Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake

St. Patrick's Day calls for a green cake.
St. Patrick’s Day calls for a green cake.

St. Patrick’s Day calls for something green — and sweet.

Thankfully, Mother Nature provides the perfect natural green food coloring in the form of matcha, the Japanese ceremonial tea.

That’s what gives this cake and frosting its vivid hue.

“Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake” is a lovely dessert, both to look at and to eat.

It’s from the book, “Good & Proper Tea: How to Make, Drink and Cook with Tea” (Kyle, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Emilie Holmes, an avowed non-coffee drinker in the United Kingdom, who started her own company, Good & Proper Tea, to source and sell top-notch whole-leaf teas. With crowd-funding resources, she first started an adorable mobile tea bar out of a converted 1974 Citroen in 2012 before opening a brick-and-mortar tea shop and cafe in 2019.

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Pork Curry From The Box? You Bet!

Japanese comfort food.
Japanese comfort food.

This post marks a first for me.

It’s the first one that spotlights a recipe that wasn’t tested by me — but instead by my husband.

Because “Pork Curry From the Box” has special meaning for him.

Like so many of us of ethnic heritages, he grew up doing his darndest to disavow his. Wanting to “fit in” and be more “American” as a kid, he turned his back on the traditional Japanese foods his mother would cook. For a spell, he simply wouldn’t eat much of it. Not surprisingly, he never learned to cook any of it, either.

But now, like so many of us, he has deep regrets about that. He misses the aromas and tastes of home-cooked Japanese food. He longs for certain dishes his Mom would make, especially now that she’s no longer alive to cook them. Older and wiser, he now appreciates them in a way that he couldn’t before.

So when a review copy of “The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes from a Chef, Father, Eater, and Lifelong Outsider” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) landed in my mailbox, he grabbed it before I could, and started leafing through it with an interest and intention I hadn’t seen before.

The book is by Ivan Orkin, chef-owner of New York’s Ivan Ramen and Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop; and Chris Ying, co-founder of the revered and now-defunct Lucky Peach.

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Wok On With Black Pepper Honey Beef

Better -- and faster -- than most take-out/delivery options.
Better — and faster — than most take-out/delivery options.

I know people who subsist on food from delivery services day in and day out, and others who pilfer free food from tech campus cafes to take home even if they’re not supposed to.

Yes, we are all strapped for time these days. But not cooking at all is denying yourself one of the true pleasures in life to create something with your own two hands to enjoy with immediate joy and satisfaction.

Imagine being able to tell yourself proudly as you dig in, “Yeah, I made that!” rather than sheepishly admitting, “Uh, I pulled up an app for it.”

And honestly, a dish like “Chunky Black Pepper Honey Beef” can be put on the table faster than you can order and wait for take-out to be delivered.

This simple recipe is from “Wok On: Deliciously balanced meals in 30 minutes or less” (Kyle, 2019) of which I received a review copy.

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Kombu Roast Chicken with Kabocha Squash and Daikon

Roast chicken gets super juicy and savory, thanks to kombu compound butter underneath its skin.
Roast chicken gets super juicy and savory, thanks to kombu compound butter underneath its skin.

At the stunning Harbor House Inn situated on a bluff over the ocean on the Mendocino Coast, Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer takes pride in foraging all that he can from the sea to star in his minimalist dishes full of finesse.

That includes making his own salt from seawater and incorporating seaweed in the house butter.

But you don’t have to go to that extreme to enjoy his “Kombu Roast Chicken with Kabocha Squash and Daikon” in your own home.

A taste of the sea.
A taste of the sea.

Instead, this dish by the chef who received his first Michelin star last year just takes stopping at a Japanese market to pick up some kombu. The dried kelp, so full of umami, is pulverized and mixed with softened butter, garlic and lemon zest, then smeared gently underneath the skin of a whole chicken before roasting.

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Sichuan-Style Cucumbers For The Year of The Rat

Refreshing, loaded with sesame flavor, and a snap to make in about 5 minutes.
Refreshing, loaded with sesame flavor, and a snap to make in about 5 minutes.

Tomorrow ushers in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rat. But truth be told, this Chinese dish is so easy and winsome, it’s perfect any day of any season.

The poetically named “Phoenix Tails in Sesame Sauce” grabs from the get-go with a quick, arresting sauce heady with the deliriously deep taste of roasted sesame seeds.

This side dish, appetizer or first-course is from the new “The Food of Sichuan” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The 495-page treatise is by Fuchsia Dunlop, a true authority on regional Chinese cuisines. The London-based food writer speaks, reads and writes Chinese. Her many cookbooks spotlighting Chinese food are must-reads for anyone who desires a deep-dive into the differences and nuances of each culinary region.

“The Food of Sichuan” is actually a revised and updated edition of her classic cookbook, “Land of Plenty,” which was published in 2001 when Sichuan cuisine was still little experienced in this country.

The new edition of the book contains more than 50 new recipes. Yes, Sichuan dishes are known for their liberal use of chiles and lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. But there are plenty of tamer dishes, too.

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