Welcome, dear readers, and welcome back to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Pizza Topping, as voted by readers: Kevin Pang!
As we’re in the midst of The Takeout’s Asian Noodles Week, we’re focusing this week’s fantasy food draft on noodles and pasta dishes. We’ve inputted our names into a randomizer, which spat out this snake draft order:
- Kate Bernot
- Allison Shoemaker
- Kevin Pang
Kate Bernot: This is going to be an especially challenging draft for me because I really think I could live on noodles alone.
Allison Shoemaker: And I, per tradition, am famished
KB: For my first-round pick, I choose: Tonkotsu ramen
Kevin Pang: Well shit
KB: It’s alchemy: the egg, the broth, the perfect noodles, the slippery-fatty succulence.
KP: God I love me some tonkotsu ramen, but it’s definitely a once-a-month deal
KB: Oh for sure. In the dead of winter though, nothing better.
KP: I don’t think I’ll pick this but I’m a fan of its less-heavy but just-as-rich variant, the chicken paitan.
KB: Put it on the to-cook-in-the-Instant-Pot list
KP: I believe our own Ramen Lord may have a recipe soon...
KP: Allison, what’s your first pick?
AS: I find this really daunting, I must say.
All the noodles in all the world.
Okay, I’m going to follow my sandwich strategy and speak from the heart
KP: A hot dog?
AS: Which means penne alla vodka
I love a vodka sauce, I love a sturdy noodle
KB: When I’m craving penne vodka, nothing else will do. It’s so specific.
Also I like that you picked a noodle with booze in it.
KP: That someone first discovered vodka, cream, and tomatoes go together in a sauce is a miraculous discovery
AS: Right? That person is a hero.
It’s comfort food that always makes me feel kind of fancy, which is the best alchemy
KP: It’s my first time in the “snake position,” so I’m delighted to have the next two picks:
My first pick: spaghetti carbonara
This is the dish I make more of/better than anything else in my cooking repertoire
KB: Putting the carb in carbonara (Now I’m sorry)
KP: Bacon, parmesan, eggs, my goodness. It’s breakfast for dinner.
Perhaps my favorite recipe I’ve ever researched is learning spaghetti carbonara from Top Chef and Monteverde’s Sarah Grueneberg.
And it’s one of the first dishes I made to woo my now-wife 10 years ago
For my second round pick, gotta go pad Thai
KB: Damn, pad Thai would have been high on the list for me
KP: I’ve got a story coming tomorrow at The Takeout that will hopefully make you see Pad Thai in a much more considered, sophisticated way.
I remember eating it in Bangkok on my honeymoon, and like much of Thai food, the flavor/textural/sweet-sour variance was magical.
I wish everyone gets to try pad Thai in Thailand some time, as opposed to the overly sweet Americanized version.
KB: So The Takeout is flying me to Thailand? Amazing!
AS: My turn, and I am swooping in and taking pho!
KB: Great choice, also would have been up there on my list.
Snake drafts are a cruel mistress.
AS: So good when you’re sick, but also when you’re healthy, and all the in between times.
KP: I was most surprised to learn that in much of Vietnam, pho is essentially a breakfast dish.
Which I’d take any day over cereal
AS: Pho in the morning, pho in the evening, pho in suppertime
Like my weird broth-cereal combos!
So weird, so good.
KB: Okay, for my next pick, I will travel to Italy for spaghetti all’arrabbiata
Tomato tang, pasta chew, a little heat
Throw some good Parm on there
I prefer my tomato-based pasta sauces to have a little spice for sure
KP: Add a splash of fish sauce
It deepens that tomato flavor
KB: If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, it’s add fish sauce to everything.
Next pick, true to my heart: spaetzle
I’ve written about it here before but it really is a noodle people need in their arsenals.
Super hearty, perfect with beef stews
Straddling that line between noodle and dumpling
AS: Okay, good lord, let’s see.
To hell with it, how can I not pick lasagna?
AS: Crispy bits galore, please
And loads and loads of cheese
I love making lasagna, too
Always makes me feel like a genius when it comes out well
KP: Speaking of dishes that come out well, for ease of cooking and deliciousness, I’m going with cold peanut noodles.
I struggled a lot with which Chinese noodle dish to choose—there’s dandan noodles, zhajiangmian, even Singapore noodles—but cold noodles with peanut sauce (usually with tahini, soy, vinegar also) is so satisfying, especially on humid days. I had one in Beijing in the dead of summer and it was one of my most enjoyable food experiences.
I loved it so much I spent a few days developing a recipe for The Takeout.
And then on the opposite end of the spectrum is a dish I’m looking to make again once the weather cools—beef stroganoff
Beef + Noodles + Mushrooms + Cream + Gravy. C’mon?
KB: If only beef stroganoff wasn’t bastardized by so many institutional cafeterias.
KP: That’s why you gotta make your own
And in the Instant Pot (funny enough we’ve got a recipe for that coming soon!)
It comes out as Pot Roast Stroganoff
AS: Okay, so I’m lacking a spicy option
How about pad kee mao?
Spicy, sweet, and again, comforting
KB: I love the thickness of those noodles
Like a blanket of noodles
KP: And it has the benefit of the “Drunken Noodles” branding
AS: Yeah, a catchy name is nice
KB: Penne vodka should rebrand as drunken noodles
Alright, a nice follow-up to Allison’s last pick, but I prefer khao soi
I really like lime acidity in noodle dishes, brightening up the curry
Little sweetness from the coconut
Checking all the boxes
For my last pick, I choose pappardelle ragu.
Again, those wide noodles, super comforting. And ragu is really a special sauce when it’s good—rich meat, maybe some mushroom, red wine, savory levels sky-high.
AS: Dammit I am so hungry
KP: I know I’m bringing up cooking for my wife a second time, but on one of our earliest dates I made pappardelle on the pasta machine and cooked up lamb ragu
I guess noodles is how I court people
KB: That’s because noodles are the way to the heart.
AS: I feel like I should be picking something really fancy or elegant, but instead I am torn between two more comfort food titans
And I already have a soup, so macaroni and cheese it is.
KB: Oh shit
How did we leave that on the table
AS: I’m shocked, frankly
KP: I briefly thought about it, I guess I don’t have as long a history of being raised on mac & cheese
AS: I wasn’t either, except for when I cooked it for my brother and I growing up
But my family are Midwesterners on one side, Southerners on the other
So I have had a lot of mac and cheeses in my day
And I love a good homemade rich M&C
But also Kraft!
A totally different experience but sometimes a perfect one, if you’re in the right mood.
KB: Yeah, this is a dish where high and low both work
KP: To close out the draft, I’m gonna pull out a dish I hope more people learn more. I really think it can gain popularity on the level of pho or pad Thai. I know Kate picked khao soi, but I believe mine has a lot of interesting things happening to it: curry laksa
It’s one of the great dishes of the Malaysian Peninsula, ubiquitous in Singapore
What makes it great isn’t just the coconut milk soup, but everything else going on in there: Lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, fish sauce. But it’s also got fried tofu pouches, fish balls, shrimp.
It’s Southeast Asia in one bowl.
AS: So hungry
KB: Me during this entire draft:
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