Three Asian-American Chefs Share Recipes for Meaningful Dishes

T asked three chefs to reflect on meals that speak to their experience growing up with two cultures.

American chefs of Asian descent are changing the way we eat, reclaiming the ingredients and flavors of their childhoods and making of them a new cuisine. We asked three to share recipes that speak to their experience of growing up in two cultures: Angela Dimayuga, the daughter of Filipino immigrants and, until recently, executive chef of the eclectic Mission Chinese Food in New York; Diep Tran, the owner of Good Girl Dinette, a Vietnamese diner in Highland Park, Los Angeles, whose family came to the U.S. as refugees from Saigon; and the Korean-born Deuki Hong, who spent his childhood in Texas, Alabama and New Jersey and now runs the Korean fried-chicken pop-up Sunday Bird in the back of a bubble-tea shop in San Francisco.

The former chef of Mission Chinese Food in New York describes her take on garlic fried rice, a traditional Filipino breakfast staple.

Shiso Fried Rice

Angela Dimayuga, formerly of Mission Chinese Food

In this vivid and deceptively simple dish, Dimayuga finds unexpected kinship between the Filipino breakfast tradition of fried rice with smashed garlic; a memory of umeshiso hand rolls at the end of a Japanese omakase; purple sweet potatoes in a temple meal by the Korean Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan; and, for the regal plating, a book of 17th-century banquets in honor of Queen Christina of Sweden.

“An herb-forward garlic fried rice with pops of sour notes from umeboshi, or pickled Japanese plums. Using a garlic butter, quickly fry jasmine rice with purple sweet potatoes, and garnish with lots of shiso, umeboshi and cucumber. The base of this dish is inspired by Filipino garlic fried rice which is usually a breakfast staple using day-old rice. It is also inspired by two favorites: the shiso fried rice at En Brasserie in New York, and umeshiso hand rolls which are typically something I order at the end of a sushi omakase meal.”— Angela Dimayuga


CreditAnthony Cotsifas

∙ 1 piece garlic, smashed

∙½ purple sweet potato, steamed, and crumbled into chunks

∙ 1 quart steamed jasmine rice

∙ 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

∙ 6 pieces umeboshi, pitted and chopped into a coarse paste

∙ 12 shiso leaves, finely julienned into hairs

∙ 1 tablespoon fried garlic

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the garlic. Cook on low until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. In a hot wok or large sauté pan, add grapeseed oil and butter and soften garlic. Add rice and sweet potato and salt to season. Gently mix to incorporate thoroughly.

3. Transfer the rice to a large plate and garnish with fried garlic, followed by cucumber (first so you don’t brown your herbs too quickly) and shiso. Scatter small amounts of the umeboshi over the rice. Serve as is, and stir thoroughly right before eating!

The chef and owner of Good Girl Dinette in Los Angeles recalls her mother’s favorite midnight snack in Saigon – a Banh Mi.

B.L.T. Banh Mi

Diep Tran, Good Girl Dinette

Diep Tran’s B.L.T. banh mi is a homage to her mother’s resilience. She recalls a night in Saigon when, with the children finally coaxed to sleep, her mother settled down to a blissfully quiet dinner on her own — only to have the children creep from their beds at the alluring sound of a crunchy baguette, begging to share.

Cilantro-Maggi mayo

∙ 2 cups cilantro stems, roughly chopped. (If you can get the cilantro with the root, that’s ideal. Reserve the leaves for finishing the banh mi.)

∙ 1 small shallot, roughly chopped

∙½small serrano, roughly chopped

∙ 2 tablespoons white vinegar

∙ 2 egg yolks, room temperature

1. In a food processor, add the chopped cilantro stems, shallot and serrano. Process until the mixture becomes a paste. Add Maggi sauce and vinegar and process for another 2 minutes. What you’re looking for is a smooth paste in which there are no discernible bits of serrano or shallots.

2. Add the egg yolks and process until the yolks emulsify with the cilantro-Maggi paste, about 2 minutes. With the processor still on, add the oil in batches, ½ a cup at a time.

3. Keep processing 2 minutes after the last batch of oil, to make sure all the oil is incorporated and the emulsion is stable.

4. Taste and adjust by adding more Maggi or vinegar. Mayo can last for 3 days in the fridge.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

∙ 1 cup white wine vinegar

∙ 1 tablespoon kosher salt

∙ 1 tablespoon serrano chile, sliced

∙ 2 pounds medium green tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick (beefsteaks are best for pickling)

1. Combine in a pot white wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and brown sugar. Bring brine to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Set aside.

2. In a Mason jar, or any high-walled container with a lid, pack in sliced green tomatoes, then add serrano chiles, onions and hot mint. Add brine, leaving an inch of head space.

3. Place a small shallow ramekin inside the jar to depress the contents in the brine. If necessary, add more brine, leaving just ½ inch of head space. Fasten the lid and let pickle for at least 3 days.

Pickled Daikon and Carrots

∙ 4 pounds carrots, julienne

∙ 5 pounds daikon, julienne

∙ 1 cup onions, thin slices

∙ 2 cups granulated sugar

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and salt with hot water, stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Add vinegar, stir to combine.

2. Add sliced onions and julienned carrots and daikon. Gently mix, taking care not to break the pretty matchsticks of daikon and carrots. Let the vegetables sit in brine for at least 2 hours. The pickle can last a week in the fridge.

Bacon With Red Boat Fish Salt Rub

∙ 2 teaspoons black pepper, ground

∙½ teaspoon star anise, ground

∙¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ground

∙ 1 tablespoon coriander, ground

∙⅓ cup brown sugar, tightly packed

∙ 1 ½ teaspoons Red Boat fish salt

1. Combine all dry ingredients, then add 1 lb of bacon. Toss to coat.

2. Lay bacon strips onto wire rack and pan to catch drippings.

3. Bake at 400 degrees until bacon is crisp.


CreditAnthony Cotsifas

Final Assembly:

∙ lettuce leaves — a crisp variety, for a bit of a crunch, like romaine

Split the baguette and spread bottom half with cilantro-Maggi mayo. Add a layer of daikon and carrot pickles. (Make sure to drain and squeeze pickle to get rid of as much moisture as possible. you don’t want soggy pickles.) Add a few lettuce leaves. Add about 4-5 slices of pickled green tomatoes. Add 2-4 slices of bacon. Add a good layer of cilantro leaves. Close it up with the top half of the baguette.

The chef of Sunday Bird in San Francisco remembers a childhood family tradition: Korean fried chicken for Thanksgiving (instead of turkey).

Korean Fried Chicken

Deuki Hong, Sunday Bird

For Hong, Korean fried chicken — with a batter as light as a second skin — is the centerpiece of an American immigrant Thanksgiving.

Chicken: whole spatchcocked or cut up into 8 equal pieces

½ cup cornstarch (precoat)

Lemon/Garlic Marinade

∙3 tablespoons soy sauce


∙2 teaspoons baking powder

Soy Glaze

∙¼ cup light brown sugar

∙1 tablespoon Gochugaru (pepper powder)

∙2 tablespoons Gochujang (paste)


CreditAnthony Cotsifas

1. Heat fryer to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare marinade in blender and purée till smooth.

3. Pour marinade over chicken and let sit for 24-48 hours.

4. Combine all ingredients for soy glaze and heat over medium high heat to a boil.

5. Reduce by 25 percent or when it reaches a light syrup consistency.

6. Cornstarch-dredge the chicken pieces and let sit dry for another hour.

7. Add all ingredients for batter in a bowl and mix till smooth. Keep cold.

8. Dip chicken pieces into batter fully and lift to run off excess batter.

9. Fry immediately for 12 minutes.

10. Remove from oil and let sit on sheet-rack for 3-5 minutes.

11. Fry once again for 4 minutes when ready to serve.

12. When chicken comes out of the fryer, season with kosher salt and pepper.

13. Glaze with soy glaze (preferably with a brush) and serve.

This content was originally published here.