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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Lotus Root Soup with Corn and Red Beans

Lotus Root Soup with Corn and Red Beans

"The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud." – Buddhist proverb

I'm starting this post with this popular saying to give you an idea of the symbolic significance of the sacred lotus plant in Buddhist and Hindu art and literature. Straightforwardly, it means rising above the murk and resembles the purification of the human spirit. 

More importantly, I'd like you to get a mental image of where lotus roots, today's featured vegetable on the Spring Discovery series, come from. Mud. Yes, mud. 

Lotus roots are rhizomes of the lotus flower that grow in muddy ponds across Asia, known for the striking pattern of holes that reveal themselves when cut crosswise. As a young child in Malaysia, I called lotus root the "telephone vegetable", and I grew up having them boiled in soup with peanuts. The lotus root soup recipe I'm sharing here is a vegetarian version that I now make. 

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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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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. 

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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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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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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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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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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. 

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Chinese Turnip Cake + A Special Anniversary Tribute

Chinese Turnip Cake + A Special Anniversary Tribute

Vermilion Roots is turning one in a few days and I wanted to make a cake to celebrate the milestone. I know what you are thinking: a cake made with turnips? Well, yes. There are a few things you should know about this cake. Firstly, it's a savory cake that goes really well with hoisin and sriracha sauce. The so-called icing on the cake are sprinkles of chopped spring onions and red chilis. It's based on a traditional Chinese dish known as "lo bak go" commonly served at dim sum restaurants and a staple in some parts of China during the Lunar New Year. 

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"Economy" Soy Sauce Stir-Fried Noodles + Chili Soy Sauce Dip

"Economy" Soy Sauce Stir-Fried Noodles + Chili Soy Sauce Dip

If I had to pick only one Asian ingredient to have in my kitchen, it would be soy sauce. I'll tell you why. To me, it's as important as salt, and acts like salt in cooking and as a condiment, but with an unmistakable punch of flavor that comes from fermented soybeans. As part of the March Asian Kitchen Project series, I've been sharing key ingredients I'm stocking my new kitchen pantry with that let me cook with a twist of Asian flavor no matter where I am in the world. I've previously written about using dried jujubesgoji berries and Chinese Five Spice in some of my favorite Eastern-Western fusion recipes, but soy sauce was absolutely the first thing I had to get when I moved from Southeast Asia to the US. 

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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.

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