Food52 Resident Mandy Lee started writing about food out of anger. In 2012, her husband’s work prompted them to move from New York City to Beijing—a relocation that she wanted no part of. Upset to be moving to a place with “infuriating bureaucracy and choking pollution,” Mandy channeled her energy into launching Lady & Pups, a food blog that she would later describe as “a phoenix rising out of the tormenting flames of living [in Beijing] with all its misery.”

Since moving to China, Mandy has written a cookbook and become one of the most revered Residents on our site, regularly sharing recipes, videos, and her passionate, well-founded opinions. To highlight Mandy’s best work, we asked her to choose her five favorite recipes and explain why she loves each one. In typical Mandy fashion, both the recipes and their explanations are bold, intelligent and fully worth your time.

The following explanations have been edited for clarity

1. Mapo Tofummus

“This is one of my favorite recipes from my cookbook and it has stood the test of time. I think it’s a fresh, summery spin on an absolutely class dish—mapo tofu—that actually makes sense.”

2. My Ultimate Chile Oil

“Another one from my cookbook that I cannot live without. It is designed to go with multiple other recipes in the book and it often drives me mad when people make those recipes without it. It isn’t overwhelmingly spicy but extremely fragrant, and should be regarded as a key component instead of a complimentary condiment.”

3. Flatten The Bird

“This is probably my most popular recipe on Food52 and I get why. In the setting of an average home kitchen, there’s no more effective way to cook a whole chicken, with super crispy skin and tender juicy meat. Believe me, I’ve tried.”

4. Super-Crispy Chicken Smash Burgers

“If done right—and I must emphasize because I’ve seen many cases otherwise—this burger is as good as a beef burger. Fat content and caramelization are the two keys. If you don’t screw up either, you’ll be amazed how good a burger made out of chicken can be.”

5. Flakiest Pastry With Apple Puree & Vanilla Custard

“I’m not a very good baker, relatively speaking. So when I came up with a recipe that is easy, versatile, delicious, and more importantly consistent, I surprised myself. I use this pastry as a replacement for puff pastry and the bragging right to say to friends, ‘Yes, I made this from scratch.’”



Which Mandy Lee recipe is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!