The Chefs Behind Myers + Chang Share Their 5 Kitchen Essentials
Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz name the five things that'll get your kitchen Chinese cuisine-ready.
Since opening ten years ago, Myers + Chang's interpretations of Southeast Asian cuisine have made the restaurant a beloved Boston institution, and last week, the Food & Wine test kitchen got a taste of why. And if watching chef/owner Joanne Chang and executive chef Karen Akunowicz teach you four different ways to fold dumplings (as well as how to pull of the full recipe for Mama Chang’s Pork and Chive Dumplings with Black Pepper-Scallion Sauce, filling included) had you wanting to learn more about the team's Chinese and Taiwanese cooking, you're in luck.
Chang and Akunowicz's new book, Myers+Chang at Home: Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery, is designed to help you make Myers + Chang's delicious recipes on your own, as well as capture the spirit of the restaurant itself. For those who want to get started right this second, though, the chefs shared five recommendations on how to add a little more Myers + Chang to your kitchen equation.
They're not just for eating. "A lot of chefs plate with tweezers," say Chang and Akunowicz, "But we plate everything with chopsticks." And they're not just for eating Asian food, either—chopsticks are so integral to their food life that, they say, "We just went to a pizza restaurant and pulled out chopsticks from our bag."
Chinese Natural Bamboo Chopsticks, 10 pairs, $10 on Amazon
"It's something we use a ton," Chang and Akunowicz say of the wok, and it "makes the restaurant really special." Fortunately, you don't have to be in a restaurant to use this essential tool—a carbon steel wok is light, durable and essential tool for cooking Myers + Chang's recipes at home.
Joyce Chen 22-0060, Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok Uncoated Carbon Steel, 14-inch, $40 at Amazon
"More so than any other cuisine," the chefs say, Chinese food requires your ingredients to be cut and organized ahead of time. "It’s a lot of planning and prep work," they say, "And then cooking it takes five minutes." But since everything needs to be added at particular times, Chang and Akunowicz recommend keeping everything in front of you and ready to go, with small bowls like these.
Mini 3.5 Inch Glass Bowls for Kitchen Prep, Set of 12, $16 at Amazon
When cooking with the high heat of a wok, you'll need neutral oils with a higher smoke point than your standard EVOO. You don't need anything fancy, though—Chang and Akunowicz say canola oil will do. Just make sure you have enough for all that wok-use!
Healthy Harvest Canola Oil, One Gallon, $28 at Amazon
While you definitely should not put this oil in a hot wok, you should use it after you're done cooking, as is common at Myers + Chang. "We put sesame oil on a lot of things for flavor," they say, garnishing so that the "toasted nutty flavor finishes a lot of our dishes."
Ottogi Premium Roasted Sesame Oil, $12 at Amazon