Dr. Fauci has told us to hunker down this winter, and we should heed his words. But for those stuck-at-home meals, frozen food needn’t be a reluctant backup. Many restaurants and carts, especially now as part of their “pandemic pivots,” offer items to stash in your freezer or fridge, ready to comfort at a moment’s notice. In minutes, you could be inhaling a steaming plate of dumplings, digging into a bubbling cheese khachapuri, or slurping belly-warming curry udon—staples to get you through until sunnier times.
Hmong Sausage from La’s
Hmong sausage is fragrant with lemongrass and makrut lime leaves, plus a kick of chile. Cart owner La Vang-Herr lovingly makes this artisan sausage herself. Grill at home the Hmong way, or bake them in the oven for the barbecue-less among us. Call 971-330-5989 a day in advance, pick up at 18631 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Aloha
Horseradish Vodka from Kachka
This crowd favorite horseradish-infused vodka can be stowed in your freezer whenever the need for a sinus-clearing shot strikes. Try it with their famous Siberian pelmeni, also available frozen for even more freezer happiness. Order pelmeni at kachkapdx.com, pick up at 960 SE 11th Ave; look for vodka at an Oregon liquor store near you starting in December
Kimchi from Berlu
Halmae Kimchi Sky Kim, sous chef at Berlu, makes this palate-cleansing organic kimchi with her husband, Chris Pfail. Kim’s halmae (grandmother) taught her the recipe growing up near Seoul. This spicy cabbage kimchi will keep in your fridge all year, though the flavors will change. While it’s fresh, enjoy it with meat or rice. After a few months, make kimchi stew or kimchi pancakes. Available by walk-in at Berlu, 605 SE Belmont St, for delivery via @halmae_OR on Instagram, or preorder online for pickup at various locations via bindlepdx.com
Curry Udon Kit from Chef Naoko of Shizuku
The pandemic grounded Delta Airlines’ flights from PDX to Tokyo, catered by Chef Naoko of downtown organic Japanese restaurant Shizuku. Now, she uses her airline-meal blast chiller to make frozen meal kits. The fragrant black garlic ground chicken curry udon is sure to warm your bones with its curry-dashi broth and hearty, thick noodles. There’s even an instructional YouTube video for optimum results. Order at chef-naoko.square.site, pick up at 1237 SW Jefferson St
Pork and Chinese Sauerkraut Dumplings from Chin’s Kitchen
At this Dongbei cuisine hot spot in Hollywood, pandemic offerings include four types of frozen dumplings for customers to boil, steam, or fry at home. Go with owner Wendy Li’s favorite, the pork and Chinese sauerkraut, enveloped in a silky flour wrapper and bursting with porky juice. Ask for soy-garlic dipping sauce, or make your own with black vinegar or Sriracha. Order at chinskitchenportland.com or call 503-281-1203, pick up at 4126 NE Broadway
Acharuli Khachapuri from Kargi Gogo (RIP)
Alas, this Georgian kitchen, which was a downtown food cart before it opened on NE Alberta Street, is slated to close November 22. If you were lucky enough to snag some of this frozen boat-shaped cheese bread (bake till lava-like, then stir in a pat of butter and an egg yolk), as well as bags of khinkali (giant dumplings), be sure to savor it all!
Soy-Based Pork-Less Belly from Mama Đút Foods
Thuy Pham began 2020 as a hairdresser but started selling vegan Vietnamese food in the pandemic as Mama Đút (“mama will feed you” in a Vietnamese-English mélange) and opened a brick-and-mortar in November. Her vegan pork belly has the unctuousness and crispy skin of real pork belly, with none of the animal products. Walk in or order at mamadutfoods.com, pick up at 1414 SE Morrison St