Today marks the start of Asian Pacific Heritage Month. As members of Jet’s Asian Associate Resource Group, we’re kicking off the month by eating lots of Asian-inspired food. We compiled our favorite recipes and wanted to share a few with you. These recipes have brought our friends and families closer together over the years, and we hope that they bring some joy to you too.
Pi-Pa Tofu, from Jasmine Zhuang
Every year, my family has a hybrid Thanksgiving dinner. Half of the table is turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, while the other half is a potluck of Asian dishes cooked by my mom and family friends. My mom is a wonderful cook and one of my favorite dishes of hers at Thanksgiving is called pi-pa tofu – golden-fried tofu mixed with shrimp and meat. Because of its shape, the dish is named after the pi-pa (琵琶), a traditional Chinese instrument with four strings and a wooden body resembling a pear. Growing up, my mom reserved cooking pi-pa tofu for special occasions like Thanksgiving. In college, a revised version of this recipe which swapped out the shrimp for Alaskan king crab served me well in our annual Iron Chef competition. Nowadays, I always look forward to visiting my parents so I can enjoy my mom’s cooking, and this dish is the perfect welcome home.
- 1 lb firm tofu – crumbled/mashed up and moisture removed (strain/squeeze water through a cheesecloth)
- ½ lb minced shrimp
- ½ lb ground chicken (or ground pork)
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- ½ – ¾ cup finely diced carrots
- ½ – ¾ cup finely diced water chestnuts
- Optional: 1.5 tablespoons ginger-soaked water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 5-2 tsp salt (use less if other ingredients, e.g. crab, already have salt added!)
- ¼ tsp white pepper (if available)
- 3 whole eggs
- A small pour of soy sauce
Mix tofu, shrimp, chicken, green onion, carrots, water chestnuts, and ginger-soaked water. Season mixture with sugar, salt, and white pepper. Then mix in 3 whole eggs and soy sauce. Stir/mix until sticky – mix in one consistent direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) to bind ingredients. Heat canola/vegetable oil in pot until it bubbles when you insert a wooden/bamboo chopstick. Use two spoons to form mixture into pi-pa shapes (pear-like oval). Fry in hot oil until the tofu ball floats (should be light golden-brown). Adjust flame as necessary so both outside and inside are cooked. Remove pi-pa tofu and let rest on paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Note: another option is to pan-fry instead of deep-fry – just form pancakes out of the tofu/meat mixture and fry each side on an oiled pan.
Sach Ko Ang (Khmer Beef Skewers), from Marlena Lim
Typically, when we think of the food at summer BBQs, a gathering could not be complete without hamburgers or hotdogs. However, in many Khmer households, summer BBQs consist of Sach Ko Ang and Bok Lahong. I have many fond memories of laying out on my deck while eating Sach Ko Ang or Cambodian Beef Skewers. I am so grateful my parents can make and share the food of their birthplace. I hope Cambodian food can eventually become a staple of American summer BBQs.
- 5 Lb of Flank or Sirloin Steak
- Bamboo Skewers, presoaked in water to prevent burning
- 4 Tbsp of Honey
- 2 Tbsp of Sugar
- 2 Tsp of Salt
- 4 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 4 Tbsp of Fish Sauce
- 4 Tbsp of Oyster Sauce
- 5 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
- 3 Tbsp of Finely Chopped Lemongrass
- 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, Finely Chopped
- 1 Ginger Root, Peeled Finely Chopped
Cut the steak into put size pieces. To make the marinade, mix honey, sugar, salt, olive oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and ginger root. Use marinade to coat the steak. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade overnight. Skewer the pieces of steak and grill.
Lola Jo’s Chicken Adobo, Annie Ly
Although I’m not Filipino, my fiancé is, and we have his 105-year-old (!!!) Lola Jo’s chicken adobo recipe as a go-to whenever we want a filling, straightforward, quick, and delicious dinner at home. This recipe is meaningful to us, because it was shared during her 100th birthday celebration in Manila, which we were fortunate enough to be present for. She’s quite the special lady, and it reminds us of her – every time we make it, we feel like we have her in our home. The best part is, my fiancé cooks this recipe better than I do, so he takes the lead on this and I get to sit back and enjoy dinner.
- 1 chicken, cut up
- 2 Tb cooking oil
- 10 tsp crushed garlic
- Brown sugar
- 2 Tb vinegar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1¼ cup boiling water
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
Lightly brown chicken pieces in oil. Set aside and coat each piece with brown sugar. Sauté the garlic in a pan and add chicken. Mix well on low heat until sugar melts and mixture turns brown. Add vinegar and mix well. Add soy sauce and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add water. When mixture boils, add eggs. Cover pan and cook chicken until done. To serve, arrange hard-boiled eggs (sliced in half) and put chicken pieces around it. Pour sauce. Serve with rice.
Written by Cydney Smith