Monthly Archives: April 2013

Do you know about Brunei??

I was born in Taiwan. I have lived in many places since – Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the U.S. Although I have great memories of them all, Brunei sticks out in my head. I lived there from age 2 until 10. I remember cooking with all of my family members – from littlest to big, we all had a part to play. I am sure that living there influenced my desire, passion and interest in cooking. What was so special about Brunei, was the different influences on the cuisine. There was Indian, Malay, Chinese and French. The ingredients that stick out in my mind were the bountys of fresh seafood, curry, chiles (spicy), lime and cooking with a lot of fresh fruit…..especially rambutan. I am including a link if you want to learn more about Brunei. I hope to get back there some day soon!

Cooking and Eating Healthy

As many of you know, I am a firm believer in using the freshest and healthiest ingredients in my cooking. It’s not always possible, but I do my best.

Last night I had the honor of teaching an Asian Fusion class at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor (through the Ann Arbor parks and rec dept.). For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods in your market, or aren’t familiar with it, it is a state of the art, full service natural foods grocery store. They have everything from an in-house bakery, deli, smokehouse, sushi and noodle bar, certified organic produce & hormone and antibiotic free meats…and much, much more!

Going to Whole Foods is not just a shopping trip, it is an experience. Thank goodness for stores like this that offer us the opportunity to easily access so many healthy ingredients and products! I have provided you with some links below to their website, and my teaching info for future classes through AAReced. Have a healthy cooking weekend!

Returning to Fox News on May 13th!

fox news pic of tom for web

Excited to be doing another cooking demo for Fox News! Please tune in on 5/13 during the 10am hour to see some tasty vegetarian dishes for their Meatless Mondays segment.

Introducing another ingredient you may not be familiar with.


lemongrass pic for web


Lemongrass is a stalky plant with a lemony scent that grows in many tropical climates, most notably in Southeast-Asia. A common ingredient in Thai cooking, lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma to many Thai dishes. Lemon juice (or lime) may be substituted for lemongrass in a pinch, but citrus fruits will not be able to fully replicate its particular qualities.

Lemongrass is also thought to have numerous health benefits , especially when used in combination with other Thai spices such as garlic, fresh chillies, and coriander. In fact, scientists are now studying Thailand’s favorite soup: Tom Yum Kung, which contains all of these herbs and spices, with lemongrass as the key player. Tom Yum is thought to be capable of combatting colds, flus, and even some cancers.  Check out my recipe for this soup at

Shopping Tips: When purchasing lemongrass, look for firm stalks (not soft or rubbery, which means it’s too old). Lower stalk should be pale yellow (almost white) in color, while upper stalks are green (do not purchase if outer leaves are crusty or brown). Usually fresh lemongrass is sold in groupings of 3-4 stalks, secured with an elastic band. Stalks are approximately 1 foot long (or more). Look for fresh lemongrass at your local grocery store or Asian market. If you can’t find it with the fresh produce, check the freezer section – lemongrass stalks are also sold in frozen packets.

Note: you can also buy prepared, ready-to-use lemongrass: look for it in tubs in the freezer section of your local Asian/Chinese grocery store.

It’s Earth Day!

We ALL need to do our part for the environment. Big or small, your contribution matters! Plant a tree, recycle those cans or volunteer in your community for a green cause. Here’s a link to the official Earth Day Site.

Who Says you can’t Grow a Garden?

Chinese garden pic for web

You don’t have to have the perfect plot to grow a garden! If they can create one in the city, on the top of a building with cinder blocks… can YOU! Last year we tested our (small) garden. We have a lot of deer and critters around our house, so we weren’t sure how it would do. With our make shift raised bed, stakes and chicken wire, we were able to create a simple, but successful garden. This is why we feel confident about expanding our garden this season. I have been saving my egg cartons to start growing my seeds indoors (which we will be doing this weekend). Now is the perfect time. I am hearing that a good time to plant (or transplant seedlings)  outdoors is Mid-May. Our new garden should be ready by then.  Can’t wait to share the progress with you. Good Luck with your own gardens!

My Top 10 Most Used / Staple Ingredients for Asian Cooking

Many people ask me, “What are the best ingredients to keep in my pantry and refrigerator for Asian cooking?” I have narrowed the list down to a simple 10, but please know that there are SO many more terrific ingredients out there to utilize in your cooking! Here they are….in no particular order:

  1. Fresh Ginger
  2. Fresh Garlic
  3. Shallot
  4. Dark Soy Sauce
  5. Light Soy Sauce
  6. Shiao Shing Cooking wine
  7. Oyster Sauce
  8. Hoisin Sauce
  9. Black Bean Paste
  10.  Sesame Oil

Most of these can be found at your local grocery store. If you cannot find an ingredient, locate an Asian market in your area – they are sure to have it!