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Posts Tagged ‘asian food’

How Eating Whole Fish Could Bring Good Luck

Photo by Kankana Saxena

Throughout most of Asia, fish is cooked and served whole (head and tail intact) for good luck. “Whole steamed fish with scallions, shiitakes and cilantro is classic. Every household in China has this recipe,” says award-winning food writer and cookbook author Corinne Trang. Whole fish symbolizes abundance, she says, and so for special occasions like weddings and birthdays, it is customary and good luck to serve a whole fish at the table. “I will make it any time I want to have it, and that’s not necessarily attached to a holiday like the Chinese New Year.”

Fish also has symbolic significance because the Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for riches (abundance). California-based Chris Yeo, founder of Straits Restaurant Group in California, recommends cooking your fish for 8 minutes, as 8 is a lucky number. “It is customary to serve the whole fish last, pointed toward the guest of honor at the table.” He offers an interesting insight into the dish: The fish is never completely eaten, as leaving a little bit of it represents the family’s ability to “always have enough.” Chris, who co-authored The Cooking of Singapore (Harlow & Ratner, 1993), prepares his fish inspired by the flavors he grew up with in Hong Kong and Singapore.

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Dinner Rush! Tandoori Spiced Chicken With Tahini Carrots

I do hope you’re sitting down for this one, because this post is so loaded with delicious, time-saving “do-ahead” ideas that it’ll make you weak in the knees (please, hold your applause). I know that a cursory glance at this post may incline one to believe there’s a lot of work ahead just to get a simple chicken dinner on the table. Be not deceived — read on with empowered optimism.

One of my favorite spice blends available at my local market is billed simply as tandoori powder. Borrowing inspiration from the famous Indian chicken dish bearing the name tandoori, this creation is bright, aromatic, pleasantly spicy and seriously amazing on everything from meat to fish to tofu to vegetables. If your market doesn’t have this available (or if you’re one of these awesome people who’d rather get all DIY on it), make some of your own and keep it close by — you’ll want to put it on everything. In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons ground coriander, 3 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder. Store the mixture in an airtight container at room temperature (makes about 3/4 cup; you won’t need all of it for this recipe).

What pantry of sound being is complete without a staple salad dressing, too, right? I love having a hearty tahini dressing on hand to toss with shredded kale, grilled romaine or — in this case — a raw carrot salad. In a medium bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 finely grated clove garlic, salt and pepper and 3 to 4 tablespoons warm water. Adjust the dressing’s consistency with more or less water and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (makes about 3/4 cup).

See, not so tough, right? Plus you’re two steps ahead of the game for dinner the rest of the week! Alright, enough do-aheads — let’s make this into a meal!

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Dinner Rush! Carrot-Ginger Wonton Soup

Not unlike the rest of the free world, I haven’t been feeling so hot this last week. Congestion, light coughing and a perpetual need for multiple layers of blanketing – who loves flu season! So, in an edible effort to get myself back on the right track, I whipped up some of my favorite sick time comfort food: wonton soup.

When I’m feeling down, nothing brings me back like a big bowl of soup. I live in a curious little black hole where all of the Asian restaurants around me have nailed most Americanized Chinese delicacies with the exception of wonton soup – it’s just not very tasty in my neck of the woods. Needless to say, I’ve gotten pretty decent at making it at home.

Whenever going at wonton soup on my own, I save a boatload of time by using frozen pot stickers for the wontons. I start with a XXL dose of ginger to make a nice spicy base, and then simmer the pot stickers in the infused broth just until they’re tender. It’s a delicious meal for those ailing and healthy alike that’s done before the delivery man could even make it to your door.

Carrot-Ginger Wonton Soup

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Lee Anne Wong’s Food Crawl, Starring Pretzel Dumplings

Pretzel Dumplings

We’ve all been on pub crawls (perhaps more often than we’d admit), but what about a legit food crawl? Enter Lee Anne Wong. When she has a craving for dumplings and noodles, she doesn’t just face her craving—she goes running after it with reckless abandon. Tonight at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel, Lee Ane Wong takes her love of Asian food to the streets of New York with her one-hour special Food Crawl with Lee Anne Wong where she finds a treasure trove of savory Asian treats in every corner of the city.

Lee Anne has that distinct ability to make everything she puts in her mouth seem like miracles sent from heaven. Her enthusiasm for food is contagious, and generally speaking I’d be all too happy to “have what’s she having.” But one particular dumpling on her crawl really got my attention and my stomach grumbling. Meet the Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumpling with Tahini Mustard Dipping Sauce courtesy of Talde in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

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