All posts filed under: Asia


Menu: Taiwan

This week, while we’re visiting family in Boston and New Jersey, I’m sharing one simple celebration recipe with you… afterall, what is visiting family, if not a celebration! It’s been more than a year since I’ve seen any family on my side (where does the time go?!)… the last time was when we cooked Maldives. Since one treat doesn’t feel like nearly enough to represent an entire country, I thought I’d flash back to an old favorite from an earlier Global Table. As I mentioned on Tuesday, the Taiwanese love Sushi, which we made when we cooked Japan. I thought we’d all benefit from a reminder on how to make the rice and the rolls. Especially with temperatures already hitting the nineties, there’s nothing better than cool meals. All recipes and the meal review will be available throughout the week. Veggie Sushi with Sushi Rice [Recipe] Learn how to make a beautiful roll at home (perfect for a small, interactive dinner party) AND see pictures of Ava from a couple of years ago (awww) when …

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WuShihBi Cape seen behind the DongAo Bay, from the SuHua Highway, a scenic drive on the east coast of Taiwan. Photo by Fred Hsu,

About the food of Taiwan

Feeling overcast? You just might love Taiwan. This tropical island east of China is  a mountainous land, where you’ll find clouds and the whipping rains common with monsoons.  This week we explore the food that dots along the 13,902 square miles of this small nation. But don’t get the wrong idea; just because she’s small (about the size of Massachusetts), doesn’t mean the people are few and far between. The opposite is true, in fact. There are 1,600 people per square mile which makes Taiwan one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Personally, I’d love to climb to the top of Jade Mountain (the highest mountain in Asia), and look over the stunning (steaming?) beauty of Taiwan. Taiwanese food is a melting pot of various Chinese ethnicities, which is reflected in the food. There’s everything from hot pots (where meats and veggies are cooked at the table, then enjoyed with an array of sauces), to fried noodles and rice, and duck smoked over tea leaves. If you’re feeling a bit more Japanese, you’ll be …

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Monday Meal Review: Sri Lanka

It all started about a month ago. While watching our new Sri Lankan friend, Iyona, prepare a dozen or so platters for Ruby’s 40th birthday party, I noticed how little she measured. Anything. Nothing. Ruby seemed completely relaxed. Un-phased. (P.S. I’m pretty sure she’d pass for 22, right?!) Anyway. Back to the cooking. It was a dash of this. A heap of that. Cook it a while. Don’t forget to stir. That was the extent of her instructions. I’ve seen many people cook with similar abandon (my mom included), but I typically struggle with the desire to control the flow of the ingredients. So often, this is because I want you to be able to make these dishes at home.  I have to include exact measurements to make sure you are successful. BUT, this is not the way of the world. MOST of the world doesn’t measure. And here’s the kicker. Somehow, some way, the food comes out just as good as if they had. So,  a month later, when I cooked the meal for a few …

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Sri Lankan Yellow Rice | Kaha Bath

After you make this recipe, you will be haunted. Your home will blossom with the tropical scents of Sri Lanka. And your mouth will beg to remember each bite: the slightly toasted note from the curry leaves, the vanilla-like pandan, and the ultra creamy coconut milk.  Not to forget the cinnamon, because.. well, how could we? This sweet, sweet earthiness pulls the rice together. Yes. When it comes to this rice, it’s all good. Now, there’s nothing simpler than this rice.  This is an “Add everything to the pot and cook” sort of recipe… and once you make it, I’m certain it will make it’s way into the regular rotation. It’s simply too easy and too flavorful. To make your life easier, just follow these simple guidelines: 1. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Asian market. 2. Pick up an armful of pandan and curry leaves and tuck them safely into your freezer door. 3. Toss them in a pot and enjoy the happily ever after that is Sri Lanka’s Yellow Rice, or Kaha Bath. 4. …

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Coconut Roti

The best thing about thinking I don’t like something, is finding out how wrong I am. I’ve always operated under the assumption that flaked coconut is much too squeaky between my teeth. Sri Lanka and these Coconut Roti proved me wrong. There’s something so refreshing about dumping three ingredients in a bowl and emerging with warm, doughy flatbread that smells like a day in the tropics. Or Sri Lanka, to be specific. In fact, I did an entire post cataloging the best recipes with three ingredients or less from around the world. I learned how to make these by watching my friend shake flour and coconut shreds into a bowl. There wasn’t a measuring cup in sight. She added the water by feel, too. When I asked her the ratio of coconut to flour, she shrugged and said “a little coconut. more flour.” So, as you make these, remember her advice. There really is no wrong way to make coconut roti. As long as you eat them warm… Makes 8-10 small, or 4-6 large Ingredients: 2 cups flour …

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White Dal Curry

My friend Ruby grew up in Sri Lanka and spent the better part of her 40th birthday making sure I learned everything there is to know about the food. Here she is drinking Ceylon Tea, grown in … you guessed it… Sri Lanka! Ruby isn’t keen on cooking (or so she claims), so she supervised while her dear friend Iona showed me the ropes. Iona blew me away by whipping up not one, not two, but three curries. I fell in love each steaming, fragrant batch. There was everything from beef to chicken. But I left most excited about making this White Dal. Why? Because what tastes amazing and what I actually have time to make … well, they rarely come together. White Dal is something that can be thrown together very easily with a minimum of ingredients, which fits perfectly into my mom schedule. It also happens to be vegan, which is an added bonus.. The flavor is outstanding thanks to three simple ingredients: pandan, curry leaves, and a cinnamon stick. These first two can be …

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Menu: Sri Lanka

“When the dogs bark at the moon, the moon is not brought down because of it. “ Sri Lankan Proverb I love this proverb. Sometimes we forget how much we shine, because of the “barking” all around us. Sometimes we listen to that barking, rather than listen to the truth of our own reality. The fact is: a little barking can’t bring you and me down, no more than it can bring the moon down. Remember that, friends… you are beautiful. Keep on shining. The noise can’t drown you out. And while you’re shining, try this beautiful, vegan Sri Lankan feast. All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Quick White Dal Curry [Recipe] Masoor Dal with garlic, onion, turmeric, pandan (aka rampe), curry leaf, and a splash of coconut milk. Sri Lankan Yellow Rice | Kaha Bath [Recipe] The most haunting combination of rice, coconut milk, pandan, curry leaf, and turmeric. If I could eat this every day of my life, I’d be one happy girl. Coconut Roti [Recipe] You’re just three ingredients …

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Sri Lankan elephants roaming in the Kaudulla National Park. Photo by Christophe Meneboeuf (

About the food of Sri Lanka

This week our kitchens take us to the small, pear-shaped island country called Sri Lanka. She’s just southeast of India, loaded with tropical hills, mountains, and a fresh, dreamy sort of ocean breeze. She was once known as “Ceylon,” a name which can still be found in the tea that grows abundantly on her slopes. Between the crocodiles, monkeys, and elephants, her lush forests hide coconut trees, one of the staple ingredients in Sri Lanka. [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Fun Fact: Did you know the elephant is the national animal of Sri Lanka?[/dropshadowbox] So beautiful… My friend Ruby’s husband is from Sri Lanka and I got to sample several homemade dishes recently and fell in love with their use of coconut.* It is no exaggeration to say that coconut is in nearly every recipe. In fact, a fascinating article was just posted about the Sri Lankan coconut and its uses on Splendid Table. From coconut roti (a flatbread also found in India) [Recipe], to yellow rice [Recipe],  to dal [Recipe], the creamy milk and …

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Monday Meal Review: Singapore

Hi, friends! Our weekly review is now  offered to you on video. I’m realizing that telling you the story of what we experienced is far more powerful with video; if photos are worth a thousand words, video must be worth a million. [dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]This week’s lesson: Singapore teaches us how condiments can spice up an ordinary dinner, Global Table style, even for the pickiest among us.[/dropshadowbox] As always, I’d love your thoughts: how do you use condiments (local or global) to give your meals a boost? UPDATE:  I had no idea this new format would stir such a strong response. Please know, I’m hearing you all… thanks for weighing in. It seems the general thought that the new video format is good, but the words need to stay? My intention was to move some of the text into the actual recipes, to make them stronger… but if you prefer it separated out, I’d love to know why. Thanks for your input… you’re the reason this blog exists (as …

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Singapore Chilli Sauce

The act of “saucing” food in Singapore is not as simple as I expected it to be. From what I can tell, there’s two schools of thought on the matter. First: the ‘dip & dunk’ variety, a.k.a. those who keep a bowl of incendiary hot sauce next to their plates for regular food baths. Second: the ‘drizzle & bedazzle’ variety, a.k.a. those who let the sauce rain down over their food, free-form. While I wouldn’t normally expect this to be a big deal, the foodies of Singapore are so impassioned that they are more than happy to come up to you and show you their preferred method… especially if you look even the littlest bit unsure (this happened to Bourdain countless times on his No Reservations trips there). Should this ever happen to you, my advice is to enjoy the free cultural lesson – the chance to learn from a local. There are hundreds of Singaporean recipes for Chilli Sauce (P.S. You can spell chilli with one “l” or two, and I can’t quite decide which looks right… thoughts?). …

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Coconut Curd | Kaya

Singapore is a true melting pot. In every kitchen, you’ll find time honored traditions from around the world, especially India, China, Malaysia, and Europe. Today’s recipe, Kaya, belies the British influence on the islands. Think tea time and crumpets. But Asian-style. Here’s the skinny: Kaya is Coconut Curd. Curd is a spread that’s thickened with egg yolks… In this sense, Kaya is just like Britain’s much adored lemon curd, but with the hauntingly addictive flavor of rich, velvety coconut milk instead of tart lemon juice. While the tropical spread would be incredible between cake layers, the most traditional use in Singapore is on toast for breakfast or teatime. Kaya is smooth and silky on the tongue, and makes any breakfast instantly feel special. The best part is that there are only three ingredients, the luscious blend is vegetarian, and, just by chance, gluten-free. Win. Win. Win. I suggest sipping a little tea or coffee on the side… perhaps with a mega view, like this: P.S. I think kaya would also be divine on crumpets, scones, or biscuits. P.P.S. Kaya would …

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Singapore’s Beloved “Chicken Rice”

The minute Anthony Bourdain said he got boo’d in Singapore over Chicken Rice, I knew the recipe had edged out all other contenders for a place on our Singaporean Global Table. It’s true – when the world-renowned food star admitted that, after 7 visits, not only did he not have a favorite Chicken Rice joint, but that he’d never even taken a bite of this national favorite, the apparent transgression was enough to send the crowd in an uproar. I can’t even imagine. Talk about food love. Unexpected and pure.   Food for Thought: All this hoopla made me wonder what about my culture’s food is this way – what dish must a visitor try to have truly experienced American culture? Pizza? Chowder? I have to say, I was stumped. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if anything comes to mind. For, now, back to business… let’s talk Chicken Rice. This is a deceptively simple dish – one that could be summed up as room temperature chicken over rice. But that summary would do the dish a great disservice. There’s …

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