All posts filed under: Asia

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Go Global with 8 Edible Hiding Spots for your Easter Eggs

An Easter Tradition Easter Eggs are a thing in our house. We dye them. We decorate them. We gobble them up in two’s (it’s funny how a purple or green shell can make an ordinary egg taste eggstraordinary). When I was little Mom hid these boiled treats in the yard and, after we found them we ate them, still-warm from the sun. Today plastic eggs have taken over – probably because of one too many tummy aches after an overly hot Easter. But the kids don’t seem to notice; they scramble to collect these plastic shells, cracking them open to reveal stickers, coins, and candy. Each year the plastic eggs become more elaborate. Now they aren’t simply eggs, they’re monkeys or giraffes, baseballs or footballs. It’s fun, yes, but also starting to feel a bit… gimmicky. In the spirit of getting back to basics – to those real Easter Eggs of my childhood, I considered safe ways I could “hide” eggs for my daughter to find. Since it was 84F last week I knew the back yard …

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Easy DIY Sushi Doll for a fun Doll’s Day celebration

We grow out of playing with dolls. We bury their plastic limbs in toy boxes – boxes that are now covered in dust or long-since donated. Some even say dolls are for babies. But this is simply not true — dolls are powerful symbols, and the Japanese festival called Doll’s Day (a.k.a. Hina Matsuri) is a great example of how they can be used to celebrate heritage and the art of letting go. A Display of Heritage Doll’s Day starts in February, when families display their dolls in a special spot, usually decorated with red fabric. Passed down from generation to generation, each doll has a special place – the emperor and empress on top, ministers, musicians, and court dignitaries lower down. The dolls are dressed in traditional garb from the Heian period (794 to 1185 A.D.), known for amazing art, including Tanka poetry and literature. We decided to mimic this setup with Ava’s own dolls. It was fun to see which dolls she chose to be the emperor and empress. March 3rd: Bye, bye dollies! So long bad stuff! …

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5 Secrets to Springtime in January, thanks to the Hindu Harvest Festival

You know that old saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”? Well the same can be said of springtime. Even while ice and and snow pummel the northern hemisphere and hot days sizzle in the southern, there are plenty of people celebrating springtime in India and other South Asian countries… Yes, in January. After the wild hair seventy degree day we had a couple of days ago, Ava and I were ready to say goodbye to winter, too. So how do we get there? This January 14 marks Makar Sankranti, the Hindu Harvest Festival. While Makar Sankranti is intended to celebrate the winter solstice and last year’s good harvest,  it also celebrates the arrival of spring. This is one of those “looking forward” to warmth, while looking back with appreciation. To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to …

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Monday Meal Review: Vietnam

  “The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll” “Ong an cha ba an nem” Vietnamese Proverb Even though Keith loves hamburger as much as he always has, and I love salad just as much, if not more…  I’m of the mind that there is no reason to eat different food at mealtimes, as long as everyone can assemble their own plate. This week, I put that theory to the test. The spring roll recipe we tried contains both meat and a garden’s worth of vegetables. Perfect for all appetites. There was just one problem: any time we’ve dined at a Vietnamese restaurant, Ava has turned up her nose at the Spring Rolls. I never thought I’d be able to get her to try them. Which is exactly why I wanted to make them for this week’s Global Table. Given our past experience with sushi, wherein Ava only had to fill and wrap one roll to become a forever fan of the Japanese food, I thought it was worth a shot at having her make …

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Hot & Sour Dipping Sauce | Nước mắm pha

Nước mắm pha is the quintessential Vietnamese dipping sauce, used on spring rolls, rice noodles, salads, and more. It’s sweet, salty, and heavily spiced. A basic recipe includes freshly squeeze lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and water. The real flavor comes from garlic and fresh red chilies. I learned on Food Safari (a great food/travel show – catch it if you can!) that if the cook can get the garlic and chili pieces to float in the nước mắm pha, they will get married. Now, for those of you naysayers: there’s no reason to tell anyone about the fish sauce. I promise. Many unwitting folk enjoy this dipping sauce without being aware there is fish sauce inside. That’s because it lends a salty flavor to the dip, not an inordinately pungent one. There is one exception: if you make it with “first press,” “extra virgin” fish sauce, as I did this week. The flavor, much like olive oil of the same name, is quite a bit bolder in flavor. Even my own Mr Picky, who has tastebuds of …

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DIY Spring Rolls | Bò nhúng dấm

  Today, let me show you how Vietnamese food is like a dream. Delicate. Lingering. But, also, let me show you how their food is like a celebration. Bold. Unapologetic. Before I do, call your friends and family because today’s recipe is a Vietnamese food party. The star? The DIY Spring Roll. Here’s how it works: Every guest gets to pick and choose their fillings, from cucumber and sprouts, to vibrant mint, thai basil, and cilantro. The best part? Everyone gets to cook their meat at the table in a vinegar and lemongrass broth. You can do this in a crock pot, a fondue pot, or, if you don’t have any of these, simply cook the beef in the kitchen right before dinner. Think of Bò nhúng dấm as Vietnamese fondu. Some like to cook shrimp, others beef or pork. I’ve even heard of people cooking squid in the broth. The bets part about this recipe is that the ingredients can be prepped and gathered way ahead of your guests ringing the doorbell. And, since …

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Menu: Vietnam

I don’t know why this week’s menu is so hard. I purchased ingredients for three different recipes before I finally settled on the recipes below. For those of you who thought I might make pho, I considered it. But, the fact is, I made “foe” for Laos, and, while some of the spices vary, I wanted to branch out a little – try something new. When one of you said something about being able to get pho anywhere, and why not show you a dish a little less known, I loved the challenge. Of course, the biggest challenge yet may be Ava. She’s  never been willing to try a spring roll. I’m hoping this week will be different. These recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week.  DIY Spring Rolls | bò nhúng dấm [Recipe] Gather the family around the table, it’s time to make your own spring rolls. The star of the show? Meat, flash cooked at the table in a hot vinegar and lemongrass broth. Herbs and vegetables are the (delicious) supporting …

Khu cầu Đá Bạc Thủy Nguyên. Photo by Hoàng Việt.

About the food of Vietnam

The first time I had Vietnamese food I was fourteen, living in Paris. Turns out, great Vietnamese restaurants can be found all over the city. I remember one thing only about those early forays into Vietnamese culture: crispy, deep-fried rolls and a platter of mint and lettuce. You wrap the rolls in a handful of mint and lettuce, then dip it into nuoc mam (a sweet and spicy fish sauce mixture). I still dream about that flavor. Fresh, fried, crunchy, and sour. Unfortunately, everywhere I look for this dish, people shrug.  Vietnamese restaurants shake their heads “sorry, we don’t do that. people don’t want that here.” But, I do! If I could figure out what this roll preparation is called, I would find a recipe and make it every time I get the hankering for it. But, alas, I have no idea; my time in Paris was nearly twenty years ago. This mystery reveals something I’d later learn is typical of all Vietnamese food: the prevalence of fresh herbs. Take pho, for example, a breakfast …

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Monday Meal Review: Uzbekistan

Stirring, stirring, stirring. Uzbekistan requires no stirring. Just a layering of this vegetable, then that… a stuffed quince and few chopped nuts. But no stirring. Definitely nothing of the sort. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to just wait? To wait and do nothing? To wait and trust that everything will come out okay, no burning, no overcooking, no drying out? How hard it is to not stir the pot? With just three weeks until our big event at Philbrook and two months until the end of our Global Table Adventure, this message feels particularly apropos. I feel like there should be something I should be doing. But sometimes we just need to wait, and savor the results when the time comes. THIS WEEK’s FOOD Harvest Stew | Dimlama  [Recipe] What I loved most about this dish: The key to dimlama is browning the onion and meat, so it’s no coincidence that the resulting brown gravy is also my favorite part of the stew. The hint of cumin and cilantro gives the dish the characteristic Uzbek edge, making it …

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Honey & Pistachio Stuffed Quince

Say “Quince” to an Uzbek lady, and you just might see her flush with delight. Though they aren’t eaten raw, baked quince are soft and tender, like a pear.  The taste is mild, something like an apple, but with traces of pear, too. Uzbekistan is the third greatest producer of quince, after Turkey and China. They include the fruit in plov, stir it into preserves, and they bake it up with honey, and sometimes even stuff it nuts… as we’re doing today. How to choose a quince: – look for white fuzzies on the stem end, which indicate freshness – a ripe quince is yellow, although slightly green fruit can be used for this recipe – it can be bumpy and odd-shaped, but there should be no scarring or other markings. Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 2-3 quince (or 3 large apples) 1/2 cup pistachios 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or substitute more pistachios) 1/2 tsp cinnamon honey, to taste (1-2 Tbsp per person) For the baking dish: 1 cup water 2-3 slices lemon Method: Let’s go to …

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Harvest Stew | Dimlama

If it were up to me, every gardener would know about Dimlama, the Uzbek one-pot answer to harvest-time (no canning required). While every Uzbek family makes it a little differently, potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes are standard fare, as is a hearty sprinkling of whole cumin seeds. The key to dimlama rests in the layering. First of all, lamb is browned, then onions are added in the mix. One they submit to browning, the remaining vegetables are layered (and, once they’re added, you never stir the pot!). The final layer is always cabbage, which helps seal in the moisture. When the vegetables release their juices, they drip down to the bottom of the pan and deglaze all those nummy browned bits. The result? A luscious brown gravy worthy of being sopped up by a nice piece of Central Asian Yogurt Naan. Serves 6 Ingredients: 1/2-1 lb cubed lamb or beef 1 large onion, sliced in quarter moons 5 small yellow potatoes cut in half 2-3 large carrots, peeled & sliced 2 red peppers, sliced in strips 2 …

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Menu: Uzbekistan

“Don’t choose a house—choose neighbors. Don’t choose a path—choose traveling companions.” Uzbek Proverb This week we’re going to Uzbekistan via stovetop travel and the timing couldn’t be better: September is harvest time. Right on cue, my tomato plants recently produced dozens of cherry tomatoes. The look like bright like jewels against the green landscape. In Uzbekistan, when it’s harvest time, the people gather up their bountiful produce and make Dimlama. Then they follow it up with stuffed apples or quince.  Delicious. Both recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week.  Lamb & Vegetable Pot | Dimlama  [Recipe] Enjoy the garden’s bounty with this layered pot of tender lamb, potato, onion, carrot, pepper, cabbage, and more, seasoned with cumin and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. Honey & Pistachio Stuffed Quince [Recipe] An easy combination of honey, cinnamon, pistachios, walnuts, and roasted quince. Great with a (non-traditional) scoop of ice cream. For those looking for a simpler option, try just adding honey and cinnamon to the quince. Also, apples may be substituted for the quince. …