All posts filed under: Asia

Recipe for Thai Pumpkin Custard

Thai Pumpkin Custard | Sankaya

This fall put Thailand on the table: steam sweet coconut custard inside tiny gourds. Let’s be real: Give someone a single tiny gourd filled with custard and a spoon and they’re guaranteed to smile (And possibly love you forever). Whether you use a squash or a pumpkin, Sankaya eats like a deconstructed pumpkin pie. The center of the gourd is filled with coconut custard, rich with egg and vanilla extract. As the steam heats the custard, the palm sugar and coconut milk butters the gourd’s tender, orange flesh from the inside. But unlike chilled pie, Sankaya is at it’s best a few clicks above room temperature. Sankaya earns an A+ in the “fun for kids” department. My daughter and this tiger her nephew love helping in the kitchen. The gourmet treat forgives wobbly hands and giggly attention spans. As long as most of the custard makes it into the pumpkin, this dessert is in good shape! While the ingredient list is short, a few simple tips will keep you from a soggy pumpkin and raw custard. Here are the top 4 …

Read More

Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Do packaged herbs ever go on strike at the back of your fridge? Now, thanks to Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad, bundles of herbs can finally go to work in a dish that everyone will love. When herbs go on strike I wonder how many partially used packages of fresh herbs lay wilting at the back of fridges across America. I’ve certainly been there. Even though I “store” my herbs in the garden, disgruntled leaves occasionally congregate behind the eggs and mustard (the few remaining upright stems looking like picket signs). The problem? Outside of a putting basil in pesto or parsley in tabbouleh, it’s hard to use most fresh herbs up. To give our herbs a chance, we need to rethink how we use them. A pinch here or there doesn’t really do the trick when it comes to adding flavor or using them up. Standing them in a jar of fresh water helps tremendously (sometimes adding a couple of weeks of life to them). Another idea is to find a recipe that makes good use of …

Read More

A Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

A Japanese birthday party is a fabulous alternative to the standard princess or pirate birthday party. A couple of years ago my good friend and artist Annie Ferris had a Japanese-themed birthday party for her daughter and was kind enough to share the photos. The girls are 4 years old, proving there’s no age limit to having a fun and educational birthday party. I love how Annie managed to throw together a totally immersive experience while maintaining a down-to-earth vibe. Here are some of my favorite features of her daughter’s Japanese Birthday Party. Sushi Rolling station Ava still asks to make homemade sushi and this party is one reason why. How to set up a Sushi Rolling Station: Set up several low tables – kids craft tables or coffee tables work well – and use cushions for seating. Not only is this set up very Japanese, but it’s also easier for wiggly little ones to manage. At each child’s place you’ll need: a placemat to catch spills (hers were Japanese flags) a bamboo rolling mat a set of children’s chopsticks (plain or zoo animals) a bowl …

Read More

What’s the difference? Tasting Ceylon Teas

English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, English Afternoon… Why so many names when they’re all “100% Ceylon Tea”? My husband gave me a box set of black teas for Christmas. I poured intently over the dozen-or-so varieties only to discover that, while the tea names varied, the labels all listed the same ingredient: 100% Ceylon Tea. The issue came up again this month: I am fueling my book tour with gallons of tea … and yet every cuppa is little more than a brew of 100% Ceylon Tea. Isn’t the definition of insanity Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results? I had to find out what was going on. My next move? A literal “pouring over” with hot water. Every morning I sipped a different tea only to remain perplexed: I couldn’t detect a noticeable difference in the teas. Feeling more and more duped, I decided to host an official tea tasting.  And, since I wanted to be sure of the results, I did it with my husband and friend. How to set up an accurate tea tasting: Whether you’re …

Read More

Peking Walnuts

In the spirit of DIY deliciousness, why not start off the Chinese New Year with something sweet and savory? Peking Walnuts are an impressive affair – the glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it’s really just a simple sugar coating that’s been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue – just like Peking Duck. The red color makes Peking Walnuts lucky. What’s the story with the color red and Chinese New Year? Legend has it that a Chinese beast called Nian lives under the sea and mountains. He is afraid of the color red. Chinese families use lots of red during the New Year to scare him away.Today, red signifies both luck and joy in Chinese culture. How to make Peking Walnuts (and impress all your friends): Grab a bunch of walnuts. Boil them until their skins fall off. Dry well. Toss with sugar and let dry for a couple of hours in a sunny spot (or overnight).   Meanwhile, go watch some fireworks! When you return, deep …

Read More
An Indian lunch for kids or work

Indian Curry for Lunch

Ava’s school encourages outdoor play – even when it snows. For this I am  SO grateful (if kids in northern climes like Alaska, Sweden, or Canada can go out to play when it’s cold outside my daughter can handle it, too). But if she’s going to face the elements, she also needs a hearty lunch to keep her furnace running. Curry is great for taking the snarl out of the winter air. This vegetarian chana masala warms with tomato cooked down into a bed of spices – cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and ginger. A healthy toss with chopped Serrano chilies will add pleasing heat, but it’s easily left out of the dish for mild sensibilities. As for the rest? Like most kids (?) Ava loves rice. And a heaping spoonful of plain yogurt and soft naan balances any heat. Finally: green peas because, yum! That’s Ava’s lunch. What’s in your lunchbox? Tips Add a little salt to the plain yogurt to give it a savory quality little ones will really enjoy While you can certainly make naan (I have a yogurt …

Read More

Sweet & Spicy Korean Braised Turkey

You’ve had roast turkey and deep-fried turkey… but what about turkey with real international flavor? This Thanksgiving let’s honor our melting pot culture with a recipe worth talking about. This Korean stuffed turkey breast is perfect for a smaller gathering of curious epicureans, happily feeding 4-6. I can’t decide if the best part is the sweet and spicy glaze (made with soy sauce, mirin, ginger and garlic)… … or the butternut squash stuffing (complete with chestnuts, glutinous rice, and jujube dates)… Or maybe it’s the fact that it can be made on the stovetop… saving the oven for more important things like pie. Lots of pie. The recipe is inspired by a Korean stuffed chicken breast recipe in The Flavors of Asia by Mai Pham. There’s only a couple of watch spots with the recipe. On soaking the rice: depending on the age it can be quite hard and if it isn’t soaked enough it stays that way. Thankfully there’s a guideline on most bags for how long. My recommendation is to double soaking times since the turkey provides a …

Read More
besan doodh recipe

Besan Doodh: A Drink Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Malala & Kailash

One thought crossed my mind every time I took a sip of the Besan Doodh. The thought overwhelmed the bold cardamom and it distracted from the warm milk tinged with saffron. A small thing, really – a sentence, again and again, bringing tears to my eyes. “I didn’t clip her wings.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai’s father. Malala is a young woman from Pakistan – just 17 years old. She is easily the greatest superstar in the peace movement right now thanks to her unapologetic opposition to those who would keep girls from receiving an education. Though she’d been blogging for the BBC since she was 11, the whole world paid attention when she took a shot to the head on the way to school at age 15, two years ago. As of Friday, Malala is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first Pakistani winner. In a nice nod to her work for children’s education, she found out about the award during chemistry class. Malala’s father was the first person to write a girl’s name on the family …

Read More
Chana Masala Recipe

Chana Masala & The Remarkable Quest of Chris Guillebeau

Psst… Be sure to enter the giveway at the bottom of this post! I want to tell you a story about Chris Guillebeau – a man who traveled to every country in the world. It took him 10 years.  He’s not the first to do it, and he won’t be the last. And yet his quest is remarkable. Let me explain. From Quest to Calling I stumbled across Chris’ journey a few years back  when he had about three years left in his quest. I read with amusement about his jogging escapades on strange terrain, how airport lounges can double as offices (and triple as bedrooms!), and how he managed to maintain relationships with his family and friends all while exploring the world. Like many people, I was immediately smitten with Chris’ quest.  It’s not simply that his journey mirrored my own (cooking every country in the world for anyone stopping by) – but it was the fact that Chris was able to escape the confines of standard travel blogging to become a remarkable life blogger. That is to say, he used …

Read More
Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam

In our house we live by Michael Pollan’s addage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  This week we’re going one step further, invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s strict vegetarian diet in honor of World Vegetarian Day (October 1st). While most people think of Gandhi as a famous pacifist, he also had a lot to say about eating a pant-based diet, led in great part by his compassion and respect for the lives of even the smallest creatures. Not one to mince words, Gandhi wasn’t afraid to puts his beliefs in black and white:  No flocks that range the valley free To slaughter I condemn Taught by the power that pities me I learn to pity them – Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Our daughter Ava has been eating mostly vegetarian for a while now, so she was particularly happy to celebrate World Vegetarian Day with a new-to-us dish. What to eat for World Vegetarian Day? While we have hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes from around the world, I thought it’d be fun to try a dish Gandhi might have enjoyed …

Read More
Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Chill out with 7 cold soups from around the world

A few things have changed since the early days of this blog (namely the photography), but one thing is certain: I love a good, chilled soup in the summer. Here are seven awesome cold soup recipes from around the world that aren’t gazpacho – because, my goodness, there are other cold soups besides gazpacho! So, without further ado, summer’s almost over – let’s skip the heat and chill out. 1. Mul Naengmyeon | Korea [Recipe] This Korean recipe is the most recent addition to our collection – a soup so cold, it is actually served with ice. It’s claim to fame? The balance of flavor between earthy buckwheat noodles spicy cucumber, sweet Asian pear, and tart vinegar. The best part? This soup is DIY, so everyone can add exactly what they like (and leave out the rest) – perfect for picky eaters who want to stovetop travel to Korea! 2. Rye Bread Soup with Homemade Rhubarb Raisins | Iceland [Recipe]   A soup made with bread? Yup. It’s thick, heavy on the rye, and just odd enough to get …

Read More

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Perhaps you’ve had chilled soup, but have you ever had soup on ice? Korean naengmyeon is just that – a brothy, noodle soup topped with spicy cucumber, Asian pear, daikon radish, hard-boiled egg, and ice. While the soup starts out mild in flavor, adding vinegar, mustard oil (or paste), and even a spoonful of kimchee takes the soup to a whole new flavor profile – the catch is this seasoning is usually done at the table, so everyone can control how their naengmyeon tastes. Do you want it spicy? Sour? Heavy on the pear? The choice is yours. Have you ever had Asian pear? I love Ava’s face, here! She wasn’t sure about the Asian pear, but ended up eating nearly an entire pear herself by the end of dinner. While you could substitute bosc pears or just leave them off, crisp Asian pears are incredibly floral as compared to standard pears… they remind me a lot of star fruit in that way. Tips: – I made my own seasoned broth, adding dried mushrooms and kelp powder, but if you’re in …

Read More