You guys know I’m passionate about my cookbooks, and after reading literally thousands my standards have gotten pretty high for which ones. Really I want to cook. One of the newest to make that list is Spicebox Kitchen – Eat Right, Be Healthy With Innovative World-Inspired Recipes. What immediately struck me about this cookbook is the fascinating background of its author, Cute shiue. Dr. Shiue is a renowned chef and physician who creates recipes to fuel the body and mind to function to their fullest potential.
Her focus with this book is to share the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of spices, while crafting delicious recipes that take advantage of their vibrant flavors and healing and energizing qualities.
Do you know that famous phrase, “Let your food be your medicine and medicine be your food”? It means that nutrition can be used for optimal health and disease prevention, and on this food journey, Dr. Shiue puts you to the test with his 175 vegetarian and pescatarian recipes. My favorite aspect of her approach is that she takes readers on a culinary adventure to places around the world, and for today’s post, Dr. Shiue shares how to cook with healing ingredients from Asia, right from her own kitchen. Read on for her guide to getting the most out of these incredibly energizing ingredients, as well as one of her recipes for using them: the delicious miso-glazed salmon from her book.
* Images by Michelle K. Min for Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Right and Be Healthy with Innovative World-Inspired Recipes
If I close my eyes, I can imagine myself in Taipei. The humid air, the sounds of the market, the scent of food being cooked by street food vendors, and the taste of spicy and fermented flavors that were previously unknown, but now I long for. Asia is a large continent with many different countries, cultures and cuisines, so this section cannot be exhaustive. But I hope to be able to offer you a good sample of the flavors and recipes that I most enjoy cooking and eating from the region. Some recipes, I learned from my mother or other family members in Taiwan; others, of the time that I have spent living, studying and working in different Asian countries; and others were inspired by restaurant meals.
My parents emigrated from Taiwan in the mid-1960s as graduate students, and their path as researchers led them to a national laboratory located in semi-rural east of Long Island, New York, where I spent a carefree childhood playing in the woods. , collecting rocks and riding my bike. We were the only Asian family in town when I was in elementary school, and there was no Asian supermarket nearby. In fact, to get the flavors of my parents’ homeland, we had to drive two hours to New York City’s Chinatown, or fly more than sixteen hours to get to the fountain. What this meant to my early taste buds is that I was more familiar with Italian and Jewish food than any type of Asian food, and the type of Chinese food I wanted was egg foo yung and fried chow mein noodles served with sweet duck sauce. . What this meant to my mother, who hadn’t grown up cooking, what she had to learn to cook the foods she missed. And because of where we lived, she simultaneously had to get creative with substitutions, like all immigrants do, like spaghetti instead of fresh egg noodles, and learn DIY, like making her own salted duck eggs and chili oil and germinate your own bean sprouts. When we arrived in New York City, we would stock up on as many preservation staples as we could: dry noodles, short grain rice, Taiwanese-style pickles, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and dried shrimp.
When I went to college, I had the opportunity to learn about Asian American culture, as well as the cultures of many other East and South Asian countries. I joined all the Asian-American associations and for the first time, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with food from countries other than Taiwan, including China, Korea, Japan, India, and Thailand. I studied abroad in Singapore, during which time I also had the opportunity to visit Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. After college, I worked in Sichuan province in China and was also able to visit other Chinese cities, including Xian and Beijing, and Hong Kong, before Chinese control. And even though I did all of this on a student budget, I ate well and began to understand that the eating habits of a culture are a great portal to understanding. I learned to appreciate the spices and spices, the acidity and the funk of fermentation. I started to love visiting the local markets. I married a Trinidadian man whose DNA dates back to India, China, and elsewhere and learned how to cook the Trinidadian Indian food that I missed. All of these experiences helped me develop my palate and appreciate various Asian flavors.
I will not claim that these recipes are “authentic” or “traditional”; they are a modern representation of the tastes that have stuck with me long after I returned home. In many cases, I have made plant-based versions of dishes that might be more familiar to meat, making them lighter and healthier. As you cook these recipes, I hope you feel transported to the different countries and cultures that inspired them. As we say in Taiwan, chiàh-pn? g! (Literally, “eat rice”; conversationally, “let’s eat!”)
Dr. Shiue ingredient list to keep on hand for Asian cuisine:
- dried orange peel
- Sesame seeds
- Sichuan peppercorns
- star anise
- Fish sauce, such as Thai nam pla, Vietnamese nuoc mam, or Filipino patis
- chili sauce
- Green onions
- thai basil
- canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
- coconut oil
- toasted sesame oil
- rice vinegar
- black vinegar