Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce + Midsummer Potluck for Peace

Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce + Midsummer Potluck for Peace

Yay, summer's here! Can you tell that this tropical sun worshipper is jumping for joy? Salads are usually in heavy rotation for us during the warmer months of the year here in California and when I want a taste from my sunny home of Southeast Asia, this tofu salad with a flavorsome spiced peanut sauce is what I make. 

This salad is inspired by a tofu street snack in Malaysia that goes by the name tauhu bakar (grilled tofu) or tauhu sumbat (fried tofu stuffed with vegetables). It is fried tofu filled with bean sprouts, and shredded cucumber and carrots. The fried tofu pieces are cut into squares or triangles, and pockets are made by cutting their midsection, which is where the vegetables go. The fried tofu may also be grilled to a crisp just before serving. 

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Five Spice Taro Rice (aka Yam Rice in Malaysia)

Five Spice Taro Rice (aka Yam Rice in Malaysia)

Taro root (wu tao in Cantonese and keladi in Malay) is probably not the friendliest looking vegetable in town. It has an irregular shape with dark shaggy brown skin that is an irritant to our skin and its flesh is mildly toxic when consumed raw. Yet, we eat it and we love it. It is regularly available in Asian grocery stores and farmers markets here in the San Francisco Bay Area, which tells me that there's a healthy demand for it. I personally think it deserves a little spotlight, which is why I've picked it as the featured vegetable of this week's Spring Discovery series. 

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Basmati Saffron Pilaf [Video]

Basmati Saffron Pilaf [Video]

Family traditions are often created over the holidays. This year, we're thinking of spicing up our first Christmas in the new apartment. As we plan this year's Christmas menu, it's looking more and more like a multicultural feast made up not only of Western holiday staples but also some of our Asian favorites, like this spicy Basmati Saffron Pilaf and an East-meets-West pumpkin laksa soup I've been experimenting on (watch this space!). It appears a holiday tradition is in the making in our household, and it is one that embraces diversity as a delicious opportunity. 

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Easy Malaysian Fruit Salad (Rojak Buah) + Taste of Home

Easy Malaysian Fruit Salad (Rojak Buah) + Taste of Home

"What meal always tastes like home to you?" 

That question has been on my mind ever since it was brought up on the #WhyIWriteAboutFood interview series I host (read the interview here and and check out the entire collection of delicious conversations here). 

Vermilion Roots was born out of the necessity to find a sense of place after I moved from Malaysia to California. In many ways, it has given me a space to confront my feelings about the place I left and to explore the place where I now live. Along the way, I made a few new friends, met many more at the recent SAVEUR Blog Awards in New York, started volunteering on a farm, tried a bunch of vegetables I'd never heard of before, picked apples and pumpkins for the first time in my life, and became a better cook. A whole new universe opened up for me. All thanks to the universal love of cooking and eating. 

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Kohlrabi Carpaccio + What I Learned from The Vegetable Butcher

Kohlrabi Carpaccio + What I Learned from The Vegetable Butcher

Kohlrabi! 

For months, ever since I first saw it at the farmer's market, this bulbous vegetable haunted me with its elusive identity, tantalizing me with the potential of its portly presence and slinky tentacles. 

What is this? How do you cook it? What does it taste like? TELL MEEE. 

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Malaysian Herb Salad (Ulam) [Video]

Malaysian Herb Salad (Ulam) [Video]

When considering some of the ingredients used in preparing the Malaysian herb salad known as ulam, it's easy to understand why anyone, including myself, would be intimidated. We're talking about herbs like daun kaduk (betel leaves), bunga kantan (torch ginger bud), and daun kesum (Vietnamese coriander), just to name a few exotic ones on the list, and all of which I have never seen since moving to the US. 

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Five Spice Apricot Chutney

Five Spice Apricot Chutney

The last time I took a walk in my neighborhood, I saw a big blue sign on my street with the word APRICOTS written in bright yellow. What did I do? I followed the arrow, of course, and walked into a backyard filled with golden apricots freshly-picked from a farm in the SF Bay Area. It certainly felt like I landed on a page in a Roald Dahl book! 

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Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen) [Video]

Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen) [Video]

A Thai salad is remembered for its complex blend of flavors and textures. It's that delicate balance of tart, sweet, salty, and spicy that my Southeast Asian tongue craves often. This glass noodle salad delivers in punches, featuring crunches of toasted peanuts against a springy backdrop of mung bean threads soaked in a zesty lime sauce with a big umami kick. Oh yeah!

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Easy as ABC Soup

Easy as ABC Soup

This Summer, I have one simple word for you: EASY. I'm inviting you to join me for a fun and (hopefully) care-free time in the kitchen making easy Asian dishes. What I'll be doing is taking some of my favorite Asian recipes and giving them a new twist by simplifying them.

What that means is I will be replacing some ingredients that are either too difficult to find outside of Asia or too expensive to buy when you do find them. I will introduce one or two basic ingredients that may be new to you. I may even throw in several simple step-by-step videos to show how they are done. How exciting!

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Green Onion Hummus + A Nutrition Coaching Experience

Green Onion Hummus + A Nutrition Coaching Experience

If you look at the recipe archive, you'll see green onions liberally sprinkled on MANY dishes. I wouldn't blame you for thinking I have an unnatural obsession with green onion. I do. The proof is hereherehere and HERE.

Green onion is a very popular ingredient in Chinese food. (We even put it in our pancakes!) I use it a lot in my cooking but never thought of making hummus with it until I saw the recipe on registered dietician nutritionist Kelli Shallal's blog when I was looking for protein-filled snack options. Call me biased but I think it's a brilliant idea!

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Transitions + Preserved Lemons

Transitions + Preserved Lemons

I'm in the mood to play with food. I don't mean anything like build a dollhouse with the veggies from my CSA box. (Or do I? Wink.) I mean try something new or different, experiment and get dirty in the kitchen! (That doesn't sound quite right either, does it?)

This past Spring, I've had so much fun discovering new vegetables like green garlicleeks and fava beans. With Summer right around the corner, I'm starting to feel a little frisky. It's difficult not to be when plump peaches and bright cherries are starting to appear everywhere. The plum trees around the neighborhood are about to unload their juicy goodness on us. Are you ready for sweet summer? 

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Chopped Salad with Spiced Chickpeas from Eating in the Middle

Chopped Salad with Spiced Chickpeas from Eating in the Middle

I've become a huge fan of salad for lunch. It's quick and easy to throw together, and can be prepped ahead of time. Plus, I love vegetables, and making salad my standard lunch fare is a commitment to incorporate fresh, healthy, and wholesome ingredients into my diet regularly. But when salad is the main part of a meal, there are some things to consider. Satiety is one. What I've learned to do is pack my salads with plant-based protein. Another consideration is the weather. Cold, raw salads just don't do it for me on cool or rainy afternoons. So I learned to make warm salads

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Baked South Indian Fava Bean Fritters with Green Chutney

Baked South Indian Fava Bean Fritters with Green Chutney

Remarkable things happen when you work on a farm. If I made a list it would be lengthy, but I'll just name one that has impacted my eating habits the most: the discovery of new vegetables. When I started volunteering at One Acre Farm in Morgan Hill, California, last Fall, I found out I really like long beans. It helps that your farm host is a fantastic cook who makes intuitive cooking effortless. I've been going back to help on the farm on a weekly basis, and was recently introduced to fava beans. 

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Asian Rainbow Chard Wraps

Asian Rainbow Chard Wraps

Swiss chard is one of those vegetables that makes you go wow and inspires awe with its big bold leaves and multi-colored stems. I get awfully excited in its presence. It's been about three months since we subscribed to a CSA farm share and I can't think of a better way to eat fresh vegetables. There's something about receiving a big box or bag of vegetables and unwrapping it like a Christmas present. A gift of health and nutrition. What I love most are the surprises. Even when I know what I'm getting in a particular week, I'm always gleeful and wide-eyed, which is often the case when I get a bunch of amazing swiss chard.

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