A big thanks to everyone who came to Asian Feastival. With your support, we were able to raise $3500 to Food Bank for NYC and 100 lbs of leftover food was donated to City Harvest.
On behalf of the Food Bank For New York City Board of Directors, staff and especially the people we serve, thank you for your generous donation of $3,500.00.
One of the greatest impacts of the current economy is its effects on our neighbors. Sadly, tens of thousands have lost their jobs and lines are growing longer outside our food assistance programs. Although it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide food to hungry New Yorkers, thanks to your support, we are meeting the challenge and helping to make sure our hungry neighbors have hot, nutritious meals.
Please take a moment to explore our volunteering opportunities and Online Community for more ways to help fight hunger in our city. It would be my pleasure to discuss in greater detail the services and programs enabled through your support. I welcome you to visit our warehouse at Hunts Point in the Bronx or our Community Kitchen in Harlem. Please contact Samuel McGrath if you would like to set up a visit.
I greatly appreciate your support and partnership. Working together, we can end hunger in New York City.
P.S. Double or Even Triple the power of your gift! Many employers encourage charitable giving and will match your generous donation. Please ask your Human Resources representative or contact Samuel McGrath to find out more.
Note: Please retain the following for your records. Food Bank For New York City affirms that you received no goods or services in return for your generous contribution.
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Here’s tricia bytes with her wrap-up of the first Asian Feastival. This was meant to showcase the heights of cuisine which Asian restaurants are offering in Queens. There were over 20 vendors, each giving a sample of their very best. Ultra-satisfying stuff. I wonder what will happen next year — Jeffrey Tastes
It’s hard to know where to start this review, since the event was packed with interesting food and experiences. We got to the event early, having taken the 7 train from JH and gawked at the people going to the U.S. Open. We walked into the lobby of the Sheraton Laguardia East Hotel in Flushing (where more tennis fans were visible) and walked upstairs. It took a few minutes to get our bearings: there was an outdoor patio with demonstration tables and a few stalls where people were still setting up their food; this area seemed manageable. Then we circled back inside and were overwhelmed: a huge room filled with setups from dozens of restaurants — the serious eating was about to begin for real.
Ham Ji Bach and Kum Gang Sam represented the Korean restaurants, and their choices for what to serve really complemented each other. Ham Ji Bach busted out a killer app — ‘app’ as in appetizer, that is: pork belly wrapped in kimchi. Part of what makes Korean bbq so good is that you get to have kimchi soaked in pork grease. The kimchi-wrapped pork belly was indescribably good — juicy and tasty — and they served it on a little piece of tofu. Perfect! After the event, one of us kept having recurring dreams about this dish.
Kum Gang San took a more subtle approach: their table had chap chae (sweet potato noodles) and, to the side, two trays of fancy dduk (rice cake) with a lady in a traditional outfit making the dduk. The chap chae was very nice; we recently had the chap chae at Kum Gang San and the one here was better: good sesame oil flavor, and overall not too sweet. Why do people always make chap chae so sweet? The sweetness was in the dduk (not to mention the dduk lady, who stood there like a trooper for nearly the whole event, smiling and making the little cakes). It was cool that these guys seemed to be pushing the dduk envelope; we’re not dduk experts, but citrus-y flavored dduk? Awesome.
Ploy Thai offered these little wraps called miang kam filled with pork, ginger, peanuts, lime and coconut. It’s an amazing combination of flavors, with the lime standing out but not dominating. The leaf they usually use for this dish is Chinese broccoli leaf, but in the spirit of dressing to impress, Ploy Thai made their miang kam with betel leaves, which had a delicious flavor and were more tender than the Chinese broccoli leaf. They had a mango or papaya curry that looked fabulous. Not trying thisis regret #1 of the day.
There weren’t too many places offering sweets, but Payag, a new-ish Filipino restaurant, really impressed us with their little squares of halayang ube cake (white cake with a layer of purple yam jam). Payag also had tuna ceviche and roast pig. Regrets #2 and 2.5: Not pigging out more on these pastries, and not trying their pork.
Chef Raymond Ganados and Owner Rena Avendula of Payag Restaurant explain their Filipino dishes at Asian Feastival 2010
Credit: Luis Pedron
If one does have to work over a holiday weekend, this is not a bad way to do it: Eating and, well, talking about eating.
On Labor Day, at the Asian Feastival in Queens, I had the privilege of spending a lovely hour on a panel with New York chef and restaurateur Andy Yang (of Rhong-Tiam Express, a tiny Thai takeout place that he opened after closing his one Michelin-star restaurant Rhong-Tiam in January) and Kian Lam Kho, a private chef and caterer who blogs about Chinese home cooking at Red Cook. The food festival, which included tasting booths and cooking demonstrations by experts such as the effervescent blogger Maangchi, was designed to showcase Asian food from all regions.
Outside our cozy conference room, the booths and cooking displays meandered through Taiwan, Korea, China, the Philippines. Inside, however, our panel had a specific angle: Deconstructing Southeast Asian Flavors.
While I had felt that I had already learned a lot in the year I spent traveling to my nativeSingapore to learn to cook for my upcoming memoir, A Tiger In The Kitchen, I ended up picking up a few handy tips from our lively discussion …
For starters, the experts shared what they felt were essential cookbooks and Web sites for any amateur cook looking to try Southeast Asian cooking.
Kian, who grew up in Indonesia and Singapore, offered up “Taste of Indonesia: Recipes From The Spice Islands” by Helena Soedjak, as a book that he’s cooked from “a lot.” Another book that he recommends: “The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking From Asian American Kitchens” by Patricia Tanumihardja. (Full disclosure: I went to high school in Singapore with Patricia — although, I haven’t checked out her book yet.)
Andy heaped praise on “Thai Food” by David Thompson, calling it “the best cookbook ever” on Thai cuisine. Andy, who learned how to cook from recipes handed down from a great-grandmother who was a cook for the King of Thailand, said he liked the “soup to nuts” explanation of Thai cooking in Thompson’s book. “In order to experiment” with a cuisine, he noted, “sometimes you have to understand the basics of what you’re making, the ingredients, where they come from, how is fish sauce made etc.”
As for me, before I began my cooking lessons with my aunties in Singapore, I leaned on a few trusty books: “A Singapore Family Cookbook” by Violet Oon, “Singapore Heritage Food” by Sylvia Tan and “Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking From The Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia” by Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland. It turned out Kian and I are both big fans of Mrs. Lee’s Cookbook — which was first published in 1979 and was recently updated by the author’s granddaughter and republished as “The New Mrs. Lee’s Cookbook.”
(An interesting aside: Lee Chin Koon — a.k.a. Mrs. Lee — is the mother of Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister and founder of modern Singapore. But as Kian and I both noted, that is not the reason we are fans of the book. Really.)
Blog-wise, I have a few favorites: Rasa Malaysia, which features both Malaysian and Singaporean recipes and Rose’s Kitchen, which has a lengthy list of recipes that walk you through how to make dishes like ayam penyet, an out-of-this-world Malay fried chicken, as well as desserts like ang ku kueh, a glutinous rice flour cake filled with sweet ground peanuts.
On brands, we each had a few favorites to share. For fish sauce users, Kian recommendedFlying Lion, saying it’s especially packed with “fishy umami.” Andy, who naturally uses a lot of fish sauce at work, favors two other brands: Squid and Tipparos. Both have intense flavors, but he said he uses Tipparos in his restaurants because it comes in plastic (instead of glass) bottles, which makes it less dangerous in busy kitchens.
When it comes to dark soy sauce — a molasses-like sauce that’s similar to the Indonesiankecap manis and is used in many Southeast Asian Chinese dishes — my absolute favorite is those by Tiger. (Unfortunately, Kian and I noted that neither of us have seen it sold in New York grocery stores — I smuggle bottles of it back from Singapore whenever I fly home.) If you can’t get your hands on a Tiger, try the Elephant brand if you see it — it isn’t bad either. And Andy suggested using Dragonfly dark soy sauce for Thai dishes.
When someone asked about the best kinds of noodles with which to cook, Andy urged everyone to only use fresh noodles, not packaged ones, for soups and stir-fries.”Go to Allen Street,” he instructed, directing people to a place in New York’s Chinatown. “Next to the Lobster Farm (at 40 Allen Street), two doors to the left there is a small store and they’ll sell any kind of fresh noodle that you want. That’s where I get my noodles every morning.”
To close, some of us shared a few easy yet impressive recipes. I offered my Auntie Alice’s braised duck recipe while Andy shared a recipe for a versatile dipping sauce: take one bottle of sweet Thai chili sauce by Mae Ploy, mix that together with half a bottle of Sriracha sauce, three bunches of coarsely chopped cilantro (with roots) and three ounces of sesame oil. “Blend that together in a blender and it’s a great dipping sauce for chips, any kind of meat or vegetables,” Andy said, noting that it can be used as an alternative to blue cheese dips for buffalo wings as well.
While our advice and proddings may have been intimidating to some, we felt the important thing to remember about cooking — whether it’s Southeast Asian or any other kind of food — was that there is beauty in imprecision. Tasting and relying on instinct is essential — if you like things saltier, add more salt. Same thing with sugar, or ginger, or sesame oil. It should be that simple.
“Cooking is like drawing or painting,” Andy noted. “You may like something but someone else may not like it — you can’t please everyone.”
Asian Feastival: http://asianfeastival.com/
Flushing: The Queens Asian Feastival will be held September 6 at theSheraton LaGuardia East Hotel. From noon until 5 p.m., food, beer, sake, and wine tastings will be available, as well as panel discussions with local chefs, cookbook signings, and cooking demonstrations. For more information, visit the festival’s website. [Grub Street]