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Asian Flavors

by: Phyllis Harris

St. Paul MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press 2012, $34.95, Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-87351-864-2

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2013 Issue: 20(2) page(s): 20

Subtitled: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota Since 1875, this food-fantastic volume has, as its first author, a true culinary professional and writer who understands and delivers Asian history, anthropology, sociology, and more of the first and continuing stream of Asians who came to her state. My hats are off to her and her collaborator and co-founder with her of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, and the folks there at this Institute where she edited Asian Pages, was the executive director of the Midwest Asia Center, and to the publisher. Also kudos to Tom Nelson, the photographer, and Wendy Jedlicka the book's designer. Would that all books about regional or local foods shared and presented such exacting and valuable information. This look at foods of this group of people is a terrific read and a fantastic taste over time of their Minnesota Asian community. Hats off to them all!

Included in this volume are foods and flavors of this Minnesota population who, starting in 1875, came to that state from China, the Philippines, Japan, from Hmong communities, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Himalayan Mountains. There is a delicious chapter about each of them, another about tea, and one about fusion flavors from the Asia Pacific Rim and beyond.

This is a 'read it' volume, a 'cook from it' volume, and a 'taste its tributes' for the men and women who arrived, settled in, and contributed to making Asian food a growing and important part of the lives of local Minnesotans. It is about their Asian restaurants, lives of their Asian chefs, the Asian farmers and Asian food business folk who settled in, and the Asian foods that nourished them and their neighbors.

Enjoy them all, and the Asian Timeline before and since the arrival of these Asians, the recipe list by food category with country of origin, a complete Index, Image Credits, Profiles of the four folk already mentioned, and a page with general and special thanks to individuals and the many people who shared food, recipes, and stories. We loved them all!
Chicken Almond Ding, David Fong
2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless chicken, diced
4 cups diced celery
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced water chestnuts
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup diced pea pods
pinch ground white epper
1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup whole skinless roasted almonds
2 or more cups steamed white rice
1. In a wok or large skillet, theat the oil on medium high heat and add the garlic and salt and stir-fry for ten seconds.
2. Add the chicken and stir-fry ubtil slightly brown, then add the celery, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts and mix well before adding the wine and broth. Bring this to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer about five minutes.
3. Add the pea pods, season with ground white pepper, and stir to blend.
4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce is no longer cloudy, then transfer to a pre-heated serving bowl and garnish with the roasted almonds.
5. Serve with hot steamed white rice.

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