Is it just us, or did half of Gen Z teach themselves how to cook on TikTok during the height of the pandemic?
The recipes that go viral have more in common with gonzo science experiments than Julia Child’s Coq au Vin.
Hacks are golden in this forum — whether or not they actually work — and running time is of the essence.
There’s an unmistakable visual vocabulary, too — from the god shots of manicured hands dumping pre-measured ingredients into mixing bowls to the reveal of the completed dish just seconds later.
One has to be conversant in these tropes to subvert them as gleefully as the anonymous creator of the seven year old online series You Suck at Cooking.
Unlike such TikTok heavy hitters as cloud bread or whipped coffee, most of You Suck at Cooking’s dishes are things you might consider preparing on a regular basis, however trendy they may be at the moment.
The responsible party’s cooking and editing skills are solid, but his writing is the real star here. We also appreciate the massive amount of planning and care that goes into every five minute episode.
He’s an unabashed coiner of vocabulary and elaborate ways to refer to straightforward appliances and ingredients. His delivery is mild mannered, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to culinary biases — e.g., condimenting only one side of the bun is a certifiable burger crime and if you don’t like pickles, one thing you can do is seek help.
Simple dishes such as overnight oats require so little instruction, he’s freed up to skewer the questionable claims of food-focused wellness “experts” by leaning all the way in.
The spirit of the project carries over into his written step-by-steps on the rare occasions when mere video demonstration will not suffice.
(His cookbook, You Suck at Cooking: The Absurdly Practical Guide to Sucking Slightly Less at Making Food, was published anonymously in 2019.)
To get the most from your experience, we recommend you first watch his deep fried Korean-style corndog How To, then follow the written recipe:
1. Go to the store
2. Buy corn dogs
If you insist on making corn dogs yourself, first read these frying safety tips
The reason home fryers are safer than doing it on the stovetop is because they limit the heat of your oil so it won’t catch fire. It’s easy to let it get too hot which is very bad news.
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1.3 teaspoon yeast
- 1 egg
- 100 ml warm water
Wangjangle until your wrist is furious (I did it for a few minutes tops)
Let it sit for half an hour
Dry off anything you’re rolling in it
Peg your dogs
Roll them in artisan Italian bread crumbs (okay seriously this is a flavor game changer and I can’t recommend them enough. Kortalian food just has such depth.
Fry for 3 minutes
Cool for a few minutes
I think anything else is pretty straight forward
When it comes to cooking hacks, our hero is a champion fabulist.
It’s safe to assume that the first tip is legit, after which… well, let’s just say that some of his orange peeling methods remind us in the best possible way of our old pal Shel Silverstein’s Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book.
Enjoy a playlist of all 150 episodes of You Suck at Cooking here.
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- Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto. Follow her @AyunHalliday.