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Asians Discover the Exotic Brussels Sprouts

brussels sprouts

I grew up eating an abundance of greens—from broccoli and peas to ong choy and gai lan. The brussels sprout, however, was not within my family’s repertoire. As a child, it was a vegetable that took on mythic proportions. I had never seen or eaten them, but heard enough to believe that brussels sprouts were capable of torture.

Then one day, my Mom came home from the grocery store and excitedly told me that she discovered these cute, little baby lettuce heads, which she was going to cook for me. I joined her in marveling over the Barbie-sized lettuces, not knowing then, that I was actually looking at brussels sprouts—not a lettuce at all, but a member of the cabbage family.

It amuses me, now, to learn that other Asian Americans have their own memorable first-encounter-with-brussels-sprouts stories. The outcome has been marvelous, since this versatile vegetable does well with Chinese-style cooking. Now, we have hoisin-glazed brussel sprouts, kung pao brussel sprouts, brussels sprouts paired with Chinese sausage, and my own recipe, black bean garlic sauce brussels sprouts.

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

Happy Chinese New Year

BagelI had a few dollops of cream cheese filling left over from making krab cheese stars, and this is what I did with it: Friday Breakfast.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year, and I wish you a joyous 2015 full of deliciousness! I am excited to be making phone calls to the family, and sharing meals with friends in the days and weeks ahead.

How are you celebrating the new year? If you are looking for some inspiration, Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen has some tips and advice on new year foods, decor and parties.

February 20, 2015   No Comments

“Four Stars!” Crab Rangoons


Crab rangoons: A classic Chinese American menu item. Though there is no clear consensus on the origins of this fried cream cheese stuffed wonton, it is certain that the crab rangoon did not come from China or Southeast Asia, as cheese is neither produced nor popular there.

Crab rangoons appeared on the menu of Asian American restaurants as early as the 1950s, when America’s perception of Chinese cuisine (and people) was severely different from today. It was not until after Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 that Chinese food began to enjoy greater acceptance in the United States.

Thus, the idea of stuffing cheese into wonton wrappers was probably an immigrant’s attempt to make Chinese food more palatable to the majority of Americans. And the fact that they are widely popular today, and a ubiquitous item on the menus of Chinese American establishments is testament to the crab rangoon’s success.

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February 18, 2015   No Comments

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Cookies

mexican spiced cookieSweet and spicy, I baked these cookies in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. With cayenne peppers, these are not-your-ordinary spice cookies. The first time I made these, I accidentally doubled the cayenne peppers from the original recipe, resulting in surprisingly spicy, yet still delicious, cookies. The recipe, from Epicurious, suggests pressing candied cherries in the middle of the cookie rounds. I didn’t have any, and used pistachios and almonds instead. In retrospect, I think they would have looked cuter without. Or alternatively, dried apricots might work well.

Happy Valentine’s Day. May it be sweet and spicy!

February 14, 2015   No Comments

Miso Glazed Salmon

20150211_201120Weekday dinners at home are ideally fast, delicious and easy to clean-up after, making broiled fish the perfect candidate. This recipe, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, calls for ingredients that I usually have in stock: miso paste, ginger and sake. The miso gives it a rich umami flavor, the ginger adds a kick of spice, and the sake, fragrance.

When I made this last Wednesday, I was all out of sake. Instead, I used Shaoxing cooking wine. Also, note that flavor will vary, depending on what kind of miso paste you are using. But whether red, white, or yellow, you can’t go wrong.

This recipe directs you to marinate the salmon for at least five hours and at most 24 hours. If you have the foresight, that is what you should do. I, however, did not plan ahead last Wednesday, and only marinated it for a half hour to no significant detriment. I put that half hour to good use by caramelizing onions and making couscous. When all was done, I sprinkled on some toasted sesame seeds, which made Wednesday night feel a little more fancy.

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February 13, 2015   No Comments

My Chai Tea Brings all the People to the House

With the chilly weather, a mug of masala chai warms the soul, and fills the home with goodness. There are a variety of holiday drinks – from eggnog to hot chocolate, but my winter drink of choice is a cup of chai with a heavy hand of cardamom.

When I have company, I like to impress them with homemade chai. I can tweak the amount of sugar and spices to my preference – the advantage over using an instant mix. Chai has become my signature – I’ve given multiple lessons as per friends’ requests, and had even received an inquiry to make a pitcher if one provides the milk. [Read more →]

December 11, 2012   1 Comment

Dish Crawl in Chelsea, NYC

Everyone eats, and the food we eat intertwines with our background and lifestyle. Dish Crawl hones in on the idea that food is a part of us. Dish Crawl creates a business of combining socializing centered on culinary experiences by bringing together fifty diners to four restaurants in one neighborhood, over a course of four gluttonous hours.
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June 28, 2012   4 Comments

For Good Luck on Your Wedding Day: Sooji Halva (Semolina Pudding)

Recipe and Photos by: Sonia Leung

Restaurant Baby (RB) #3 tied the knot in May of 2011. She was the first in our family to marry. If there was one thing Mom made sure of, it was for RB#3 to marry with all the luck and good wishes. Mom consulted relatives, and friends – especially those with an elderly at home, on our hometown Chinese wedding traditions. As it turns out, RB#3’s mother-in-law (Auntie K) was also doing the same.

On the day of the wedding, while all the girls were primping (starting at 6:30am), Auntie K brought breakfast galore and the much appreciated coffee to the bridal chamber. Along with breakfast she dropped off a tray of semolina pudding, and instructed that everyone eat some: “At least a bite. It’s sweet. This is a lucky food in our culture (Gujarati).”

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May 14, 2012   3 Comments