Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Home-Style Red-Cooked Pork

Pork belly -- red-ooked style.

Pork belly — red-ooked style.

 

It’s no secret that the Chinese love the color red, which is festive, and symbolizes prosperity.

We also love our pork.

And no cut quite so much as the pig’s luscious belly.

Combine all three and you get “Red-Cooked Pork,” an iconic family-style dish of pork belly that’s cooked in a soy sauce-laced braising liquid that’s not really more brown than red. The “red” in the name, though, comes interestingly enough from the fact that the Chinese language doesn’t really have a character to describe “brown.” So, apparently, they opted for the next best color — red.

So writes Kian Lam Kho in his new cookbook, “Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. The comprehensive book just won the prestigious “Julia Child First Book” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The book’s poetic name pays homage to the Chinese characters used as synonyms on Chinese menus for chicken feet and Chinese broccoli.

PhoenixClaws

Indeed, if you are interested in learning more about Chinese cooking, this book is a must-have. Kho of New York City is a private chef, culinary instructor, and creator of the blog, RedCook. He’s written a book that deftly explains the fundamental cooking techniques of Chinese cuisine — from pan-frying to light frying, from flash-poaching to oil-poaching, and from simple steaming to flavored steaming.

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Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Kumquats Simmered in Sake

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.

 

Anything simmered in sake sounds pretty good to me.

Make it cute little kumquats, and I’m sold.

“Kumquats Simmered in Sake” is from the new cookbook, “Preserving the Japanese Way” (Andrews McMeel) by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, of which I received a review copy.

Singleton Hachisu is a native Californian who moved to Japan after falling in love with a Japanese farmer. Ever since, she’s dedicated herself to learning, documenting and teaching the ways of farm food life in Japan.

It’s a cookbook that will leave you with newfound appreciation for the art of preserving — salting, pickling and fermenting the Japanese way. You’ll learn how soy sauce is made, as well as her favored brands; and how to make your own miso, kimchee, tofu and soy milk.

Preserving the Japanese Way

There are inspired recipes such as “Cucumbers Soused in Soy,” “Green Beans Cloaked in Miso,” and “Sake Lees Ice Cream with Figs.”

I snagged kumquats at my local Japanese market for this easy recipe, as well as the shiso leaves and sake that was needed. In fact, I bought so many kumquats that I ended up making a double-batch of this recipe.

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Ruth Reichl’s Spicy Korean Rice Sticks with Shrimp and Vegetables

A comforting Korean dish that can be made a flash.

A comforting Korean dish that can be made a flash.

 

When times are tough, some people find solace in chocolate. Or wine. Or endless handfuls of potato chips.

Not Ruth Riechl.

When Gourmet magazine abruptly shut down, its former editor in chief came in to clean out her office. The place was deserted with nothing but empty drawers and cabinets to greet her when she was surprised by the arrival of four friends. They had flown in from California to offer their support.

They gathered up Reichl, and together rode the subway to Flushing to commiserate over a feast of Asian food. At the end of it all, one friend, Laurie Ocha, a former executive editor at Gourmet who is married to Pulitizer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold, gave her a present to take home.

It was a package of Korean rice sticks, which she hoped would inspire Reichl to forge ahead. It did the trick, and “Spicy Korean Rice Sticks with Shrimp and Vegetables” is one of the memorable recipes in her newest book, “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life” (Random House), of which I received a review copy.

MyKitchenYear

This is a cookbook, in which the recipes couldn’t be more personal. Each has played an important role in Reichl’s life, and she shares affecting and lovingly honest reasons why.

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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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