The Hungry Biologist

This recipe link is posted in memory of our dear friend Dr. Simon Chan…an insatiable foodie who made even the sour things in life taste sweeter. Fesenjan (Persian Pomegranate Stew)

On this page we would like to post the recipes that help get BMCDB graduate students through a tough day in lab. Your favorite dishes, comfort food, anything awesome that you like to make. Please send your recipes to us at

October 14, 2012-Herb-Roasted Lamb
Posted by Nadia

One thing I can’t seem to get tired of these days is lamb! Being at UC Davis and knowing of our beloved Meat Lab, which has a great selection of fresh lamb cuts (and even goat), has kept my cooking adventures and taste buds entertained. Reyn and I have enjoyed this delightful recipe for Herb-Roasted Lamb more than once and if you are writing or relaxing at home, this low work, long wait recipe will be a suitable one for you on a Saturday or Sunday evening in. I typically use this same recipe for a 1.5-2lb lamb roast, but what can I say, I love butter, rosemary, and garlic! The recipe suggests roasting 6 unpeeled garlic cloves along with the lamb and potatoes, but if you like garlic, roast a whole bulb worth of cloves! Enjoy!

Here are some links to great food blogs to draw inspiration from:

Kitchen Hacking

Chef Steps


Excerpt from Nadia’s Editorial “Hungry Biologist Finds Redemption In The Kitchen”

Here is a recipe for Albacore Tuna Burgers from I recommend using Village bakery hamburger buns, Trader Joe’s frozen albacore steaks, mixed spring greens/spinach, sliced tomatoes, and my simple avocado spread below.

Albacore Tuna Burgers

Active Prep Time: 20 min, Cook Time: 15 min, Makes 6 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds albacore tuna fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sweet relish
  • 1/3 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Directions: Finely chop the tuna with a chef’s knife. Place tuna in a bowl and mix in lemon, onion, parsley, relish, bread crumbs and eggs until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Shape tuna mixture into 6 round patties. Brush both sides of tuna burgers with vegetable oil (I just add veg oil to pan and fry, but you can also grill these). Cook the tuna burgers in a non-stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes each side until they are cooked through. Serve on hamburger buns with whatever you fancy.

Simple Avocado Spread

Mash 2 avocados in a small bowl. Add ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon paprika, lemon juice/pepper/salt to taste. I like to also add ½ of a de-seeded jalapeno, finely chopped, ¼ red onion, finely chopped, or whatever else I have to add flavor.

Gordon’s Coq Au Vin(Drunken Chicken)
Need: 2-4lbs Chicken – thighs and anything with connective tissue is good (heritage breeds are great – check at the farmers market)
Butter/Veg Oil
1 big onion (yellow or red are fine)
6 cloves garlic
2-3 carrots
2-3 ribs celery
1-2 cups of chopped mushrooms (buttons/criminis/oysters are all fine)
1/4-1/2 lb bacon
1 tbsp tomato paste
bay leaf, fresh/dried thyme, rosemary, herbs de provenance (make a “bouquet garni” ie tie up the herbs with cheese cloth or string)
Salt + Pepper

1 bottle of decent pinot noir (Cooler regions make the best pinot, Oregon, Washington, Burgundy, Humbolt and Santa Cruz make fantastic pinots) and some chicken stock (get the boxed kind)

Salt and Pepper chicken, dredge very lightly in flour (or not at all)
Render cubed bacon until lightly crisp and remove from pan – add a dash of oil with a high smoke point (grape seed/avocado are ideal)
Sear off chicken pieces lightly in batches in a large hot pan or large pot (A dutch oven is ideal) – reserve on the side under foil

Once chicken is browned, add butter to the pan fry the mushrooms till they brown lightly
dump on chopped onion/carrots/celery – saute on medium heat until soft add S+P – add garlic
add tomato paste, and deglaze the pan with 2 cups wine – scrape goodness off bottom of pan.
add the herb bundle and nestle the chicken down into the veggies cover with chicken stock/wine

Let braise away for 2-3 hrs on medium low – add more stock and taste – add more S+P if wanted

Add some frozen pearl onions (2 cups) 20 minutes before serving (can also cover and let cool on stove top overnight – warm and serve next day). Serve with creamy polenta (1 cups polenta, 2 cups milk, 2 cups stock, handful of parm, thyme, S+P) or some nice crusty french bread.


BMCDB BBQ Orzo Salad

Ingredients you’ll need

1lb of dry Orzo pasta

half a cucumber, scoop out seeds and dice

~1-2 cups of halved baby tomatoes

1-2 cups of pitted kalamata olives

half a red onion very thinly sliced (you can soak them in a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to take the bite off)

1 bunch of parsley destemmed and roughly chopped

2-3 lemons

7-8 tblsp of zatar spice mix (this is a combination of thyme, sesame seeds, and salt

2-3 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lb of feta (buy the stuff that comes in a bring and crumble it yourself!)

How to put it all together

Start by boiling a couple of quarts of water salted liberally. To capture the depth of lemon flavor in the dressing you’ll have to zest your lemons and toss them into a blender. Juice the lemons into the blender with a sieve to catch the seeds. Add your zatar spice mix (it might seem like a lot), olive oil, black pepper and blend until smooth. Give it a taste and adjust to your preferences.

Boil the orzo roughly 1 minute shorter than what it calls for on the package (you want it “al dente” or with some toothless so it won’t get mushy in the salad. Strain the orzo and immediately run cold water through it to cool everything down. Once the orzo is uniformly cooled pour it into a bowl or dish. Add 2-3 “glugs” of olive oil and stir to coat the pasta. Add all of the chopped veggies, crumbled feta, chopped parsley, blended dressing and stir everything together. It is ready to eat, but letting it sit over night will really let all of the flavor sink in.

This is simple recipe but chopped peppers, salami, basil, mint  all make great additions. Enjoy!

Gordon’s BMCDB BBQ Pulled Pork

You will need:

~8-10lbs of “Picnic Shoulder” or Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt would also work)

2-3 onions

1 head of garlic

4-5 sprigs of rosemary

1 bottle of rootbeer

For the rub (I didn’t measure anything, just added roughly a tablespoon of everything):

brown sugar (add like 2-3 tblsp of this)

dry mustard

ground fennel

ground cumin

celery salt

black pepper

hot paprika

smoked paprika

chili powder (ancho is best)

oregano (mexican)


Mix well in a bowl to combine

Cut your onions in quarters, cut the garlic head in half (yes it’s ok to leave the papery stuff on it). Place them into a large roasting pan along with the rosemary and the can of root beer. Wash and pat dry your pork shoulder, season liberally with all of your rub. Place the pork shoulder (skin side up) on top of the onions in your roasting pan and put into the oven at ~280 F for 8 hours. After 8 hours in the oven turn the pork shoulder over and add a little water to the pan if needed. Let go another 8 hours at 280 F, checking occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan to keep stuff from burning. After 16 hours the shoulder should be done, but you can always drop the heat t0 ~200 F and leave it in there longer (or over night).

Once you are happy with the doneness, pull the shoulder out, let it rest at least 20-30 minutes, and begin shredding the pork with forks (discard or snack on the skin). Remove the garlic head and rosemary stems, take the remaining liquid and onions from the pan and blend them till smooth in a blender. Add this liquid to a pot and toss in a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and let reduce by 1/3 at med high heat while you finish shredding pork. Add the sauce over the shredded pork and toss to combine. Taste it and make sure it is to your liking – you can always add more salt or BBQ sauce if needed. This mixture will get better if you let it sit overnight in the fridge, to warm it up pour in some extra rootbeer or coke and leave it in an 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve on soft rolls with pickles ad enjoy!

  1. February 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I thought you were talking about that stem cell -based hamburger that everyone has been talking about.

  2. February 26, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Ok, well in that case we should talk about the delicious sounding feces burger too:

    We are hoping to keep the recipes on this page a little more appealing after a long day at lab. Maybe we should have a weird food science news section too, feel free to share anything interesting you find!

  3. Amy
    June 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Gordon, I would love the recipe for the pulled pork that you made at the BMCDB BBQ!

  1. June 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

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