Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Of Chinese Five-Spice Braised Beef Short Ribs and Tales of Courage and Empowerment

Short ribs laced with star anise and lemongrass from a pioneering Chinese woman.

Short ribs laced with star anise and lemongrass from a pioneering Chinese woman.

 

For powerful reasons — both good and bad — we are in a defining time for women.

As such, “A Woman’s Place: The Inventors, Rumrunners, Lawbreakers, Scientists, and Single Moms Who Changed the World with Food” (Little, Brown and Company) couldn’t have debuted at a more appropriate moment.

The new book, of which I received a review copy, is by food writer and photographer Deepi Ahluwalia, and Stef Ferrari, senior editor of Life & Thyme Magazine.

It shines a bright light on the enterprising, pioneering women in food who more often than never received the recognition they deserved. They include such icons as Lena Richard, an African-American women who grew an empire of restaurants, cookbooks and even had a television snow — all during the height of segregation in America; and Clara Steele, who started a family dairy in Marin County that went on to produce the highest volume of cheese in California in the mid-1800s.

Interspersed throughout the book are 10 recipes from notable female culinarians.

A Woman's Place

I had never heard of Esther Eng (1914-1970), but because of this book I now know what a pivotal figure she was. An openly gay Chinese woman, Eng was a film director turned restaurateur who grew up in San Francisco before moving to New York. It was there that she opened Bo Bo’s, a Chinese restaurant where Chinese-American actors could find steady work and work on their English when they weren’t making movies. The food was so amazing that none other than Craig Claiborne praised it. In so doing, Eng managed to break through and rise to the top of two characteristically male-dominated industries.

Thinking about that achievement makes her “Chinese Five-Spice Braised Beef Short Ribs” all the more transportive.

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Andrea Nguyen’s Herby Oven-Steamed Eggs

This herby oven-steamed egg custard is one smooth operator.

This herby oven-steamed egg custard is one smooth operator.

 

One of the dishes I most fondly remember my Mom making when I was a kid was a Chinese savory custard, redolent of seasoned ground pork and with a surprise duck egg yolk the color of a Hawaiian sunset hidden at its very center.

I also remember her expression when it did not turn out perfectly smooth.

She’d wait till it was done steaming to lift the lid to reveal the outcome. If it had a bubbly interior, she would frown and fret — even if the taste was still delicious. But if it was as smooth as creme brulee, she would take it as a personal triumph.

I thought of my late-Mom when I spied “Herby Oven-Steamed Eggs” in the new “Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s the latest and greatest by my friend and colleague, award-winning Bay Area food writer Andrea Nguyen.

Vietnamese Food Any Day

As the name implies, this cookbook aims to streamline Vietnamese dishes so you can enjoy the vibrant flavors of the cuisine any day of the week without special trips to Asian markets.

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The Genius of Oven-Steamed Fish

The easy way to make a lot of steamed fish at once -- in the oven.

The easy way to make a lot of steamed fish at once — in the oven.

 

I grew up with Chinese-style steamed fish — both as a focal point of a celebratory banquet meal or an everyday staple made by my Mom on a harried weeknight.

But the one thing I always found challenging was trying to steam a large amount of fish to feed a hangry, hungry crowd.

After all, a stovetop bamboo steamer only holds so much. You could always stack two or three atop one another to steam more fish. But what if you only have the one steamer basket?

Enter a genius solution by recipe developer Julia Turshen in her new cookbook, “Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

Now and Again

With more than 125 recipes, she shows off her flair for making delicious food a no-brainer in recipes that include”Chicken and Roasted Tomato Enchiladas,” “Pressed Broccoli Rabe and Mozzarella Sandwiches,” and “Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting.”

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Sensational Seared Miso Mushrooms

What's in this bowl? An umami bomb, that's what.

What’s in this bowl? An umami bomb, that’s what.

 

There are only three ingredients in this recipe and none of them is meat. Yet you won’t believe the powerhouse of earthy, meaty flavors it possesses.

The secret is red miso.

“Seared Miso Mushrooms” is a recipe from the new cookbook, “Feasts of Veg: Plant-Based Food for Gatherings” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Nina Olsson, a Sweden-based photographer and recipe developer who created the blog, NourishAtelier.

The book is a collection of vegetarian recipes that take influences from around the world. Think “Caramelized Onion Tarte Tatin,” “Smoked Tofu Rillette,” “Chipotle Jackfruit Tacos,” and “Sweet Tahini Babka.”

Feasts of Veg. jpg

Miso is made from soybeans fermented with rice or other grains. If all you know is the lighter tasting white and yellow varieties, it’s high time you tried its deeper, darker cousin that’s been fermented even longer. It is much more pungent, with a much deeper and stronger earthy funkiness that will give anything it touches a big boost of umami.

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Shredding It In The New Year

Your new go-to dish in the new year.

Your new go-to dish in the new year.

 

Another new year. Another pledge to exercise more, snooze more, disconnect from the electronics more, and of course, to eat more tofu.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

You know come Jan. 1, you promise yourself you’ll eat better. This is an easy way to keep your word.

Because “Shredded Tofu with Spicy Ground Chicken and Edamame” not only incorporates good-for-you tofu, but is effortless and delicious.

It will also teach you a new nifty trick with tofu.

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