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  • Eat More Vegetables + Plant-Strong Cookbooks

    vermilionroots.com | Tue, 06 Feb 2018 17:16:39 +0000

    As an extension of my intention to prioritize self-care this year, I amresolving to eat more vegetables. That means doing my best to includesomething green in every meal and eating the rainbow to benefit from allthe goodness the plant kingdom has to offer. It also means finding newvegetables to try and learning how to cook them. For that, I have acollection of new cookbooks to help me out, which I'm going to share herein hopes that you can get some inspiration too. 

  • Winter Self-Care: Warm Drinks for the Body and Soul

    vermilionroots.com | Fri, 19 Jan 2018 04:39:04 +0000

    Instead of resolutions, I'm setting an intention this year, and that is toprioritize self-care. New Year resolutions have never really appealed to mebecause I believe that you can make resolutions anytime of the year. Andisn't it a wonderful thing to know that we don't have to wait for that oneday in the year to start taking charge of our lives? We can start rightnow, this very second, wherever we are!In the past couple months or so, since returning from a five-week trip toEurope, I took a break from work (and blogging) to take care of myself. Ijoined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and made the effort to do yogaevery day and meditate. After several tumultuous years in which I movedfrom Malaysia to the United States and started a new life far away fromhome and my family and friends, I decided to take a breath. A deep breath. I ended the year by putting myself on the path of healing and started thenew year with the mantra that I am strong. I resolve to take actionable yetmanageable steps to take care of myself and choose to be kind to my bodyand honor my health. Quite simply, that translates to eating well, gettingenough sleep, and exercising. When it's cold, I make a warm drink usingingredients that support my health.

  • Cookbook Club: All Under Heaven + Water Spinach with Asian "Cheese"

    vermilionroots.com | Wed, 03 Jan 2018 04:12:31 +0000

    A couple of friends and I decided to pick a cookbook, choose a few recipesto cook from, gather for a potluck, and voila we have a cookbook club! Thecookbook we picked was the impressive Chinese food tome All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips. 

  • My Essential Southeast Asian Cookbooks, Part IV: Malaysia

    vermilionroots.com | Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:38:02 +0000

    Honestly, I'm not a stickler for authenticity when it comes to homecooking. But you already know that based on what I've been sharing on myblog. I made a vegetarian rendang, originally a traditional meat-basedMalaysian dry curry, with beetroot and then again with pumpkin. So you knowwhere I stand. I've been thinking a lot about my own food culture. The one informed by myMalaysian background. The one influenced by my move to the United States.In my American kitchen, I combine the Southeast Asian flavors I'm homesickfor with the California vegetables I'm so in love with in the same pan.That is my food culture now. Put pumpkin in my laksa (Malaysian spicynoodle soup)? Let's try it! These dishes, although not strictly authentic,taste like home for me now. It is with this sentiment that I'm writing this installment of My EssentialSoutheast Asian Cookbooks series, the focus being the three Malaysiancookbooks released this year.

  • Pumpkin Curry (Malaysian Rendang Style) + A Gallery of Squash

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:00:00 +0000

    Does food define home for you? It took moving thousands of miles across thePacific Ocean from Malaysia to the United States for me to realize how muchI look for home in what I eat and cook. Now that I also call my husband'shome state California my home, the food on my plate is a mishmash of bothof our cultures. One of the first Malaysian dishes I cooked in my American kitchen usinglocal vegetables is beetroot rendang. Let me tell you what rendang is. It'sa dry curry made with an intense spice paste and coconut milk that'susually cooked with meat. My fascination with all the new produce I wasdiscovering at that time gave me the idea to make a plant-based rendangwith beetroot during my first spring here.Then when autumn came, I made rendang again with pumpkin...

  • Build Your Own Malaysian Soy Sauce Noodles (Kon Loh Mee)

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 09 Oct 2017 17:07:03 +0000

    This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with JadeAsian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to present a flavorful noodledish that can be customized to your liking.Ordering hawker or kopitiam (coffee house) noodles in Malaysia is not toodifferent from the concept of building your own noodle bowl (or plate, ifyou like). First of all, you can choose to have them either in soup or drystyle, to put it simply. Noodle soup is self-explanatory so my focus todayis on the dry version.Since Cantonese appears to be the lingua franca for ordering Chinese foodin Kuala Lumpur where I hail, I'd like to start by introducing it by thename frequently used, Kon Loh Mee. Directly translated, it basically means"dry mix noodles," and perhaps that should give you some idea about howit's prepared. Unlike the soy sauce stir-fried noodles I've previously shared, the noodleshere are not stir-fried but tossed with a soy sauce mixture and served withtoppings, which can vary depending on the vendor's specialty andcustomizable based on your preference. 

  • Pickled Green Chilies + Peppers of the Americas

    vermilionroots.com | Thu, 05 Oct 2017 17:45:24 +0000

    Cut chilies on restaurant tables in Malaysia are a thing like salt andpepper shakers are in American eateries. They are usually accompanied bysoy sauce, so you can make a chili soy sauce dip to go with your food. Whatcan I say? We really like chilies. Even those who can't take the heat likechilies. Pickled green chilies are usually not very hot but sweet and sourinstead and it's quite common to find a jar sitting next to the othercondiments. I can't tell you which kind of heat-less green chili we use in Malaysia.Most recipes there will simply list the ingredient as green chili becauseas far as we're concerned, there are only red and green chilies. But I'lltell you that when I make this here, I use either jalapeno or serranochilies (below) with a preference for the latter because I like the sharperheat. 

  • Step by Step: How to Make Shallot Oil + Crispy Shallots

    vermilionroots.com | Tue, 03 Oct 2017 01:01:57 +0000

    Shallot oil is the unsung hero in simple Asian cooking, the secret piece tothat "I-love-it-but-I-don't-know-what-it-is" puzzle (true story). Simplyput, it is oil infused with the aromatic shallot that can easily be made byfrying sliced shallots and then preserving the oil.The fragrant oil can be used in stir-fries in place of normal oil ordrizzled over soups. It is in fact a vital flavor in the Malaysian soysauce noodles known as Kon Loh Mee and really ups the flavor in the minimalAsian-style blanched vegetables. Let's not forget the crispy fried shallots that come out of the simpleprocess of making shallot oil. These tasty crunchy bits are your secretweapon to dressing up fried rice, noodles, soups, vegetable dishes, andeven salads. 

  • Asian Pear and Dried Fig Soup + California Fig Road Trip

    vermilionroots.com | Wed, 27 Sep 2017 17:27:32 +0000

    Did you know that there are believed to be more than 1,500 varieties offigs in the world? The first time I had a fig and fell in love with it wasin Turkey. It was one of the dark skin varieties, Mission or Brown Turkey,which to me at that time was mysterious and exotic. The love affaircontinued when I moved to a house in California with an old fig tree thatproduces little green figs called Kadota. I learned to identify the types of figs I was eating, even when they weredried. It wasn't much later that I realized my family in Malaysia had beencooking with dried figs, particularly to make herbal soups, and that I wasenjoying these elixirs without knowing the presence of figs in them. Therecipe I'm sharing today, although much simplified in terms of ingredients,is a tribute to that tradition. 

  • Asian Omelet with Snow Pea Shoots (Egg Foo Yung)

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:50:41 +0000

      This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with JadeAsian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to bring you an Asian-styleomelet packed with green goodness. I have such a crush on snow pea shoots (dau miu) that I want to talk aboutthem again here. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a tofu scramble recipe thatfeatures these greens, and today I have an egg recipe that also effectivelypacks in the veggie goodness.As mentioned in previous posts, I've been developing recipes for the JadeAsian Greens website. When I presented these two snow pea shoot recipes forthem to choose, we loved them so much that we decided to share both ofthem. Hurray for plant power! 

  • Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry + Jackfruit the Old-Fashioned Way

    vermilionroots.com | Sat, 16 Sep 2017 04:02:35 +0000

    Many of us now identify with jackfruit as a vegan meat substitute but Iknew it first as a giant fruit bigger than the size of my head with brightyellow flesh as sweet as honey. Growing up in Malaysia, it was one of mymother's favorite fruits and I can still remember the nectarous whiff thatcame with it. We called it by its Malay name nangka and sometimes ate itdeep-fried in batter as a mid-day snack. With all the recent jazz surrounding jackfruit as the "pulled pork" ofvegan cooking, I was curious to find out how this tropical fruit hadoriginally been cooked in other countries and cultures. Jackfruit has longbeen enjoyed in South Asia and Southeast Asia both in its ripe and greenforms. In Thailand and The Philippines, the sweet fruit is thinly slicedand added to desserts. Countries like India and Indonesia treat the blandunripe jackfruit like a vegetable and use it in curries and stews, like theSri Lankan curry I made. 

  • Baby Bok Choy in Fruity Sweet Sour Sauce

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 11 Sep 2017 15:51:16 +0000

    This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with JadeAsian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to bring you an appetizing dishfeaturing baby Shanghai bok choy.Considering how well-loved bok choy is, I was very excited to be given theopportunity to share one of my favorite ways of enjoying this vegetable onthe Jade Asian Greens website. In this recipe, one of several I'vedeveloped for the farm in Southern California, baby bok choy is cooked witha fruity Chinese sweet-sour sauce to be served simply with rice. Bok choy literally means "white vegetable" in Cantonese and may sometimesbe called Chinese white cabbage. It is the Chinese vegetable most peopleare familiar with and because of its versatility, it is ubiquitous in Asianfood, especially in stir-fries and noodle dishes. Baby bok choy, which iswhat I've used in this recipe, is basically young, smaller bok choy that'sprized for its tender texture. 

  • Heirloom Tomato Confit + Tomato Tasting Party at One Acre Farm

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 04 Sep 2017 05:07:35 +0000

    We never let summer go by without sinking our teeth into peak-seasonheirloom tomatoes but recently found ourselves with way too many afterreturning from a tomato party at One Acre Farm. I've written about some ofthe fun things we get to do when we volunteer there but I can't believe Ihaven't told you about tomato season at the farm. They grow more than 20varieties of tomatoes there!I was so smitten with all the tomatoes during my first year there I didn'trecover in time to report about them. But hey, we were more prepared thisyear and here we are with all the photos and notes from the tasting sessionto share with you. Plus, a giant bag of precious heirlooms and a recipe forextending their lifespan just a little longer. 

  • My Essential Southeast Asian Cookbooks, Part III: New Indochina

    vermilionroots.com | Tue, 29 Aug 2017 04:32:31 +0000

    2017 has been an exciting year for Southeast Asian cookbooks. I've compileda list of newly released cookbooks that highlight the cuisines of mainlandSoutheast Asia, historically known as Indochina and includes Thailand,Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.I've had the privilege to visit all these countries and enjoy the amazingfood, and I really value the opportunity presented in these cookbooks torecreate some of the recipes in my own kitchen, all the way here inCalifornia. Thailand and Vietnam dominate the list, a testament to thepopularity of their food in the West, while the release of a cookbook by asuccessful Burmese restaurant chain signals a growing interest in the foodof Myanmar. I would love to see more attention given to the food of Laosand Cambodia as I think their contribution to the identity of the SoutheastAsian flavor profile should be acknowledged. I'm saving the Malaysian cookbooks for another list so come back here forthe next installment in this series. To see the previous lists on thiscookbook series, click here for the classics and here for travel-themedcookbooks.

  • Tofu Scramble with Tomatoes and Snow Pea Shoots (Dau Miu)

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:05:00 +0000

    This post is sponsored by San Miguel Produce. We've teamed up with JadeAsian Greens, who provided the vegetables, to bring you a protein-richvegan breakfast featuring nutrient-dense snow pea shoots.Christmas came early when we received a giant box of vegetables from a farmin Southern California. Yes, that's how some of us green-loving people likeChristmas! (Hint, hint.) In the box were packets of baby bok choy and daumiu and the reason we've been showered with all these wonderful leafygreens is that I've been commissioned to develop some recipes for the JadeAsian Greens website. Nothing gets me more excited than writing about vegetables! I'm glad toknow that my recent posts about finding and cooking Asian vegetables weresomething that you really enjoyed, especially this one on Asian greens.Today, we're turning our attention to snow pea shoots, known in Chinese asdau miu. And the recipe I'm sharing is a delicious way to sneak in healthygreens into your breakfast or brunch. 

  • Spiced Rooibos Tea Potato

    vermilionroots.com | Wed, 09 Aug 2017 03:56:59 +0000

    Think Chinese tea eggs and you have an idea of how this recipe was born.I've always been fascinated with the idea of cooking with tea. In China,tea is used to smoke meat, Japanese matcha finds its way into a variety ofdesserts, and a fascinating fermented tea leaf salad is made in Myanmar.This recipe applies the concept of using tea as a seasoning and follows thetraditional Chinese method of simmering eggs in a brew of black tea withsoy sauce and whole spices. I used potatoes in place of eggs and an herbaltea instead of black tea. 

  • Asian Style Pesto Noodles with Roasted Green Onions

    vermilionroots.com | Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:31:12 +0000

    Is it obvious that I'm mad about cilantro and green onions? It's verycommon for these greens to appear as garnishes in Asian food, hence theliberal sprinkling you see on many of the dishes I've written about here and here. Every now and then, I do something radical with them, likegreen onion hummus! One of my favorite ways to eat these greens together is in a Chinesedipping sauce that often comes with poached chicken in Malaysia. And thatis essentially the basis of the ingredients in this flavor-packed pesto. 

  • Thai Basil Zucchini and Bell Pepper

    vermilionroots.com | Tue, 11 Jul 2017 16:03:42 +0000

    I could very well say that vegetables make me a better cook. When I firstmoved to the US about three years ago, I spent countless weekends at thefarmer's markets. It was from there that I discovered new vegetables andlearned how to cook seasonally. Those trips motivated me to volunteer on afarm, find out how food was grown, and try to grow my own vegetables. Zucchini was one of the first few things we planted during my first summerhere.

  • Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce + Midsummer Potluck for Peace

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 19 Jun 2017 16:00:00 +0000

    Yay, summer's here! Can you tell that this tropical sun worshipper isjumping for joy? Salads are usually in heavy rotation for us during thewarmer months of the year here in California and when I want a taste frommy sunny home of Southeast Asia, this tofu salad with a flavorsome spicedpeanut sauce is what I make. This salad is inspired by a tofu street snack in Malaysia that goes by thename tauhu bakar (grilled tofu) or tauhu sumbat (fried tofu stuffed withvegetables). It is fried tofu filled with bean sprouts, and shreddedcucumber and carrots. The fried tofu pieces are cut into squares ortriangles, and pockets are made by cutting their midsection, which is wherethe vegetables go. The fried tofu may also be grilled to a crisp justbefore serving. 

  • Vegetarian Pad Thai with Fishless "Fish" Sauce

    vermilionroots.com | Mon, 12 Jun 2017 17:26:49 +0000

    I love it when a recipe challenges and teaches me a few new tricks. Thisvegetarian Pad Thai sparked an entire post about fishless fish sauce, inwhich I set out to investigate the commercial fish sauce substitutesavailable in my local Asian supermarket and put three vegan fish saucerecipes to the test at home. Click here to read the results and find thevegetarian fish sauce to make this all-time favorite Thai noodle dish.  There are a few things we can learn from this recipe found in the brilliantvegetarian cookbook Good Veg by Alice Hart. Most important of them is thatwhether you call yourself vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or lessmeatarian,meatless cooking poses more delicious opportunities than you realise. Thisbook is filled with ideas highlighting flavor profiles from all over theworld, including to my delight many recipes inspired by Asia and SoutheastAsia.

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