Log in

No account? Create an account
The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Substitutions [Dec. 9th, 2014|10:18 pm]
I have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated, which I mostly enjoy (although sometimes I feel like they're kinda running out of interesting recipes to write about).

But one of the things that annoys me is when they provide substitutions for some ingredient they think you won't have on hand. Because they never provide the directions for what to do if you DO have it on hand.

"Here's a fried rice recipe with six steps for making substitute day-old rice." Okay, maybe there are some readers who decide they Must Have Fried Rice NOW who will appreciate that, but if I'm making fried rice? It's because I want to use up the day-old rice!

"Yakisoba sauce is hard to find outside an Asian grocery, so here's how to doctor up Worcestershire sauce to substitute." That's good to know, but some of us actually live near an Asian grocery. Three of them, in fact. And shop there pretty regularly. I know most people don't have it, but for those of us who DO happen to have some in the cupboard, could you just list how much to use? Like in a footnote, even?

And my biggest complaint are all the recipes that add an anchovy filet or a dab of anchovy paste, "not enough that you can taste it, just enough for an umami boost". Well, I don't keep anchovies on hand, because they're gross and they don't keep well, but you know what I DO have sitting in my pantry? A great big bag of Aji-No-Moto powder, aka M-S-fucking-G, the best and purest umami booster in existence. Somebody give me THAT substitution, would you?

From: ajfbs
2014-12-10 01:42 pm (UTC)
Please write them a letter about the substitutions thing. Please! It was probably key back in the 80's, but these days the world is smaller, there's the internets and online ordering, and you can get Yakisoba sauce on amazon. They should at very least include the info as a footnote.

I'm totally with you on the day old rice thing. If you never have day-old rice and you love fried rice, get a good rice bot and the problem will solve itself.

I'm gonna have to look at you sideways about the anchovies, though. The paste version seems to have a decent shelf life compared to the filets. And MSG hates me, so I return the feeling. Team Anchovy!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: danthered
2014-12-13 08:50 am (UTC)
Have you seen a Cook's Illustrated from the '80s? It was all about the Executive Strength this and the You Can Have It All that and the Money-Money-Money other thing. Very…1980s.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dendren
2014-12-11 03:32 pm (UTC)
hahahaha... I wish more places would provide ideas for substitutes but it would be nice if they provided the original recipe too. I've found it's pretty easy to google something out if I need a substitute anymore though. Maybe it would work the same if you did the reverse (i.e. google out how much yakisoba to use for fried rice).
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: danthered
2014-12-13 08:55 am (UTC)
Oh, but you're leaving out a whole raft of sound gripes about Cook's Illustrated. For example, the "horses, autumn leaves, barns, and old Ford pickup trucks" editorial that runs in each and every single issue. And that dumb tizzy they whipped themselves into over how to clean sponges (they somehow managed, I have to think deliberately because nobody's accidentally this chowderheaded, not to figure out how to clean sponges in a microwave without setting them afire). And their breezy "Oh, just brine the bird in the usual way" toss-off (just try and find the salt:water ratio for their "usual way").

That said, there's a lot to like about the magazine. Their kitchen equipment tests are far more reliable than those in the likes of Condemner Reports, and—shock!—the expensive stuff doesn't automatically win. And there's a lot of good food science, and a pretty steady stream of clever ideas sent in by readers.
(Reply) (Thread)