Chinese New Year cooking class

LNY Double Cooking ProgramHappy Year of the Monkey! Visit the Millbrae Library Tuesday night, February 9 for a special double-header Chinese New Year event.

Come at 6 pm to see Jimmy Zhang, founder of Art Chef, Inc., carve fruit and vegetables into intricate shapes.

At 6:30 pm I will be showing slides on Hakka soul food and history and Chinese New Year. Watch me cook three dishes adapted from The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World. Stay for a taste of the Ginger-Garlic Noodles, Snow Peas and Tofu Stir-fry, and Chinese Lettuce with Garlic and Black Beans. Bring your copy of The Hakka Cookbook and I will be happy to sign it. I will also have a few copies of The Hakka Cookbook for sale. Advance sign-up needed. Click here to sign up for the event.

The library is located at 1 Library Avenue in Millbrae, California. I hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, come to my cooking class at Foster City Library on 2/11/16 at 6:30 pm or East Palo Alto Library on 2/20/16 at 2 pm. Click here for more details.

 

 

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Chinese New Year

IMG_7650Khiung Hee Fat Choy! Wishing you a prosperous new year! Welcome to the Chinese year 4714 on the lunar calendar which begins on February 8, 2016. This is the year of the monkey.

Last night, I gave the first of four presentations for the San Mateo County Libraries on Chinese New Year and Hakka Soul Food (click here for event schedule). In my talk, I showed slides of many foods eaten during the two-week celebration.

Many dishes served for the Chinese New Year dinner have ingredients with auspicious meanings or symbolism. The Chinese word for fish sounds like abundance. Spring rolls look like gold bars and kumquats resemble gold coins. Green vegetables suggest growth in business. Noodles symbolize long life.

taro abacus beadsI also included photos of Hakka new year specialties such as Taro Abacus Beads (芋 頭 算 盤 子 Hakka: wu tiuh sun pan jue) that I tasted in Malaysia and Singapore. These chewy disks made from mashed taro and tapioca flour are shaped to resemble the counting beads on a Chinese abacus. Boiled and stir-fried they likely represent wealth. In Hong Kong, the popular multi-course banquet layered in a wash basin known as Basin Feast (盆 萊 Hakka: puhn choi) represents unity.

Last year I conducted an informal survey in Facebook Hakka groups and found many people serve humble family favorites such as Steamed Minced Pork with Egg or steamed fish. Others opt for more labor intensive Hakka specialties such as Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Green (扣 肉 梅 菜 Hakka: kiu ngiuk moi choi).

I am still planning my menu.  What are you cooking for Chinese New Year Dinner?

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Hakka restaurants

Anthony Lin, chef/owner at Danforth Dragon in Toronto

Anthony Lin, chef/owner at Danforth Dragon in Toronto

Where are the Hakka restaurants?

I am surprised there are so few. In San Francisco, I only know of a couple—The Hakka Restaurant and Ton Kiang. Both are owned by Hakka and serve some Hakka dishes as well as other popular Chinese dishes. But in a city with such a large Chinese population why are there so few?

I suspect some restaurants may be Hakka-owned but to attract more customers they may promote a more recognizable Chinese cuisine or generic Chinese dishes. The scarcity of Hakka restaurants may exist only in North America. Although I did find more Hakka establishments in S.E. Asia, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, the numbers still seemed rather minor. Since I don’t live there, perhaps I may not be aware of them.

Because Hakka chefs come from all over, there are variations on the cuisine they serve. Some serve Hakka-Indian, Hakka-Caribbean, or Hakka Chinese food.

Do you know any Hakka restaurants anywhere in the world? If so, please share. Provide the restaurant name, address, phone, website, email address, type of Hakka food (Chinese, Indian, etc.), house specialties, your favorites, and any other comments.

I am happy to share the information here. Looking forward to your recommendations. Thanks!

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Hakka Cookbook for holiday gifts

The Hakka Cookbook (med)Looking for a gift for someone who loves to explore new cuisines and enjoys culinary history? Do they like to cook and eat Chinese food? If so, consider giving them The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World. My book contains more than recipes. It also holds history, art, and personal stories.

My book uncovers the “soul food” of the Chinese migrants known as the Hakka. It is the result of my exploration to find my own Hakka identity and culinary history. As I traveled and interviewed Hakka around the world, I realized that the keepers of the Hakka recipes were the older generation. I wrote the book to preserve the recipes and stories of these relatively unknown Chinese migrants who live in scattered communities all over the world. If you have Hakka friends, relatives, or grandchildren, this would be a meaningful book to help them understand their history and food.

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012 recognized The Hakka Cookbook as the “Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World.”

Order the book from your local bookstore or explore online bookstores such as Amazon or Kinokuniya. Click here for more options on where to buy The Hakka Cookbook, by Linda Lau Anusasananan, published by University of California Press. Read the reviews and articles written about the book to help you decide.

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New York Hakka Conference

IMG_0728When I attended my first Hakka conference in Toronto in 2008, a feeling of belonging overwhelmed me. It was the first time I was in the company of so many Hakka, guest people like me. All my life I lived mostly in a Western world, feeling different than most Chinese who spoke Cantonese or Mandarin. I knew few Hakka.

The feeling of finding family came again when I attended the first New York Hakka Conference last weekend. Reclaiming our Hakka heritage was the theme. Co-chairs Dr. Keith Lowe and Paula Madison Williams succeeded in bringing Hakkas together to learn about their shared roots and history. From the evening of October 16 to October 18, attendees immersed themselves in Hakka culture, often with a Jamaican vibe since many of the attendees had Jamaican roots.

We listened to speakers discuss how to find our Hakka roots through Chinese names and cemetery records. We learned about the Chinese success as shopkeepers, bakers, and businessmen in the Caribbean. We saw photos of Hakka earth buildings and Hakka food. Revealing films took us into the lives of Hakka searching for their long lost families in China, growing up in China, and living in India.

The Hakka are one people with a shared history. Find your Hakka heritage at next year’s Fifth Toronto Hakka Conference, July 1 to 3, 2016.

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New York Hakka Conference

12038109_10206866982065686_8953866209858775553_nIt’s almost time for the first New York Hakka Conference. The event starts Friday, October 16 with a  reception at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) featuring The Nation Music of Jamaica’s Byron Lee. A weekend of films, panel discussions, and talks–all focused on the Hakka follows at the Cantor Film Center at NYU. Come and learn about the “guest people”, their history, identity, diaspora, and food.

Click here to register. Special $50 rate for students. Day passes available for $88. Check the schedule of events.

On Saturday, October 17, I will talk about Hakka cuisine and show some slides of food and people I encountered on my global trip. If you have a copy of The Hakka Cookbook and would like me to sign it, please bring it. I am not bringing a suitcase full of books to sell.

You can order or buy The Hakka Cookbook at a couple of local stores: NYU Bookstore, 726 Broadway, NY, NY,  212. 998. 4678 or Kitchen Arts and Letters, 1435 Lexington Ave., NY, NY, 212. 876. 5550.

Hope to see you soon.

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New York Hakka Conference schedule

nyc Hakka I am putting together a slide show for The New York Hakka Conference. My subject is Hakka Cuisine so I plan to show photos of Hakka food and share stories I encountered on my global journey to research The Hakka Cookbook. Register for the conference and learn more about Hakka history, identity, and food. Following is a tentative schedule of events:

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015

Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) at 215 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

RECEPTION at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). 7:00 PM Feature presentation – The Nation Music of Jamaica’s Byron Lee. Starting a calypso and mento group in high school, Byron founded the Dragonaires as a big dance band that held sway over four decades in Jamaica and the Caribbean, as well as in  the diaspora cities of London, Miami, New York, and Toronto. From ska to rock-steady to reggae and soca, mambo and cha-cha-cha, Byron reproduced the international signature music of the Caribbean.

 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2015 NYU Cantor Film Center at 36 East 8th Street, New York, NY 10003

9:00AM OPENING CEREMONY (Room 200)
9:15 – 10:30AM THE SEARCH for MY CHINESE FAMILY –  Paula Williams Madison screens her documentary and reads from her book, “Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China” (Room 200)
10:30 – 10:45AM BREAK
10:45 – 11:30AM CHINESE NAMES, HAKKA GENERATIONS – Dr. Keith Lowe, co-founder of the Toronto Hakka Conference, uses the Lowe family to illustrate the clan system that is the backbone of Chinese civilization. (Room 101)
10:45 – 11:30AM RESTORING THE CHINESE CEMETERY – Robert Hew and Robert Lee, leading members of the cemetery team of the Chinese Benevolent Society of Jamaica, describe the restoration of the cemetery that was unused for three decades.  Records have been translated and carried over to a database which reveals the location of one’s ancestors. (Room 102)
11:30AM – 12:30PM AFRO-CHINESE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES in CUBA – Dr. Martin Tsang, Florida International University (Room 101)
12:30 – 1:30PM LUNCH (Non-hosted) Please enjoy the wide selection of local restaurants.
1:30 – 2:45PM CHINESE SUCCESS AS SHOPKEEPERS, BAKERS, ENTREPRENEURS, Part 1 –  Alexandra Lee moderates a panel consisting of business leaders Vincent HoSang, Vincent J. Chang, Butch Hendrickson, and Dalton Yap. (Room 102)
1:30 – 2:45PM REVOLUTIONARIES AND CHANGE MAKERS – Prof. Richard Bohr, Dr. Samuel Lowe (Room 101)
2:45PM – 3:00PM BREAK
3:00 – 4:00PM CHINESE SUCCESS AS SHOPKEEPERS, BAKERS, ENTREPRENEURS, Part 2 – Alexandra Lee moderates a panel consisting of business leaders Vincent HoSang, Vincent J. Chang, Butch Hendrickson, and Dalton Yap. (Room 102)
3:00 – 4:00PM HAKKA CUISINE – Linda Lau Anusasananan, author of The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from Around the World (Room 101)

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2015

NYU Cantor Film Center at 36 East 8th Street, New York, NY 10003

9:30 – 10:30AM HAKKA EARTH BUILDINGS AS WORLD HERITAGE – Ruifeng Liang, Professor of Engineering, Western Virginia University (Room 101)
9:30 – 10:30AM HAKKA MIGRATIONS – Patrick Lee, author of Chinese Canadian Jamaicans & Chinese Jamaicans Worldwide (Room 102)
10:30 – 10:45AM BREAK
10:45AM – 12:00PM MASTERING CARIBBEAN MUSIC and ART, Part 1 – Panel Discussion: Broadcaster Francine Chin, VP Records President Randy Chin, and author Kevin O’Brien Chang (Room 101)
10:45 – 12:00PM MIXED RACE PERSONS Screening of documentary, “Half,” produced and directed by Jeanette Kong (Room 102)
12:00 – 1:00PM LUNCH (Non-hosted) Please enjoy a the wide selection of local restaurants.
1:00 – 2:30PM MASTERING CARIBBEAN MUSIC and ART, Part 2 – Panel Discussion: Broadcaster Francine Chin, VP Records President Randy Chin, and author Kevin O’Brien Chang (Room 101)
1:00 – 2:30PM CARIBBEAN CHINESE LITERATURE and ART – Easton Lee reads poems and stories from his many books based on a lifetime spent developing Jamaican culture from the village square to the international stage. (Room 102)
2:30 – 2:45PM BREAK
3:00 – 4:15PM WRAP UP & CLOSING CEREMONY in Room 200

 

 

 

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New York Hakka Conference

nyc Hakka“Reclaiming our Hakka Heritage” is the theme of the first New York Hakka Conference. This conference aims to educate people of Hakka and Hakka-Chinese descent in retaining and adapting their traditional culture. Any interested person can attend. The conference starts Friday night October 16 and ends Sunday October 18, 2015.

A festive Friday evening reception at the Museum of Chinese in America kicks off the conference with The Nation Music of Jamaica’s Bryon Lee.

On Saturday and Sunday film screenings, panel discussions, and presentations will be held at the Cantor Film Center at New York University. View the documentary film, “Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem. Learn about Hakka earth buildings, Hakka Migrations, Chinese names and Hakka generations, Chinese success as shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, and much more.

I will be sharing a slide presentation on Hakka cuisine on Saturday afternoon. Register NY Hakka Conference now and join me for a weekend of discovery.

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Hakka diaspora around the world

world hakka mapFollow the Hakka diaspora around the world. A few months ago in a Facebook group, someone posted “I am new to the group. Where are you all from?” The responses came from all over the world–Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Brunei, and of course, China. In my research for The Hakka Cookbook, I met others who had come from India, Trinidad, Singapore, Taiwan, Tahiti, and Peru. Since the publication of the book, I have heard from Hakka from other countries such as Surinam, Netherlands, Britain, Thailand, and Sweden.

The Hakka have settled on every continent. With our long history of migration, it is no wonder that we have wandered to so many countries and adapted to new homes to seek a better life.

What is the global Hakka population? When I researched my book, I found estimates ranged from 30 million to 120 million. In 1992, the International Association of Hakka estimated that the total worldwide Hakka population was about 75 million.

 

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The Cleaver Quarterly

the cleaver quarterlyJust received my comp copy of issue 4 of The Cleaver Quarterly. I found my interview  on page 73. Click Dandelion Cuisine to read. I love the way the article looks with my brother’s (Alan Lau) colorful art. The article shows what the book might have looked like if the publisher’s budget could have afforded the use of 4 color in the book.dandelion cuisine

A few months ago a message landed in my inbox, “We would love to interview you in our magazine, The Cleaver Quarterly.” I was impressed with their unique interview questions that indicated they had read The Hakka Cookbook thoroughly. I had never seen the publication so did a web search. Since it is a print-only magazine, I couldn’t find articles online but got a taste of their mission.

If you are into Chinese food, The Cleaver Quarterly is for you. This year-old publication, headquartered in Beijing, figure more people eat Chinese than any other cuisine. Their focus is to connect people through their passion for Chinese cuisine. This indie publication—sort of like a Chinese-focused version of Lucky Peach—seeks to tell stories through long-form writing. Yeah! Such sentiments are almost unheard of in this age of short bites of text. Irreverent art, photo essays, and illustrations add visual punch to the pages.

In the same issue on page 76, you will also find “Can-Do Attitude,” an interview by Winston Chang, who grew up in a Hakka shopkeeper’s family in Trinidad. Read more about him in The Hakka Cookbook.

Since the magazine is not supported by ads, it is priced higher than glossy ad-supported mass media publications.  Visit their website to see where to buy or get a subscription. I have seen the magazine at Omnivore Books in San Francisco.

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