Selena Gomez has come a long way in the kitchen since signing on to film her HBO Max series Selena + Chef.
"I found myself cooking more just as a result of being home over the last six months," she tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I thought I was a decent cook before, but doing the show was definitely humbling—I realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did."
"I thought I knew how to make pasta," she continues, "but I wasn't cooking it properly!"
Gomez, who filmed the show out of her L.A. home while quarantining with her grandparents and two best friends, learns from some of the best on the new series. To name a few: Ludo Lefebvre teaches the singer to make a French omelet, Roy Choi whips up breakfast tacos alongside her, and Candice Kumai schools her on "the best date night meal ever," according to Kumai, spicy ramen. (Get Kumai's full recipe below.)
And yet still, "there's plenty of room for improvement," admits Gomez, 28. "It changed my perception of how much time, effort and love goes into the art of cooking a beautiful meal."
- For more from Selena Gomez, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Some of her favorite meals to make for herself — when an award-winning chef is not around of course — are ones we can all relate to.
"We're all craving comfort food, so mac and cheese always does the trick," she says. "Also, my Nana makes the most incredible dumplings, so I've been following her recipe. For me, there is something very relaxing about cooking!"
Selena + Chef streams new episodes on Thursdays on HBO Max.
Candice Kumai’s Spicy Miso Ramen
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
⅔ cup organic red miso ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 Tbsp. mirin
8 cups water
2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 (10-oz.) pkgs. fresh ramen
2 cups baby spinach, divided
2 scallions, sliced on the bias
2 soft-boiled eggs, sliced in half
Hot chili-sesame oil (optional)
1. Heat toasted sesame oil in a large stockpot over medium. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add shiitakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon out about ½ cup shiitakes, and reserve for garnish.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in miso and tahini to coat onions and shiitakes, and cook 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium; add mirin to deglaze pot, stirring to incorporate. Add 8 cups water, stirring well to dissolve miso paste. Bring mixture to a light simmer over high, and whisk in Sriracha until dissolved. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
3. In a separate saucepan, cook ramen noodles according to package directions until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain noodles.
4. Divide noodles among 4 bowls. Add equal amounts of spinach and scallions to each bowl; ladle miso broth into each. Garnish with the reserved shiitakes, half of an egg and a drizzle of chili oil.
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
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