I have to specify “savory” because if I didn’t, my top ten would be entirely comprised of desserts.  

By the way, “guilty pleasures” isn’t entirely accurate as I don’t feel particularly guilty about eating any of these, but I can see how some might!

10. Stuffed Pasta with Cream Sauce

I don’t have it that often but when I do go to an Italian restaurant and I order a pasta medley, I do make it a rule to include at least one of these delectable artery-cloggers.

9. Nankotsu

A fave standby at a lot of yakitori restaurants and many casual Asian eateries is this version of popcorn chicken that is essentially fried chicken cartilage.

8. Ramen

This one is tricky since I can trace two of my five food-poisoning experiences back to ramen (an impressive 40% rate).  Still, I love me some tonkotsu base broth with black garlic and extra butter.

7. Shahi Paneer

This Indian dish is basically cheese in a creamy cashew sauce.  Delicious!

6. Fried Dumplings

There’s a restaurant a ten minute walk from my place that serves up a dozen a plate with a side of sweet and spicy chili sauce for dipping purposes.

5. Pizza

Obvious, perhaps, but not just any pizza.  One of my favorites is a version that combines honey with spicy sausage or pepperoni, black olives, and cheese – sweet, salty, and spicy.

4. Schnitzel

Ah, I remember the old Stargate days when writer-producer Carl Binder and I would do the Vancouver schnitzel tour.  There’s a place here in Toronto that offers up a platter comprised of three different schnitzel varieties and a piece of sausage.  I always prefer mine paper thing and crispy.

3. Katsu Curry

This Japanese dish if comprised of tasty fired pork, rice, and their version of curry which is sweeter and thicker than the Thai and Indian versions.

2. Chicken Wings

Nothing gets me quite as excited as the prospect of going out with friends and sharing a variety of chicken wings.  Buffalo, parmesan, barbecue – you name ’em, I’ll eat ’em.

1. Fried Chicken

I suppose this one should come as no surprise as I’ve often alluded to my search for Toronto’s best fried chicken.  I love the fact that this dish transcends cultural boundaries and some of the city’s best offerings include Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Southern versions of this dish.

So, do tell – What are your top savory guilty pleasures?

20 thoughts on “November 9, 2018: My Top 10 Savory Guilty Pleasures!

  1. Joe, you definately need to come to Texas for some crazy ass fried chicken. Stat!!!

    1. “Joe, you definately need to come to Texas for some crazy ass fried chicken. Stat!!!”

      I want to!

  2. I, too, do not feel guilty at all when I enjoy good food. Here are my top 10 savory foods I will eat with guiltless pride right in your face:

    Crawfish Etouffee

    It’s a Cajun staple and one I prefer to cook myself. It’s one of the easiest dishes to make and it tastes like you worked all day. Best made a day before serving, it’ll taste five, maybe even six, times better the next day. (Sometimes seven)

    Fried Pork Chops

    It’s a pork chop, floured and fried. What’s not to like? Also, the gradoux (I think chefs call it fond) in the bottom of the pan makes a killer cream gravy. Kick up the gravy with some freshly-chopped green onions and serve over fresh rice. I will stab you if you try to eat off my plate.

    Chile Relleno (Cheese only)

    Green chiles are a favorite of mine. Stuff one with cheese, then batter and fry and I’ll follow you anywhere; hopefully to more chiles.

    Salmon Sashimi

    I love the mild, buttery taste of simple salmon. Nothing fancy, just a bit of pickled ginger on the side I’m in heaven with my bait on a plate. Totally worth the cat breath.

    Fried Chicken

    I live in the south. It’s practically a requirement of residency to love fried chicken down here. Again, I like to fry it myself and whip up a cream gravy. We have various sides, but one staple is mac and cheese drizzled with homemade pineapple syrup. I love sweet and savory anything, but this one I grew up eating my entire life so it holds a special place in my colon.


    Coincidentally, I like pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, & cheese pizza (the pepperonis must be on top and crispy) drizzled liberally with Mike’s Hot Honey or a nice pepper jelly. Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a 3am fridge raid.


    A type of Cajun sausage made from pork, rice, onions, and seasoning stuffed into a casing. Think of it as a specialized dirty rice in a sausage casing. It’s an easy grab-and-go meal and some have called it the first convenience food, though I cannot verify the veracity of that statement. I can confirm that boudin is freaking awesome and I would die without it. It’s also awesomer with a little dollop of pepper jelly and goes best with beer. The old joke is a Cajun seven-course meal is a pound of boudin and a six pack of beer.

    Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

    Perhaps THE Cajun staple food, it’s one of my absolute favorite meals. Like most Cajun food, it’s simple and inexpensive, but done correctly it’s something almost no one can refuse. Some of us like to float a scoop of cold, plain potato salad in the middle of the bowl, then scoop a bit of it along with the gumbo in each bite. Alternatively, I like to put half a baked sweet potato in the middle. It’s like a little orange island of sweetness surrounded by the Savory Sea.

    Fried Shrimp

    I guess growing up where shrimp are fresh, cheap, and plentiful have helped to make this one of my faves. And fried anything is better, right? My wife makes some awesome fried shrimp and has to take them away from me for fear I’ll literally eat myself to death. It’s kinda the way I want to go. I’m looking for a good wholesaler in the event I plan a Delicious Demise.

    Ribeye, Prime (or better if I can ever afford it), rare/med-rare

    I’m always up for a decent steak. While I enjoy eating cow at a few of my favorite restaurants I still prefer to grill them myself right at home. Throw in a freshly baked potato or sweet potato and maybe some asparagus and/or brussels sprouts and I’m one happy hog. Just keep your appendages clear of my eating area and we won’t have to involve the police.

    Thank you for allowing me to share. I must leave now and go eat things because reading and writing on the subject of food just makes me hungry.

    1. Love this, Tom!

      “It’s a pork chop, floured and fried. What’s not to like? Also, the gradoux (I think chefs call it fond) in the bottom of the pan makes a killer cream gravy. ”

      I fry mine up in a cast iron pan but render a couple of strips of bacon first.

      I miss New Orleans. Have only been once, back in my college days, and would love to come visit!

  3. In no particular order:

    Butter Chicken and/or Chicken Tikka Massala
    They seem to be interchangeable depending on Indian restaurant and country you’re in. It’s usually quite mild so I ask for a bit more spice. When living in New Zealand I used to as for “Kiwi hot” as “Indian hot” was a bit too much for me.
    I love lasagna but never order it in a restaurant. I make my own with 6 hour simmered meat sauce.
    Beef burrito
    My go-to for lunch if I can find it. Alas, I work in a burrito free zone. 🙁
    Beef Burger
    I was never much of a burger fan growing up but in recent years I’ve taken a liking to them. I’m talking proper burgers with inch thick patties still pink in the middle with lots of bacon, cheese and a fried egg on a brioche bun.
    Chicken parmigiana
    Chicken schnitzel topped with neapolitan sauce, a slice of ham, and melted cheese. It’s almost Australia’s national dish and you’ll find it in every pub.
    Chicken enchilada
    My standard order if I’m in a Mexican restaurant.
    Chicken Katsu Curry
    I like the pork version but I prefer the chicken version. There are a couple of good sources near work so I have this for lunch regularly.
    Fried calamari
    Either salt and pepper or tempura battered. I’m not a huge seafood fan but, done right, these rings of fishy goodness are amazing!
    Fish and chips
    Australia has the best fish and chips, in my opinion.
    The reason I never order lasagna is because if there’s pizza on the menu that’s what I order. Neapolitan style with the puffy cornicione and minimal toppings. That’s why I’m spending thousands of dollars building a wood fired pizza oven in my backyard!

    1. “Butter Chicken and/or Chicken Tikka Massala”

      Oh yeah. Big Butter Chicken fan. That’s another Carl Binder special.

  4. I love…
    – Crunchy peanut butter and apricot jam sandwiches
    – Lime & lemon tart with cream
    – Maori fried bread
    – Porridge brown sugar and butter
    – Steak – I’m trying to give up meat, but every now and then I weaken
    – Twitter is kind of a guilty ‘pleasure’ – the American politics is like watching tv – so much drama, and way over the top weird behaviour on the part of it’s government. I have to put myself on time out – it’s so strange that people do what they do and get away with it. Not sure if I’d call ‘twitter’ a pleasure though.

  5. Kinda jealous you found a restaurant serving dumplings you genuinely enjoy.

    Growing up in NY i’d go out to the local wingloo or sampam chinese take out
    to pick up fried pork dumplings once per week
    as part of my weekly comfort foods routine.
    Although I do still maintain my weekly indulgence
    I’ve not found dumplings of any kind
    in Colorado or Florida that even come close to comparing.

    Other 9 top of the list simple pleasure/indulgence foods.
    In no particular order:
    *Fried mozzarella sticks and/or crispy deep fried bacon mozz balls
    *NY Pizza. – with extra cheese and oil that drips from the bottom
    when you pick it up and fold over the large crispy crust slice.
    *Oyster stew
    *Hot pastrami on rye
    *Tiramisu in bar cake form, soaked in amaretto liquor.
    (yes, I realize its a desert but I’ll sometimes indulge in it
    in replace of regular afternoon meal! Same goes for a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies,
    or homemade pistachio-almond ice cream).
    *Toasted bagel with cream cheese and lox.
    *Grilled whole sweet Italian long sausage, in its natural casing, on a hoagie
    with sauteed onions & peppers.
    *Stuffed grape leaves (Homemade, not the generic stuff in mint jelly).
    *A really good, rare, roast beef.

    Honorable mentions:
    *Butter, garlic, lemon & pepper soaked and rolled chicken breast cutlet .
    filled with plenty of swiss cheese, diced onion, mushroom,
    artichoke, and sweet pimento,
    encased in seasoned italian bread crumb
    and baked to golden brown perfection.
    *Coney Island style Potato knish
    *A heavily buttered grilled swiss cheese sandwich with tomato.
    *Warm Banana bread with melted butter atop.
    *Almost any dish with Bacon, Avocado, Butter sauteed mushroom or Artichoke.

    Oh! And did I mention – BACON??! Bacon? or Bacon?! lol 😀
    I prefer my pork strips, thin, crispy, and crunchy.
    No matter what mood I’m in or other foods I’m craving
    I can always eat bacon done just right!

  6. My top ten changed a lot once I had to quit eating nightshades. Anything with a tomato sauce or mashed potatoes, right out. That means Katsu Curry is no longer on the menu. Wah.

    Tamarind shrimp and coconut shrimp. Fresh, as big as my fist, at a table in the sand on the beach in Mexico. Fantastic.

    Shrimp tempura, tempura sweet potatoes, and ten-don. Even tempura ika if I can find it.

    Calamari. Breaded rings, panko strips, or grilled as a steak with mole sauce.

    Gyoza, steamed or fried. Wontons and lumpia. Fried stuffed things with a dipping sauce.

    Beef stroganoff. Essentially anything beefy with noodles and sour cream. I count mom’s Swedish Meatballs in this category. I have the recipe but not the touch.

    Chicken Kiev. Yum.

    Thanksgiving sides, give me candied sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, and my amazing cranberry-apple chutney. Individually, not so much, but all together,yes please.

    A really good filet mignon. Harder to find than one might imagine.

    Teriyaki burgers, preferably with grilled pineapple.

    Lobster roll; I’ve had one, in Maine, on the coast. I would love to repeat that experience.

    I can’t forget the duck confit tacos in Cancun. The fancy duck dinner was yummy, but the tacos were outstanding.

    Honorable mention: Chicken and Waffles (well, waffle) at Pig and a Jelly Jar here in Ogden. Best chicken I’ve had anywhere.

    1. You had to quit eating nightshades? The mushrooms? That would have been inadvisable at any stage in life.

  7. And now I’m hungry! I loved reading everyone favorite dishes. Tom needs to write a cookbook!

    My mom used to make fried pork chops all the time. She used to make chocolate gravy and biscuits too. My dad used to make red eyed gravy with country ham and biscuits. I’m pretty certain country people can made gravy out of anything: Tomato gravy, sausage gravy, chocolate gravy, you get the gist.

    These are a few of my favorites:

    Peach cobbler (with enough butter that it pools at the top). I’ve always loved peaches. And butter. 🙂

    Deviled eggs with ham slices. That one reminds me of home. My mom makes great deviled eggs. Mine aren’t bad but I really detest pealing eggs, so they taste better if someone else does them 😉 .

    BBQ with fries and Coleslaw (that’s a required favorite for living in the Memphis area). They let me get by with unsweet tea but not eating BBQ’s a deal breaker.

    A dinner of lightly breaded fish served with a salad and loaded baked potato (simple and scrumptious).

    I’ve gone mostly vegetarian but the above treats are what lures me out. Those are my cheats. 😉

  8. Mmmm. Guilty savorys?
    In no particular order, my naughty dishes include

    chicken livers pan fried gently in butter then add cream and a dollop of marmite. Serve with mashed potatoes…
    three cheese ravioli with added cheese (I swear I can hear my arteries groan when I eat this one!)

    a recent find this one
    – boneless beef ribs slow cooked in a miso marinade, with a sweet mirin barbecue glaze served with cauliflower and kale couscous. The closest I’ll ever get to healthy stuff!

    OK but my absolute really, really guilty secret, hang my head low, eyes averted, guilty savory pleasure is…. I’m so sorry … is… is…. gulp. .. is…. OK… is a… gulp… McDonald’s cheeseburger (runs off into the shadows crying in shame)

  9. Speaking of tasty buttery chicken ….

    Ever try wings
    soaked and glazed in a mix of melted salted-butter & French’s yellow mustard?
    A friend turned me onto this simple delight about 30 yrs ago.
    OMG! I remember it was so surprisingly good
    I actually found myself addicted to em for a long while.

  10. “Reply” doesn’t work. So what’s Maori Fry Bread?
    It’s like a doughnut in consistency but it’s not sweet.
    At home we use Kumara (purple sweet potato) flour. But most people just use self rising or plain flour with yeast. If you’re eating it with fish, you can also add dried lemon kelp (seaweed) into the mix, it gives it a bite. Otherwise once you cook them most have them with butter and golden syrup. Whenever you go to a New Zealand market, some one’s always selling fry bread and they always sell out.

    A basic recipe is
    3 1/2 cups self rising flour or flour and yeast
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    cold water, to mix
    oil, for frying

    In a large bowl measure the flour, then add salt. Gradually add enough cold water to make a soft dough, mix through with a wooden spoon, but don’t over mix. If you over mix, this will cause them to become stiff and flat.
    Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push or roll dough out to 1 1/2 cm thickness.
    Cut into the desired size, then place each piece into the preheated hot oil and fry til golden on both sides and double the size.

    If you are using plain flour use yeast it’s better, make sure you let the dough raise as a big fat lump and again when you cut them. And place the dough pieces into the pan don’t drop them.
    Let the oil drain off them.

    If you want an AWESOME Maori Feed, then go Fry bread and CREAMED PĀUA; it’s is THE best feed.

    25g butter
    a splash of neutral oil
    3 good-sized pāua, minced, sliced or diced finely
    ½ medium onion, diced
    3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups cream (reduce or increase to your taste)

    Heat the butter and a splash of oil (the oil will stop the butter from burning) in a frying pan. Add the pāua, onion and garlic and fry slowly over a low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, constantly stirring (you don’t want it to colour too much) until the pāua is semi-tender to the bite. Pour over the cream, stir and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and let it reduce by a quarter. Season with salt and pepper, serve and eat with fry bread.

    So very very good.

    A quick meal I really like is get a Lemon fish, and scrap the skin off, any fish that’s got a nice delicate flavour. Make a batter out of corn flour and egg white a little bit of water. Fry sliced pieces a inch thick in a shallow pan, then set them to drain. No oil sticks on the fish, even when cold, there’s no oil taste. Fry-bread, butter, Lemon fish and some greens makes a nice yum light summer meal.

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