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Panic Podcast, Season Two

Monday, May 13th, 2024

The Panic Podcast is BACK with another season! The new episode, Season Two, Episode One (S2E1, in the parlance of our times) is titled PAX AT It Again. It attempts to answer one of the hardest questions in both software and games, which is:

Why would anyone—and in particular, Panic—want to make a trade show booth?

It’s 45 tightly edited, gripping minutes on the topic of spatial design (literally). Plus, it includes a look ahead to some of our Season Two episodes!

Listen to it here—or, you know, wherever you get your podcasts.

Summer in the Panic Kitchen

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

It’s been a super-busy summer at Panic, so we’ve made sure to fuel our software-development efforts with a steady regimen of freshly prepared office meals. We hope to do one of these every month, and we’d love to inspire your own office cooking adventures. Any questions? Ask away!  And now, our tasty tetraptych:


No one doesn’t like ramen, right? Propelled by a mild case of bummed-outness at Portland’s general lack of awesome ramen houses* and the publication of the first, ramen-centric issue of David Chang’s Lucky Peach magazine, we figured we’d take matters into our own hands and cook up a big batch for the office.

We stuck to the Momofuku recipe from Lucky Peach as much as possible, skipping the noodle-making itself. (Yeah, we know it’s kind of important, but we wanted to have a bit of breathing room. And, Uwajimaya sells totally nice fresh noodles.) Armed with a big bag of chicken necks and backs, we gathered around the office stove for a whole day as the ramen broth reduced, all five gallons of it. Les made shredded pork on Sunday while I slow-poached eggs in their shells; this is a super-handy method for when you need fifteen poached eggs at the same time.

This was an extremely porky dish, so we served up vegan and pescatarian alternatives for Garrett & Mike: cold sesame noodles with black radish, and the same topped with an egg and dried anchovies (my favorite).

Nobody didn’t like it! A very fun – if exhausting – kitchen adventure.

* Since then, the brand-new Southeast joint Wafu has blown our noodle-socks off. On the West side, Shigezo is pretty good.

Miso Corn.

Continuing our Momofuku run, we noticed how darn sweet and tasty the corn was this August. I had previously postulated that the Roasted Sweet Summer Corn from the Momofuku cookbook was their most bang-to-bucky recipe. Simple: cut a bunch of fresh corn, roast it in bacon fat, add miso and butter, then top in a South-meets-East fashion.

Les handled the corn, pre-grilling it briefly to add some char. We then split it between our two largest dutch ovens. (Did we mention it’s tricky to cook for fifteen?) For toppings, we went with the shrimp from Momofuku’s Shrimp’n’Grits, more poached eggs, a bit of green onion, and a few slices of my dad’s homemade, home-smoked sausage. That stuff is my own personal bacon.

Garrett and Mike enjoyed a butter-free, tempeh-topped version. Everyone went nom nom nom. The best part? We ended up with an enormous quantity of corn husk and silk. You do not want to throw this stuff away; instead, make a stock of it. It’ll taste of sweet, sweet summer. To make ours portable, we reduced it for three days until five gallons turned to one dark, rich, syrupy quart. This can be diluted to use as stock or you can add use it to make corn ice cream, America’s best-kept ice cream secret.


Momofuku, take three: pork buns. We were looking for things that could be assembled and served fairly quickly once we’re at the office Monday morning (the usual setting for Panic Kitchen events). The buns themselves took a bit of work, but as predicted, our Monday prep was fairly mellow.

Dave joined Les and yours truly for a marathon Saturday of kneading, waiting, and rolling – lots of it, hoo boy. We ended up with exactly one hundred buns, covering every flat surfaces in our office kitchen. If you go bun-making yourself, clean out every table, desk, counter, and shelf you’ve got – you’ll need them all. Les was on pork duty once again, bringing in a simple pork-belly roast, and a version glazed in Cherry Coke. The former was served with hoisin sauce, Dave’s garden-grown cucumbers, and green onions; the latter, with pickled mustard greens, ground peanuts, and cilantro. Beer went well with both.

The buns contain milk, and it’s pretty much impossible to make fewer than thirty. Thus, the vegan option this time was coconut-rice cakes with Chinese-spiced roasted eggplant and shiitakes, and a papaya salad.

Would we do this again? Probably, and probably only on this scale.

Bánh Mì.

We’re big fans of Portland’s beat and cheapest Vietnamese-French-sandwich spot, Best Baguette. For this lunch, we wanted to see if we could best them at what they do best.

Les is still probably bummed that we didn’t attempt our own baguettes; my feeling was that we could never match – let alone beat – a professional bakery at this. We capitulated and bought our bread from Best Baguette, at approximately $0 or so per person. Our starting point for the recipes needed here was Viet World Kitchen. I took the weekend to pickle the daikon and carrots – more than twice the amount we ended up using, it turned out – and make the mayo. Les porked it up again, steaming a big batch of Vietnamese meatballs. Think about how crazy bánh mì really is – French bread topped with french mayonnaise, jazzed-up, chopped-up Italian meatballs, and Asian pickles. Did we mention it’s all served with iced coffee? We got a few cans of Vietnam’s favorite brand, Trung Nguyen, and Vietnamese-Nestlé sweetened condensed milk.

Pescatarian option: the classic sardine bánh mì (my favorite). Vegan: lemongrass tofu, miso mayo.

In the end, Greg declared Les’ meatballs better than Best Baguette’s. Sweet, sweet victory!


Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Panic recently enjoyed a working visit from our German friends, TheCodingMonkeys. We certainly never expected them to treat us to a home-cooked meal, but treat us they did. Danke, coole Typen! —Neven

Hi, my name is Toby, I work for TheCodingMonkeys, and I love cooking. I live in Bavaria.

So, when we were visiting Panic in Portland, we took the opportunity to bring some Old Europe culture to those American barbarians and cook some traditional Bavarian food. Pork roast is a classic Sunday dish. Fifty years ago, the mother of a family would go to church in the Saturday evening, so she could prepare this meal for the family the next morning and have it ready when they returned from Sunday mass. It takes some time to cook, but it’s not all that complicated.

Cooking for Panic was very enjoyable, not least of all because they have an entire kitchen in their office. What passes for an office kitchen in Europe is usually a tiny room with a coffee cooker and a fridge. Not a four-burner kitchen range with an oven and a sink you could take a bath in. In a word, it was awesome. Add to that Les, our native guide to the jungle of Portland grocery shopping (who was absolutely indispensable), and the rest of the office crew, and you can guess we had a great time.

Thanks again to Panic for having us!


Traditional Bavarian Pork Roast (for 4 persons)

Pork Roast (“Schweinsbraten”)

  • 750g (1 1/2 lb) pork shoulder / loin / ham roast, skin-on1
  • 2 onions


  • Carrots
  • Root parsley ( 3
  • Leeks
  • Celery root
  • Caraway
  • Garlic
  • Beer

1. This should preferrably be boneless (makes carving easier). You will probably need to specially order this from your butcher beforehand to make sure they leave the skin on the meat.

2. All of the veg are optional and you can use as much or as little of each as you want. Don’t use *too* many carrots though, or their taste’ll come through too strongly. Basically any roots and tubers will do. Even potatoes, in a pinch.

3. You may not be able to get this. We substituted turnip or rutabaga. See 2.

Bread Dumplings (“Semmelknödel”)

  • 4 bread rolls4, dried, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • parsley
  • 1/4 l (1 cup) milk

4. Those are German white bread rolls. The bread is similar to a soft French baguette (which is, in fact, a good substitute). We used hamburger buns, which made the dumplings a little sweeter than I’d have liked. Bread dumplings are a food made with leftovers, so make sure the bread is really dry. If you don’t have any old bread lying around, cut fresh bread into slices (1cm [1/2″] thickness), and leave it to dry for a day.

Cabbage Salad (“Kraut”)

  • Cabbage5
  • Vinegar
  • Caraway

5. This particular kind of cabbage, called Weißkraut (“white cabbage”), has pretty tough leaves and looks like this:


This meal has three components: The roast itself, bread dumplings, and a side dish made by marinating chopped cabbage leaves in salt. Let’s call it a cabbage salad for want of a better name.

Also, as with all roasts, the larger the better. The puny 3 lb piece of meat in the recipe will serve four people, but the trouble with very small roasts is that they are done so fast the skin has almost no chance to become crisp. For our American friends, we roasted a magnificent piece of meat weighing more than 3kg, which had the crispest and best crust I’ve ever seen on a pork roast.

The Cabbage Salad, for Lack of a Better Name

I’ll start with this, because you can prepare it way beforehand. Chop the cabbage into very thin strips, put them into a bowl in layers, adding salt (generously) to each layer, and crush the layer with a wooden potato masher or something of the sort. Then, let it rest until 30 minutes before serving.

Half an hour before serving, add vinegar and caraway. Just before serving, add some oil, and (if you feel like it) a finely chopped onion and some pan-roasted bits of bacon.

The Roast

Heat the oven to 200°C (428°F).

Wash the meat, beat it thoroughly with a meat tenderizer, then cut the skin. First, make a series of parallel cuts spaced about 1/2″. Then make a second series of cuts diagonal to the first. Use a sharp knife, a pig’s skin is pretty tough. Be sure to cut all through the skin into the fat layer. Rub the caraway, crushed garlic, salt and pepper all over the meat, the skin, and into the cuts.

Place the meat skin side down into a roasting pan or dutch oven, add a little boiling water, and cover the entire thing with a lid or tinfoil. Put into the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover the meat, turn it skin side up, and add the vegetables.

Roasting time is about 1 hour for every kilo (2 lb) of meat. A meat thermometer is invaluable here, because it lets you make sure the meat is done but not bone dry.

When the skin starts to brown, you can occasionally pour some beer over the meat. It’ll make the skin crisper, and the sauce taste better.

The Sauce

When the you’re nearing the release date, er, serving time – say, about 15 minutes before serving – take out all the vegetables, and mash them through a mesh strainer. Use a ladle to add most of the liquid that’s in the roasting pan, and mix together to make the sauce. At least that’s the traditional way. It gives the sauce a nice grainy texture. Alternatively, you can use a blender, in which case you should blend the veg together with the liquid from the roasting pan.

Season to taste and put the pot with the sauce on the stove so you can warm it back up before serving.

Some people (like me) like the taste of the vegetables that have been cooked for hours in the beer and meat juices. For those people, leave one or two carrots in the roasting pan when you take out the rest to make the sauce.

The Dumplings

You’ll have plenty of time to prepare the dumplings while the roast is roasting. The important part here is getting the consistency of the dough right. Don’t use all the milk at first. Until you mix everything, it’s hard to tell how the dough is going to turn out. After you have added all ingredients, use milk if the dough is too dry. In case disaster strikes (as it did when we were making the dumplings) and the dough gets so liquid you can’t form dumplings out of it, add breadcrumbs.

Pour some of the boiling milk over the dried bread, and let it soak. Add the other ingredients. Yes, all of them. Just toss them in. Go ahead, we do not have all day. Knead everything until homogenous, form dumplings about 3/4 the size of a fist.

About 15 minutes before serving, let the dumplings slide gently into boiling, lightly salted water. (By the way, water takes an incredibly long time to come to a boil, so make sure you put the water on early enough to have it boiling at T minus 15 minutes). Use enough water so the dumplings can float without touching the bottom of the pot. Cook at a soft boil for about 12 minutes.


Fish Wings

Friday, January 7th, 2011

One of the best foods in the US can be ordered and enjoyed some nine blocks from my house. At Pok Pok, a restaurant where you can discover a new favorite each time you go back, it’s best to start out with chef Andy Ricker’s amazing fish-sauce wings. And if you find yourself away from Portland, or the understandably long wait at the restaurant gets you down, make them yourself. It’s as easy as any other chicken-wing recipe!

This is based on the Ike’s fish-sauce wings recipe as printed in Food & Wine magazine. To feed 6, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup 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
  • 1-2 cups cornstarch
  • bird’s eye chilis to taste, seeded and minced

A few words about the ingredients:

Once you’ve tried these wings, the words fish sauce will fill you not with terror, but with a primal sort of craving. Like soy sauce, it’s marvelous at adding savory, meaty saltiness to foods. And like soy sauce, it loves being combined with sugar. Head on over to your local Asian market and buy an extravagant amount of Southeast Asia’s favorite condiment for under $2 – the best brands are Tiparos, Squid, and Three Crabs. Stay away from domestic imitations as they’ll be weak and overpriced.

You can use regular sugar, but superfine sugar will dissolve in the fish sauce much easier. It’s basically finely ground sugar. This is different from confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, which also contains cornstarch.

To start, grab the largest bowl you have. (No, not that one. Larger. Larger still. There, that one.) Whisk together the sugar and the fish sauce, and mix in the crushed garlic. Pat the wings dry and add them to the bowl; cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, tossing a few times to coat evenly.

In a small pan, fry the minced garlic until fragrant and golden, but not brown; drain on paper towels.

Time to fry the chicken: in a large and heavy pot (preferably a dutch oven) heat 2 inches of oil to 350 F. Use a candy thermometer if you have one; if not, drop in a piece of bread. When it makes a satisfying sizzling sound on entry, you’re good; when the oil bubbles violently, you’ve gone too far. This would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 200 F and make room for a large pan with a rack set in it; you’ll dry your wings here and keep them warm at the same time.

Pat the wings dry, reserving the marinade in the bowl. Transfer the marinade to a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until syrupy.

Pour the cornstarch into a shallow, wide pan or bowl. Dip the wings in it one by one and toss to coat; shake them off until there’s a dusting of cornstarch on the meat, but no clumps. Do this right before you drop the wings in the fryer; resist the temptation to coat them and let them sit in the bowl, as this would result in a less-than-crispy surface. Fry the wings in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot. They should turn golden-brown with specs of black; it should take 10 minutes or so per batch.

When the wings are done, drip them over the pot and place them on the rack in the pan, then return the whole thing to the oven. It’s always a good idea to air-dry your fried goods instead of plopping them onto paper towels where they’ll sit in their own grease.

Grab another large bowl and move all the wings to it. Pour the now-syrupy marinade through a strainer over the wings and toss to coat. Add the fried garlic and the chilies (if using, according to your heat preference) to finish. Serve on large lettuce leaves, sprinkling with chopped cilantro and mint if you’re into that sort of thing.

We made these at the office recently and they were a big success. Les made some awesome sides, and had this to say about the experience:

My contribution to the meal certainly could have gone more smoothly, but I survived.

For the green papaya salad, I once again referred to a recipe from the great She Simmers. I used a large granite mortar and pestle — strictly forbidden of course — but I was gentle and over-pulverizing generally wasn’t a problem. Multiplying the recipe to feed a dozen people was tricky, but after an hour of tasting and adjusting, the result was close enough.

An additional challenge was in creating a vegan som tam for Mike and Garrett. I substituted the fish sauce with a mixture of seaweed-infused water, a bit of soy sauce, and pickled garlic.

I was also tasked with making sticky rice but I’m just going to say it wasn’t my proudest culinary moment and leave it at that.

Very humble, that Les. Our newest employee, James, made bún salad. These crisp dishes were much-needed islands of refreshment in the sea of savory-sweet wingness.

In conclusion: Check out Pok Pok, don’t fear the fish sauce, snap out of the Pad Thai rut and explore Southeast Asia’s delicious cuisine. Enjoy!

New Goods: Locke’s Lions Shirt

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A while back, we blogged about the official Panic basketball team, PS 208 Locke’s Lions. As well as helping them buy some equipment, we also whipped up a fancy-pants crest design for their jerseys.

Many of you asked the obvious (to you, but somehow not to us!) question:

“When can we buy these shirts?”

Answer: right now.

Printed on amazing-feeling (and slightly costlier) indigo-colored American Apparel 50/25/25 tri-blend track shirts, these are some of the nicest goods we’ve ever made.

Even better? A portion of each sale goes straight to the team.

We’ve only got a small sample quantity in stock right now, but we’ll backorder them so you’ll be able to place an order no matter what: if they run out, thanks for your patience while we print more.

Hit the Panic Goods and help us continue supporting the team. It’s a win-win-win-win. (That last win is the Lions winning their way through the season.)