This is something new that I’m launching on VWK—a monthly recap of food-related bits that I recently stumbled upon. Well, they’re not just odd ends, but rather interesting information, ideas, and edibles. They are things that I physically and mentally chew on. They provoke me to think about our resources, savor the season, and celebrate Asian foodways.
It’s difficult to dedicate a post on each item. I may tweet or flag it on the VWK fan page but who knows if you received them? That said, this is the first of the “Food Finds” posts. Hope you enjoy it!
- Young ginger - See the pinkish tipped ginger at the top? It’s mild “young” ginger that you don’t have to peel to cook or pickle. I bought that hand last week at New May Wah market in San Francisco. Young ginger’s season won’t last for much longer so enjoy if you can.
- Excellent chow fun noodles - At last. Thickish, restaurant-style chow fun noodles for home cooks. Poke at it to make sure it’s still soft, then cook it up the day you buy it. These are a scant 1/8 inch thick and 5/8 inch wide – thicker than what you want for noodle soup but perfect for stir-frying. The one I got is a Bay Area product. Maybe your Asian market carries something similar?
- Fresh chiles - Get what you can NOW and freeze them. I grew the long (Holland) chiles above from seeds I saved from purchased chiles.
- Fennel extract – Terrific for digestion and easier than chewing on fennel seeds. Mix it with club soda for a refreshing beverage too. Got this from my local health food store but you can source it online too.
- Dry-farmed tomatoes - The season is coming to a close on this Northern California specialty crop. Pioneered by Molino Creek Farm, the tomatoes are minimally watered, resulting in smaller fruit with intense flavor.
- The Beauty of Humanity Movement – If you’re into the intricacies of pho and modern Vietnamese history, this historic novel by anthropologist Camilla Gibb is for you. Set in Hanoi, it trails the disillusionments and triumphs of a pho street vendor. Vials of MSG as prized keepsakes? That’s among the rich details in the engaging work.
- Asian dumpling pro: This New York Daily News profile of chef Peter Lee gives a glimpse into what it’s like to make 1,000 dumplings daily for a dim sum house.
- Hong Kong-Style wonton noodle soup in LA - On the Eat Drink & Be Merry blog, Dylan goes dissects one of his favorite dishes, revealing the cultural nuances that only an insider would know. His journey includes a list of noteworthy noodle joints.
- Diversity in agriculture – The New York Times published a great story on the rise of “refugee agriculture.” Farmers from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are growing produce that they traditionally eat, not the usual suspects. I'm looking forward to that!
- Immigrant owners of food trucks – The Vilcek Foundation’s fall newsletter, Keep on Truckin’ profiles immigrant owners of food trucks, including Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ, Jerome Chang of Dessert Truck, Theo and Elena Butuya of Elena’s Restaurant. Iliana de la Vega's Oaxacan El Naranjo inspired my spicy sardine corn empanadas.
- Good Girl Dinette in LA – Thanks to Michelle Esperanza for pointing me to this KCET (public TV) video review of Diep Tran’s Los Angeles restaurant, Good Girl Dinette. Blogger Kathy Chaplin and writer Lien Ta critique the banh mi and pot pie. Tran discusses her road to restaurateurship.
- Sriracha hot sauce film project – Viet-American filmmaker Jess Dang is looking for funding for a documentary on Sriracha. You can back it for as little as $10.
- Tofu family legacy - Cookbook author Grace Young and novelist Monique Truong pointed me to this WNYC public radio segment about the challenges of keeping the Fong Inn Too tofu factory open from generation to generation.
Feel free to add your reactions and comments. Pose questions too.