Episode 41: Nom Wah Tu + Beverage Pairings for Chinese Food

As the landscape for Chinese food matures in New York with more specialized and regional options, it’s time we talk about what we can expect in the alcohol department that matches and complements the food.

What exactly pairs well with the many flavors and spices found on the contemporary Chinese menu? To help us answer the question is Sophie Maarleveld and Phillip Szabados of Nom Wah Tu.

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Lynda's Food Diaries: Countdown to 2018

In case you were wondering what your Feast Meets West host has been doing over break other than hibernating, here's a page from my food diary counting down to 2018. Clearly, I've been reading too much of the Grub Street Diet.

Happy belated new years everyone! See you back on air in a couple days.

Monday, Dec 25th - Merry Christmas!

A bit of an odd week to write this diary entry since 1) holidays - so not my regular eating schedule 2) stomach bug (day 3 of suffering, or as my friend Suzanne puts it “my butt falling off”) - worst timing as the holidays are a rare and glorious time in the year for guilt-free feasting. On the plus side, this is the first time I lost weight over Christmas.

Depressed due to lack of appetite. When you take away a man’s ability to fulfill their life’s passion (mine, being eating), they become a shell of their former selves. Ryan, sensing my despondency, suggested we venture into the bone-chilling cold for a bite. We made it down a few blocks to the perpetually dependable Sapporo Ichiban. We are hosting Christmas dinner so did not order too much. Shared a plate of gyoza, clam soup, a California and a sweet potato tempura roll. Still feeling nauseous, so focused energy on consuming the easy to drink clam broth for sustenance.

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Proceeded to dive into dinner prep once we got home. Ryan’s vision was an all vegetarian meal with a lentil-based “meatless meatloaf” as the centerpiece, flanked by garlic mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Ryan was on the mains, using the InstantPot my mom got me for my birthday to pressure cook the lentils and potatoes. I was on veggie duty. For the roasted brussel sprouts, I used this recipe, minus the hazelnuts. For the crudite plate, I blanched some asparagus, cut up some cucumbers, plated some cherry tomatoes, poured ranch sauce into a ramekin, and called it a day. Our friend Vicky brought a lemon ricotta cheesecake from Whole Foods which took care of dessert. 

Sadly, I did not eat, because stupid stomach. But Ryan and our friends enjoyed the food while we watched the Christmas classic, Home Alone 2.


 

Tuesday, Dec 26th

Did not wake up with stomach ache so felt a lot more cheery today. Had a sliver of yesterday’s cheesecake for breakfast and did not immediately explode. Very promising.

Checked out the “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” exhibit at the Guggenheim with Vicky. We had some hot chocolate after to reward ourselves after such challenging art. Again, stomach feels settled and excited to put more solid things into it.

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Met up with Suzanne at Yaso Tangbao in Downtown Brooklyn before catching “Call Me By Your Name” at the Alamo Drafthouse. Note, soup dumplings are a genius idea for any day, but especially an arctic day. Got the regular pork, and crab & pork soup dumplings, the non soup-dumpling pork dumplings in broth, and pan fried baos. Soup dumplings were tasty morsels, the broth in them was light, and they were budget friendly. 

At the movies, Suz and I shared some soft pretzels dipped in mustard. Good carbs. Good movie.


Wednesday, Dec 27th

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We ended up at Frankel’s Delicatessen for lunch. Normally would get a bagel (kind of a weekly habit at this point), but was feeling kooky so ordered the BLT instead.

On Day 2 of my winter break culture mission and decided to go to the Queens Museum with Ryan to check out the “Never Built New York” exhibit. This was my favorite cultural activity of the week. Most impressed by the to-scale Panorama of NYC model.

Waited until I got home to eat since I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and didn’t want to attack my dentist with food breath. Normally would be whining with hunger but stomach bug has really done a number on me.

Ryan’s obsession and experimentation with the InstantPot continues. He made some risotto. Hm, not so good. The creamy starches that are released during stirring were not present. He says he will try again and make it work. Anyway, I ended up making a bowl of Shin ramen. After I stirred in all the little flavor packets, I dropped an egg in for a nice runny yolk.

Thursday, Dec 28th

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Had to catch up on work, so no art today. To get me through the day, I had some avocado a la Alison Roman (of Dining In) with her “Everything” seed mixture, lemon juice, spread on toasted english muffins. Pleased to say that Alison has personally approved my choice of vehicle for avocado consumption. 

In preparation for forthcoming 2018 Feast Meets West episodes (sneak peek, folks!), I went to Chinatown to meet up with Sophie Maarleveld of Nom Wah Tu. We had a chat over a pot of green tea about pairing beverages with Chinese food. Then, walked over to the nearby Hwa Yuan where I met the Chef’s son, James Tang, for a tour of the restaurant, a brief history of the restaurant, and a taste of some of their popular dishes including our recording topic of choice - the sesame noodles. Really looking fwd to our upcoming episodes!

Back home, I continued eating the leftover scallion pancakes, stir-fried beef, and spicy wontons for dinner, while watching “Coming to America” for the first time. Filling in my US culture gap.

Friday, Dec 29th

Went to Jongro KBBQ with some friends for a proper lunch feast. We inhaled platters of beef, pork, stews, and a seafood pancake. Welcome back appetite! Regulars of K-town BBQ joints (aka Vicky) say the meat here is the best.

After lunch I met up with Seung Hee Lee of Everyday Korean for a chat at Radiance Tea House in midtown. This tea house is a blessing in an otherwise annoyingly touristy and lacking part of town. We shared a pot of the “spring beauty”, a black tea infused with rosebuds, dates, and faintly sweet with brown sugar - supposedly good for things like vitality, blood and skin.

Met up with Ryan for a date at the The Met, now on day 3 of my winter break culture mission. Everyone apparently had the same brilliant idea. We waited in line and battled crowds of puffy jackets to check out the Michelangelo and David Hockney special exhibits. The ordeal required a drink where I experienced the most enjoyable part of the museum visit - a limoncello martini at the balcony bar.

On the way home, dropped by Keste Williamsburg, where we shared a pizza. Pizza was delicious, but this location was sparse and seems more optimized for the delivery operation, unlike the inviting West Village original. Pizza was not enough (sharing was Ryan’s idea), so got some Nestle cookie dough - warm cookies for lazy people. Didn’t put them in a cookie jar fast enough and Ryan ate all the cookies.

Saturday, Dec 30th

Started the day at the East River Park where I sent my dead fish ("Alpha" the betta fish) to sea. The memorial brunch took place at Reynard with Alpha’s inner circle.

Headed around the block to Westlight for end of year drinks. Still think this is one of the best views in the city. Let’s pour one out for my fish, and for the generally shitty year known as 2017.

Had too many cocktails, followed by more wine at home. Need nap. Fell asleep at 9pm like an adult.

Sunday, Dec 31st - New Years Eve!

Hooray, we made it through the year intact! Despite the deteriorating global climate, there is much to be thankful for.

Cleaned the house and rewarded myself with a bowl of spicy beef noodles with soup from Xi'an Famous Foods.

Iris is here visiting on her annual NYC pilgrimage!

We opted for a mature NYE celebration with some bubbly at home, dinner and countdown at the delicious Northern Italian restaurant Naked Dog, and our first cocktail of 2018 at Ramona.

Happy 2018!

Episode 40: Sri Rao + The Indian-American Kitchen

Photo credit: Lisa Vollmer

For our final episode of the season (and year!), we are joined by screenwriter, Sri Rao, to help us learn more about Indian-American recipes, culture, and his new cookbook Bollywood Kitchen: Home-cooked Indian Meals Paired With Unforgettable Bollywood Films.

Aside from working in Hollywood and being one of the few Americans working in Bollywood (India’s movie industry), Sri is a devoted home chef of Indian cuisine. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, both films and food were ways in which he learned about and connected with his Indian heritage.

Food and films are our primary connection to a motherland we never knew.
— Sri Rao, in the introduction of Bollywood Kitchen

Check out Lynda's interview with Sri to learn about his process of introducing the American audience to Bollywood films across different genres through his cookbook, and how he paired a recipe with each movie. They also discuss Indian-American beef dishes, why Asian moms and aunties are the worst at imparting their recipes, and why a lot of Indian musical actors don't actually sing!

Quick-fire Q&A: Amelie Kang and Meng Ai of MáLà Project

Co-owners of MáLà Project, Meng Ai and Amelie Kang, joined us for Episode 36 to talk about Sichuan dry pot. Here's our quick-fire Q&A session with these two ladies!

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Amelie Kang

Neighborhood of residence:
Crown Heights.

Favorite restaurant in your hood:
I hang out more in Manhattan than Crown Heights. Huerta’s in East Village is one of faves.

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
B Flat any day!

Most recent/recommended dining out experience:
Jeepney.

Favorite dish to cook:
Lamb stew.

What Asian food staple/trend do you want to see more of?
鱼头泡饼Fish head + pancake stew?   

What would be your last meal on earth?
My grandmother’s fried rice—she does it with just leeks, eggs, and a proper amount of salt. Best thing ever.

Meng Ai

Neighborhood of residence:
Roosevelt Island.

Favorite restaurant in your hood:
There aren't many restaurants on Rooselvelt Island. Aside from MáLà Project, Little Alley is one of my favorites.

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
Angel's Share in East Village.

Most recent/recommended dining out experience:
Tang Hotpot in Chinatown.

Favorite dish to cook:
Braised pork feet (红烧猪蹄).

What Asian food staple/trend do you want to see more of?
Chinese breakfast, like clay oven rolls (烧饼) and fried bread sticks (油条).

What would be your last meal on earth?
A kind of fried roll with beef and bean curd sheet that my mother learned from my grandmother.

Episode 39: Momo Delight + Why NYC Loves Nepalese Dumplings

Momo photo credit: Teddy Wolf

Our first Nepalese guest, Fulpa Jangbu of Momo Delight—formerly known as food truck Momo Bros which won Rookie of the Year at the 2017 Vendy Awards—joins Lynda on our second to last episode of the year. They talk about Nepalese and Tibetan food, and why New Yorkers love the Nepalese dumpling, momo!

For those who are not familiar with this food, momo is a type of South Asian dumpling found in Tibet, Nepal, and parts of India. Fulpa and his brother, Pasang, were born in Tibet and grew up in Nepal - so they know their momo! Fulpa explains to us how momo isn't just a food in Nepal, it's part of their lifestyle. It's a food that all Nepalese people know and love. Whether it's a birthday, a wedding, or just a bad day that needs a pick-me-up, momo is the answer.

Starting Momo Bros, followed by Momo Delight, seemed like a natural series of events for the brothers. Not only did they learn how to make momo at a very young age, their father had been a chef in New York for several years and their mother is a great cook. As the brothers began to take their dumpling-making more seriously and making them for friends and family, their parents recognized their effort and encouraged them to start selling their momo. Though they are both college students, they also have the New Yorker work ethic and manage to balance running a small business with their studies.

Many people know Nepal for having the tallest mountain in the world. But it’s not just that. Nepal has more than 130 different ethnic groups [...]. They have so many different varieties of ideas and cuisines...we would love to share that with the rest of the world. And we would like to start with sharing momo.
— Fulpa on the mission of Momo Delight

To learn more about the different kinds of dumplings and sauces Momo Delight serves, why the brothers wake up at 4 a.m. to smash dough, and the difference between Tibetan and Nepalese momo, make sure to check out the episode above. 

There's only one episode left of the season, so make sure you tune in for the last Feast Meets West interview of 2017!

Episode 38: Calvin Eng + Fermented Chinese Flavors

Photo credit: Paul Wagtouicz and Calvin Eng

While you may be familiar with some fermented Asian food staples, like soy sauce and kimchi, in this episode we explore some of the less well-known flavors from the Chinese pantry with help from Calvin Eng of Nom Wah. Learn about all the fermented and preserved funky goodness you’ve been missing out on as the chef guides us through the “oddities” in his fridge!

We start the show by asking Calvin about his culinary journey: where he's from, how he pursued culinary in college (by tricking his mom!), and how he moved away from his interest in fast casual food to be working now with Jonathan Wu at Nom Wah Tu. 

Calvin then walks through the fermented foods you'll find in his fridge...literally (see above photo). Lynda and Calvin discuss the origins, uses, and level of funkiness of fermented beancurd, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, fermented black bean, salted eggs, and century eggs. Fun fact: apparently Lynda eats all of those things on congee.

When I was little, my mom used to fuck with me and say that if I didn’t finish my rice, I would have an ugly wife in the future. So I would just take [shrimp paste] straight up on my rice and eat it up.
— Calvin on how he eats shrimp paste

Lynda and Calvin then touch on how to navigate the many different brands. They also talk about the non-Chinese American perceptions of these fermented products, and how far away we are from finding them in the average American household. (It's gonna be a while with this list, guys.) Calvin finally tells us a bit about what's next, or rather, why he's not too concerned about it, and the food legacy he wants to leave.

We wanted to let listeners know that we are raising money for Heritage Radio Network, the independent, member-supported, nonprofit radio station, broadcasting from two recycled shipping containers in the back of Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn. If you’re a fan of Feast Meets West and want to support Heritage Radio Network so that they can keep bringing shows like this one to you for free, please do head on over to the Feast Meets West Facebook page and make a contribution. Every little bit will help HRN reach their 2017 goal!

Wok-Fried Spicy Scallion Salsa Verde with Kale and Egg Noodles

Last week we spoke to Ching-He Huang about the art of stir-frying, as well as her new book, Stir Crazy: 100 Deliciously Healthy Stir-Fry Recipes. As promised, here is the recipe she has shared with listeners of Feast Meets West. Bonus: it's the perfect way to use all that beautiful kale at the farmers market this winter!

Taken from Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang, Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Tamin Jones.

In Chinese cuisine there is a ginger scallion sauce that is normally dressed over steamed chicken, which I adore. I love to use this sauce for a veggie chow mein—it's simple and just divine.

Chinese Wok-Fried Spicy Scallion Salsa Verde with Kale and Egg Noodles
Serves 2

1 1⁄2 cups sliced curly kale
7 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
pinch of salt
knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 pinch of dried chile flakes
2 scallions, finely chopped1⁄4 cup cold vegetable stock
1 tablespoon low-sodium light soy sauce

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Pour 4 1⁄4 cups cold water into a pan and bring to a boil. Add the kale and blanch for 30 seconds, then drain and remove.

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions, then run them under the cold tap, drain, and drizzle with the toasted sesame oil.

Heat a wok over high heat until smoking and add the canola oil. add the salt and let it dissolve in the hot oil, then add the ginger, fresh chile, dried chile, and scallions in quick succession to explode their flavors in the wok.

Add the vegetable stock and stir-fry over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the kale and cooked egg noodles and toss all the ingredients well to warm through. Season with the light soy sauce and give it one final toss, then transfer to serving plates and eat immediately.

Episode 37: Ching-He Huang + The Art of Stir-Frying

Photo credit: Tamin Jones (from Stir Crazy by Ching-He Huang)

Cooking Channel personality and cookbook author, Ching-He Huang, talked to us about her new book, Stir Crazy: 100 Deliciously Healthy Stir-Fry Recipes. Learn how this cooking method became popularized in China, as well as Ching’s expert advice on what makes a good stir-fry.

We start the episode with a confession: neither of us actually own a wok! Thankfully, Ching called in to this episode from the UK to help inspire us to improve our stir-frying technique. She's an Emmy-nominated TV chef and the author of 8 cookbooks. You may recognize her from the Cooking Channel’s “Ching’s Amazing Asia”, “Easy Chinese”, “Restaurant Redemption”, and “Eat the Nation”.

After Iris gives us a brief historical introduction to this Chinese cooking technique, Ching tells us about her international upbringing, and how she had to start cooking at a young age because her mother was always traveling for work and her father was a terrible cook! She also talks about how she shunned her Chinese culture when she was younger, but as she grew up, it was through cooking that she discovered and learned to appreciate her culture.

14.03 "Every time I cook, I'm reminded by what my grandmother said [...] she said 'look, if you don't know how to cook, how can you be a decent human being?'"

We then discuss her new book Stir Crazy. Ching tells us why she decided to write this book, focus on stir-frying, and why she wanted to go back to basics. She also tells us her definition of what constitutes as a good stir-fry, and why the round-bottomed wok is still king. Make sure to listen to this section for the pro-tips!

Ching has very generously shared one of the recipes from Stir Crazy with Feast Meets West listeners so come back to www.feastmeetswest.com later in the week to check it out!

Quick-fire Q&A: Carson Yiu of Outer Borough

Carson Yiu, founder of Outer Borough, joined us in the studio for Episode 32 to talk about stinky tofu. We caught up with the entrepreneur to find out where he eats and drinks in the city!

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Neighborhood of residence:
Bayside, Queens

Favorite restaurant in your hood:
Mama Lee

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
Angel's Share. When it's cold out, you can sit by the window and watch the cars go by, very New York City/romantic.

Most recent/recommended dining out experience:
Congee. It's rare to find good congee outside of HK/Taiwan. I love the comfort it brings, the art of cooking it with a stock, and the time it takes to break down the rice.

What Asian food staple/trend do you want to see more of?
Taiwanese breakfast. In Taiwan, everyone wakes up for Taiwanese breakfast even if you're hungover. I would love to share that experience with Westerners.  

What would be your last meal on earth?
Sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll. Eggs were the first dish I learned how to cook. Everyone can cook an egg but very few can cook it well. I think I make a pretty good egg sandwich, and the classic sausage, egg and cheese on a roll reminds me of growing up in NYC.

Other than stinky tofu, what other funky foods do you get down with?
1000 year old eggs, blood cake and pig intestines, chicken feet, and beef tongue.

Episode 36: MáLà Project + Sichuan Dry Pot

Photo credit: MáLà Project

We all know what hot pot is, but what is Sichuan dry pot? Founder of MáLà Project, Amelie Kang, and co-owner, Meng Ai, joined Lynda in the studio to help us learn more about this super flavorful and aromatic communal dish, and chat about the supportive restaurant network in their community.

Lynda starts the show by sharing the best food she ate this week—a burger at Strange Flavor Burger Shack. Amelie enjoyed Shanghainese stir-fried noodles at Little Alley, while Meng tried a new hot pot concept in Chinatown.

Amelie and Meng tell us about the small city they grew up in outside of Beijing, how they ended up in the States, and how they came to open MáLà Project together. They opened a dry pot concept, not only because it's a fairly easy operation, but also to satisfy their own cravings and the flavors they missed from home.

"Má means numbing, pretty much talking about the numbing sensation from Sichuan peppercorn [...]. And Là means spicy, in Mandarin. So, málà together is a signature flavor in Sichuan cuisine, which is a signature cuisine in Chinese cuisine." - Amelie Kang explains the málà flavor.

Compared to the long history of Chinese cuisine, dry pot is actually a fairly new concept. Amelie explains that it's a hot pot riff with a shorter cooking time which started becoming popularized in the 1990's. She also walks us through the MáLà Project experience, for those who have never tried Sichuan dry pot. The girls then list their favorite dry pot ingredients. They also discuss the infamous "Rooster's XXX", which you'll find on the menu. You'll have to listen to the episode to find out what this secret ingredient is...and yes, it is x-rated indeed!

Amelie then tells us what the most important part of Sichuan dry pot is: the sauces. The dry pot sauce, in particular, is not hot but there are 24 different spices that go into it and give the dry pot its essence—an addictive aroma without the use of MSG.

Lynda then asks Amelie and Meng about the budding specialty Chinese restaurant community in their particular area of the East Village. They discuss the growing number of these restaurants that value both great food and dining experience, and how it's great to have other restaurateurs in the community who are going through similar experiences. Finally, the girls tell us about their hopes for MáLà Project and the Chinese food scene in America.

If you have any feedback for us or suggestions for future episodes, please do reach out. We love hearing from you! Just hit us up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or email us at feastmeetswest@heritageradio.org.

Episode 35: Kopitiam + Malaysian Breakfast

Photo credit: Nooklyn

Lynda and Iris sat down with Kyo Pang, owner and chef at Kopitiam for another Asian Breakfast episode! Kyo Pang enlightened us on what breakfast looks like in Malaysia, why she followed in her family's footsteps to open her own cafe, and what is Baba-Nyonya food.

First, we reflect on the best things we ate in the past week: Lynda made a bangin' cheese plate and Iris finally understands why Pret is so popular. Sometimes it's about the simple things in life.

We then turn the discussion toward Malaysia and introduce our guest, Kyo Pang. She tells us a bit about her Baba-Nyonya heritage and how the cuisine came about from Chinese, Portuguese, and local Malay influences. She tells us about her family's coffee shop in Malaysia which has been around for three generations. Despite her lack of enthusiasm to be involved in her father's business when she was younger, she ended up continuing the family legacy by opening Kopitiam in New York when she was 29.

She then talks about Malaysian breakfast and how Malaysians don't shy away from strong flavors nor snacking first thing in the morning. She talks about how pandan is an important ingredient, and of course, the labor-intensive but delicious kaya which is served on toast. Kyo also talks about white coffee—an iconic beverage—as well as how Malaysian tea is prepared. We then discuss the savory and sweet snacks she serves at Kopitiam; and her family's purist attitude toward making things from scratch and and making the gorgeous colorful items served at her coffee shop without artificial food coloring.

Lynda asks why are there only a handful of Malaysian restaurants in New York City, and Kyo offers her the theory that the food is so labor intensive that Malaysians would rather prepare it for their family at home than run a food business.

27:14 "I feel that this is a responsibility that I love." - Kyo Pang on cooking Malaysian food.

Sadly, Kopitiam won't be able to stay in the same location due to rent increases, but don't worry, Kyo Pang is working hard to expand the business. But do go visit before their lease ends in December!

Jeff Keasberry's Gado Gado Recipe

If you listened to this week's interview with Jeff Keasberry, you'll know about the LA-based cookbook author's new book, Indo Dutch Kitchen Secrets: Stories and Favorite Family Recipes. Jeff has shared his gado gado recipe from the book with Feast Meets Wes listeners, so you can try make this classic Indonesian dish at home!

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By Jeff Keasberry

This cooked vegetable salad is one of my family’s favorites. It is how it was always served at the restaurant, and is still made this way at home. It is suitable as a main course, a vegetarian option for lunch or dinner, and can also be served as a side dish. In Eastern Java it is prepared a little sweeter than in Western Java.

 

Gado Gado (Vegetable Salad with Peanut Dressing)

For the dressing:
4 shallots OR 1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic OR 2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 1⁄2 teaspoons sambal oelek
2 teaspoons fresh terasi (fermented shrimp paste) diluted with 4 tablespoons hot water
4 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt
1 tablespoon sugar, or 1 ounce gula jawa (palm sugar)

Vegetables:
1⁄2 head cabbage, shredded
7 ounces green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
7 ounces fresh spinach
7 ounces taugé (bean sprouts), trimmed (tails removed)

Garnish:
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced into wedges 4 slices of tofu, fried and cubed
1⁄2 cucumber, unpeeled, sliced
1 large potato, unpeeled, boiled, sliced
4 tablespoons fried onions
1 package krupuk udang (ready-to-eat is most convenient)

Prepare the dressing: Heat the oil, and fry the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add the sambal and diluted terasi, and while stirring, add the peanut butter and lemon juice. Simmer over low heat, and continue stirring to prevent burning. Water can be added if the sauce gets too thick -- it should not be too thick nor too thin. Add sugar and salt to taste; the sauce should be a little on the sweet side.

Prepare the vegetables: Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the vegetables separately, 3 minutes each; do not overcook, they should remain bright and crisp. Remove from the pan with a spider (perforated ladle), drain in a colander, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil before adding each new vegetable. Blanch the taugé for 30 seconds in hot water.

Serving and garnish: Place the vegetables in the center of a serving platter. Arrange the wedges of hard-cooked egg, tofu, cucumber and potato over the vegetables. Lastly, pour the peanut sauce over the vegetables. Garnish with fried onions and a piece of crumbled krupuk.

TIP: Serve with white rice or lontong (glutinous rice). Chill the rice, then cut into 1 inch slices. Vegan? Omit the eggs, and replace the terasi with 1⁄2 cube mushroom or no-beef stock, and the krupuk udang with emping (plant-based krupuk made from melinjo nuts).

Episode 34: Jeff Keasberry + The Rijsttafel of Indo Dutch Cuisine

Photo credit: Daniel Gundlach for portraits. Jeff Keasberry for food.

On episode 34, we talk to Los Angeles-based food blogger and cookbook author, Jeff Keasberry, about the “rijsttafel”— how it’s integral to the Indo Dutch cuisine, one the world’s oldest fusion cuisines, and why you need to know about it.

We start off by reviewing the best things we ate in the past week. Lynda gives us a sneak peek into next week's episode with her meal at Koptiam while Iris had "soy sauce western" for the first time at Tai Ping Koon.

Iris then gives a quick history of the Indo Dutch connection, explaining how Indonesia was a Dutch colony for almost 150 years, leading to the creation of Indo Dutch cuisine—one of the world's oldest fusion cuisines. 

Lynda then introduces our guest Jeff Keasberry, a Los Angeles-based food blogger and cookbook author whose mission is to get Indo Dutch food the accolades it deserves. His new cookbook is called Indo Dutch Kitchen Secrets, and is the first English language heritage cookbook on this cuisine. Fun fact from Jeff: did you know that the Van Halens are Indo Dutch? 

Jeff tells us about his heritage, why it's important for him to write this book, and how he's continuing his grandmother's legacy. Jeff then elaborates on what is Indo Dutch cuisine, and what makes it slightly different to Indonesian cuisine.  

We focus on one particular aspect of Indo Dutch food—the rijsttafel. Translating to "rice table", this is an elaborate Indonesian meal adapted by the Dutch consisting of an abundance of side dishes served with rice. Jeff explains the history behind the rijstaffel, what sort of dishes you can find at this meal, some of his favorites, and how it's served. Traditionally, affluent Dutch people would serve it at their home to impress their guests, but you can find the experience at Indonesian restaurants worldwide. 

Lynda and Jeff then take a step back and talk about Indonesian cuisine in general and present their theories on why it might not have quite caught on in the US yet. They also talk about the Netherlands/Indonesia/Manhattan connection, thanks to the nutmeg trade. 

We hope you enjoyed this episode and learned as much history as we did. If you want to learn more about Indo Dutch food, make sure to get a copy of Jeff's book. Jeff also spends his time spreading the joy of Indo-Dutch cuisine by giving workshops on both the East and West Coast, so head over to his website and give him a shout! Also, come back to feastmeetswest.com later this week for a special recipe from the book that Jeff has so generously shared with us!

Episode 33: Tomoko Omori + Japanese Curry

Photo credit: Go Go Curry America Group LLC

Ever wonder how curry became one of Japan’s most popular dishes? Tomoko Omori, President and CEO of Go Go Curry USA, joined us in the studio to discuss what makes Japanese curry different, why it’s so well-loved, and why the Go Go Curry franchise has been so internationally successful.

As usual, we ask each other about the best things we ate this week. Lynda enjoyed a celebratory dinner at Zenkichi with its seasonal omakase menu and beautiful oyster tempura, while Iris enjoyed some cheesy tofu skewers at a cheap and dirty local spot she loves. We can't even link to it because it has zero web presence!

We then introduce the star of this show: Japanese curry. Iris gives listeners a brief history of the dish, explaining how South Asian curry found its way to Japan via the British during the Meiji period. Lynda then introduces our special guest, Tomoko Omori, as well as the international restaurant chain, Go Go Curry.

Tomoko tells us how she ended up at Go Go Curry as her fourth career after acting, working at a magazine, being a sports broadcaster, and a 3-month stint as a full-time housewife. She talks about her personal experience with curry growing up in Japan, just how frequently it's eaten there, and how curry was adapted for Japanese tastes after it was introduced by the British.

15:10 "We always have a great memory of it. That's why when we start talking about curry, the memories come back to us." - Tomoko on the nostalgic comfort of curry to Japanese people.

Next, Tomoko tells us a little more about Go Go Curry. You'll find out why 5 is the magic number and how Japanese curry is better after some maturation (like pizza the next morning!) She also talks a bit about what's next for the company and her favorite things about the Go Go Curry family.

If you’ve been enjoying Feast Meets West, we would really appreciate it if you could head over to iTunes or Stitcher and leave a rating and review for Feast Meets West by Heritage Radio Network so more people can find the show!

Quick-fire Q&A: Rick Smith of Sakaya

Rick Smith, owner of premium sake shop Sakaya, helped us better understand the fundamentals of sake on Episode 31. Find out where this sake lover is eating and drinking when he's not at the shop!

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Neighborhood of residence:
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Favorite restaurant in your hood:
Toss up between Ugly Baby and Lucali

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
Other Half Taproom

Most recent/recommended dining out experience:
Fiaschetteria Pistoia. Give it a try if you have a chance! 

Favorite dish to cook:
Baby artichokes sautéed in olive oil with garlic, chiles, and parsley.

What Asian food staple/trend do you want to see more of?
Anything Danny Bowien cooks.

What would be your last meal on Earth?
Platter of Culatello, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Mortadella, and Parmesano Reggiano.

Episode 32: Carson Yiu + Stinky Tofu

Photo credit for Carson Yiu portrait: Craig Nisperos

This week we switched gears to talk about an Asian dish that gets almost no love in the West--stinky tofu! Carson Yiu, founder of Outer Borough, joined us in the studio to talk about this Taiwanese and Hong Kong street food, what makes it stinky and delicious, and how it’s breaking into the NYC food scene. You’ll also hear from Jowett Yu, chef of Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong.

We kick off the show with the best things we ate in the past week. Lynda had a chance to go to DC and eat at Lao restaurant Thip Khao, run by Chef Seng whom we interviewed on Episode 24. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Iris continues her banh mi obsession and is loving Co Thanh's take on the sandwich.

We then introduce the dish, stinky tofu, and share our personal stories with the food. Iris explains what this street snack is, its accidental invention, and the various ways people have described the smell (garbage, farts, rotting cheese--so sexy!) 

Iris also had a chance to interview Jowett Yu, the Taiwanese-born chef at the contemporary Chinese restaurant Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong. In this clip, he talks about his personal love of this street food and the different ways it can be served in Taiwan. He also tells us that it's been falling out of fashion in Asia due to the bad rap it's gotten from the lack of transparency when it comes to mass-produced stinky tofu.

Lynda then introduces Carson Yiu. He’s the founder of Outer Borough, a pop-up that reps Queens and serves Taiwanese-inspired street food. His mom runs a stinky tofu operation that supplies restaurants in Flushing, as well as Win Son in Brooklyn, who we interviewed on Episode 4.

First, Carson talks about his upbringing and how that led him into the food industry. He then tells us the story about how his mother obtained a "fermentation bucket" of fermented vegetables, fried shrimps, and milk--miraculously transported from Taiwan. This brine has not changed in 20 years and she uses it to continue making small batch tofu with her perfectionist touch.

Lynda then asks Carson how to appreciate stinky tofu. He tells us that when you grow up in the West, you're just not used to the smell, but how smelly it is can also be a good indication of its quality. Aside from the smell, you should also look for a crispy yet crumbly texture if fried, and the balance of the accompanying sauces and pickled cabbage.

Carson has felt that he's really only been able to serve stinky tofu in very Taiwanese-centric events or restaurants in the past, but that may change. He believes that if Americans have come to embrace other pungent foods like raclette it's only a matter of time for stinky tofu. The rest of Taiwanese cuisine, however, is not just on the up and up--it's always been here and appreciated.

32:30 "I don't think we need someone to tell us, 'that's the next big thing'. We have so much joy and happiness already in our community, trying to promote Taiwanese food, that the next big thing is not going to change Taiwanese food." - Carson on the popularity of Taiwanese food in the West.

Finally, Carson tells us how his food career is going to take him back home to Queens. He's planning to open a healthy fast-casual spot in Flushing--a place he believes has some of the best food, yet right now, the healthiest thing you can probably find there is a McDonald's salad! We're super excited for Carson's mom's stinky tofu to end up on more menus and to see what is next for this food entrepreneur.

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Episode 31: Sakaya + All About Sake

Rick Smith, owner of NYC’s first and only premium sake shop Sakaya, joined us on the show to unpack the fundamentals of this Japanese beverage. Plus, a special interview clip from Hong Kong with sake sommelier, Ayuchi Momose!

As always, we talk about the best food we had in the past week. Lynda enjoyed some classic pork and chive dumplings, while Iris was inspired by last week's episode and has been on an Indian food kick. (The word that escaped Iris' mind was dosa, by the way...it was delicious.)

As this episode is all about sake, Iris recorded an interview clip she did with the amazing Ayuchi Momose, a certified sake sommelier who runs Sake Bar Ginn in Hong Kong. Ayuchi tells us about the difference between the Hong Kong and the New York sake consumer, and the surprising health benefits you may not know about the beverage.

We then talk to Rick Smith. He talks about how Sakaya is not just a store, but a learning center and a bridge to Japanese culture for New Yorkers, helping us understand what goes into the glass. Lynda then asks Rick what exactly sake is--if it's not wine or "rice wine", as many people call it. Rick talks a little a bit about how multiple parallel fermentation makes it a completely unique alcoholic drink. Sake is brewed all over Japan, and is now even brewed in different countries!

Rick then breaks down the main classifications of sake. He talks about the different grades of premium sake depending on whether alcohol is added or not and the rice milling rates. He also clears up the misconception about nigori, which is often incorrectly referred to as "unfiltered". He also gives us some words to help us describe sake and talks about how balance is what makes good sake.

24:16 "You don't want any one element or elements of the sake to overwhelm another. You want all these things to be in harmony. It's like life, right?" - Rick Smith on the importance of balance in sake.

Lynda then asks about etiquette and Rick gives us a pro-tip on how to drink sake with your buddies. He also gives us some good rules of thumb when it comes to what temperature you should drink sake.

Finally, we discuss recent trends in sake, the documentary The Birth of Sake, how Rick feels about sake cocktails, and how he is in no hurry for what's next, but really treasures what he and his wife, Hiroko, get to do for the sake community every day.

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Quick-fire Q&A: Shunan Teng of Tea Drunk

The extremely knowledgeable founder/CEO of Tea Drunk, Shunan Teng,  joined us on Episode 29 to teach us the fundamentals of Chinese tea. It was an amazing interview where co-hosts Lynda and Iris, life-long drinkers of Chinese tea, learned so much about the beverage and how to better enjoy it. We reached out to Shunan after the show to see where this tea connoisseur is eating and drinking when she's not at Tea Drunk.

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Neighborhood of residence:
East Village

Favorite restaurant in your hood:
Cagen

Favorite spot to grab a drink:
Jimmys no. 43

Most recent/recommended dining out experience:
Ladybird on 7th Street

Favorite dish to cook:
Noodles!

What Asian food staple/trend do you want to see more of?
Only a fragmented part of China’s eight cuisines are seen here and even less of regional home cooking.  So all of them!

What would be your last meal on Earth?
A complete meal? I won’t leave without that! Dumplings to start, grilled lamb shoulder with salt, hot paprika, cumin and cilantro as main, soft tofu soup as a side and finish with ice cream topped warm brownie.

Episode 30: Old Monk + Butter Chicken

Photo credit: Old Monk + Protech

In this episode, we discuss the iconic Indian dish, butter chicken, with the help of Navjot Arora and Sushil Malhotra of contemporary Indian Soul Food restaurant, Old Monk. Learn the origins of this dish, why it represents Indian soul food, and what makes it so delicious.

First things first, we reflect on the best things we ate in the past week. We both had unconventional answers: Lynda made a healthy, umami Asian-inspired dressing, while Iris had a home-cooked lasagna, which is rare in Hong Kong--a city that is obsessed with eating out.

Iris then starts explaining what butter chicken is and how it's usually made. She also unpacks the history of the dish, its Punjabi roots, and how the partition of British India led the creators of this dish to move to Delhi, where they invented butter chicken.

Lynda then introduces our guests Navjot Arora and Sushil Malhotra. Navjot is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Old Monk, while Sushil is the CEO & Co-Founder of Café Spice Restaurant Group, and Old Monk is part of that acclaimed family of restaurants. The two men then tell us about their backgrounds and how they came to work in the industry in New York and open Old Monk.

Navjot tells us about the differences you might find between butter chicken in India versus butter chicken in the west. Americans tend to prefer boneless white chicken meat, whereas traditionally, bone-in thigh meat is used. Old Monk serves the best of both worlds, with boneless thigh meat. He also talks about how, in India, butter chicken is more popular in the north. This is not only because it is where the dish was created, but also because of the historic abundance of dairy in the north and the fact that many other parts of the country are vegetarian. 

Navjot and Sushil then talk about how the flavor profile in butter chicken hits all the marks, which is probably why it is so popular, and how butter chicken outsells all their other dishes at Old Monk.

23:42 "I think there is still a fair amount of the population who still feel Indian food equates to spicy and curry. That's been one of our missions--to break down that barrier." - Navjot on American perceptions of Indian cuisine.

Finally, Navjot and Sushil talk about trends they are seeing in Indian cuisine and share their favorite moments at Old Monk thus far. Also, listen to the end to find out the funny story behind the restaurant name Old Monk!

If you’ve been enjoying Feast Meets West, help a sister out! We would really appreciate it if you could head over to the iTunes store and leave a rating and review for "Feast Meets West by Heritage Radio Network" so more people can discover the show.

Episode 29: Tea Drunk + Chinese Tea for the Modern Day

From left to right: Shunan Teng, Wai Yu Lam, Tea Drunk Interior, Tea Drunk Exterior. Photo credit for photos 3 & 4: Yuxi Liu

We’ve talked about tea on the show before, specifically matcha and Taiwanese bubble tea (which NY Times Business Section somehow just discovered last month). But for this episode, we go back to where it all began: Chinese tea. The very knowledgeable founder and CEO of Tea Drunk, Shunan Teng, talks to us about what we need to understand about Chinese tea in the modern day. Plus, a bonus interview clip from Hong Kong-based organic tea company, Yisheng Organic!

Our usual segment on what's the best thing we ate in the past week is back. Lynda enjoyed some poke and pineapple soft serve at the new location of Chikarashi, while Iris indulged in her love of lowbrow snacks with Thailand's larb and tom yum goong-flavored Pretz.

Iris then introduces a concept we're bringing back on FMW -- interviews with the F&B professionals of Hong Kong! For our first Hong Kong audio clip of the season, we hear from Wai Yu Lam, Operations Manager of Yisheng Organic. She talks about why the company got into organic and fair trade tea and what you need to think about when tasting tea.

Lynda then introduces Shunan Teng. Not only is she the founder and CEO of Tea Drunk, a NYC-based tea house that has become a destination for those seeking exceptional tea and tea knowledge, she is also an avid educator on the subject and travels to historic tea mountains in China every year. Check out Shunan's work with TedEd in this awesome video of the history of tea.

Shunan tells us about the concept and mission of Tea Drunk, and the meaningful reasons by the name. Lynda asks Shunan where one should even start to unpack a topic like this, and Shunan reassures us that in China, there is very structured knowledge of tea. She starts with the main categories of Chinese tea: green, yellow, white, oolong, red, and black -- though Chinese black tea is not the same as black tea in the West. What's the next step after you understand these categories? Mindful tasting.

Shunan then explains the seasonality of tea, for both growing and enjoying it. We were surprised to learn that tea plants can live over a hundred years, even several hundred years!

31:03 "In China, we always say that through drinking tea, the goal is to find your true self. And the true self is supposed to be a relaxed self. So drinking tea is trying to find that pure child-like innocence in you."

Next Shunan tells us about some of the etiquette surrounding tea. Don't try so hard when doing the two-finger tap, guys. Play it cool. Lynda then asks about the challenges of selling Chinese tea because it can be seen as so culture-specific and can be intimidating to people outside of Chinese culture. Shunan talks about some of the misconceptions and stereotypes of tea, and why tea can be for anyone. She then differentiates the famous, historic teas of China from the teas that have been around for a long time but haven't enjoyed fame outside of its region until recently, like pu'er. 

We could have continued talking to Shunan for just about forever, but we already went over time! Make sure to stop by Tea Drunk in the East Village and hopefully she'll be back in the studio with us soon.

Just a reminder that Heritage Radio Network has so many amazing shows, including some brand new ones this Fall. You can also help support this show by becoming a HRN member today!