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.”
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.
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.