Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 26, 2023

The highs and lows of TikTok recipes

By AMAL HAYAT | December 1, 2021

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COURTESY OF AMAL HAYAT

TikTok's tortilla hack is an easy way to slightly elevate the dish.

Every Sunday, I get a notification from my phone announcing that my screen time is over five hours a day. A closer look shows that at least a third of that time is spent on TikTok.

TikTok continues to be revered as an app that can (scarily) show you extremely curated content, whether it's popular dances, K-pop edits or Minecraft tutorials, all culminating in a For You page (FYP). However, every once in a while a trend or sound will overtake the entire app, such as the “Berries and Cream” song or dalgona coffee, a trend of whipping instant coffee and sugar to make a foamy drink.

And amid it all is FoodTok, a sector of TikTok that is responsible for developing interesting recipes and spreading culinary knowledge. After venturing into this corner of the internet, I have decided to undertake some of the more popular dishes and “life hacks” that have crossed my FYP.

Tortilla Hack/Foldable Tortilla

The first recipe I attempted was the tortilla hack. This folding technique is supposed to make it easier to make and pack lunches.

First, you cut into a tortilla from the edge to the center. Then you split the tortilla into thirds or quadrants, filling each section with a different ingredient. I made a “pizza” tortilla, filling each section with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes (my personal favorite pizza topping). I then folded each section over itself before sliding it into my roommate’s panini press. The end result was a tasty sandwich that almost tasted like a pizza. 

This recipe is extremely customizable: You can use eggs, avocado and peppers to make it breakfast wrap-inspired or bananas, peanut butter and chocolate for a sweeter alternative.

Overall, I think if you already have the ingredients and energy to make this, you might as well just make it like a regular quesadilla. For that reason the hack gets 6/10 stars.

Ice Crè(a)me Brûlée

COURTESY OF AMAL HAYAT

Five-star dining or a night in? Hayat tested an alternative to elaborate crème brûlée recipes.

  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 egg yolks (for flavored ice cream: 1 egg yolk and 1 egg)
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Want crème brûlée without a pricey trip to a restaurant? Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by melting the ice cream in a microwave-safe bowl for one minute. Let sit for two minutes or until it cools to room temperature. Add two egg yolks to the bowl and mix to combine.

Once homogenous, pour into two ramekins. Place ramekins in a high-rise lip pan filled with water to half the ramekin height. Then, put the ramekins into the oven and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until the mixture is set but jiggly in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and allowing to cool in the fridge for at least two hours.

Remove the ramekins 30 minutes prior to making the sugar top. To make the “brûlée,” begin by melting the sugar in a saucepan until it is liquid. Stir constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Once melted, quickly pour the sugar over the custard. It’ll harden before you know it, so work quickly.

This recipe is as simple as it is time-consuming. After everything, I’m not sure if I made it correctly because instead of the custard consistency that I expected, it came out more like a soup or milkshake. Because of the soupiness of the crème, the sugar that was poured on top partially sunk. I’m not sure if this was due to the ice cream brand or yolk size.

Regardless, the taste was akin to a regular crème brûlée. If this had worked properly, I’m sure the sugar would’ve rested nicely on top. Honestly, it is worth trying again, so 7/10.

Cheesy Ramen

COURTESY OF AMAL HAYAT

Hayat turned her ramen into pseudo-mac and cheese.

  • 1 pack of ramen
  • 2 Kraft Singles
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Sriracha (to taste)
  • Green onion (optional)

Begin by boiling ramen according to package instructions. Once boiled, remove ramen from water and set aside. In a pot or pan, heat up the butter and milk until the butter is melted. Add the sriracha and two Kraft Singles, stirring to prevent burning. Once homogenous, add the ramen and stir until combined. Enjoy with thinly sliced green onion or on its own!

From the ingredient list, this recipe sounds like it comes straight from hell. And it smelled like it, too. When I asked my roommate Claire to try it out, she looked at it in disgust and said, “I don't want to” (and Claire tries everything at least once).

Yet surprisingly (not actually, though, because everyone on TikTok said this) it wasn’t half bad. It tasted like some off-brand mac and cheese (which is not surprising because it's literally cheese and noodles). I think it's definitely worth a try (and not really a waste of the $1.50 it costs).

Like most TikTok recipes, it has room for improvement. How to improve this? I have literally no clue. 5/10.

Pesto Eggs

COURTESY OF AMAL HAYAT

Hayat brought a new spin to her eggs and toast by adding pesto, per TikTok's tips.

  • 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • Bread of your choice
  • 1-2 eggs

Begin by toasting the bread (add a thin layer of butter to both sides if you want to crisp it up). Spread your pesto in a thin to moderate layer. Make the eggs as you like (I prefer to do some jammy fried eggs, but scrambled or sunny side up also works) and then lay it on the prepared pesto toast. Et voilà, pesto eggs on toast.

This combination of bread, pesto and egg shouldn’t have taken this long to come up with, but alas, its popularity on TikTok has brought it to my front doorsteps. And I’m glad it did. As one of the few good recipes I’ve tried for this challenge, Pesto Eggs is a perfect balance of carbs and salt. It really tastes just like it sounds, and I recommend trying it if you are looking for a way to switch up a regular avocado toast or elevate your breakfast. Just make sure you are using good pesto for a good experience. 8.5/10.

Salmon Sushi Bowl

COURTESY OF AMAL HAYAT

Simplify your sushi with TikTok's viral Salmon Sushi Bowl.

  • 1 salmon fillet (roughly 0.5-0.75 pounds)
  • ½ cup of unboiled rice
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons of Japanese mayo
  • 2 packs of dried seaweed
  • 1 avocado

First, cook the salmon however you like. I made mine using salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil. Prepare the rice in a rice cooker (or a boiling pot if you are more traditional). Combining the two in a bowl (in my case, the rice cooker pot) with some Japanese mayo and sriracha will result in a sticky mixture that can hold shape if smushed (The ratio of rice to salmon should roughly be 1:1).

Slice some avocado and plate as you wish. Eat by covering the mixture with a slice of dried seaweed and, using chopsticks, wrap it around a slice of avocado and the mixture. You should end up with a “sushi” roll. For an added crunch, I recommend adding cucumber slices.

This recipe by Emily Mariko went viral earlier this year and was the inspiration behind writing this article. A combination of leftover rice, salmon and seaweed, this knockoff sushi DIY is easy to make if you have the ingredients.

I won’t lie, I don’t know how often college students have extra salmon and seaweed around, but if you do, it’s a fun recipe. The recipe above serves two, so it is fun to eat with a friend or roommate.

My only concern is price: Salmon goes for $8-10, and dried seaweed not bought in bulk can cost $2 a pack. And that's not including the generally exorbitant price of avocado! If you have the budget to make this, I recommend just going to grab the Lunch Special at Yama Sushi Bar in Hoes Heights. You can get three already prepared rolls, soup and a salad for a fraction of the effort. Overall, 8/10.


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