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:


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

9:15 – 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)



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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The Chinese in San Francisco

San Francisco MagazineCheck out this month’s issue (April 2015) of San Francisco. It’s a special issue on the Chinese city in San Francisco. I haven’t read the whole magazine yet, but wanted you to check it out before the issue disappears. The editors and writers reveal a fresh insider’s view on the Chinese community, politics, language, the workplace, education, and so much more. I have discovered so much in just the few pieces I have read.

Linda-S.F.Mag.04.15+2For foodies, read the section on Delicacies. Want to know how the soup gets in XLB (xiao long bao) and where to taste the best? Where to buy the best Chinese pastries? Read the illustrated dim sum guide by Asian Dumplings author, Andrea Nguyen. Get the lowdown on where to buy a wok. Learn about hot spots for Chinese regional cuisine. BTW, you will find my comments on the Hakka Restaurant in the article on page 49 and page 56.

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The second Hakka cooking party

A couple of years ago, my high school friend Karen suggested we organize a cooking party around The Hakka Cookbook. We had such a good time she wanted to repeat it again. I suggested we try different recipes this time.

I planned a menu with six recipes trying to choose ones that would not suffer when cooked in a larger quantity. I suggested each cook claim one recipe and bring it to the party ready-to-eat or completely prepped and ready to cook. In this organized potluck, the work and expenses are shared which makes it much less stressful for the host.

We numbered thirteen. The men opted out of the cooking and were happy to drink beer and socialize outside. The six women, longtime childhood friends, gathered in the kitchen to catch up, laugh, and get the meal on the table. Since we served two dishes at a time, usually only two people were at the stove, while others watched and learned.

Our crew cooked and ate the meal at a leisurely pace in three courses, serving two dishes at a time, buffet style. We spent the whole afternoon cooking, talking, and eating. It’s an easy party plan to duplicate for your own Hakka cooking party. This party also pushes you to explore the cookbook more deeply. Enjoy—cook, learn, and eat!

First courses:

Ruby and Chicken MorselsSoy Glazed Chicken Morsels (p. 199). Ruby doubled the recipe, cooking it in two batches at home, shortly before the party. She served the chicken at room temperature over a bed of lettuce. The chicken can also be served hot.

Mustard Green and Pork Soup (p. 26) Nancy brought a double batch of the broth with the pork. Shortly before serving, she reheated the broth and added the cut-up mustard greens.

Second courses:Phyllis and Shrimp

Poached Shrimp and Ginger Broth (p. 103) Phyllis brought a double portion of shrimp and seasonings. Once the water boiled, it only took minutes to cook the shrimp.

Barbara with Squash and Peas





Ginger Scented Squash and Peas (p. 52) Barbara pan-steamed a double portion of this colorful vegetable medley in my 14-inch wok. She used shallots instead of lily bulbs.

Third courses:Melanee and Spinach

Steamed Black Bean Pork (p. 165) The day before I cooked a double batch of this recipe and chilled it overnight. The next day, I reheated the two bowls in my stacked steamer.

Spinach and Peanuts (p. 56) Mel stir-fried two double batches of spinach just before serving.

Hot Rice

Potluck Desserts

Wine, Beer, Hot Tea, and  Sparkling Wine and Water





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Hakka steamed pork and eggs

Steamed Pork and EggLast month I wrote about Hakka dishes for Chinese New Year.  I had asked a Hakka Facebook group what were some of their favorites. Although many suggested fancy dishes, some elected simple family favorites. One dish was Steamed Minced Pork with Egg (ju ngiuk jin gai chun) also known and steamed pork hash or steamed pork cake.

This pale steamed pork and egg patty looks rather plain and humble, but it packs lots of flavor and comfort food satisfaction.  It is easy and quick to make. Mix minced or ground pork with eggs and seasonings, them steam to make a soft, juicy savory meat patty, similar to a steamed meatloaf.

Steamed Minced Pork and Egg

This version is adapted from a recipe from my friend Fah Liong. It contains Tianjin (Tienstin) preserved vegetables often sold in squat brown crocks in Asian markets. The dry chewy shreds of fermented cabbage add a savory, garlicky, saltiness. If unavailable, omit the preserved vegetables and add more soy sauce. For another version see page 148 in The Hakka Cookbook.

Makes 4 servings as a main dish or 8 servings as part of a multi-course meal

1 pound ground pork

1/2 cup minced shallots or onion

1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) or water

2 tablespoons rinsed minced Tianjin preserved vegetable or 2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

1. In a medium bowl mix the pork, shallots, wine, preserved vegetable, eggs, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Lightly pat the pork mixture into an even layer in an 8- to 9-inch wide shallow heatproof dish that will fit in a steamer such as a Pyrex pie pan.

2. Set the dish on a rack over 2 to 4 inches boiling water in a steamer or wok (if bottom is round, place on a wok ring to stabilize). Cover and steam over high heat until the meat is no longer pink in center (cut to test) about 20 minutes. Watch the water level, adding more boiling water as needed. Carefully remove the dish from steamer. Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.



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Chinese New Year foods

Chinese New Year symbols Wishing you a prosperous new year!  Khiung Hee Fat Choy!  Welcome to the Chinese year 4713 on the lunar calendar that begins on February 19, 2015.

This is the year of the goat, (also called ram or sheep). Chinese celebrate for about two weeks with family reunions, festive banquets, symbolic decorations, red envelopes filled with money, and good wishes. The new year signals a time for renewal and is also called The Spring Festival.

Many foods eaten during the celebration have symbolic meanings. They may resemble or their name sounds like something that is auspicious. For instance spring rolls look like gold bars, kumquats resemble gold coins, open clams represent new opportunities, green vegetables suggest growth in business, noodles symbolize long life.

In preparation for talks I am giving later this month, I posted a question in an international Hakka group on Facebook. I asked them “Do you serve any special Hakka dishes for Chinese New Year?”

Here are some of the answers I received. Some are regional specialties or Hakka classics. Some are fancy dishes; others beloved humble family favorites. Responses came from Hakka from all over the world so the spelling for the Chinese names may differ than what you know. Maybe you will see some of your favorites here. 
Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens

Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens

  • Pork belly with preserved mustard greens (kiu ngiuk moi choi)
  • Steamed minced pork with egg (choo nyuk jin gai choon)
  • ABC soup (lo song tong): soup with potato, carrot, onion, red dates, dry groundnuts, goji berries, meat or chicken carcass
  • Steamed fish with pickled mustard greens, red dates, tomato, and lily buds
  • Fried duck with plum sauce
  • Yellow wine chicken (wong jiu gai)
  • Pineapple chicken
  • Buddhist vegetarian stew (lo hon zai) Eaten on the first day of new year
  • Steamed chicken with salt (pak zm gai)
  • Fish maw soup (oem biao tong)
  • Sweet and sour duck (son moi ap)
  • Braised stuffed oysters with fat choy, and chestnuts (ngiong haw see)
  • Slice of pork liver wrapped in caul fat
  • Steamed fish with Chinese white radish in sweet and sour sauce (lo ped oem)
  • California squid with salted mustard green (ham choy)
  • Dried squid with celery
  • Stir-fried chicken with arrow root and vegetables
  • Surinamese Hakka-style chow mein made with spaghettini
  • Eight treasures duck (pat mui ap)
  • Black bean beef bone soup

What’s your favorite Chinese New Year dish? Here are some Hakka specialties featured in The Hakka Cookbook.  Have a delicious and Happy New Year! Khiung Hee Fat Choy!


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