Chicken Tip: It Starts With A Cold Knife Tip

On a recent Saturday I went to a cooking demo given by Ming Tsai, local celeb and pal of our Governor Deval Patrick, after a bike ride to demonstrate the benefits of Mass In Motion, diet and fitness program created by the Massachusetts department of health (I'd say an innovative program that should be a national model, but then I'd have to add that my spouse is the state health commissioner, so I'm prejudiced). It was a surprisingly loose, fun event that even yielded cooking tips and a recipe pretty much everyone there planned to use. Two in particular that yielded universal "Ooh"s from the crowd, and one that has had me wondering since I heard and saw it.

I shouldn't have been surprised at how professional and lively the results were. Tsai is a master of the TV demo, of course, and known to all--though I discovered him as the ambitious chef-owner of a brand-new suburban restaurant, Blue Ginger in Wellesley, that knocked out sophisticated suburban friends who tipped me off that I had to go and get the jump on what would be a major find. He quickly came to national fame on a cooking show that was in the works when he opened Blue Ginger, he told me; he has since built an empire you can read about at his Website . He also told me that we had gone to the same college and he'd been a squash star--a sport he now helps promote as an unlikely route to college for low-income students in Boston, through a group he enthusiastically told me about after the ride, Squash Busters .

He'd passed the headquarters on the bike ride, which ended in Jamaica Plain--center of the right-minded universe--at Bikes Not Bombs , which supplies donated and rebuilt bikes to students and communities around the world. As proof of just how right-minded, my friend and Atlantic contributor Bill McKibben had just given a lecture that a big poster promoted, and when I emailed him to marvel at the coincidenc--I live less than ten minutes away by foot--he told me he was crazy about "BNB," as its fans call it. (No, I didn't bicycle over--my excuse is that I'd come from a spin class.)

It provided a congenial setting for Tsai, who knows exactly how to project into any event high energy and a can-do spirit, to make a simple marinated chicken-breast stir fry with a couscous salad. He was assisted by a beaming, good-natured governor--and Deval Patrick is himself a renowned cook, though he amiably played celebrity sous-chef. The cameras were rolling, and we've waited to post this until the state was able to post its links to the video, and here it is :



The recipe itself is fresh and easy, with stuff that's usually on hand like orange juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce, and things that are easy to get: Greek yogurt, mint, and fresh ginger. Tip number one that made everyone exclaim "Oh!": peel fresh ginger root with the back of a spoon.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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