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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Cooking class in San Mateo

Learn about Hakka history, my global journey to find my Hakka identity through food, and Chinese New Year traditions. Check out my new slide presentation for this special event at
San Mateo County Libraries located in San Carlos, Foster City, and Millbrae on February 25, 26 and March 4. The event is called Cooking Asian with Linda Anusasananan.

Ingredients Mustard green soupI will follow with a cooking class showing how to cook three easy dishes: Fresh Ginger-Onion Noodles, Mustard Green and Pork Soup, and a seasonal vegetable stir-fry. Recipes included. A tasting and book sale follows.

This event is free, but spaces are limited and you need to register in advance. Click on the highlighted links for details. Hope to see you!

 

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World recipes Expo Milano 2015

To make lui cha, pound tea leaves, nuts, and seeds in a bowl with a stick.

To make lui cha, pound tea leaves, nuts, and seeds in a bowl with a stick.

My recipe for the popular Hakka pounded tea (lei cha or lui cha) was published on World Recipes for the Expo Milano 2015 website. The original recipe is from The Hakka Cookbook on page 99. This version from Taiwan is often served in Hakka tea houses with sweet condiments. I simplified the recipe for the Expo site.

Since the Expo’s theme–Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life–focuses on food, they have built a global community and collection of recipes that keeps growing. Currently there are more than 125,000 recipes and 57 countries represented. Check it out.

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Gifts for the aspiring Chinese cook

gift with book and steamerIf there’s a cook on your holiday gift list who is interested in Chinese history and cuisine, consider The Hakka Cookbook. Or if you know someone who is Hakka, give them the book to help them discover their own cultural and culinary heritage. They can learn how to cook Hakka classics such as stuffed tofu and salt-baked chicken as well as easy Chinese comfort food.  The Hakka Cookbook was named “Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World in 2013 by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

If they already own the book, take a look at this post from last year for other gift suggestions from cooking tools (woks, steamers, clay pots, Chinese cleavers) to ethnic ingredients. Or assemble a Chinese cooking kit.

Happy holidays! May it be full of joy and good food!

 

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Chinese cooking videos

grokkerAs much as I try to convey foolproof directions through written recipes, comprehension soars when a person can actually watch the process. See it and the technique becomes instantly clear.

So when a new food and fitness video website grokker.com asked me to demonstrate Chinese cooking for their videos, I agreed. They take care of the production; I provide the recipes and demo. It’s a new challenge for me. I am still learning how to talk, look at the camera, and cook in front of the camera–all at the same time without an accident.

We shoot five recipes in one day of intense production. It takes a long time just to set up the lights. There’s also the camera angle, food set-up, and action.  So far, we have shot about 20 recipes. They recently released eight new videos that we shot a few months ago.

To see the videos, you will be asked to register (free either through email or Facebook.) Then you will be able to see previews or limited videos free. If you become a paid subscriber, you have complete access to cooking videos on many cuisines and subjects such as gluten-free, techniques, and baking. There is also a wide selection of yoga and fitness videos.

Here are my newly released cooking videos. Some are Hakka dishes.

Hakka Chinese Noodles with Pork and Mushroom Sauce comes from a meal I ate in Singapore. The dark earthy flavors of the pork and mushroom sauce taste distinctively Hakka. It’s an easy dish to put together for a weeknight meal. Recipe also on page 104 of The Hakka Cookbook.

broccoli beefHealthy Broccoli Beef, a popular Chinese restaurant offering, is easy to make at home. Also it is healthier and fresher tasting. Use readily available ingredients to make this quick dish that is likely to become a family favorite.

Homemade Potstickers with Ground Pork and Vegetables shows how easy it is to make these pan-browned dumplings.

Steeped Chinese Ginger Chicken in Little Lettuce Cups demonstrates an effortless Chinese technique to cook chicken breast so it maintains its succulence. Shred the meat and serve with a fresh ginger sauce. Serve in lettuce leaves for an appetizer. This variation is based on Steeped Chicken Breasts (page 22) and Fresh Ginger Onion Sauce (page 66) in The Hakka Cookbook.

Sweet and Sour PorkChinese Sweet and Sour Pork shows my light and healthier version of a popular take-out classic. I skip the deep-frying step and use fresh pineapple for a fresher taste.

Healthy Chinese Cashew Chicken with Peas is an easy stir-fry combining lean chicken breast and crunchy pea pods.

Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup unravels the mystery of the complex flavors of this soup. It’s easier to make than you think.

Spicy Sichuan Green Beans with Ground Pork adds zesty flavors to green beans.

 

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