Pumpkin Curry (Malaysian Rendang Style) + A Gallery of Squash

Pumpkin Curry (Malaysian Rendang Style) + A Gallery of Squash

Does food define home for you? It took moving thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean from Malaysia to the United States for me to realize how much I look for home in what I eat and cook. Now that I also call my husband's home state California my home, the food on my plate is a mishmash of both of our cultures. 

One of the first Malaysian dishes I cooked in my American kitchen using local vegetables is beetroot rendang. Let me tell you what rendang is. It's a dry curry made with an intense spice paste and coconut milk that's usually cooked with meat. My fascination with all the new produce I was discovering at that time gave me the idea to make a plant-based rendang with beetroot during my first spring here.

Then when autumn came, I made rendang again with pumpkin...

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Build Your Own Malaysian Soy Sauce Noodles (Kon Loh Mee)

Build Your Own Malaysian Soy Sauce Noodles (Kon Loh Mee)


This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with Jade Asian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to present a flavorful noodle dish that can be customized to your liking.

Ordering hawker or kopitiam (coffee house) noodles in Malaysia is not too different from the concept of building your own noodle bowl (or plate, if you like). First of all, you can choose to have them either in soup or dry style, to put it simply. Noodle soup is self-explanatory so my focus today is on the dry version.

Since Cantonese appears to be the lingua franca for ordering Chinese food in Kuala Lumpur where I hail, I'd like to start by introducing it by the name frequently used, Kon Loh Mee. Directly translated, it basically means "dry mix noodles," and perhaps that should give you some idea about how it's prepared. 

Unlike the soy sauce stir-fried noodles I've previously shared, the noodles here are not stir-fried but tossed with a soy sauce mixture and served with toppings, which can vary depending on the vendor's specialty and customizable based on your preference. 

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Asian Omelet with Snow Pea Shoots (Egg Foo Yung)

Asian Omelet with Snow Pea Shoots (Egg Foo Yung)

 

This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with Jade Asian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to bring you an Asian-style omelet packed with green goodness. 

I have such a crush on snow pea shoots (dau miu) that I want to talk about them again here. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a tofu scramble recipe that features these greens, and today I have an egg recipe that also effectively packs in the veggie goodness.

As mentioned in previous posts, I've been developing recipes for the Jade Asian Greens website. When I presented these two snow pea shoot recipes for them to choose, we loved them so much that we decided to share both of them. Hurray for plant power! 

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Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry + Jackfruit the Old-Fashioned Way

Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry + Jackfruit the Old-Fashioned Way

Many of us now identify with jackfruit as a vegan meat substitute but I knew it first as a giant fruit bigger than the size of my head with bright yellow flesh as sweet as honey. Growing up in Malaysia, it was one of my mother's favorite fruits and I can still remember the nectarous whiff that came with it. We called it by its Malay name nangka and sometimes ate it deep-fried in batter as a mid-day snack. 

With all the recent jazz surrounding jackfruit as the "pulled pork" of vegan cooking, I was curious to find out how this tropical fruit had originally been cooked in other countries and cultures. Jackfruit has long been enjoyed in South Asia and Southeast Asia both in its ripe and green forms. In Thailand and The Philippines, the sweet fruit is thinly sliced and added to desserts. Countries like India and Indonesia treat the bland unripe jackfruit like a vegetable and use it in curries and stews, like the Sri Lankan curry I made. 

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Baby Bok Choy in Fruity Sweet Sour Sauce

Baby Bok Choy in Fruity Sweet Sour Sauce


This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with Jade Asian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to bring you an appetizing dish featuring baby Shanghai bok choy.

Considering how well-loved bok choy is, I was very excited to be given the opportunity to share one of my favorite ways of enjoying this vegetable on the Jade Asian Greens website. In this recipe, one of several I've developed for the farm in Southern California, baby bok choy is cooked with a fruity Chinese sweet-sour sauce to be served simply with rice. 

Bok choy literally means "white vegetable" in Cantonese and may sometimes be called Chinese white cabbage. It is the Chinese vegetable most people are familiar with and because of its versatility, it is ubiquitous in Asian food, especially in stir-fries and noodle dishes. Baby bok choy, which is what I've used in this recipe, is basically young, smaller bok choy that's prized for its tender texture. 

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Spiced Rooibos Tea Potato

Spiced Rooibos Tea Potato

Think Chinese tea eggs and you have an idea of how this recipe was born. I've always been fascinated with the idea of cooking with tea. In China, tea is used to smoke meat, Japanese matcha finds its way into a variety of desserts, and a fascinating fermented tea leaf salad is made in Myanmar.

This recipe applies the concept of using tea as a seasoning and follows the traditional Chinese method of simmering eggs in a brew of black tea with soy sauce and whole spices. I used potatoes in place of eggs and an herbal tea instead of black tea. 

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Asian Style Pesto Noodles with Roasted Green Onions

Asian Style Pesto Noodles with Roasted Green Onions

Is it obvious that I'm mad about cilantro and green onions? It's very common for these greens to appear as garnishes in Asian food, hence the liberal sprinkling you see on many of the dishes I've written about here and here. Every now and then, I do something radical with them, like green onion hummus

One of my favorite ways to eat these greens together is in a Chinese dipping sauce that often comes with poached chicken in Malaysia. And that is essentially the basis of the ingredients in this flavor-packed pesto. 

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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.

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Vegetable Stir Fry with Black Fungus (Easy Buddha's Delight)

Vegetable Stir Fry with Black Fungus (Easy Buddha's Delight)

Today's featured vegetable on the Spring Discovery series is technically a fungus. Since I've told you about white fungus, it's only fair that I also bring your attention to black fungus. This edible fungus grows on trees and is commonly available as cloud ear or wood ear mushrooms, owing no less to its appearance. Do you see ears in the bowl?

These mushrooms don't impart a whole lot of flavor but are enjoyed for their unique rubbery and gelatinous texture that adds a slippery yet pleasant crunch to dishes. They are also rich in dietary fiber, high in iron, and used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with blood circulation.

They are one of the key ingredients in a popular Buddhist vegetarian dish known as Buddha's Delight or Lo Hon Jai that is traditionally served by the Chinese in Malaysia during Lunar New Year and other festive occasions. 

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South Indian Coconut Vegetable Curry

South Indian Coconut Vegetable Curry

When we think of Indian food, the first few things that come to mind are red curries and naan bread. Little do we know that these are generally North Indian staples and there's a whole different world of cuisine in South India.

Take this fresh-looking curry for example. It hails from Karnataka, a state in the south-western region of India, and gets its appetizing green color from a chewy curry paste made with grated coconut and cilantro. It's nothing like the curries we usually get in Indian restaurants here. 

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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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Chinese Broccoli with Garlic (Gai Lan) + Getting to Know Asian Greens

Chinese Broccoli with Garlic (Gai Lan) + Getting to Know Asian Greens

With the arrival of spring comes the desire to go outside and explore, and one of my favorite things to do is visit the farmer's markets and peruse the stands for new vegetables to try, a passion I've diligently documented in the Spring Discovery series on this website. With the help of friends and vegetable-focused cookbooks, I've made many delicious discoveries since moving to America from Malaysia. 

This year, my focus turns to Asian vegetables, some I grew up eating and took for granted, some I've known about but lost track of since I moved due to name inconsistencies or differences in appearance, and some completely new to me. It's time to get reacquainted with some old friends and make new ones.

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Malaysian Spicy Tomato, Anytime of the Year [Video]

Malaysian Spicy Tomato, Anytime of the Year [Video]

We know tomato as the quintessential warm-weather treat, literally bursting with flavor, minimally handled and enjoyed raw, only lightly adorned with a pinch of salt or a dash of balsamic vinegar to let its best qualities shine.

At other times of the year, especially in colder months like now, this recipe is how I like to eat semi-decent tomatoes still clinging to the heels of summer. Cooked with a rich mix of spices, it turns even subpar supermarket tomatoes into a scrumptious dish that will sustain any tomato craving all through the winter. In fact, hardier tomato varieties
that are more readily available year round like beefsteak and roma are best used to maintain a chewier texture. 

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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? 

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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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