Assembling counts as cooking + tinned fish breakfast
It's not NOT cooking.
How are you doing today? It’s sunny where I am, and it might seem cliché, but a sunny day in a long, brutal winter makes the world seem a little sweeter.
It’s Julia — the member of the Little Fish newsletter team who doesn’t live in LA, or have any part in the delicious food the other three cook for you.
There’s been some really excellent writing about cooking fatigue, particularly from Helen Rosner at the New Yorker. Helen’s writing so perfectly explains what I’ve been feeling but wasn’t sure how to articulate. For me, cooking in these past few months has felt somewhat thankless — a hamster wheel of feeling scared at the grocery store, muscling through repeated steps in the kitchen, eating in the same place in my apartment every meal. What started out as exciting (“Do I really have the time to cook this kind of tiresome meal on a weeknight??”) has turned to existential dread over the thought of having to make even one more dish than is absolutely necessary.
Cooking used to be such a joy in my life — it’s therapeutic, yes, but also so goddamn fun. It’s hard to imagine times I felt more like myself than when I was in the kitchen, wearing an apron, with music playing and something bubbling on the stove while I prepped herbs. Throw in a friend sitting on a stool, crammed under my wall-mounted paper towel dispenser and drinking a glass of wine, and it’s pretty much all I want in the world.
So when cooking is a challenge, I try to come back to ways to enjoy it that don’t require too much of me, that are generous enough to bring back some of the joy I feel like I’ve lost. Enter: assembling.
I used to have hang ups about assembling: that it made me less of a cook, or that it was an easy way out. But assembling is an absolute art form, from a cheese plate to a salad to a plate of tinned fish.
This week, we’re opting out of formal recipes and letting you decide proportions according to your personal preferences. We’re leaning on one of our favorite standbys for specialness: tinned fish, and showing you an easy way to make yourself a joyful spread inspired by Anna’s breakfast last week. It’s not cooking, but it’s also not not cooking.
Tinned fish, soft boiled eggs, and cucumbers
Anna says: This isn’t a recipe. It’s just something we ate this week that we fell into — it was an accident, and it turned out being incredibly satisfying. The power of assembly over cooking is that more often than not you end up discovering a food combination that’s entirely new to you. You wonder if these leftovers would taste good cold, over rice, and with chili crisp on top? Most likely yes, and if not, now you know! Using recipes is a great teaching tool and guiding light for new cooks, but the other half of food discovery is trial and error. You have what you have in your kitchen and — like we always say — you have to eat.
This photo was from the week I learned about mackerel tinned in miso. So, for breakfast I cut up some Persian cucumbers and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, boiled two seven-minute eggs, and opened a can of the tinned miso mackerel (this is the one pictured). It took me about 10 minutes (most of which was spent on TikTok while my eggs boiled), and I had a delicious, colorful, three-part meal.
If you make a recipe from our newsletter, please tag us in pictures! You can find us on instagram at @littlefish_echopark. If you’re in LA, our next fish fry is Saturday, 2/27. We’re doing a lunch special and you can learn more on our Instagram.