If you follow Tarik Moody on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see what the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee DJ and digital director is into – posts about music and video games, but also drool-worthy photos of what he cooks. Almost daily. This gallery of gastronomy puts the many of us who are just trying to eke out a meal to shame. Carne asada, salt-and-pepper squid, shrimp dumplings, Mississippi Delta hot tamales, crab okonomiyaki pancakes. And what did you make?
Just as many folks have given cooking more attention in the last year, Moody says his culinary productivity has been on the upswing during the pandemic. “It’s made me experiment more and take chances” in the kitchen, he says. Cooking has also been an outlet for his anxiety and depression. “It’s my meditation and my yoga,” says Moody. “I enjoy the journey. I’m not distracted. I’m focused on the task at hand. There’s something about holding raw ingredients in my hand and transforming them to the final product.”
Favorite Ethnic Grocery: Mo’s Food Market
2404 W. CLYBOURN ST.
“It’s not new but it’s new to me. They seem to update their items. There’s always something new in the aisles. The noodle section is crazy! The selection, the sauces and the little seafood section are so good.”
Moody, 47, didn’t get serious about cooking until he settled in Milwaukee 14 years ago. Both of his parents cooked but didn’t let him do too much in the kitchen growing up, he says. (“My mom’s like, ‘Get out of my way,’” he laughs.) He only dabbled in college, and it wasn’t until after he graduated that he began experimenting in the kitchen – often “messing up badly.” But he was learning from mistakes, like marinating chicken in Kraft Italian dressing. (“Don’t do it. It’s awful.”)
By the time Moody moved to Milwaukee, he had discovered chef/food travel writer Anthony Bourdain, whose stories behind the cuisines fascinated him. Beyond the dishes themselves, “I love the ecosystem of food and the knowledge of the culinary system,” he says. And when he’s cooking, he gravitates to Korean cuisine – an influence of a close friend who’s of Korean-American descent – and the soul food his mom made. “Over time, I got good at cooking Korean, and there’s something magical about it,” Moody says. “The same goes for ethnic grocery stores. I love to find ingredients I’ve never seen before and think, ‘What is that?’ I’m going to buy it and learn.”
MOODY WENT THROUGH a phase when he used to go to Boelter SuperStore and muse about what he might make with all the high-end kitchen equipment. Now he’s gotten away from wanting to collect gadgets to focus on some staples:
“I bought one at Sur la Table. I’m not sure of the brand, but it’s great.”
A Cast-Iron Skillet:
“Mine is over 25 years old.” He uses it for steaks, blackened catfish, Korean bulgogi and even pecans.
Zojirushi Rice Cooker:
“I can make a batch of rice and leave the warmer on for a few days and the rice tastes amazing.”
Listen to “This Bites” on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee (FM 88.9) Fridays at 8 a.m. with Ann Christenson and 88Nine’s Tarik Moody.