By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
The holidays have usually been a time where people reflect on their year, give thanks for those who have impacted their lives, and gather together over a delicious, hot meal with loved ones.
We asked a few Asian American chefs in Seattle what some of their favorite Asian-inspired holiday meals are.
Executive chef and culinary director for Cooktour, Som Kesa, loves to incorporate festive and colorful dishes, as she loves entertaining during the holidays.
“Thai red and green curries always come to mind,” she said.
For example, she likes to make a seafood wonton with red and green curry presented on a platter with the curries placed side by side for visual contrast.
Another favorite Thai inspired dish that she makes is satay bruschetta. She described it as crunchy bread with soft succulent pieces of chicken, and spicy, slightly sweet and tangy creamy peanut sauce with bright crunchy cucumber salad.
On a more savory note, Phorale chef Young Cho and his family always do an array of food, ranging from Korean to traditional Christmas dinners. The one tradition that they always do every year is get an eight-pound slab of A5 grade Wagyu beef, and eat that as their main dish by slicing it and cooking it on a portable Korean barbecue grill.
“We got tired of ham and turkey, and as my grandparents get older, the jaw function starts to diminish. But buttery wagyu can be enjoyed by infants to seniors,” he joked.
As part of a Japanese tradition, Chef Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi will host its annual toshikoshi soba event for New Years Eve. Toshikoshi soba is eaten traditionally before the new year for longevity and prosperity.
Alongside a fairly traditional offering of toshikoshi sobas, Soma will debut a few accompanying dishes that are a result of her research of 19th century Edo period dishes, marking a time after 1603 when the Japanese saw emerging wealth that was gradually reflected in their cuisine. This is Kamonegi’s nod to history, while looking to the future. The accompanying dishes will be a sneak peek of an Edo period pop up, which Soma plans to have early next year.
Chef Jan Parker of Jan Parker Cookery, who is of Filipino descent, makes a pork rib roast for the holidays. The roast is coated with garlic, and brushed with a sweet soy, sugar glaze and red wine paste that is rubbed on the roast.
As a side dish similar to American cuisines, green beans are also pretty common for Parker’s family. They use an adobo spice to sauté the green beans in a wok.
Parker also said that many Filipinos eat pancit palabok during the holidays and special occasions. It’s a special dish that has a lot of ingredients, including corn starch noodle, green onions, onion and garlic-based gravy, pork, prawns, and boiled eggs.
And every meal would not be complete without a holiday dessert.
Parker makes a pomegranate flan with reduced red wine instead of brown sugar to make a caramel. Then she follows a basic recipe with eggs, milk, and Philadelphia cream cheese so the flan is thick and creamy. When you flip it over, you’ll get a deep red from the wine and yellow color from the flan, and top it off with pomegranate seeds.
In addition, Mi Kim, pastry chef and owner of Raised Doughnuts, plans on making mochi doughnuts glazed in a roasted black sesame glaze and topped with homemade black sesame brittle.
Her family loves the mochi doughnuts as is, but she wanted to make them extra special by topping them with a favorite flavor of the Kim family.
Sesame is a huge part of Korean cuisine and she grew up eating sesame leaves, sesame candy, black sesame soy milk, and dipping fatty pieces of pork belly in a sesame oil and salt mixture. Her favorite rice cake is filled with sesame honey syrup.
Needless to say, Kim’s incorporation of an important ingredient from Korean cuisine, with an American favorite, has been a huge hit during Kim’s pop-up events.
“I found my diabetic mom standing in line grabbing another half dozen of the sesame doughnuts to take home. Haha, that’s when I knew it was a winner,” Kim said.
Other local chefs also shared their favorite holiday recipes with us (check them out below).
Nina can be reached at email@example.com.
Owner of Cherry Street Coffee House, Ali Ghambari’s Fesenjan (Persian pomegranate chicken) Print this PDF recipe
- 2 pounds (6 to 8 pieces) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves and thighs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups shelled walnuts (about 1 pound)
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cups pomegranate molasses, or as needed
- ½ cup grated butternut squash
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
- 1 to 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
- Persian steamed white rice, for serving.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper, and sauté in olive oil until lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet, and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Once cool to the touch, rub walnut pieces between your palms to shed excess skin. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Transfer to a Dutch oven, and add onion and 2 cups of water. Place over medium-low heat and simmer, partly covered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of pomegranate molasses, sautéed chicken, squash, cinnamon, saffron mixture, and 1 cup of chicken broth or water.
Adjust flavor with sugar, salt, and pomegranate molasses, so it is tangy but also a bit sweet. Simmer gently, covered, until the sauce is a dark walnut color with a layer of oil on the surface, 35 to 40 minutes. If the pan looks dry, add additional broth or water as needed.
Adjust flavors again, and stir so the walnut oil is well mixed.
Bring the mixture to another gentle boil with the lid ajar, then continue to simmer on low heat until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes. Make a final taste test, and adjust flavors to your liking.
To serve, stir so that the walnut oil is evenly absorbed. Serve hot with Persian steamed white rice.
Nirmal’s Aloo Beans Kuttu Print this PDF recipe
- 1 pound potatoes (Aloo)
- 1 pound blanched french beans
- 10 oz frozen grated coconut
- 2 springs of curry leaves
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 serrano chillies
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
- ¼ th piece sliced onions
- 200 ml water
Boil potatoes until 80 percent done. Cut into small cubes and set aside
Heat coconut oil in a stir fry pan. To the hot oil, add mustard seeds and let it crackle.
Add sliced onions, ginger, serrano chillies, and curry leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Add grated coconut and 200 ml of water and let the mix simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Add potatoes and beans and stir fry for 10-15 minutes or until cooked.
Add salt to taste. Garnish with ginger and cilantro.
PCC Cooks instructor, Omid Roustaei’s Khoreshe-e Kadu Halvai-o Alu ba Morgh (braised butternut squash and chicken with golden dried plums and walnuts) Print this PDF recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 90 minutes. Serves 4.
- 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4-6 chicken pieces (bone-in and skin-on preferred)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 2-4 tablespoons sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 cup dried Persian golden plums or 1 cup pitted prunes
- Pinch of ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté the walnuts in 1 tablespoon of ghee for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
To the same pot, add an additional tablespoon of ghee and sauté the butternut squash for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Using the same pot, add 1 tablespoon of ghee and lightly sauté the onion and the chicken pieces for about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, salt, and pepper and sauté for an additional minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
Once the chicken is tender, add sugar, lime juice, prunes, and the sautéed butternut squash cubes, cover and cook over low heat for an additional 30 minutes.
Pour in the saffron water, gently stir, and transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle the walnuts over the top and serve hot.