This year started out much the same as last year, but eventually there was a return to some of the joys of pre-pandemic life (although admittedly some of that seems to be fading again). For the Serious Eats team, that meant a fully masked and vaccinated return to test and studio kitchens, developing and filming a host of new recipes that would soon become our (and your) favorites. It is important, however, to pay tribute to our many contributors who continue to make the magic happen from their kitchens. Their tireless work and endless creativity have helped to further diversify our library.
At the end of each year, our staff takes a moment to share their favorite recipes that we have published, and it often comes as a challenge – how do we choose just one? (Spoiler alert: we usually can’t). With a host of new dishes to choose from, including many, many Thai, Filipinoand Armenian those we set to work. Below are the new recipes we’ve turned to again and again…and again this year.
Derek Lucci’s recipe for yam khai dao (thai fried egg salad) quickly became a staff favorite last year; we all cooked it all the time at home. More recently, he posted another yam salad recipe as part of his and Pailin Chongchitnant package on Thai saladsincluding this one filled with plump shrimp, ground pork and herbs, all tossed in a lime juice and fish sauce vinaigrette. My love of seafood salads is well documentedand this one, oh wow, this one… he can take the crown. —Daniel Grizer, culinary director
I knew I was gonna love Derek Lucci tam khao pod kai kem (Thai corn salad with salted duck egg) before even trying it. It has everything I love: seasonal corn; a super punchy and flavorful dressing; a tiny bit of heat; and a variety of textures. Who in their right mind doesn’t like these things? This recipe is so well balanced and showcases a lot of the ingredients I already loved in a way that was really refreshing to me. I made this for my family with a few of Derek’s other recipes (kudos to gaeng khua prik si krong moo), and it was by far the first bowl that was emptied. —Jina Stanfill, Social Media Editor
by Sasha zozzona pasta was put on instant repeat in my house after being developed for Starch Madness this year. From my perspective, any time there’s an excuse to eat both sausage and guanciale in one dish, it’s an easy sell. But what really draws me to this carbonara cousin is the added acidity of the tomato passata – the egg yolks make this sauce silky, but the tomato shine really brightens up the pork combo , egg and cheese. And my husband has no idea what it’s called but asks over and over for “the fancy carbonara”. That suits me! —Elspeth Velten, Managing Director
I remember seeing Sunny Lee Basque cheesecake I stumbled across my IG feed at that time when Basque cheesecakes were all over everyone’s IG feeds. But it was so much more striking and beautiful than any other I had seen that it kept me awake that night; I ended up doing it this weekend and enjoyed the deeply burnt caramel energy of it all so much that I suggested it as an activity for my next Zoom session with no new friends. Six Serious Eats Basque cheesecakes gathered across the country on one Sunday, crushing as we gathered again this Wednesday. Magic! I could cry! —Tess Koman, Senior Editorial Director
I’m not going to lie: I haven’t cooked much this year. Well, I have cooked most nights, but didn’t make many new recipes, instead relying on anything I can conjure up for dinner using my imagination and what’s in the fridge. There are many reasons for this including the pandemic and limited trips to the grocery store, a move and getting a puppy which takes up 99% of my free time after work. However, I did this pasta and this a lot. It’s based on ingredients that I (almost) always already have in my pantry and fridge, and it’s an incredibly delicious recipe that’s low effort and very rewarding. It also only takes 30 minutes to assemble, which is ideal for a weeknight. —Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, Trade Editor
Like Riddley, I also failed to cook many new recipes this year. Granted, I didn’t even cook my new favorite recipe this year, Sunny Lee’s. Korean corn cheese, but I tried it in the test kitchen and haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. The combination of sweet and savory flavors, not to mention that irresistibly gooey mozzarella, will have you wanting to eat the whole pan. It’s the perfect vehicle for seasonal fresh corn, but I love that Sunny has adapted the recipe to work with the produce’s unsung heroes: frozen and canned corn. —Yasmine Maggioeditorial assistant
I was lucky enough to be able to test a number of the recipes published this year, and one of my favorites was Sunny Lee’s. gamja-tang, a Korean stew made with pork ribs, potatoes, cabbage and daikon radish. It’s a fabulous blend of some of my favorite ingredients, and because Sunny calls for adding the vegetables in stages rather than all at once (a technique we use in a variety of recipes here at Serious Eats), everything is perfectly cooked, and the texture is impeccable. Making gamja-tang was also a great excuse to add a new ingredient to my pantry, perilla seeds, which add a distinctive and appealing flavor and aroma. The gamja-tang is hearty, loaded with vegetables and also only uses one pot. What’s not to like? —Jacob Deanupdate editor
A favorite recipe? Impossible!
I’ve been saying for months that the best recipe we’ve posted this year, and the best thing I’ve eaten in years, is Derek Lucci’s gaeng khua prik si krong moo. Spicy, salty and meaty, this is one of those dishes that seems to continually improve the more you eat it, the ample layer of un-emulsified fat on the curry tempering the spicy punch to the mouth of the heat of chilli and black pepper. . I highly recommend making the curry paste yourself using a mortar and pestle for the full effect, but I made it using Derek’s recommended red curry paste substitution (at my dad’s suggestion) , and the little it loses in depth and complexity of flavor it gains in comfort. (I also found the finished curry and the Southern Thai Curry Paste be excellent for use in quick noodle soups for lunch).
However, there are a few other recipes that I would also like to highlight, as I now make them regularly and cannot imagine my life without them. Sunny Lee baechu kimchi recipe is the first one that really worked for me; likewise, Tim Chin fermented hot sauce starter has made up for years of failures of fermented pepper puree (the blueberry-habanero one is a favorite in my house). Tim’s paned chicken is also a regular in my dinner rotation, just like Nik Sharma’s aloo parathe recipe—I’ve been making aloo paratha for years, but the subtle spiciness of Nik’s aloo topping was a revelation to me, as I was previously firmly in the “more is more” camp of charging the topping with spices, especially amchur.
Finally, I want to highlight the understated perfection of Sasha recipe orecchiette with salsiccia and cime di rapa, which I do once a week. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and the only way my daughter will happily eat a bowl of broccoli rabe. —Sho Spaetheditor
I recently had the pleasure of testing Andrew Janjigian’s four excellent outdoor table oven pizza recipes, and I couldn’t get enough of his “Armenian” pie which combines Armenian flavors and the characteristics of classic Italian pizza, with a lamb sausage inspired by lahmajun and Armenian nigella cheese in place of fior di latte. It’s fantastic. Derek Lucci has come up with a phenomenal set of Thai salad recipes, and the salty-sweet-and-sour combination of the tam khao pod kai kem (corn salad with salted duck egg) is outrageously delicious. One of my other favorite recipes this year was Sunny Lee’s gaji-namul (banchan of pickled eggplant), which I have done many times this summer. I love the creamy texture roasted eggplant takes on when tossed with the sweet and salty doenjang and sesame dressing. It’s a super simple side dish that can be made ahead and served at room temperature, perfect for lazy dinners or WFH lunches. —Sasha Marxsenior food writer