Cooking from A to Z
Cooking was the last thing Portland native Patricia Yeo imagined she would do for a living. She was going to be a biochemist.
Yeo was born in Oregon to ethnic Malaysian-Chinese parents of Teochew (Chaochow) 潮州 descent, grew up in Malaysia and England, where she went to an English boarding school before heading for Princeton.
At Princeton she studied science and was on her way to a degree in biochemistry. A course at the New York Restaurant School, just “to try something different” changed all that.
There she met Bobby Flay, and they worked together at the Miracle Grill and Bolo and she helped Flay open Mesa.
Yeo also studied cooking with the late Barbara Tropp at the China Moon Cafe in San Francisco. All these experiences honed her take on Pan Asian styles of food preparation.
Yeo also traveled to Southeast Asia for further studies of cooking on the ground, where she learned local cooking styles and also “majored in street food.”
Besides Flay’s restaurants and her own AZ restaurant in New York City, specializing in fusion food, Yeo has been associated with a number of famous eateries, including Ginger Park, om and Moksa in Boston.
Her signature dishes include such items as Squash and Chestnut Soup, Char Siu Pork with Orange and Miso Glaze and Whole Fried Fish with Ginger and Ponzu Sauce. The use of miso and ponzu are examples of Japanese borrowings incorporated into dishes largely of Chinese origin.
Yeo seems to have a fondness for coriander, which shows up in a number of her signature dishes, like Coriander Crusted Tuna and her Lamb Stir Fry dish with Uigur influences.
For the Lunar New Year she serves a special dumpling made in shapes that resemble ancient gold and silver ingots to summon prosperity in the coming year. This is an example of her Chinese heritage.
Interested in developing her own range of fusion dishes with a Pan Asian flavor, Yeo also authored her own book, Cooking from A to Z. The book showcases dishes from her AZ restaurant or it may be AZ showcased recipes from the book.
In any case, her book gives a wide range of her approach, which combines some Chinese cooking styles with several Southeast Asian cuisines and some Japanese and other personal touches.
Yeo continues to evolve and develop fresh approach, braking new culinary ground. For example, she recently developed some Uigur influence dishes. She says these have “the influence of the Silk Road.” These include dishes like Bison with Chili Jam and an unusual Lamb Stir Fry.
Yeo demonstrates her approach in a video available on YouTube, which gives a good idea of her cooking style, delivered in her inimitable British accent. See the video for her Lamb Stir Fry, which is both aromatic and tasty and also health-conscious.