Jenny Dorsey’s Pantry

PHOTOS BY CARA HARMAN

Her Style

  • Which item in your pantry do you most identify with? Hmm, this is tough! Probably coriander seeds — I basically put them in all my spice mixes because it adds this beautiful, aromatic note that just makes everything better.
  • How do you find inspiration in the kitchen? I like to find new (to me) ingredients and go down a little rabbithole experimenting with it in different ways. Recently I became very enamored with plum vinegar and have been using it all over the place!
  • What’s the first thing you remember cooking? I remember attempting to help my mom making liang fen, but pretty sure I just messed it up! I also remember folding wontons with my grandma, as well as making zongzi with her!
  • If a stranger looked in your pantry, what would it say about you? I would hope they are super impressed by my very organized spice cabinet, which is labeled neatly with tape that has been trimmed at the edges with scissors. NO RIPPED TAPE IN MY KITCHEN!
  • What’s your favorite dish to order from Pineapple Collaborative’s Women-Powered Collection on Caviar in Los Angeles? Buna is awesome. They have an excellent whole fish!

How do you like to shop for food? (Ex: what excites you when you’re shopping for groceries? What aisle of the grocery store do you gravitate towards?)

I’m in Los Angeles, which is a delightful place to grocery shop! Closest to my house is El Super, which carries everything from general staples like oil and flour to prickly pears, epazote, guajillo chilies, and blue corn tortillas. I grew up going to 99 Ranch, and luckily there’s an outpost (somewhat) near me so I go there weekly as well to get my supply of Chinese vegetables like pea tendrils, chrysanthemum, and celtuce. There, I love to wander down the TCM aisle to learn new ingredients I haven’t used before. TCM is Traditional Chinese Medicine, and there are so many herbs and medicinal extracts I am still learning about. I have a recipe using some of my favorites here! When I can drive to Koreatown, I go to California Market for beautiful persimmons, kimchi, perilla leaves, and their glistening oxtail.

Which items do you covet in your fridge?

Besides my obsession with Topo Chico — scientifically proven to be the best sparkling water — I would say the BullHead Sa Cha Sauce I use for hotpot. It’s SO good.

Jenny’s Top Picks

What are some of your pantry staples?

Fish sauce! I like to use Red Boat or Son. I’m also a die-hard white pepper fan, but always point out that white pepper from Asian grocery stores are fermented 2–3 weeks longer than ones from Western grocery stores, so make sure you know what you’re getting. It’s so funky and flavorful. I also love a white balsamic vinegar — so versatile, and goes great with basically everything.

Pineapple’s Pantry Staples

  • Totally! This initiative has been spearheaded by our wonderful Head of Programming, Edric. He’s selected 13 films exploring complex themes like asylum, diaspora, citizenship, migration, and liberation, all through the lens of queerness. There are 6 sessions across the next 4 months, and the group will be seeing each other every few weeks for 2-hour discussions. I’m so amazed at how a simple movie club has grown into a program as thoughtful and detailed as this, and am really excited to participate in the upcoming conversations!
  • As far as fitting it into the ecosystem of our work, we encourage everyone to engage with this new information practically — be it via grassroots organizations, their professional work, or even dedicated political activation. (The short version of what we do is: we are a community-based think tank that gathers insights from the communities most impacted by social, organizational, and political challenges. From these, we create publicly available toolkits and resources for implementing change.)
  • Oh, very much so. I think this is a challenge all of us in food are grappling with. Much of this starts with transparency. In our first toolkit, for example, many of our suggestions revolved around removing the barriers to transparency in food media — be it transparency around rates, pitch guidelines, publication expectations, etc. When it comes to restaurants, transparency needs to come from chefs and owners, which is challenging when restaurants are already struggling to survive. Collectively as consumers, we need to be demanding more transparency when it comes to who and where we put our dollars. These are all pretty surface level suggestions, though. We bridge this gap by creating toolkits based on the insights and ideas of the people who are actually affected, rather than by bringing “leaders” and major “change agents” to the table. Our whole ethos is really around making social justice applicable to ordinary people, not just a select few.

To Sum It Up

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