Staff Picks: Our Favorite Posts of 2017

2017 has been a pretty great year for Serious Eats. We've broken traffic records left and right, we've been lucky enough to hire some amazing new colleagues, and we've managed to crank out some top notch recipes, techniques, and features, all while juggling a host of different complicating factors—three babies were born (!), one of the head honchos got married (!!), and half the office got addicted to a silly trivia game on their iPhones (!!!). Here are some of our team's favorite pieces of content from the year.

East, West, Then Backward: Falling for Groundnut Soup in Ghana

[Illustration: Laura Freeman]

A study abroad trip to Ghana leaves a student of color feeling profoundly othered, withdrawn from both his fellow travelers and the community he’d hoped would embrace him. The significance of food, family, and mealtimes courses through each juncture of the narrative—and lands the reader with an incredibly delicious recipe for peanutty, meaty groundnut soup.

It’s a moving and beautifully composed piece, but it's the author’s powerful honesty and introspection that make this piece such an engaging read. Sara’o Bery is a longtime friend, which doesn’t always bode well for a joint professional undertaking, but in this case, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have played a part in giving this piece an audience. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, executive managing editor

Read the full story about Ghanaian groundnut soup »

Grilling With Vinegar

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

I have a lot of reasons to pick Michael Harlan Turkell's summertime series on grilling with vinegar as my favorite post(s) of the year. First, selfishly, because it meant that I got to hang out with him multiple times throughout the summer as we worked our way through his recipes, using a grill we'd set up on a rooftop in Brooklyn. Standing in the sunshine and drinking cold beers with a friend while grilling up a storm is about as good as my job gets. But on top of that, I just love his recipes: He has so many creative, unexpected, and goddamned delicious ideas for how to use vinegar in grilled foods. There are the burgers spiked with Japanese black vinegar, dripping with melted cheese and slathered with a black olive mayo; there's the tart and herbal chimichurri sauce spooned not onto the obvious steak but sweet and plump grilled squash instead; a Spanish-inspired grilled scallion and endive salad topped with a creamy, nutty, and spicy sauce; and—who can forget—grilled peaches on grilled poundcake with a perfectly sweet-sour cider-caramel sauce that should be a classic all on its own. —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director

Read our full series on grilling with vinegar »

Cheesy Bread Is Absurdly Good, No Matter What You Call It

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Writing a post about cheesy bread could so easily become, well, cheesy. But Sohla's cheesy bread post was so full of easy-to-digest, cheese-filled wit and wisdom I almost forgot it was about one of my favorite snacks in the world. Her post had me at the second line: "In our wedding vows, my husband promised to have and to hold and to always keep the fridge stocked with three varieties of cheddar." She makes baking them sound like the easiest thing in the world, and for an unconfident baker like me, that is incredibly reassuring. And when you get to the end of the post, be prepared for one of the great visual kickers in Serious Eats' eleven-year history. Thank you, Vicky Wasik. —Ed Levine, founder

Dive into the cheesy bread experience »

The Definitive Guide to Eggs

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

When I first started at Serious Eats earlier this year, the team was deep in the throes of developing The Definitive Guide to Eggs, a.k.a. "The Egg Page." It was a gargantuan effort of collecting techniques, creating guides to the different shapes and sizes, decoding the terms and labels you find on the carton...the list goes on. It was perhaps the best way to get to know my new team. From the videos produced by the culinary and visual teams, to the user-friendly experience designed by our dev team, to every quick-hitting blurb written and edited by the editorial team, everything came together in a smart and savvy product. I've come to learn that such a product is standard at Serious Eats, thanks to the talented folks I get to call coworkers. —Kristina Bornholtz, social media editor

Explore the Serious Eats Definitive Guide to Eggs »

Chaat Your Mouth: How to Make the South Asian Street Food at Home

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

I love how Sohla’s recipes often start with a story. From the first line, you’re with her in that airplane cabin hurtling its way towards Dhaka, tightly packed in with relatives and strangers alike passing the time by flinging heated opinions to and fro on what constitutes the best chaat, where to get it, and even when to consume it to mitigate the effects of certain digestive ailments. It sets the scene for how you should think about chaat: as a chaotic, beautiful mess of personal preferences synthesized and represented in a dish. It’s customizable, highly subjective, and somewhat hard to pin down, but Sohla does just that. She hands you the essential components, a roadmap to the key flavor profiles, and a dizzyingly detailed but comprehensively clear breakdown of the adjustments you can make to create a satisfying version of your own. My favorite part? How she describes kala namak, personified as a condiment with attitude that lends the dish’s foundational chaat masala spice blend “a bossy bit of savory funk.” Lyrical genius. —Marissa Chen, office manager

Read all about chaat »

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Fictional Foods

[Illustration: Katie Shelly]

Spending hours of my day geeking out with my coworkers about the most fantastic scenes of food and drink from our favorite childhood books and movies isn't what I'd call "work." Neither is having a serious discussion over whether the two pizza slices in the Saturday Night Fever illustration should be neatly stacked or remain slightly splayed, and whether the central figure was adequately representative of Tony Manero. Neither is eagerly, secretly reloading comments once the piece was published to see who out there might have been fascinated by some of the same things we were as kids. Writing and editing this post was delightful proof that nothing unites like youthful nerdery. —Miranda Kaplan, editor

Check out our favorite fictional foods »

How to Make a Mixed-Green Salad Like You Actually Care

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

The state of salad in this country is a sordid mess, and the problem starts with the greens. Take a stroll down the salad aisle in any supermarket and you'll see stacks upon stacks of prewashed stuff—salad mixes and plastic clamshells filled with insipid "baby" lettuces—as if all good taste had been sacrificed to the great god of Convenience. There is a reason bottled salad dressing is so aggressive, so cloyingly sweet: Good greens don't need much more than a little acid and good olive oil, or a light vinaigrette. Daniel offers up what might seem like remedially simple advice in this post, but it's advice that is sorely needed. Salad shouldn't be a chore to make, or to eat; salad should be celebrated, from the moment you purchase the greens until you finish your plate. All it takes is a little care, a little inspiration in the supermarket aisle, a tiny wee bit of patience once in a while, and you'll be surprised at how much you look forward to the salad portion of a meal. —Sho Spaeth, features editor

Read more about how to step up your salad game »

The Best Things I Ate in Japan

[Photographs: Daniel Gritzer]

I've never been obsessed with the idea of seeing (or eating my way through) Japan. I love traveling, sure, and Japan is on my list, but it was never particularly high on my list until I edited Daniel's essay on his favorite bites from a visit there. This is not a travel piece, not a series of restaurant reviews, and not a primer on Japanese foods that are uncommon in the West, but it includes elements of all three, and the result is a low-key window into the country's cuisine that makes it seem simultaneously more approachable and more exciting to me than before. It just might convince you that blowfish sperm is a thing you want to put in your mouth. —Miranda Kaplan, editor

Join Daniel on his culinary adventure through Japan »

The Food Lab: How to Make Kickass Quesadillas

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Kenji's "Kickass Quesadilla" post is probably the one I used the most this year. There are three recipes attached, but let's be honest, you don't need them. If you're anything like me, your quesadillas are rarely pre-planned beyond gazing into your fridge and realizing you have tortillas, cheese, maybe some random leftovers/vegetables/pickles, and a strong desire not to go outside. That's really all you need to make a good quesadilla, but if you read Kenji's tips and apply them, you'll almost certainly make a great one. —Paul Cline, developer

Check out our quesadilla pro-tips »

The Pho I Lost

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

I have the pleasure of sitting next to Sho at the office. While I sometimes jokingly refer to him as the office curmudgeon, he has come to be a good friend and I appreciate how discerning he is about pretty much everything. I think this friendship really developed after I read his story about pho, taste memory, and his mother. I admired the courage (and ability) it took to write about and share the feelings and memories he describes. And the fact that he can eat two bowls of pho in one sitting (and do that every day for two-and-a-half weeks) is just...well, that's something to respect. —Ariel Kanter, marketing director

Read about Sho's long-lost pho »

For the Most Flavorful Piña Colada, Freeze Everything

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

The piña colada is one of those things—like pasta —that is surprisingly hard to get a good version of when you’re eating out. Growing up, the PC was a special-occasion drink and my mom’s go-to at our family’s Italian weddings. That’s where I first had one, at around 12 years old, when she ordered a small (not virgin) one for me—God bless European parents. I love Daniel’s story because the big tip—to freeze everything—is that one little step that can make your shopping trip to buy coconut cream worth it. Trust me, I made several batches of these while testing blenders and it works. The taste is sweet, but not too sweet, with clean, creamy coconut and pineapple flavors, and just the right amount of rum. —Sal Vaglica, equipment editor

Learn how to make piña coladas like a boss »

What Is "Traditional" Soju?: A Spirited Debate

[Photograph: Emily Dryden]

I like to think I know a little bit about Korea: I've had Korean friends my entire life, I've been there more than a few times, and my father has lived in Seoul for close to a decade now. So I also thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about soju, the nation's ubiquitous and beloved liquor. When we got the pitch for this piece, what struck me most wasn't just my own ignorance about soju's long history (I am never, ever surprised by the depths of my ignorance); it was how little had been written about the liquor anywhere else. This was an untold story in English, one that we were in a unique position to be able to offer a wide audience. Add to that the fact that in delving into the story of what "traditional" soju is, Josh managed to weave into the narrative much of what makes South Korea such a remarkable place—its ultra rapid industrialization and modernization, its skyrocketing cultural capital—and I can say without a doubt that it was my favorite feature of 2017. It was a privilege to publish it. —Sho Spaeth, features editor

Read more about soju »

How Oreos Got Their Name: The Rise of an American Icon

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Nothing grabs my attention more than the thrilling histories behind iconic foods. Lucky, that's Stella's forte, as she dives deep into the corporate intrigue and betrayal behind the beloved biscuit. Walking down the snack aisle has never felt the same after reading about the cutthroat cookie war that culminated with Oreo taking the throne. I'm eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation. —Sohla El-Waylly, assistant culinary editor

A rich and totally unexpected look at the origin of Oreos, by the one and only Stella Parks. I am lucky enough to work with Stella once a month, where I have the pleasure of witnessing her deep knowledge base and attention to detail first-hand. It's front and center in this piece, as is her intense curiosity about all things pastry-related. Her approachable and snarky style makes it all the more enjoyable—phrases like "they might as well have told Oreos to get off their lawn" pepper the piece throughout. Humor aside, it's a zippy and fun exploration of a history you never knew you wanted to know. —Natalie Holt, video producer

Get the full history of Oreos »

A Losers' Thanksgiving: No One Knows Your Name (But All Are Welcome)

[Illustration: Alex Citrin]

This story had me hooked from the get-go and held me straight through til the end, a tale of frozen misery, daring hope, social ambition, and conquering life with pie. —Stella Parks, pastry wizard

Read Sohla's heartwarming holiday tale »

Obsessed: A Man and His Mold

[Photograph: Chris Anderson]

Man, Rich Shih is smart. And he's passionate as hell. His responses to the interview questions in this article are so in-depth and intelligent that you might think they were heavily edited, but I had the pleasure of meeting Rich (and making miso with him) in the office, and he really is that knowledgable. And that knowledge is built on a fervent curiosity. This isn't his day job—it isn't even related—but he is all-in on his koji project, devoting years to researching and experimenting with the stuff. I can attest to the results being delicious. The article is also accompanied by gorgeous photographs of close-up mold spores and fermented products. Kudos to Sho and his wonderful "Obsessed" series about the passionate amateur and professional foodies of this world. —Tim Aikens, front-end developer

Catch the koji bug, right this way »

For the Lightest, Crispiest Granola, Grab the Buttermilk

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

When Stella told me she was developing a granola recipe to shoot on her next trip up to NYC, I didn't give it a second thought. I mean, granola is great and all, but why would I spend the time making it when I can easily pop into my corner grocery store and grab any of the 10 varieties they have in stock at any given time? And then I ate it. And then I ate MORE of it. And then I took the entire jar from the photoshoot home and finished it in less than a week. This is the most addictive snack I've ever had. And it's granola so...it's good for you...right? I made it a few weeks later when my craving kicked in. It's definitely a labor of love, but well worth the effort! —Vicky Wasik, visual director

Find out what makes Stella's granola so great »

The Best Chicken Pot Pie, With Biscuits or Pastry

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Chicken pot pie is one of those recipes I’ve always been too intimidated to tackle; all my life I’ve resorted to frozen Marie Callender’s. Don’t get me wrong, those frozen pies are still delicious, but when Stella came out with her savory pie, it gave me the confidence to give it a try. Who knew making the roux would turn out to be so easy? I also love having the freedom to add whatever fillings I want, and it's now a crowd favorite among my friends and family. I even got my roommate to give it a try, too, which means double the pot pies at home! —Vivian Kong, designer

Dig into some chicken pot pie »