If you’re like us, the recent situation may have you turning your kitchen upside down to replicate some of your favourite dishes. Perhaps you can’t visit your favourite restaurant as often as you did in the past. Or you may have unearthed prized family recipes to satisfy a longing for that familiar taste. So you’ve been cooking up a storm! And we’re guessing your smartphone is bursting with snaps of your creations that you’re dying to share with the rest of the world! And why not? Food is best enjoyed when shared.
Because of this we’re starting #YummiestAsianFood.
We’d like to make space in our social media channels for some of your best Pan-Asian food creations. Send us a really cool photo of an Pan-Asian dish you made and include a short description. Tell us something interesting about the dish! What is it called? Is it something that means a lot to you? It may be something comforting (we could all use that right now). Is it something that reminds you of some crazy, fun and therefore unforgettable event? Or does the dish remind you of someone? Tell us! If you’d like to share the recipe to the rest of our followers, write it in there, too! Who knows? We may turn this into a book someday and your contributions may be part of it.
Here’s how to do it:
1) Simply send us a photo of an Asian dish you made while sheltering-in-place.
2) Include a short description, no more than 200 words. Don’t forget to include your FB or Insta or Twitter accounts.
3) Send it to: email@example.com
4) And stay tuned to explorASIAN.org on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see whether we’ve selected your entry for the week!
It’s that easy!
Send us your Pan-Asian food creations, and we’ll fill our streams with appetizing images and increase awareness about the deliciously diverse cuisines from Asia!
Submitted by Jasper Sloan Yip:
These days, I try to visit my parents once a week, usually in the evenings at the end of my workday. They have a porch large enough for many people to sit comfortably while still maintaining a safe distance. Yesterday I happened to visit as my father was cooking, and since I had yet to eat, I stayed for an impromptu meal. Sometimes you don’t realize you miss something until it returns to you. This was true for me last night as I tucked into my dinner.
When I was growing up, My father did most of the cooking at our home, and that meant eating a lot of Chinese food. He is a natural cook, and as such, he has no need for recipes. I have become much the same in my own cooking, and can trace this facet of my practice, among many others, back to him. The downside is that I have tried many times to recreate his food without success. His fried rice, in particular, has frustrated me for years. He has walked me through it at least twice, which is the closest I will ever come to getting a recipe, and still it never quite turns out. I suppose food is like that. Perhaps his food is irreplicable not for any lack of recipe or technique, but because what I’m actually trying to replicate is the memory of my father’s cooking and the experience of being with my family in our kitchen, rather than the food itself.
Last night, my father prepared braised short ribs in black bean sauce, fried tofu with gai lan, and beef with snow peas and water chestnuts. I didn’t ask him for a recipe, I just enjoyed the meal with my family. #YummiestAsianFood
Submitted by Leticia Sanchez:
My dear next-door neighbors, a very friendly Filipino family, enjoy gathering with friends and sharing their stories about the beautiful places in the Philippines. Of course, food is at the center of all the conversations. As for me, our friendship of around fourteen years is always a pleasurable learning experience and one that involves the discovery of authentic Filipino cuisine. You could say that living in Vancouver, you can have delicious Filipino food any time, but nothing compares with their homemade meals.
When it comes to their cooking, I cannot decide who cooks the best because while Cora is great in the kitchen, her husband is a very good cook when barbequed meat is the main dish for dinner. His fish, steak, and chicken are always marinated with his favourite Filipino spices which give the meat an exquisite flavour and tenderness. Cora prefers to cook curries with vegetables and meat, delicious pastries, seafood and noodles, and a soup I still have not been able to exactly know what it is made of. I must say though, that I am the luckiest neighbour, because sometimes Cora knocks at my door with a delicious meal on her hands and a big smile.
This week Cora surprised me with some Filipino style braised chicken marinated in soy sauce, citrus juice, brown sugar, fresh garlic, and secret spices. The other dish is what Cora cooks on regular days, a chicken afritada or afritadang manok, which is a Filipino chicken stew with potatoes, carrots, tomato sauce, green peas, onion, garlic, sugar, and a dash of curry powder. A simple dish, but perfect when eaten warm and with white rice. All these years, I still haven’t mastered Filipino cooking, but thanks to my neighbours, I get to enjoy Filipino food once in a while.
Submitted by Jing Palad:
I’ve moved around a lot and I’ve mastered a few tricks to instantly
feel at home in a new city or country. One of my favourites is cooking
Sinigang, a Filipino favourite. The smell of its steamy sour soup
along with the taste of Bagoong with hot chilli pepper takes me right
back to when my mom first taught me to make this dish. It’s almost
like the culinary version of a warm, happy hug 🤗
Submitted by Cosmo Kwan:
This recipe comes from our friend Cosmo Kwan, who has shared his recipe for Sticky Rice Wrapped with Bamboo Leaves (Joong in Cantonese) or (Zongzi in Mandarin).
The main ingredients are: Bamboo leaves, glutinous rice (sweet rice), Chinese sausage, peanuts (optional), lean pork, Chinese mushrooms (shiitake), salted egg, shallots, mung beans (optional).
The Joong dish is very meaningful and brings back memories and warmth from happy times. I grew up learning how to prepare this dish from watching my maternal grandma (Paw Paw) from the age of 7 years old onward. I enjoyed the traditional festival for making these Joong yearly. It was not easy to prepare this dish. It was lot of work to prep and it takes a long time. It was pretty much a whole entire day for completing this, not including the pre-preparations the day before. Whenever I make this special dish, I think of how much I miss my grandma, so much, which has been over 37 years ago.
Submitted by Winnie L. Cheung:
Have fun making your own Cong You Bing!
My first taste of this traditional Shanghai breakfast item was on my way to grade school on a blustery winter day. Our school was situated halfway up a mountain on a steep slope in Hong Kong. On one of those unusually cold mornings when every step forward was a struggle (because the wind was blowing hard from the mountain), we had to turn our backs to walk backwards up the slope against the unrelenting gusts. My companion suggested we take a little detour to check out a corner store selling Shanghai style breakfast: hot soy milk and all kinds of piping hot pastries and sticky rice rolls. The chef was just churning out these savoury pancakes cut out into big triangles from a big flat round plate. We each had a big wedge of this piping hot pizza-size flat bread called Shanghai Cong You Bing. It was divinely chewy, flaky, and heavenly with lots of spring onion. And it was filling too! It warmed both my body and soul. I felt fortified for the struggle uphill, and started my day at school with a sense of gratitude.
When I grew up and started to seek out all the culinary delights from around the world, I would always try out different kinds of flat bread and pancakes on the menus. Nothing beats the folksy type of simple Cong You Bing that I was introduced to half a century ago. During COVID-19 isolation, like most people I spend more time in the kitchen. After experimenting with the dough and different recipes, I finally hit it right. Here’s the magic of turning the simple dough into the heavenly Cong You Bing that I can’t get from the restaurants:
Mix flour with water and knead. Rest dough for 20 minutes. Roll it out into a circular piece, spray it with oil and sprinkle it with salt and plenty of spring onion (chopped). Roll it into a tube and twist it like a snail. Rest for 20 minutes and flatten it into a thick cake. Add oil to the pan, brown both sides and cover it until done. There are lots of variations between steps, but you’ll experiment until you get the texture and taste you prefer. That’s the magic which one has to discover by trying. Have fun making your own Cong You Bing!
Submitted by Yvette Alegre:
As a predominantly Catholic nation, Lent (and the Easter to follow) is a very important season in the Philippine calendar. In its observance, many Filipinos will abstain from meat every Friday (at the minimum) during the 40-day Lent.
It wouldn’t be a surprise (or actually, one would expect!) to see a bowl of mongo soup paired with salty fish on the dinner table during Friday Lent. And of course – the white rice! (To the uninitiated, the dish is similar to split pea soup paired with salty sausage or ham.)
The simplicity and humility of the dish (read: cheap) is said to reflect the spirit of sacrifice that goes with the season. Lent or not, this dish combo is a staple on the Filipino table. And it doesn’t have to be on a Friday!
Submitted by Hye Ri Kim:
As a child, I vividly remember the smell of rice cooking from the rice cooker and fish being fried on a pan. That smell used to wake me up every morning. My mom made tasty ban-chans (side dishes), a bowl of soup, a bowl of rice, and pan-fried fish. Back then, I complained how I wanted fried eggs or sausages instead of fish. Thinking back on it, I now realize that I was actually lucky to have such variety for breakfast.
These days, I get up from hearing my alarm buzzing in my ears instead of smelling pleasant cooking smell. I really miss my mom’s food and now I 100% appreciate her effort to feed her family by getting up so early and putting the time into our meals.
Submitted by Ingrid Campillo:
Hello from Mexico, the land of the taco. I am a Mexican Mom who loves to share time with my son while preparing food. Through the years, cooking has been a great way to share time with him, and experiment with different food preparation. Since Kung Fu Panda was released, my son, just a kid then, wanted to have dumplings every day, but dumplings in Mexico have a different taste, let’s say that they are dumplings with a taco flare. On the other hand, Asian restaurants are not very common in our city, so we decided to follow more authentic recipes from this unifying family dish. At first, we started watching tons of videos in languages that of course, we didn’t understand, but we were able to sort of follow the steps. I must say, it was not only complicated, but extremely difficult to get the ingredients, the dough texture, the shapes, and not to mention, the many times the little pouches broke apart while we were trying to keep the filling in them. Three years later, my son and I have found that preparing dumplings is our most bonding time in the kitchen because we get to spend about three hours making them from scratch, chatting about life while making the discs, shaping the little pouches, and of course, keeping an eye on the steamer until they are perfectly cooked. While we have sort of mastered preparing some fillings and shapes, we haven’t quite learned when to stop devouring them, but hey, this seems like an excellent excuse to prepare more dumplings over and over again. Overall, it has been such a great experience learning how these yummy dumplings are made from scratch, as well as how important this dish is to unify family and friends. We hope, you too, will enjoy the smell and flavour of fresh dumplings while bonding with someone you care about.
Submitted by Judy Lam Maxwell:
Soba and udon with spicy cilantro-pea pesto
This was originally a Parsley-Pea Pesto recipe and I wanted to make it Asian so I used cilantro, peas, and Thai chilis and instead of regular pasta I opted for 2 kinds of common Japanese noodles: Soba and Udon. It has lots of garlic, spice, and is a bit sweet from the peas. I like to cook something different everyday and cooking is my creative outlet.
@chinatownjudy / @HistoricalChinatownTours
Submitted by Ha Cheung:
Chinese rice noodles filled with shrimp/prawns
This is a common dish at Yum Cha. My partner bought me a special steamer online for making rice rolls/noodles. I made the noodles from scratch and filled the rice rolls with prawns, baby Shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and cilantro. The rice rolls are gluten-free, so this can be appealing to everyone.
Other possible fillings are:
- sliced BBQ pork or beef
- all seafood (prawns, scallops, fish)
- all vegetables
Submitted by Leticia Sanchez:
Who Doesn’t Love Butter Chicken?
Butter Chicken has humble origins. It was born in Delhi, Capital of India in the 1950’s. Its story starts in a sweet shop in Peshawar, India called Mukhey da Dhaba, owned by an elderly man called Mokha Singh. As Mokha Singh got older, he decided to sell his shop to one of his employees, Kundan Lal Gujral, who renamed it as Moti Mahal Restaurant. While Kundan Lal Gujral worked at the sweet shop he learned many different recipes from Mokha Singh, and was the inventor of the Tandoor Chicken, another delicate Indian dish that I love. In his restaurant, Gujral observed that his Tandoori Chicken hanging above the tandoor all-day would tend to dry out if it was not sold, so he and his cooks started experimenting with different ways to keep the chicken moist. They tried with different marinades and finally Gujral came up with the genius idea of creating a basic gravy with tomatoes, butter, cream, and some spices to immerse the Tandoori Chicken pieces in, helping them retain moisture. The combination of ingredients gave birth to the Murgh Makhani, the dish we now call, Butter Chicken.
Kundan Lal Gujral moved his Moti Mahal restaurant to Delhi, with its Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken on its menu. The small restaurant grew fast and quickly. Now, almost 70 years later, Gujral has a successful chain of restaurants managed by his grandson, Monish, and Butter Chicken has become the most popular dish from India, and a very well known one in the world. Its delicious flavour comes from the unique blend of spices. In the original recipe, the chicken will marinate for hours in a mixture of yogurt, garlic, coriander, garam marsala, ginger, cumin, and other spices, then cooked and simmered in a mild curry sauce rich with butter and tomato.
Today, you will find Butter Chicken tacos, pizzas, rolls, burgers, etc., as well as different styles that adapt to the demand, but the evolution of Butter Chicken does not lack authenticity, as its basic ingredients remain at the core of the dish. In fact, the different varieties of Butter Chicken recipes are like the experiments that the Gujral and the cooks of Moti Mahal made. They did not have an idea of what the result will be, but they tried with what they had at hand.
It is said, that often, the best things in life are discovered by accident. I am no inventor of new dishes, but here is my experiment with Butter Chicken. The result? Much better than buying it from the frozen food section in the supermarket while waiting to gather again in an authentic Indian restaurant.
Submitted by Judy Lam Maxwell:
A healthy Asian salad for dinner with mixed greens, purple cabbage, a mix of beans, cilantro, daikon radish sprouts, marinated lotus roots, baby cucumber, shiso, hard-cooked egg drizzled with homemade chili oil, and a mirin-soy-toasted sesame seed oil dressing. Fresh, organic, local, and delicious! Have a great weekend!