With cafes and restaurants on every corner as well as access to the university’s dining halls, NYU students have a wide variety of options when it comes to food. But eating out on the daily can get expensive and unhealthy. For sophomore Jeremy Truong, this problem is easily solved in one place — his kitchen.
Truong, a film student at Tisch School of the Arts, has been cooking meals for himself since his freshman year, and now makes dinner almost every night. He especially enjoys making Chinese and Italian food. For Truong, cooking is not only enjoyable and therapeutic, but also the often the most convenient option for his daily class schedule that goes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Truong grew up in the food industry. His grandmother owned a restaurant, his father was a chef at an Italian restaurant and his mother worked as a waitress.
Around the age of six, Truong started cooking with his father and eventually graduated to cooking on his own whenever he got the chance. When he started at NYU, Truong began experimenting in his kitchen at Third North Residence Hall.
“I didn’t even use my meal plan my first semester,” Truong said. “But then I became motivated to cook with my meal plan. I used to take chicken and oranges from the dining hall to cook with. Now, the cheapest option is usually Trader Joe’s, where I buy all of my ingredients in bulk.”
Truong gave his top three tool recommendations for students who want to start cooking on their own — a non-stick pan (for easier clean up), a grater and a rubber spatula. In terms of food, he suggests always keeping garlic, potatoes, pepper and pasta on hand.
The best part of cooking for Truong is getting the final word on his diet.
“I like to be in control of my own food. That way I know exactly what I’m putting into what I’m eating, and I have total freedom about how I want my food to taste,” he said.
Despite his background and experience with cooking, Truong insists that you don’t have to be a professional to make good food.
“Don’t be intimidated. If you don’t like the way it tastes, you can make further changes to make it taste the way you want it to,” Truong said. “Don’t be afraid of different flavors. Just go for it.”
One of Truong’s favorite recipes is his original take on sesame chicken, which he said comes together in only 10 minutes. The recipe is printed below, and is featured in our WSN original video.
- 1/2 lb to 3/4 lb of chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- Splash of mirin (Japanese rice wine) or rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- Optional red pepper flakes to taste
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Place chunks of chicken into a large bowl and toss with cornstarch until coated.
- Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat on high until shimmering.
- Add the chicken pieces in a single layer and cook until browned.
- While the chicken is browning, add soy sauce, mirin, honey, pepper and minced garlic to a small bowl and mix well.
- When the chicken is browned, add sauce and toss to coat.
- Reduce until the sauce is a glaze-like consistency and serve with rice and vegetables.
- Garnish with sesame seeds.
Email Ankita Bhanot at [email protected]