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!


The Hakka Cookbook, a year in review

With book artist and brother, Alan Lau, at Book Larder in Seattle

With book artist and brother, Alan Lau, at Book Larder in Seattle


Just one year ago on September 29, 2012, I officially launched The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. It was a bit like giving birth in public after a seemingly endless pregnancy, more than seven years. The long labor was worth it.

What a great year! The press has been good to the book, gaining attention even at some of the big names such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and Martha Stewart Living.

Cooking with Mark Bittman, NY Times writer.

Cooking with Mark Bittman, NY Times writer.

The Hakka Cookbook was recognized as “Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World” in Paris, I’ve talked about the book on the radio and cable television and many book signing events. Bloggers wrote very thoughtful and appreciate reviews. Best of all, I have connected and met with Hakkas from all over the world. Just shy of its first birthday, the book is in its second printing.

Here’s a quick summary of year one for The Hakka Cookbook. For details on this list, visit this page.

"Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook of the World"

“Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook of the World”

  • 21 Printed articles and reviews
  • 24 Digital and blog articles
  • 5 Best or Favorite Cookbook Lists
  • 3 Radio interviews
  • 1 Television/youtube interview
  • 1 Cookbook Award
  • 26 Book signing events

Thanks for all your support. Hope to meet you at a  future event.


Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World

A couple of months ago I was notified that The Hakka Cookbook was the USA finalist and on the shortlist for the Chinese Cuisine category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. The award ceremony would take place in Paris. At first, I thought Paris seemed an expensive trip to go for an award I was unlikely to receive. Yet, I might never have another chance for this experience. Any excuse to visit Paris seemed good enough, win or lose.

Last weekend we sat in a ballroom packed with people, some dressed in backless gowns, Japanese kimonos, or Russian costumes. Finalists were from all over the world— Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, Ireland, China, Turkey, India, South Africa. People were just as excited as if they were at the Academy Awards. As the awards were announced, the winners came to the stage, received a large certificate (sorry, no golden statue), and a brief chance to thank their supporters.

Shock, disbelief, joy–these emotions flooded through me as I heard the host of the ceremonies announce, “We have a tie for first place for best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World.” I looked at the screen on stage and my book, The Hakka Cookbook appeared alongside China’s finalist Da Dong Artistic Conception of Chinese Cuisine. I couldn’t believe it, my modest book, which took years to find a publisher was awarded Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook in the World for 2012. My husband was so shocked, he almost forgot to take photos as I walked to the stage to receive my award certificate.

The day after the awards, I compared the finalists in my category. Interestingly, the two first place winners were complete opposites. I would almost consider the book from China an art book. Big and beautiful with glossy pages of lush color photos of stylized dishes, it seemed to be made for the coffee table rather than the kitchen. Recipes were chef-oriented. The Hakka Cookbook, the only finalist without color photos, used duo tone paintings by my brother, Alan Chong Lau, to illustrate the pages. Detailed recipes for comfort food was written for home cooks. Yet the book also contained history, and stories about the Hakka, a people and cuisine rarely written about. Perhaps the judges awarded both of us for innovation in different ways, we both explored new territory in unique presentations. Whatever the reasons, winning made my trip to Paris, even sweeter.