Knives and Needles

Where Chefs can talk tattoos and Tattooers can talk food

Archive for the tag “recipes”

Fish sauce… on wings!

I was going to write about fish sauce and all of its awesomeness but I’m going to save that for another post when I have more time. But! It lead me to thinking about this awesome chicken wing recipe that involves fish sauce; so I’m going to share it with you.

OK, at first when you hear fish sauce wings, it sounds pretty gross but trust me these wings are amazing. I tried them at Pok Pok in Portland a few years ago and immediately thereafter I sought out the recipe. Now I try to cook them up whenever I can. They are also very good for any occasion/season.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, 2 crushed and 2 minced
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, split at the drumettes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint

What you’ll then need to work your magic on:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the fish sauce, sugar and crushed garlic. Add the wings and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 3 hours, tossing the wings occasionally.
  2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet. Add the minced garlic; cook over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  3. In a large pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Pat the wings dry on paper towels; reserve the marinade. Put the cornstarch in a shallow bowl, add the wings and turn to coat. Fry the wings in batches until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan, simmer the marinade over moderately high heat until syrupy, 5 minutes. Strain over the wings and toss. Top with the cilantro, mint and fried garlic and serve.

This is what I ended up with:Image

Please be careful when working with hot oil!

I like my wings on the more crispy side so I left them in a couple minutes longer. I served mine with a side of jasmine rice and some pickled carrots and daikons. I hope you enjoy them as I did!

Debra Yarian

I have been so fortunate to meet some amazing people in the tattoo industry, and one of them I really look up to is Debra. She’s been tattooing for longer than I’ve been alive, and her accomplishments in her work and family life are truly impressive. Her demeanor is so sweet and comforting, when she tattooed me at the last SFO convention I felt like we were just old friends having a lunch date! When she told me she would like to contribute to our blog, I was so excited to get more of a glimpse into her life and family, and how she seamlessly balances the two. Deb, thank you for sharing with us; and for doing all you do as a tattooer, wife, mother and grandmother!


Brynne- How long have you been tattooing?
Debra Yarian- I’ve been tattooing for 34 years.


B-You have beautiful large family, with a few of your kids tattooing now! Can you tell us a bit about your family dynamic, and how tattooing has played a role in it?
DY-I love my family and I love tattooing -So my life revolves around the two.
My oldest son was practically born in a tattoo shop and when my second one was born my boss let me bring both of them with me to work. Prior to opening our own shop, Don and I worked opposing shifts at the same shop, six nights a week. We still had four children at home so that way either Don or I , was there to have dinner with them and usually we’d all go out to dinner on our day off.
We’ve owned our own shop for almost five years and that’s really a family affair. Both my husband and I and two of our sons tattoo there and another son has worked the floor, throughout highschool. Initially we had a small “family” room set up for our younger children to come to after school, a place for them to do homework, watch tv and play. We’ve since changed that to a third station for my older son. Now though, with the extra responsibilities of owning our shop and additional time spent there , we wind up either having to prepare meals ahead of time or going out to dinner. Often a few nights a week.

B- What is your fondest food related memory?
DY-All of my food related memories are fond ones, ha ha! I love to eat!
Really though, I grew up in NYC and neither of my parent’s were great cooks, just simple meal preparers. But fortunately we had so many great restaurants in our neighborhood. On our one city block there was an Italian restaurant, a Chinese take out, a pizza place, a German Deli, A confectionary, 4 candy stores w soda fountains , a bakery, a fruit and vegetable store , a butcher shop, a small supermarket as well as two bar and grills. One of the bars was a stereotypical NY Neighborhood bar, and at the time The legal drinking age was still 18. I looked older than my age and I hate to say it but by the time I was 16-17 I had a tab at the bar. As I said it was just a typical neighborhood bar , tile floors, long wooden bar , a juke box- but at the back there were swinging doors, and through the doors there was a beautiful and charming little gourmet restaurant. The owner was a classically trained chef and had worked as a pastry chef at the Waldorf Astoria. I remember it was very small with mismatched antique furniture, with white linen table cloths, with candles and fresh flowers on each table. So, I had left school early and was working two jobs, as a waitress and coffee wagon lady during the week and as a cocktail waitress on the weekends. I was probably making more money then than I do now! Anyway, a girlfriend and I would have dinner there every week . It was my first solo dining experiences, without my parents and remember feeling grown up and sophisticated.
The menu would change, but I remember their chilled cream of cucumber soup, simple salad – dressed w Green Goddess ; parsley, tarragon, chives and sour cream, Quiche Lorraine, Coq au vin. The dinner would typically cost us about $50 , which in retrospect seems astronomical- but it was the whole experience. The setting, the candle light, the aroma. And the chef would come out of the kitchen and visit with each table. Every week he’d bring something special from the kitchen for us to try. Each fall, the restaurant would close for one night a week and for four or five weeks they would have cooking classes- where they would teach you how to prepare a five course meal and then you got to sit down and eat it.My friend and I took the course-figuring it would save us money and we’d learn how to prepare some of the dishes we love. I learned how to make delicious desserts, my favorites being Trifle Chantilly- multiple thin layers of sponge cake sprnkled with Grand Marnier, apricot preserves, toasted almonds and fresh whipped cream , and Pears Celestine – a fresh pear stuffed with a mixture of whipped cream cheese and walnuts in syrup ,then dipped in dark chocolate and chilled. The best!
Unfortunately, I no longer have the exact recipes because I lent them to a chef , that I was tattooing, in Florida about 25 yrs ago and have since lost touch .
As an adult, of course, some of my fondest food memories are eating with Don. I had spent the decade, previous to our marriage -dieting and when we first fell in love ,we ate!
The first dinner I made for Don was linguine with broccoli and walnuts, Don hates walnuts – but I wouldn’t have known. And I love when my whole family is together for a meal- any meal that includes Don and our 5 children, our daughter in law , and now our any 4 grandchildren!

B- How do you and your husband, Don, balance work and cooking at home?
DY-Don is a much better cook and baker than I am, mainly because he’s more organized than I am. However, he works at the shop more than I do – so most nights , I cook.

B- Do you have a favorite restaurant, and what makes it stand out for you?
DY-We live in a small town with only a few restaurants. My favorite is Haute Quarter Grill. It’s about a block from our shop.
The menu always includes Alaskan Halibut or Salmon as well as vegetables, locally grown. I enjoy foods simply prepared and have a fairly unsophisticated palette , so whether or not I enjoy a meal is often dependent on the quality of the ingredients.

B- Do you have any chef clients?
DY-Actually, the first shop I worked in was Upstate New York , a town or two over from Poughkeepsie, where the Culinary Institute of America is -and a few of my first tattoos were of chef hats. I have had a few chefs for clients as well as cooks ( military, commercial fishing boat and NorthSlope./ Oil rig cooks.)

B- Have you noticed any correlation between the tattoo and culinary industry?
DY- What I think is that the dedicated chef is passionate about food and cooking and loves what they do- so often it becomes their life vs their job. Not unlike the dedicated tattooist.

B- Living in Alaska, do you have any unique experience with hunting or preparing food?
DY-A lot of our clients hunt and fish and bring us gifts. Right now in my freezer I have the bounty from my hunter and fishermen clients. There’s probably some salmon, halibut, bear, moose and possibly reindeer in there.

B- How important a role does food play in your family life?
DY- Food is love!!! Ha ha, or at least that’s what I was taught.
When we are happy we eat, when we celebrate we eat , and even when we are sad we eat. I remember when I was grieving over a loss, well meaning friends brought food – especially pastries to try to make me feel better. I gained 15 lbs.

B- Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with our readers?
DY- No one would consider me a great cook. But over the years, all of my children and friends have loved my meatballs. That’s their request for a birthday meal or for me to bring to a party.

Simple meatballs


*2.5-3 lbs of ground meat; beef, moose or elk, or a mix
( if using moose, elk or bear, they are a leaner meat and you may want to add some ground pork to supplement the fat)
*2 eggs
*1 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
(Progresso Panko works well)
*tsp garlic powder or finely minced garlic clove
*kosher or sea salt

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl

Hand form meat in to golf ball size balls

Sprinkle small amount of olive oil to coat bottom of large saute pan or skillet

Heat oil at med- high and add meatballs

Brown evenly turning with tongs

When brown all around turn to low and cover, till cooked through, about 10-15 minutes

While meatballs are cooking I slice up a bell pepper, a small onion, a tomato and some mushrooms

Saute all ( except tomato) in pan with small amount of olive oil till onions are brown and carmelized.

Using pan lid , drain liquid from around meatballs and return to burner for 5 minutes at low.

Finish with kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

I serve without sauce
With fresh bread and the sauteed vegetable and top with fresh mozzarella cheese



Lindsey H. Carmichael, esq.

My good friend and fellow tattooer, Lindsey, is one of those incredible people who is enthusiastic about whatever he is involved in, and it really shows through in his work. His approach to tattooing is very precise, clean and thorough- qualities which can be seen in every tattoo he makes. It’s no surprise that his approach in the kitchen is very similar. When I asked him to contribute his favorite recipe, he was stoked and more than happy to share! Please enjoy the culinary stylings and wisdom of the one and only, LHC!


Brynne- How long have you been tattooing?
Lindsey- I have been tattooing for 21 years as of February 1st 2013.

B- Do you have any chef clients?
LHC-To my knowledge, I have 2 customers that are chefs. Both are knowledgeable, quiet & humble about their job. The same way that any tattooer is that is totally immersed in their craft. Stoked to talk about it, but also careful not to make it sound like they know everything.

B- What is your fondest food related memory?
LHC- I have 2. The first is with my brother when I was probably 7 or 8, going to the grocery store with him while he was watching me one night when my Mom was out doing something. We went to buy Sara Lee pound cake and Captain Crunch cereal. I think he ate this food all of the time and he was letting me in on something that was his deal. I remember sitting at the kitchen table eating this stuff with him and feeling like we were close.
The second is making the recipe I’m giving to you here with my daughter for first time and her telling me it was good and that she’d eat it again. I was proud of myself because I followed a recipe and cooked it and it actually came out tasting alright. I cannot remember ever doing that before in my life. I was 42 years old when I completed this task.

B- Do you have a favorite style of food?
LHC- This is a difficult question to answer because I can’t really taste food the way that other people do. Food is just something I eat because I’m supposed to. I don’t have a favorite type of food or restaraunt to go to. I usually go to restaraunts because of the way they look or because of how long they’ve been there.

B- Have you noticed any correlation between the tattoo and culinary industires?
LHC- I have noticed a connection to these two fields because of the attitudes of the chefs I’ve come in contact with. Also, I’ve had long discussions with one of these chefs, Joe Youkhan, about the grades of steel his knives are made of and how that relates to carbon and stainless needles used for tattooing. (In the days when tattooers made their own needles. Something I did twice a week, every week, for 16 years.)

B-Does food play a part in your travels in the tattoo world?
LHC- Food does play a part in my travels. But mainly because it is something we go to do with other tattooers, wherever they’re from, and while we are out eating somewhere, it is a chance to talk away from the tattoo shop about non-tattoo related subjects.

B- Do you have a favorite restaurant?
LHC- Canters-Los Angeles. The Pantry-Los Angeles. Il Trochieto-Milan. I ate Ox hoof in Italy at this last place with Kevin Leblanc and it was great because it was salty & I could taste it pretty good. I also bought a 200 Euro whole bottle of wine at this place because I’d never had wine and thought it would be the best place to try it. I drank a sip of the glass they poured for me, didn’t like it, and handed the bottle over to my good friend Eric Jones, who gladly accepted it and brought it in the cab back to the hotel. He told me the rest of the wine was really good.

B- What do you cook at home?
LHC-I usually cook Meatloaf from my wife’s grandmother’s recipe. Also grilled cheese sandwhiches.

B- If given a choice, what would your last meal be?
LHC- If I could request one last dinner in life, I’d choose a turkey sandwhich (no mayonaisse, plus tomato on the side), a bowl of Matzo ball soup (including carrots and noodles), an order of potato salad & bagel chips from Canters Delicatessen in Los Angeles. It is not because of the outstanding taste of each of these items. It is because I have very fond memories of bringing my lovely wife Leah here on some of our first dates when we met. It was a time when the sun seemed to be out every time we drove there, and the night was perfect when we drove home. It was a beautiful time. I would hustle some Sprite Zero in for the drink, and eat Suzicakes chocolate cupcakes for desert in the car after.

Here is Dad’s Country Chicken Skillet Dinner.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup milk (your preference what type)
4 tablespoons margarine
2 packages stuffing mix
I can mixed vegetables (I prefer low sodium corn)
1 can Campbell’s cream of celery soup
1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup
2 eggs
Liquid Smoke
1 package King’s Hawaiian rolls
2 cans Swanson’s chicken stock
Garlic salt
Country Crock bread spread

Take a cleaver to the chicken and chop it into smallish cubes.
Put some oil, your choice what kind, into a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces. Cover the pan & put it over to the side.

Follow the directions on the stuffing mix and make it next. This is where you use the margarine, replace the water when preparing the stuffing with the chicken stock. More chickeny flavor in the completed product. Cover it & put it over on the side when it’s done. I personally like to add the corn juice from the canned vegetable in this mix for some extra moisture. This is needed because I will take whatever leftover bread action we have at our house, toast it and add it to the stuffing. Rolls, and unused heels of bread in the refrigerator are good here.
Take the soups, 2 beaten eggs, milk, & drained corn and put it all in the giant, metal skillet with the cooked chicken. Bring that to a little bit of a boil. When the whole deal is hot, take 1/2 of the stuffing and put it all around the top of the mixture. Pre heat the oven to 400• and put the skillet in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. When that’s up, take the skillet out and cover the top of the mixture with the rest of the stuffing. Add Liquid Smoke if you like. I do. Set the timer for 17 more minutes and put it back in. At this point take the Kings rolls, cut the whole shot down the middle (filleted), open it, spread with Country Cock and sprinkle with garlic salt. Put it on tin foil, and put it in the oven also for the remainder of the cooking time of the skillet dinner. Feel free to clean your kitchen while you’re waiting for it to be done.

Take everything out when the time’s up, let it cool down for a little bit, and serve it to yourself, your family & 6 friends. But don’t serve this to Tim McAlary. He is vegan and eats rabbit food.



Knives and Needles Blog is my latest blog, welcome! This is a blog that I started because I have a passion for food and a love for tattoos. I am a professional sushi chef of over 13 years and have worked all over the world for more than a decade. Over my travels working in various kitchens, I always noticed how many chefs are tattooed. Not only tattooed, but many heavily tattooed. I myself am pretty heavily tattooed. Not to get too deep but this has always interested me and I think that chefs and tattooers have similar personality types; artistic, transient punks who are traditionally low-lifes of society working in a thankless profession. Tattooing and the chef profession have both seen a 180 to their popularity and reputation in recent years with t.v. shows and celebrity stars being formed in this modern-day atmosphere. I want to give all those tattooed chefs the chance talk about something other than food  and  give foodie tattooers a chance to talk about something other than their work with this blog! My friend Ellen Murphy, a tattoo artist from NYC, and Marcus Bui the shop-guy at State of Grace Tattoo are contributing writers as well as myself. And there may be others in the future…! My friend Eric Alegria is helping with this blog as well! Thank you for reading this blog and follow us!  There will be interesting interviews with your favorite chefs and tattooers, amazing recipes, cooking tips and beautiful photos of food and tattoos being shared here, don’y miss out!

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