Andy Ricker, Thai Chef

The Master of Pok Pok
4 Monks in a Bar

“Satay isn’t satay unless it’s cooked over charcoal.” — Andy Ricker

Andy Ricker is another highly visible Andy in Thai cuisine, along with Andy Arunasameruang of Chicago. Ricker, from Portland, Oregon, has done the unusual — he has become a leading Thai chef in North America. And Ricker’s not even Thai! Continue reading

Susanna Foo, Master Chef

From Mongolia to Main Line
The Librarian Who Is Also a Master Chef

It’s the minced pork fat that provides the traditional taste.” — Susanna Foo

Mongolia

In the Shadow of the Great Wall: Susanna Food was born in Inner Mongolia and spent her early years in Shanxi Province of Northern China, near the great Wall.  Her father was a general in the Nationalist Chinese army

Move to Taiwan: After the victory of the Chinese Communist forces in , the family escaped to Taiwan where Continue reading

Edward Schafer and Spice Route Travelers — III

The Manila Galleon and the Third Route
Tomatoes, Chili Peppers and Beche de Mer

“Tang cookery sounds like modern Japanese cookery — plain food, sometimes raw, with few savory mixtures or interesting sauces.” — Edward Schafer

 

“The best of modern Chinese cooking developed in relatively modern times under the influence of foreign taste and customs, in particular those of India and the lands of the Desert and the Isles.” — Edward Schafer

Malayan on the Silk Road

Curly Haired Man, Malayan
Silk Road, Tang Dynasty

We sometimes forget how many of the foods we associate with Pacific Rim cuisines today were not native to much of the region in the oldest times and have migrated back and forth along the ancient trade routes. Continue reading

Edward Schafer and Spice Route Travelers – II

The Southern Sea Routes
Before Marco Polo

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

“The Po-Lo-Mi (jackfruit) is the size of a pumpkin, its outer skin covered with nodules like the hair on a Buddha’s head.  Its color is green while growing, and turns yellow when ripe.  The pulp is of extreme sweetness.” — Zhao Rugua“Even in Dunhuang, further out on the camel road, grape wine was an expensive addition to an important celebration, like champagne for our festivals.” — Edward Schafer

 

Edward Schafer researched the movement of men, goods and ideas along the Silk Continue reading

Edward Schafer and Berthold Laufer

The Golden Peaches of Samarkand
Chronicles of the Silk Road — Tang Dynasty

Crystallized Ginger

“Without coriander, saffron, mint, ginger and oregano, the foods of the Middle East and China wold be bland indeed.” — Kathie Webber [1]

Kathie Webber is right.  Who could imagine Sichuan cooking without hot red peppers?  And yet they are a fairly recent addition to the Sichuan kitchen. Continue reading

Fuchsia Dunlop — British Sichuan Expert

Christmas Mincemeat in Chengdu
Culinary DNA

“Opponents of Fusion cooking are so wrong. Culinary impressions leave tracks, like DNA.” — Fucshia Dunlop

 

Cooking purple perilla using Chinese cooking technique jian

Pan Fried Cucumber with Purple Perilla
A Recipe from Fucsha Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlopis a British expert on Sichuan cuisine.  The Cambridge graduate is a fluent Mandarin speaker. She studied at a Chinese university in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. [1]

That experience led Dunlop to a lifelong fascination with Chinese cuisine and Continue reading

Andy Aroonsameruang — Thai Chef

A Top Chicago Chef
Blue Crab and Chinese Celery

“I’ve cooked since I can remember.  When my mother wasn’t there, I was the one who cooked.” — Andy Aroonsameruang

“One of Chicago’s very best chefs.” — Michael Nagrant

A leading food writer has said that Andy Aroonsameruang is one of the great chefs in Chicago, not just a great Thai chef.

Andy’s Thai Kitchen

Andy wasn’t trained as a chef. A native of Chachoengsao, a town in Central Thailand near Bangkok, he moved to Chicago in the mid-1990s to do graduate study.  He earned an MBA from Dominican University in suburban Chicago.

To help with expenses, Andy worked at various side jobs, including cooking at a Thai restaurant. He had never studied cooking formally, but he did have Continue reading

Takashi Yagihashi – Noodle Expert

Fusion Temple to Noodle Boutique
Master of the Slurping Turtle

“Despite being in a mall food court, the ramen here will satisfy your craving.” — Chicago diner

Japanese Shio Ramen - Tonkotsu TypeAs a child in Japan, Takashi Yagibashi could not afford to eat meat.  But “fish was very cheap,” he says. [1]

And he says  Continue reading

Tony Hu, Sichuan Chef

Bill Clinton Ate Here
Street Food from Ghost Street

Lao Sze Chuan

Lao Sze Chuan, Broadway

Three Tony Hu’s: You can see a photo of a happy Bill Clinton in front of Tony Hu’s Lao Beijing restaurant, in Chicago’s Chinatown.  Perhaps from the former President’s pre-vegan days.

Of course, you can get veggie dishes at Hu’s various Lao restaurants. Like the excellent Ma Po Do Fu at his Lao Szechuan flagship location.  But even that tofu dish has some meat in it. Continue reading