Thinly sliced pork chops grill up fast and sweet, and get a potent dipping sauce.
Hawker Fare — it is far more than a restaurant and a cookbook.
It is the deeply personal embodiment of Chef-Owner James Syhabout. It is a love letter to his mother, a reckoning with his Laotian heritage, a symbol of respect for an often misunderstood cuisine, and a testament that fortitude, passion and determination can lead to greatness and awakening.
Syhabout may be known best as the only Michelin-starred chef in the East Bay — for his fine-dining Commis restaurant (two stars, thank you very much). But it is the down-home Hawker Fare where his heart lies.
That’s immediately evident in the pages of his first cookbook, “Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes From a Refugee Chef’s Isan Thai & Lao Roots,” of which I received a review copy. Syhabout wrote the cookbook with assistance from James Beard Award-winning food writer John Birdsall of Oakland.
It was published by Ecco, Anthony Bourdain’s publishing imprint of HarperCollins.
Make no argument, these are the best deviled eggs around.
These are by no means traditional eats for Chinese New Year, which begins Feb. 16.
Nor are they typical picnic fare.
What these deviled eggs are is simply the best rendition you’ll ever sink your teeth into.
Boston-based Pastry Chef Joanne Chang of Flour bakery already makes some of my most favorite baked goods. Now she and Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang restaurant in Boston have done it on the savory side, creating an Asian-inflected version of deviled eggs that will spoil you for all others.
“Soy Sauce Deviled Eggs with Five-Spice” is from her latest cookbook, “Myers + Chang At Home” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) by Chang and Akunowicz, of which I received a review copy.
The more than 80 recipes represent favorite dishes served at Meyers + Chang over the past decade — everything from “Sichuan Shrimp Lettuce Wraps” to “Korean Braised Short Rib Tacos with Kimchi-Sesame Salsa” to “Surf and Turf Black pepper Shanghai Noodles” to “Chocolate Tofu Mousse with Black and White Sesame Brittle.”
Tuck into a big bowl of clam juk by David Chang.
If ever a book captures just what a delicious, beautiful and bountiful buffet of cultures and peoples we are, “America The Great Cookbook” does.
The cookbook (Welden Owen), of which I received a review copy, was edited by Joe Yonan, food and dining editor at the Washington Post. It features iconic recipes from 100 of America’s best chefs and food heroes.
What is American food? It is “Creole Gumbo” by Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. It is “Yun-Hui (My Mother’s) Red-Cooked Pork” by Cecilia Chiang, ground-breaking San Francisco restaurateur. It is “Maple-Glazed Roasted Acorn Squash with Toasted Pepitas” by Sean Sherman, founder of The Sioux Chef in Minneapolis. It is “Soft-Shell Crabs with Shishito Mole, Roasted Tomatoes, and Lemon Balm” by Daniela Soto-Innes, chef of Cosme in New York. It is “Baklava Cheesecake” by food blogger Amanda Saab, founder of “Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor.” And it is so much more.
For me, Asian rice porridge, congee or jook (or juk) is a comforting taste of America, because I’ve grown up enjoying it here. I’ve spooned up its thick, creamy deliciousness countless times when my Mother would make it, typically after Thanksgiving, using the turkey carcass as the base for its broth. Or anytime my stomach was upset, when she would whip it up to soothe me.
“Clam Juk” is by New York’s David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku. It’s a slightly more fanciful version of the basic congee, with its addition of pickled clams, which are quite easy to make.
A healthier take on your favorite Japanese restaurant salad dressing.
My friends and relatives have been known to ask for extra dressing on their salads at Japanese restaurants. That’s how much they love its creamy, nutty taste.
Of course, drowning your greens in dressing, and probably one made with a generous amount of Kewpie mayo, may not be the most heart-healthy action.
That’s why they’re sure to be as glad as I am to find this alternative recipe that has all the delightful flavor they’re accustomed to, but makes use of canola oil and carrots to create its sweet creaminess.
“Ginger Carrot Fixer” is from “Secret Sauces” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. The book, which contains 65 recipes, is by Vanessa Seder, a recipe developer and tester for cookbooks, and magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cooking Light.
She understands how a great sauce can transform even the most basic of ingredients — be it “Avocado Green Goddess,” “Fig and Balsamic Agrodolce,” “Waikiki Teriyake,” “Secret Ingredient Caramel” and many more. Seder also provides recommendations on what to use each sauce for.
These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.
I’ve been intrigued by kinako ever since I first experienced its unique taste.
Take soybeans, roast them, then grind into a fine powder. What you get is this golden Japanese flour that has a roasty-toasty character with a whisper of sweetness. It tastes like a cross between chestnuts, barley tea and maple syrup.
You might blanch at eating flour right out of the bag. But with kinako, you can. In fact, it’s often used to garnish desserts, such as by sprinkling on shave ice or as a coating to roll mochi balls or chocolate truffles in. It also can be incorporated into the batter and dough of cakes, cookies, and another baked goods.
Find it on the shelves in small bags at Japanese markets, then give it a try in these cute little unfrosted cupcakes.
Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.
“Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes” is from the new cookbook, “Cook Japanese At Home” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kyoto-born Kimiko Barber, who teaches Japanese cooking and is the author of a handful of other Japanese cookbooks.