Category Archives: Asian Recipes

There’s Always Room for (Almond) Jello

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.

 

Like most everyone, my first taste of jello as a kid was of the wiggly green (lime) or red (cherry) variety.

But my heart belongs to the white type.

Namely, almond jello. As in the Chinese version so often offered at dim sum or — if you’re very lucky — at the end of a banquet dinner (just say “no” to red bean soup!).

It was cut into little cubes, spooned into a Chinese rice bowl, and topped with canned fruit cocktail, lychees or mandarin oranges, with their sugary syrup, too.

OK, farm-to-table it was not.

But after a multitude of warm, savory dishes, it sure hit the spot. It was cold, a fun texture, heady with the taste of almond extract, and sweet from the canned fruit and thick syrup.

As a kid, I would make it all the time at home. It’s that easy. If you can make regular Jell-O, you can surely make this with your eyes closed.

I admit it’s been years since I’ve made it, though. My love for baking won out, and I’m more apt to be baking a batch of cookies than stirring up a pan of flavored gelatin.

But Danielle Chang got me in the mood to revisit this old-school Chinese dessert.

LuckyRiceBook

Chang is the founder of the LuckyRice festival, a celebration of Asian cultures and cuisines, which takes place in seven cities, including San Francisco.

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A “Vegetarian Dinner Party” For Me, Myself — and Meat Boy?

Tofu that's pretty enough for company, don't you think?

Tofu that’s pretty enough for company, don’t you think?

 

My husband likes to say he will gladly eat a vegetarian meal.

(Insert eye rolling here.)

But when I cook a vegetarian entree at home, I will see him sneak a few pieces of salami on the side.

What can I expect from someone nicknamed Meat Boy, right?

When I received a review copy of “Vegetarian Dinner Parties” (Rodale, 2014), though, I had high hopes he might actually keep to his word for once.

Not only was the book named the “2015 People’s Choice Award” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, but it was written by our friends and most prolific cookbook writers, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. After all, if you can’t enjoy a vegetarian dish by two people you know and like, when can you?

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Waffled Tofu — Wacky, But It’s a Thing

Tofu cooked in a waffle maker. How fun is that?

Tofu cooked in a waffle maker. How fun is that?

 

I admit that my waffle iron sees the inside of a cupboard more often than it does daylight on a countertop.

I drag it out on the rare weekends that I’m energized early enough in the mornings to whip up a breakfast of crisp, golden waffles.

But ever since spying this recipe for “Waffled Miso-Sesame Tofu with Waffled Sticky Rice” on Serious Eats, I’ve been intrigued. So fascinated, in fact, that it actually prompted me to take out my much-neglected appliance to see just what it would be like to cook tofu and sticky rice, of all things, in a waffle iron.

After all, I am a sucker for crispy bits.

The recipe is from Daniel Shumski, creator of the blog, Waffleizer. Yup, a whole blog dedicated to strange and wonderful things you can cook in a waffle iron.

Will It Waffle

He’s also the author of “Will It Waffle?” (Workman), a cookbook that came out last year, of which I received a copy. It includes 53 sweet and savory recipes for things you probably never would have imagined to stick in your waffle maker. How about “Sweet-and-Sour Waffled Shrimp Wontons”? Or “Waffled Chicken Fingers”? Or “Spaghetti and Waffled Meatballs”? Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Just be warned, though, that cleaning your waffle iron after cooking some of these recipes will take some doing.

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Meet Chocolate Butter Mochi — Your New BFF

Sweet rice flour is the secret to this unusual -- and unusually good -- chocolate creation. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Sweet rice flour is the secret to this unusual — and unusually good — chocolate creation. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

 

Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi on a trip to Honolulu a few years ago, I’ve become rather obsessed with it.

Made with copious amounts of butter, eggs, whole milk or condensed milk, what’s not to adore?

It bakes up so easily into buttery, bouncy brilliance, too.

In supermarkets and mom-and-pop grocery stores in Hawaii, you’ll find that basic version, plus loads more — coconut butter mochi, chocolate-chip butter mochi, even peanut-butter butter mochi.

And of course, the piece de resistance, chocolate butter mochi. Oh, yes!

After getting rather hooked on baking regular butter mochi at home, I couldn’t wait to turn my attention to the chocolate version, especially when I spied a recipe for it in the new “Flavors of Aloha: Cooking with Tommy Bahama” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The recipes are by veteran cookbook writer, Rick Rodgers.

(Photo courtesy of Tommy Bahama)

(Photo courtesy of Tommy Bahama)

I admit that I’ve always associated Tommy Bahama with its tropical print shirts. I didn’t even realize the company had restaurants, too.

Featured in this cookbook are more than 100 recipes with true island flair, from “Crispy Sriracha Shrimp” to “Kalua Pulled-Pork Sandwiches” to “Pina Colada Cake.”

But back to chocolate butter mochi, shall we?

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The Big, Bold Flavors of Shrimp Tamarind

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

 

For weeknights especially, I’m always on the hunt for recipes that promise big bang for the buck.

Not necessarily economically. Though, that’s always a plus, too.

But more so in terms of delivering bold, brash, satisfying flavors without a lot of effort.

“Shrimp Tamarind” is just such a dish.

It’s from “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy last year. The book is by Van Tran and Anh Vu, Vietnamese-natives who now run a couple of popular market stalls and cafes in London. Their focus is on recipes easily made at home, such as “Asparagus and Crabmeat Soup,” “Salmon with Ginger Caramel.” and “Braised Eggplant.”

“Shrimp Tamarind” comes together in the time it takes your rice cooker to cook up some fluffy steamed rice to accompany this dish.

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