Carrots stand up well to quite aggressive spicing, and they really deepen in colour and change texture when roasted. In this dish I use my jerk seasoning, which is a wonderful blend of earthy spices. It’s really lovely as a sweet glaze with the salty and creamy texture of the vegan feta cheese. I’m a big fan of sweet and salty flavours in the same dish. This feels like it could be a good weekday dinner with a couple of other sides.
We love adding fresh herbs to any salad because they are loaded with micronutrients and add a pop of flavor. Think basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, mint, thyme, and in this recipe, dill! Dill is a medicinal herb that has been used for more than 2,000 years. Rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin A, it combines beautifully with the mustard in this dressing. Go ahead and make a double batch of dressing for dipping crackers and veggies—it stores well for up to 5 days in the fridge. Garnish with chopped dill and sunflower seeds.
Char siu, the strips of barbecued roast pork with their signature crimson exterior, is a treasured Cantonese meat, and the most popular siu mei dish. Siu mei is a term that refers to the roasted meats popular in Hong Kong, but also commonly found in Chinatown windows around the world. Most city-dwelling Cantonese kids grew up eating siu mei—during my carnivorous youth, as my mother arrived home from the store, I would sidle up with my best good-daughter-face and charm a few slices of warm, juicy char siu and crispy pork crackling before dinnertime. In this recipe, eggplant is marinated, char siu style, in a fragrant, fruity barbecue sauce. Eggplant, a renowned carrier of flavor, greedily absorbs the sauce before it is roasted at high heat, emerging sweet and silky, imbued with lots of dark, caramelized notes. A note for gluten intolerant cooks: make sure your hoisin sauce is gluten-free or use the homemade version on page 151. This marinade is incredibly versatile and can be used to marinate and roast firm tofu and other vegetables in the exact same way. This is best eaten with rice, of course, but it’s also good stuffed into a crusty roll with cilantro, mint and salad greens, or used to make eggplant char siu bao (there’s a bao recipe in To Asia, With Love).
Of all the recipes in this book, this savory dish is the one I make the most often, not just because it’s delicious, but because it connects me to my past. Throughout childhood, my grandma would make me various versions of this soup, and as an adult, it brings me so much comfort to make it and share it with others. Expect a vegan, Mexican-inspired twist on a Chicken and Rice Soup with tofu swapped in for the chicken and with the addition of fresh lemon juice and cilantro. So delicious!
Almost every region has its version of seasoned rice and beans, and the Middle East is no exception. For me, the highlight of mujaddara is the deeply caramelized onions that are simply irresistible. The dish also uses lentils, which largely retain their shape and give the dish its name: “mujaddara” means “pockmarked” or “pimpled” in Arabic. In this version, we cook the cauliflower rice and lentils separately to maximize texture.
Tzatziki, meanwhile, is a similar preparation to the Indian raita, but is usually thicker and creamier in consistency because it is made with Greek yogurt. I find the pairing of these dishes particularly alluring as a complete meal.
This hot and fiery soup is seen only in the Indo-Chinese restaurants of India. When the weather is cold or I’m feeling unwell, I often make this soup. To boost the protein, you can add bits of leftover rotisserie chicken or tofu. Serve this with rice wine vinegar, Chilli-Soy Vinegar Sauce, or Indo-Sichuan Sauce on the side.
Mapo tofu has been on the menu since back when Mission Chinese Food first popped up in San Francisco. Over the years, we’ve tweaked the recipe approximately one hundred times, and this vegan version is the best yet, not to mention the easiest for the home cook. What used to take days to make is ready in less than an hour.
Note: This recipe calls for doubanjiang, a coarse reddish paste of fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chilies common in Sichuan cooking. Look for “Pixian” on the label, which means it hails from a town in Sichuan province known for making the product.
One of the countless ways Korean food excites me is that it employs extreme temperature—whether it’s serving food in the ripping- hot stone pots called dolsot or frozen bowls. I remember the chef world—myself included—nerding out when Noma served squid with broccoli in a vessel made entirely of ice, only to find myself, a few weeks later, eating naengmyeon out of one in Flushing, Queens.
There’s no ice bowl required for this dish, though I do take a page from a restaurant I went to in Seoul where they put the chilled broth into a slushy machine. My at- home version uses a savory- sweet granita to top the cold, super-chewy buckwheat noodles in a spicy dressing. The addition of dragon fruit powder is 100-percent not traditional and 95-percent optional, but it does add a little sweetness and an absolutely spectacular neon pink color. Got that trick from Starbucks.
Similar to red-braising (紅燒 hóngshāo) , when you cover and slowly cook an ingredient in a flavorful liquid, smother-braising (燜 mèn) is simpler and shorter and often relies on more delicate, lighter-colored condiments instead of dark soy sauce, allowing the color of the vege- table to shine through.
In this dish, the squash’s natural sweetness is complemented by the salty, savory fermented black beans, and the squash is cooked until buttery and tender, on the verge of falling apart. My favorite is kabocha squash, which has a velvety, starchy softness and flavor rem- iniscent of roasted chestnut, but any firm-fleshed winter squash, like red kuri, butternut, or Hubbard, will work.
The easiest way to cook tofu is to quickly blanch it, then season with salt and sesame oil and fold in a handful of finely chopped scallions or fresh herbs. This preparation, called liangban, is minimal and yet divinely tasty. My favorite version of this dish is with toon (xiangchun), a savory, onion-garlicky leaf common in southern China, and after some tinkering, I found that the combination of basil and garlic has a similar aroma that’s just as intoxicatingly fragrant, flecking the creamy tofu cubes like a pesto. I probably make this three or four times a week, it’s that good.