Thai Basil Zucchini and Bell Pepper

Thai Basil Zucchini and Bell Pepper

I could very well say that vegetables make me a better cook. When I first moved to the US about three years ago, I spent countless weekends at the farmer's markets. It was from there that I discovered new vegetables and learned how to cook seasonally. Those trips motivated me to volunteer on a farm, find out how food was grown, and try to grow my own vegetables

Zucchini was one of the first few things we planted during my first summer here.

Read More

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Fishless "Fish" Sauce

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Fishless "Fish" Sauce

I love it when a recipe challenges and teaches me a few new tricks. This vegetarian Pad Thai sparked an entire post about fishless fish sauce, in which I set out to investigate the commercial fish sauce substitutes available in my local Asian supermarket and put three vegan fish sauce recipes to the test at home. Click here to read the results and find the vegetarian fish sauce to make this all-time favorite Thai noodle dish.  

There are a few things we can learn from this recipe found in the brilliant vegetarian cookbook Good Veg by Alice Hart. Most important of them is that whether you call yourself vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or lessmeatarian, meatless cooking poses more delicious opportunities than you realise. This book is filled with ideas highlighting flavor profiles from all over the world, including to my delight many recipes inspired by Asia and Southeast Asia.

Read More

How to Make Vegan "Fish" Sauce: 3 Recipes Tested

How to Make Vegan "Fish" Sauce: 3 Recipes Tested

The first time I wrote about fish sauce was for the Thai Glass Noodle Salad (Yum Woon Sen) recipe. It's difficult to talk about Southeast Asian food without talking about fish sauce. Made with anchovies fermented in salt, fish sauce is a staple condiment in Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, and Lao cuisines. 

I also mentioned vegan fish sauce in that post and promised that I will explore the subject further. So here we are! I tested three vegan fish sauce recipes, used them to make the same Thai glass noodle salad, and took tasting notes. In the process, I learned a few things about umami ingredients, lessons that are valuable for everyone, vegan or not.

Read More

Soba Noodle Salad with Tamari Dressing

Soba Noodle Salad with Tamari Dressing

I love tamari sauce and use it interchangeably with soy sauce, which I wrote about at length when I shared a recipe for Malaysian soy sauce stir-fried noodles. Both are excellent umami agents. I find Chinese soy sauce to be saltier and more pungent, which is great in stir-fries and marinades, and the mellower taste of tamari sauce lends itself very well in a cold salad like this Japanese-themed noodle salad. 

Read More

Step by Step: How to Make Rainbow Cauliflower Rice [Video]

Step by Step: How to Make Rainbow Cauliflower Rice [Video]

We can make cauliflower rice. Or we can make RAINBOW cauliflower rice! All we have to do is use the different varieties of cauliflower. There's the classic white that we're most familiar with. Then there's orange cauliflower, which has a higher content of beta carotene and Vitamin A, and there's the purple kind, which gets its unique hue from the antioxidant anthocyanin. There's also the striking green romanesco with its stunning pine cone shape. Talk about getting your colorful nutrients! No wonder we are encouraged to eat the rainbow. 

Read More

Coconut Milk Sticky Rice with Peach

Coconut Milk Sticky Rice with Peach

Think Thai desserts and the first thing that pops to mind is sticky rice with mango. Drenched in rich, creamy coconut milk, it has to be one of the simplest indulgent desserts ever. And you don't even have to do anything with the mango. Just pick the best of the season and you have yourself a pretty sweet treat. 

July in California is a great time for stone fruits and I was inspired by the abundance of juicy peak-season peaches and nectarines to make this easy dessert with a Southeast Asian flair. 

Read More

Pineapple Boat Fried Cauliflower "Rice" [Video]

Pineapple Boat Fried Cauliflower "Rice" [Video]

I know how much we love one-bowl meals, but what if the bowl is made of food! You know what they say, the best food is the kind served inside other food. The really great part about this pineapple fried rice is when you reach the end of your meal and discover that you can scrape the juicy pineapple flesh off the bowl and eat it. Certainly gives new meaning to licking the bowl clean, doesn't it? 

Read More

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! 

Read More

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!

Read More

Japanese-Style Green Garlic and Spring Onion Fried Farro

Japanese-Style Green Garlic and Spring Onion Fried Farro

I have been busy stalking certain vegetables that I've been told are only available during this time of year. Green garlic, or spring garlic as it is sometimes called, is one of them. If no one had told me about it, I wouldn't have been able to tell it apart from spring onion. Thankfully, I'm subscribed to a CSA farm share as part of my mission to find new vegetables to try for my Spring Discovery project, and urban farmer Angie of The Freckled Rose has graciously offered to tell me more about it. 

Read More

Beet Green Ginger Stir-Fry

Beet Green Ginger Stir-Fry

What to do with beet greens? That is the question. The beauty about buying beetroots from the farmers markets or getting them in your CSA share is that they come with the lush leaves and stems still intact. I will then cut them off immediately so that the roots can be stored separately for a longer time, as I've learned, but what can I do with the leftover beet greens? That was one of the questions I asked Aarika Chilson of the blog Just Beet It when she agreed to help me learn more about beetroots as part of the Spring Discovery series. 

Read More

Quick Kimchis from Koreatown: A Cookbook

Quick Kimchis from Koreatown: A Cookbook

The first thing I learned from Koreatown: A Cookbook is to think of "kimchi" as more of a verb than a noun, and to go beyond the jar of napa cabbage kimchi that's always present in my refrigerator. A quick flip through the book and I was rushing out the door to the nearest Korean grocery store, followed by a meal in a Korean restaurant where I ordered something other than my favorite Bibimbap (mixed rice bowl). 

Read More

Vegan Cornflake Cereal Cookies + A Cookie Party!

Vegan Cornflake Cereal Cookies + A Cookie Party!

Oh, how we associate certain foods and flavors with certain occasions. Chinese New Year is around the corner (February 8th) and everyone's baking up a storm! Chinese New Year cookies are a unique breed that holds a firm place on the calendar. You don't see much of them at other times of the year, but come January and February, they march out of the oven and practically take over the house.

Read More

Brown Rice Porridge with Toppings (Teochew Style)

Brown Rice Porridge with Toppings (Teochew Style)

I started the year balancing on a tall wooden ladder, old but fortunately not rickety, while scraping the walls of our new kitchen to prepare them for a fresh coat of paint. January has been filled with renovation work around the house, and I haven't the time to muse about the new year, which is nice for a change.

If I've learned anything from the Januarys behind me, it's that successful transitions do not necessarily call for a set plan of action but are oftentimes a confident work in progress. I did find the time, however, to make a big pot of rice porridge, which thankfully stretched into several customisable, ready-made meals.

Read More

Southeast Asian Vegetable Platter with Peanut Lime Sauce

Southeast Asian Vegetable Platter with Peanut Lime Sauce

This recipe is inspired by my favorite Southeast Asian salads: Rojak from Malaysia, Gado-gado from Indonesia, and Yee Sang, a Chinese New Year treat from Malaysia and Singapore. The hallmark of a good Southeast Asian salad lies in the balance of flavors and textures, and as with many dishes from the region, the sauce plays an instrumental part in bringing it all together. 

Read More