Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes to Usher In the Lunar New Year

Sweet potatoes get swapped in for chicken in this clever take on Kung Pao.
Sweet potatoes get swapped in for chicken in this clever take on Kung Pao.

Start the Year of the Dragon off with a bang with something fiery and inspired.

“Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes” certainly isn’t traditional fare for the Lunar New Year, which starts on Saturday. But the dish certainly makes for an exciting and enticing new addition to the celebratory feast. Plus, it’s perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who enjoys twists on the classics.

This fun recipe is from “Veg-Table” (Chronicle Books, 2023), of which I received a review copy. It’s the newest cookbook by Los Angeles-based Nik Sharma, a former molecular biologist turned James Beard Award-winning, best-selling cookbook author, photographer, and recipe developer.

He brings his scientific background, precision for recipes, and love of big, bold flavors to bear on this collection of vegetable-focused recipes. It’s not a strictly vegetarian cookbook, but even when animal proteins are included, they play a more supporting rather than starring role.

The cookbook features more than 50 types of vegetables with recipes organized by plant family, including such temptations as “Kimchi Creamed Corn,” “Crispy Salmon with Green Curry Spinach,” “Cauliflower Bolognese,” and “Carrot, Apple, and Harissa Soup.”

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Warming Up with Korean Braised Tofu

Slices of firm tofu get cooked in a sweet soy sauce with onions and mushrooms for comfort in a bowl.
Slices of firm tofu get cooked in a sweet soy sauce with onions and mushrooms for comfort in a bowl.

Over the holidays, with my husband and I both slogging through our first bouts of Covid ever (we escaped it for nearly four years, so I guess it was only a matter of time), and then with him experiencing a rebound case right after, I half-joked that I needed a hazmat team to come to my house to rid the premises once and for all of every germ in sight.

Or maybe we just needed some spicy tofu.

Homey, comforting, and with enough Korean chili pepper and fresh slices of jalapeno to rev and warm the immune system and every other part of the body, it sure hit the spot.

But you don’t have to be ailing to thoroughly enjoy “Braised Tofu (Dooboo Jorim).” Because this easy dish will leave you contented no matter what.

It’s from “Sohn-Mat” (Hardie Grant, 2023) of which I received a review copy.

This collection of Korean home-cooking recipes is by Monica Lee, owner of Beverly Soon Tofu, and co-author Tien Nguyen, who has written several cookbooks, including the “The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook.”

When Beverly Soon Tofu opened in 1986, Lee says it was the only one of its kind in Los Angeles serving soon tofu stew in Koreatown. So, this is a woman who definitely knows her tofu dishes.

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Welcoming 2024 with Fried and Braised Lotus Root and Carrot

The simplest of root veggie dishes to reset the palate for a new year.
The simplest of root veggie dishes to reset the palate for a new year.

After indulgent holiday prime rib, potatoes au gratin, and countless buttery pies, rich puddings, and lofty cakes, time to start the new year off on a lighter note, don’t you think?

If so, then “Fried and Braised Lotus Root and Carrot” fits the bill.

It is the simplest of Japanese side dishes with a whole lot of crunch and sweet caramelization.

It’s from the cookbook, “Gohan: Everyday Japanese Cooking” (Smith Street Books, 2022), of which I received a review copy.

The books is by Emiko Davies, an Australian-Japanese food writer and photographer who now lives in Italy. This is her sixth cookbook, and the first one centered on Japanese cuisine.

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Potato and Mushroom Gratin — With A Japanese Twist

A potato and mushroom gratin made with miso.
A potato and mushroom gratin made with miso.

At this time of year, a potato gratin is almost de rigueur.

And over the years, I’ve made countless variations on them.

This particular one for “Potato and Mushroom Gratin” caught my eye because it includes a novel ingredient: miso.

The recipe is from “Make It Japanese” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook is by Rie McClenny, a culinary content creator and graduate of the French Culinary Institute who created viral food videos for BuzzFeed Tasty. Born in Hiroshima, she now lives in Los Angeles. It was written with Sanae Lemoine, a former cookbook editor for Phaidon and Martha Stewart.

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Cacio E Pepe Goes Sichuanese

Cacio e pepe goes Asian with Sichuan pepper.
Cacio e pepe goes Asian with Sichuan pepper.

Fly By Jing’s chili crisp and Zhong dumpling sauces are mainstays in my fridge because they are the perfect finish to so many dishes.

So when founder Jing Gao debuted her cookbook, “The Book of Sichuan Chili Crisp” (Ten Speed Press),” I couldn’t wait to leaf through it.

The book, of which I received a review copy, takes its title from the delicious “fly” (hole-in-the-wall) street-food eateries that Gao and her parents would grab a bite to eat at in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan region.

Her father, a nuclear physics professor with a Chinese visa, moved the family around annually for his job. Sichuan food became the one constant in Gao’s life. And it became her calling after she left the corporate business world to start Baoism, her own restaurant in Shanghai that operated for two years. All the while, she kept refining the condiments that were her cooking touchstones.

After traveling to a natural foods trade show in California, and discovering the dearth of Asian food brands that existed, she launched Fly by Jing in 2018 through a Kickstarter campaign. Today, these popular products are sold in Whole Foods, Target, and Costco.

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