Not your usual sweet-and-sour pork.
This is not your battered to oblivion, deep-fried, unnaturally red, gloppy sauced sweet and sour pork that’s a standard at Chinese restaurants.
No, this is a home-style version that eschews all of that — and tastes even better as a result.
“Sweet-and-Sour Spare Ribs” is from the new cookbook, “Chinese Soul Food” (Sasquatch Books), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Hsiao-Ching Chou, a Seattle food writer and cooking instructor.
She grew up in Columbia, MO, where her parents settled in 1975. At the time, there were no Asian markets there. In fact, the family had to drive 10 hours to Chicago to stock up on decent soy sauce and other Chinese provisions. Her parents eventually opened a Chinese restaurant in 1980, which lasted for 23 years.
Sweet, savory, and spicy — these aren’t your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.
Juhu Beach Club in Oakland may be shuttered now, but its spirit lives on in “The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook”
(Running Press) by Preeti Mistry with East Bay food writer Sarah Henry, of which I received a review copy.
Mistry has vowed that Juhu Beach Club, which she ran with her business partner and wife Ann Nadeau, will rise again in some form, though details are scarce at the moment.
In any event, you can still enjoy her cooking at her very fun Navi in Emeryville with its unique pizzas, toasts and cocktails.
Born in London and raised in suburban Ohio, Mistry, a former “Top Chef” contestant, is an inventive, inspired cook who is adept at remastering comfort food with bold Indian flavors and flair. On her trips to her ancestral country of India, she fell in love with street food. There’s a playfulness in her food that reflects that.
That’s evident in recipes such as “Shrimp Po’Bhai,” “JBC Fried Chicken & Doswaffle,” “Chai-Spiced Bacon,” and “Bloody Meera.”
Take her “Desi Jacks.” This revved up version of caramel corn is featured at Navi. It’s even free during the daily Happy Hour, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
This is a snack that’s sure to get the party started.
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.