Malaysian Laksa with Pumpkin (Spicy Noodle Soup)

Malaysian Laksa with Pumpkin (Spicy Noodle Soup)

"There is so much comfort in familiar tastes," writes Nigel Slater in The Kitchen Diaries. Laksa, a spice-strong noodle soup considered by some to be the unofficial national dish of Malaysia, is one of those dishes that serves up both comfort and surprise for me. There are countless variations and almost every state in Malaysia has its own version of the recipe. Depending on where I'm having it, the familiar dish can sometimes be a completely new discovery for my palate. 

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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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Malaysian Pickled Vegetables with Radish (Acar)

Malaysian Pickled Vegetables with Radish (Acar)

One of my kitchen goals this year, apart from stocking up my pantry with key ingredients that let me cook with a twist of Asian flavor (check out my Kitchen Project), is to discover and learn to cook with seasonal vegetables that are new to me. At the beginning of Spring, we started subscribing to a CSA farm share, and I've since had the pleasure of meeting many new farm-fresh produce, not all of which I've known what to do with however. 

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Shiitake Mushroom and Potato Miso Stew + the Umami Factor

Shiitake Mushroom and Potato Miso Stew + the Umami Factor

You may have heard of something being described as having the "fifth taste" known as umami. You may even have tasted it before knowing there was a name for it. And, as I've just discovered, an online information center dedicated to it. Words often associated with this flavor are deep, savory, complex, meaty and pungent, and although I may not be able to string the perfect sentence to describe it, my Southeast Asian tongue knows it well and wants it. I know of two ingredients that can help me achieve the umami in my cooking: miso paste and dried shiitake mushrooms. They join the list of key ingredients in my Asian Kitchen Project series that let me cook with a twist of Asian flavor no matter where I am in the world.

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