Side Dish: MyThy Huynh is mighty in the Mitten

Social media has given home cooks a platform to test out their recipes and showcase their creations, all while an audience provides an instant critique of the culinary treats they've shared with the world.

Take MyThy Huynh, for example.

Full time, she works as an ER nurse in the ER at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. When she's not saving lives, she is known on Instagram as @MightyInTheMitten (with almost 18,000 followers).

For the past several years, she's used cooking and the internet to stay connected to her family, who live in Southern California, and her Vietnamese and Chinese roots. Most recently, she's experimented with the art of milk bread and has somewhat of a cult following in metro Detroit for the unique and incredibly photogenic creations (Huynh has been known to use food coloring to create loafs that don bright green giraffe spots, red, white, and blue swirls, and tri-colored leopard print).

What is milk bread? Huynh says that it originated from the renowned Hokkaido milk bread from a dairy in Hokkaido, Japan. The Japanese version utilizes a technique called Tang Zhong paste, traditionally used in China, which on top of the unusual patterns, the soft, spongy texture allows for eaters to munch on it all day. "Asians love soft, doughy, and fragrant breads unlike Americans and Europeans who like crusty breads," Huynh says.

Metro Times: What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?

MyThy Huynh: That I grew up in the Valley in Southern California. And that I'm really sassy, feisty, and sarcastic. Under this smiling, happy-go-lucky and "nice" smile is someone who won't hesitate to tell a 6-foot-4 giant to get outta the way, meanwhile gazing with puppy eyes and smiling ear to ear.

And I don't like chocolate. I love chocolate chip cookies but spit out all the chocolate chips.

MT: What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?

Huynh: Vitamin B Complex and ginkgo biloba pills and matcha green tea while cracking my back as I wait for the water to boil.

MT: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Huynh: Fix all world problems with good-tasting, quality food. All my patients are in pain, pissed off about their care and their current condition. They can't eat or drink while being evaluated with tests and procedures but get their vomiting and pain under control and show them a bruised banana and cold chicken salad sandwich on stale white bread and suddenly the angels have parted heaven's gates. If a banana and a week-old chicken salad sandwich can do that, imagine what really good bread could do.

MT: What is the most positive thing in food or drink that you've noticed in Detroit over the past year?

Huynh: It's taken (about) three years for food trends to hit Detroit, not (about) five years like most people think. Chefs and restaurateurs are willing to try new things and get on board with those trends even if roll their eyes at it. I'm looking at you GoGo's (poke bowls) and Yuzu Sushi (Sushirito).

MT: Who is your Detroit food crush?

Huynh: Dave Kwiatkowski, for opening Bad Luck Bar. Trust me, I had my reservations about these high-end $20-$80 cocktails, but he went and made it a thing. My mind was blown when I saw candy cap mushrooms on the menu, and ingredients like Okinawa sugar and buckwheat honey. To be a good cook, you need to be versed in all things food and drink, and this winter I plan to elevate my cocktail knowledge.

MT: Who's the one person to watch right now in the Detroit dining scene?

Huynh: Brandon Zarb at Imperial and Public House. He's young, tenacious, inventive, and willing to take risks, as evidenced by his monthly menu takeovers. It started as an idea that wasn't meant to have a theme but rather allow his cooks to step up and work outside their boundaries. He's really mentored and fostered their creativity, which makes him a leader in my book.

MT: Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?

Huynh: Sichuan peppercorn. Subtle at first, testing the waters... then all of a sudden, mouth-numbing and spicy and leaving you sweaty. I'm also intense AF.

MT: If you weren't working in the food business, what would you be doing?

Huynh: Forensics pathologist. Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds, with the brain being 2 ½ pounds of that? That your skin is the largest organ in your body and the shape of your skull can tell you what race and gender you are? I'm a geek at heart and love getting my hands dirty, and let's be honest, these "patients" would give me no complaints because, well... they're dead.

MT: Name an ingredient never allowed in your kitchen.

Huynh: I'm Asian, and we cook with all weird stuff from dried abalone, pork blood, to birds nest, and stinky tofu. I'm open to all ingredients but don't get me started on gimmicky health foods.

MT: What is your after-work hangout?

Huynh: Post-ER shifts, ice cream. Specifically, cookie butter from Trader Joe's in a cake cone, feet propped on my coffee table, binge watching an episode of some current, trendy show.

Post cooking/baking/dinner event, I want to say Bad Luck Bar, but I'm going to have to pick up a few extra shifts to keep affording that perk.

MT: What's your food or beverage guilty pleasure?

Huynh: Ie cream (of all kinds, except chocolate) but only in a cone. My mind doesn't register I've eaten the whole quart unless I chew or it has crunch and there's nothing left in my hand. See, all gone!

MT: What would be your last meal on earth?

Huynh: Oh man... that's an ever evolving answer. But I adore noodles and spicy foods, so either legit spicy Sichuan Mapo Tofu over ramen noodles or a pan of lasagna with higher red-sauce-to-ricotta-cheese ratio, with tons of melty cheese. I'll go Garfield on that.

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