Our food journalist tried 4 TikTok recipes. Here’s what he thought. | Food and cooking

The worst pain of my life was when I was afflicted with kidney stones. If I ever have another one, and bend over in unbearable agony, at least I’ll know it could be worse.

I could watch TikTok.

I had gone my whole life without going on TikTok once. I had never even been tempted. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was living in a state of grace.

Then my editor decided it might make a good story if I cooked some of the most popular TikTok recipes.

TikTok, if you’re completely unaware of it, is an app where people all over the world post incredibly stupid videos. There’s some sort of time limit and they’re meant to be short, but a lot of them feel positively endless.

To familiarize myself with the concept, I watched as many as I could, back to back. Several featured the same boy with light blue eyes doing weird things to his hair. Others showed people lip-syncing to songs or rhythmically contorting themselves in what is supposed to be a dance. Most of the others appear to be videos of cats and dogs, often with humans speaking for them in squeaky voices.

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But it’s not just a site for narcissists to draw attention to themselves and their pets. It’s also a place where narcissists can show off the recipes they’ve cooked.

One of the biggest TikTok recipes is called Mermaid Toast. Invented in 2017 (but everything on TikTok is new to me), Mermaid Toast is a toast with cream cheese that’s been tinted with swirls of color made with ingredients like liquid chlorophyll and seaweed powder, and decorated with edible gold leaf and edible glitter.

When all is said and done, it’s still just toast with cream cheese.

I didn’t make mermaid toast, but I decided to make perhaps the most popular TikTok recipe of all time, Baked feta pastawhich is more properly known as TikTok Pasta.

TikTok recipes tend to be easy to make, and this one is too. It’s just pasta cooked with feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil.

Or, if we’re being honest, it’s pasta cooked with too much feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and too much olive oil.

The dish was popularized on TikTok, but not invented, by Yumna Jawad. She uses eight ounces of feta cheese and four ounces of olive oil to accompany eight ounces of uncooked pasta. In a video she shot of the dish, she says it makes eight servings.

But this is not the case. A serving of pasta is officially two ounces, not one, and most Americans eat more than that. So you’re actually getting two ounces of cheese and two tablespoons of oil per serving (Jawad, by the way, says it’s 1½ tablespoons of oil per serving. You don’t need any be good at math to be on TikTok).

How does it taste? Frankly, it tastes like too much feta cheese. But otherwise, it’s a decent dish. If you plan to do this, I highly recommend using four ounces of feta and ¼ cup of oil.

I then tried to make Cloud Bread, which is thematically similar to Mermaid Toast. In other words, its appearance is more important than its taste.

Cloud Bread is egg whites beaten stiff with sugar and cornstarch, then cooked at low temperature.

Cloud Bread

Wait a minute. You can’t fool me. It’s not bread, it’s a soft meringue.

But here’s the thing. Soft meringue is usually served with something. Served with a crème anglaise (a vanilla pastry cream), it’s a floating island. Served with a raspberry coulis, it’s a soft meringue on a raspberry coulis.

The Cloud Bread is served on its own, so it’s just a meringue without enough sugar to be interesting. It tastes like beaten egg whites and it smells worse. You can definitely add vanilla to it and then it tastes like vanilla beaten egg whites. It’s an improvement, but only marginal.

TikTok KitKat Cheesecake

And then I made a TikTok KitKat Cheesecake, this is what it looks like. It’s an extra-rich cheesecake surrounded by KitKat treats, with chocolate ganache on top and more crushed KitKat treats on top.

In other words, it’s a cheesecake with nearly a pound of candy on it, plus chocolate. And heavy cream.

By my calculations it’s over 900 calories per serving and the portions aren’t large.

TikTok KitKat Cheesecake was invented by an Englishwoman, Eloise Head. Based on the nutritional content of her creation, I’m guessing she’s still upset about the Revolutionary War and expressing her anger at Americans who cook TikTok recipes.

For the record, I agree that the cheesecake portion of the recipe is light and fluffy and quite good — and even without the crust or the chocolate ganache or any of the candy bars, there are still 288 calories per serving.

The last Tik I Tokked was the best, TikTok Salmon Rice Bowl. Created by Emily Mariko, it mixes cooked salmon with rice, soy sauce, sriracha sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise.

TikTok Salmon Rice Bowl

Yeah, good luck with that. Kewpie mayonnaise is America’s hottest condiment right now, and it sells out instantly wherever you look for it. Made in Japan, Kewpie is considered a tasty mayonnaise rich in egg yolk. If you find it, let me know how it is.

I used Hellmann’s. And according to Mariko’s video, I served it with avocado, kimchi and nori seaweed.

Basically, the dish is a very simple salmon donburi – a Japanese dish of rice with, in this case, salmon on top. By definition, donburi is served in a bowl; I used a plate, but if you want to be traditional you can put it in a deep bowl.

Smooth, fatty salmon is cut by salty soy sauce, with the tangy fire of sriracha tamed by mayonnaise. Enjoyed on a piece of seaweed (optional, of course), accompanied by kimchi (also optional), it’s a wonderful combination.

But I’m not going back to TikTok to look for another one.

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