: Sometimes you have to poke fun at the situation. And I think also that including my stories, stories of breakups, make [readers] feel less alone.

NC: And the book is so witty. You inject so much humor into it. I love how you talk about planning Valentine’s day menus at your restaurants.

AL: Valentine’s Day to me has always been this Hallmark holiday. It can be really cheesy. Ever since my first chef job, you know, we have to plan special menus because that’s how the restaurant makes money. There’s lots of red food, and little plays on words. And while the menu is always for couples, I’ve always tried to keep at least one dish for the lonely person, the person eating by themselves. I think my first one was at Maxim’s. I did a monkfish with extra-virgin olive oil. And I think it had clams.

NC: In addition to recipes, you also spend a good portion of the book sharing handy tips, such as regarding food waste, and how common scraps can be turned into great meals. You also include a number of helpful sections — pantry staples, equipment, etc. for the solitary cook. Can you share a tip or two?

AL: Shopping is a big one. When it comes to shopping, stay away from big grocery stores. If you go to farmers markets, your butcher or fishmonger, everything’s not already packaged, so it’s easier to buy for one.

NC: One last question. If you find yourself cooking for more than one, are the recipes easily doubled or multiplied?

AL: (laughs) Yes. While the recipe portions are for one, it doesn’t have to be a solo cookbook.

PORK AND SQUID GLASS NOODLES

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce, divided

2 small packages bean thread noodles (2 1/2 to 4 ounces dry)

1 (5-inch) piece squid, cleaned and cut into rings (you can substitute 3 peeled and deveined shrimp tails, or 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried shrimp)

1 small Thai bird chile, finely chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam chili-garlic sauce)

1 small tomato, chopped, or 4 halved grape tomatoes

1/2 Persian cucumber, diced (or substitute a 2-inch piece cucumber or a rib of celery heart, chopped)

1 heaping tablespoon coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Bring a pot of amply salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the pork with the light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bean thread noodles in the water, stirring occasionally, until there are no longer any white specks in the noodles and they taste cooked but are not too soft, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then drain well and place in a mixing bowl (or any larger bowl you can eat out of).

In a nonstick skillet heated over high heat, add the oil, then the pork mixture and the squid, and stir, breaking up the pork into bits. When cooked through, remove from heat and add to the noodles. Add the lime juice, remaining fish sauce, chile, sugar, tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, cilantro, basil and peanuts. Taste and adjust the seasonings — you may need a little more salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Enjoy.

Note: Adapted from a recipe in “SoLo: A modern Cookbook for a Party of One” by Anita Lo.


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