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

Thai Cuisine

Hot, Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter
Variety in Flavor, Ingredients, Color

“Food is eaten not just for nourishment. For a Thai, it is an art, a topic of conversation, a source of pleasure.” — Kreesnee Ruangkritya [1]

Deva sculpture, Thailand 15th century

Deva, Thailand, 15th cent.

The core concepts of Thai cooking are hot, sweet, salty, sour and bitter.  A well-designed meal offers a variety in flavors, preparation methods, ingredients, and color.

So if a Red Curry is the main dish, the cook woul Continue reading

Burmese (Myanmar) Cuisine

Where China Meets India
Crossroads of Asia

“The staple food is plain boiled rice, piled up in a heap on a large platter.” — Shway Yoe [1]

Classical Burma/Myanmar sculpture

Kneeling Buddha, Burma/Myanmar,
19th century

Burma, or Myanmar, lies in a critical space between China and India.  This ancient land, home of many nationalities, seems destined to play a pivotal role in trade and investment between her two big neighbors,.

Burmese author, Thant Myint-U, grandson of diplomat U Thant, predicts that with current governmental changes now occurring, the country can emerge as the new crossroads of Asia. [2]

Burmese cuisine is rich and varied, shows influences from Continue reading

Malaysian Cuisine

Durian Cake and Zuberbuhler’s Special
Raffles, Maugham and Lord Jim Country

“At the end of the tenth century Canton carried on direct trade with the Malay Peninsula.” —Friedrich Hirt and W. W. Rockhill [1]

Tang Dynasty horse from the Silk Road

Tang Dynasty Camel
From the Silk Road, 8th Century

For centuries the Malay Peninsula has been an important corridor in the southern sea route of the Spice Route.

The Strait of Malacca was an important Continue reading

Singapore Cuisine

City of the Merlion
Peranakan Cuisine

“Singapore is one of the few great cities of the world which still work.” — Philip Atlee [1]

“Modern Singapore food is, in fact, all about fusion.” — Molly O’Neill [2]

Vanda orchid Miss Joaqim, Singapore natgional flower

Vanda Miss Joaquim,
Singapore’s National

Can a city-state have its own cuisine? It would seem so, as Singapore is a multicultural city, a major crossroads of the Pacific, with many influences in its cooking which have developed some unique aspects.

Singapore, with a population of a little over  million, has been an independent country since 1965.

Singapore was settled as a modern city by Stamford Raffles of the East Indian Company in the early 19th century and was later part of the British colony of Malaya.

Continue reading

Chinese Cooking Method Jian 煎

A Different Kind of Frying
More Oil, Less Salt

“Laying them more-or-less flat against the surface of the wok, a method known in Chinese as jian (pan-fry), rather than chao (stir-fry).” — Fuchsia Dunlop

Over centuries, Chinese cooks have developed so many distinctive cooking methods, many of them unfamiliar to cooks in other cuisines.

There’s wind curing — useful for game birds, even turkey. There’s convection cooking in hot cinders — maybe the best way to roast chestnuts. [1] 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