Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Crispy Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

 

Whether you call it the Year of the Ram, Goat or Sheep, it’s high time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins on Thursday.

“Crispy Rice Cakes” are not something I necessarily grew up eating on this special holiday, which is celebrated by those of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent. But the itty-bitty cakes looked so precious when I spotted them in “The Slanted Door” cookbook that I couldn’t help but envision how wonderful they would be alongside cups of steaming tea or sake for this festive occasion.

The Ten Speed Press book, of which I received a review copy, is by Charles Phan, owner of the pioneering Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. It takes readers on a journey from the early days of the restaurant to its multiple moves around the city to finally its smash-hit location on the Embarcadero. Regular diners will recognize recipes for their favorite Shaking Beef, Dungeness Crab with Cellophane Noodles, and Grapefruit and Jicama Salad, along with a surprising number of cocktails. Those who have never eaten there will long to do so.

SlantedDoorBook

These two-bite morsels can be picked up with your fingers or chopsticks, then dipped into soy sauce, chili oil or Sriracha.

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An Easier Miso-Glazed Fish

Miso-glazed black cod to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

Miso-glazed black cod to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

 

Got a tub of miso lingering in the back of the fridge? And a great piece of fresh, fatty fish you just picked up at the market?

Then, you have the makings of a restaurant-quality dish at home in no time.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at a Nobu Matsuhisa restaurant, you probably know one of his signature dishes quite well. Miso-marinated black cod is one of those dishes you can’t help but order again and again. It’s just that good.

You have rich, succulent fish fillet coupled with the umami bomb known as miso. The fermented soybean paste gives the fish a powerhouse of meaty, salty savoriness that’s downright craveable.

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Build A Better Banh Mi

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

 

Banh Mi has been a touchstone in my life.

It all started years ago when I was part of a team of reporters at the San Jose Mercury News covering race and demographics. As part of our — ahem — research of various cultures and communities, we naturally tried to hit up as many ethnic restaurants at lunch time as possible. After all, what better way to learn about a culture than to immerse one’s self in its cuisine?

The first time I encountered the ubiquitous Vietnamese sandwich otherwise known as banh mi, I admit I was dubious. A fresh, satisfying sandwich for under $4? How could that be?

My low expectations matched the low price.

Of course, one bite was all it took to prove me wrong.

The sandwich was miraculous. A fresh baguette filled with lemongrass chicken, smooth pate, hot chiles, fresh herbs and the most deliriously wonderful slivers of pickled carrots and daikon. It was savory, fragrant, tangy and bright. It wasn’t a ginormous sandwich by American standards, but it was full of so much flavor and texture that it left you completely satiated.

What a bargain, too. In fact, my colleagues and I were so amazed at the bang for the buck that we jokingly started using the banh mi as our own personal form of currency.

The cost for the city of San Jose to add resources to its gang prevention efforts? That would be $3 million. Or as we liked to think of it: nearly 1 million Viet sandwiches.

Building the BART extension to San Jose? Politicians might call it $3.2 billion. We likened it to about 1 billion Viet shredded pork sammies.

Yeah, that’s how we rolled.

BanhiMiHandbook

My friend Andrea Nguyen’s newest cookbook, “The Banh Mi Handbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a copy, brought back all those zany and delicious memories.

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A Sauce for Salmon That’s a Pure Taste of Sunshine

A simple sauce inspired this entire dish.

A simple sauce inspired this entire dish.

 

What do you get when you cook down fresh orange juice with lime juice?

The makings for a simple, sublime sauce that’s perfect for most anything.

The recipe for this easy “Citrus Sauce” first appeared in Everyday Food in September 2004. After cooking down the citrus juices, whisk in a little sugar, olive oil and Dijon mustard. That’s it.

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A Celebration of Wild Salmon Plus a Food Gal Giveaway

Grilled salmon with an Asian-style glaze.

Grilled salmon with an Asian-style glaze.

 

Every summer, I look forward to heirloom tomatoes, peaches, plums, and one other very special item:

Wild local King salmon.

Like fruits and vegetables, seafood also has a season. For California wild salmon, it’s summer. And it ends all too soon for my liking.

Indeed, get your fill now because the season will soon come to a close toward the end of September.

There’s nothing like eating salmon in summer with its bright reddish orange flesh that tastes downright luxurious. To be sure, it’s not an inexpensive ingredient at $25 or more per pound. But it tastes far more expensive than that with its unbelievably lush texture and resonating flavor that just fills your mouth like a dream.

I like to enjoy it simply. Sashimi-style, when you can really taste the fat and freshness. Or grilled, with a kiss of smoke to heighten its robust richness.

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