I learned more from one video from Sohla El-Waylly than months of watching the Food Network, if you want to have fun in the kitchen, watching Sohla will get you there.
Sohla does that. But don’t let her laid back vibe fool you. This woman knows her stuff. I have learned more from one of her videos on Food52 than any other show I have watched recently.
The key to cooking is to have fun! You are going to be spending a lot of time making meals you might as well enjoy it!
Just what did I learn after watching Sohla and making her chicken recipe?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
WHO IS SOHLA EL-WAYLLY?
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Sohla started her college career at UC Irvine, where she majored in economics. She later decided to pursue a career in the culinary world and attended the Culinary Institute of America.
Her resume includes jobs at several notable restaurants, including Atera, which has two Michelin stars.
She isn’t a household name just yet, but I guess that she may soon be. Chef Sohla El-Waylly recently left her post as Assistant Food Editor at Bon Appetit after exposing some significant fair pay issues for BIPOC. Sohla ripped the mask off the magazine when she revealed the vast pay discrepancy between her and her colleagues and called for the resignation of the editor-in-chief, Adam Rappaport, during a Zoom call. Rappaport stepped down later that day.
Now she is making a name for herself by appearing on several YouTube channels, including Amanda Hesser’s Food 52 and the ever-popular Binging with Babish (now known as Babish’s Culinary Universe.) There are also rumblings that she has a cookbook in the works.
As an avid watcher of food shows on network television, YouTube, Netflix, you name it, I am here to tell you that I learned more from one of Sohla’s videos than I had from hours of the Food Network.
I recently watched Off-Script With Sohla from Food 52, and she is a great teacher.
WHY IT WORKS
Don’t let Sohla’s impressive credentials intimidate you. She can explain complex ideas in simple terms. There is never an air of condescension. There is always a “we are in this together” spirit about her that is both endearing and inspiring.
“You’re not doing this alone,” Sohla says in the first few seconds of the video, and you believe her.
Sohla gives options to make her recipe accessible. Don’t have a blender? Use a food processor. Don’t have that? Chop it up by hand. Nothing is worse than a recipe that requires crazy equipment. Most times, if I see a recipe like that, I scroll on through.
During her recent video, she forgot to put the tomatoes in the dish at the right time. She didn’t freak out. The editors didn’t remove this part. Instead, they used it to show the viewers that things go wrong, and it will all be ok. If that isn’t what we want to hear in 2020, then I don’t know what is!
After watching Sohla cook, you think, I can do this! I tried her recipe and can honestly say you can!
WHAT I LEARNED FROM OFF-SCRIPT WITH SOHLA
I am serious when I stated earlier that I learned more from the one video than tons of Food Network shows. Here is just what Sohla taught me.
I had learned that you always want to pat your meat dry so that the spices stick to the skin better, but I had never heard of the term dry brine. This method is when you place the spices (including salt) on the chicken before cooking. Sohla suggests up to 24 hours before. This allows the fat to come up closer to the skin and allow for a crispier skin. I have had issues with soggy skin before, mostly on chicken legs. Dry brining is my new go-to method to achieve flaky skin.
How to Make Basmati Rice
Even though I love ancient grains when it comes to rice, I’ll admit it; I usually stick to the simple brown variety. We buy a massive bag of it at Costco and throw it on in the background when I cook. I have always been interested in other rice types but just never really got around to cooking them.
After watching Sohla, I know how to make basmati rice. Simply place the desired amount in a bowl and cover with cold water. You want to put your hand in the bowl and move the rice around. Repeat two times. The rinsing and agitating help to release the starches that build up on the outside of the grains. The rice was perfectly cooked! It didn’t take long at all, and it was well worth the effort. None of the grains broke.
Look For Auditory Clues
I am trying not to rely on recipes as much in the kitchen. I admire those cooks that could just whip something extraordinary together on a whim. I am not there yet, but I hope to be. Sohla advised on how to tell when the chicken dish was done using the sounds the food makes. I heard the sizzle, and my rice was perfectly crispy on the bottom.
What Do You Think?
Are you familiar with Sohla El-Waylly? Have you watched any of her videos? What did you learn from them? Or if you have any other fun food videos, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear!