The Dinner Table/Family Recipes

Growing up, the dinner table at my parent’s house always felt like a space where most of the meals came from family recipes, passed down. As an Asian American kid, only eating from these family recipes felt so restricting and unadventurous. When I finally went to university, I had all this freedom to eat anything I wanted in the dining halls; the options were endless and immeasurable. But when I moved into my own apartment, the biggest challenge I faced was cooking for myself. I longed for comfort food and found myself calling my mom multiple times a week asking how to make certain family recipes. Learning and making these family recipes help me feel connected to my family and my roots. I felt this sense of support, inspiration, and ownership being able to sustain myself with recipes that have been passed down through many generations. Eating from family recipes when I was younger was something I took for granted and now something I realize is an important part of my family’s history and legacy. 

With that said, this column will be used to share not only my family’s Vietnamese recipes but also from other Asian cultures as well. I believe it is so important for these recipes to be shared to those who cannot access them through their families directly. Recipe Accounts shared will be both traditional and nontraditional; we also want to highlight accounts that have taken the time and consideration of daily life, accessibility to resources, dietary needs, and allergies while also emanating nostalgia, family history and identity.

Central Asian: 

Uzbekistan/ Ukranian/ Russian: Valentina’s Corner:

https://valentinascorner.com/cuisine/russian-ukrainian/

https://valentinascorner.com/cuisine/uzbekistan-mediterranean/

East Asian: 

Korean: The Korean Vegan: https://thekoreanvegan.com/

Korean: Café Maddy: https://www.cafemaddy.com/

Chinese: The Woks of Life: https://thewoksoflife.com/

Southeast Asian:

Vietnamese: Simple Recipe by Grace Vo

Goi (Savory Papaya Salad)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Raw Papaya Shredded, washed and rinsed with water
  • 2 Large handfuls of washed Vietnamese Coriander Herb or Rau Ram, roughly chopped 
  • Boiled Shrimp, pork or chicken sliced thin (optional)
  • Nouc Mam Cham or Fish Sauce

Combine shredded papaya in a bowl with the chopped Rau Rum herb and mix together evenly. Top with your choice of boiled shrimp, chicken or pork or all of them 🙂 Spoon Nouc Mam Cham all over and enjoy!

Nouc Mam Cham or Fish Sauce Recipe 

Mix equal parts filtered water, fish sauce, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add minced or crushed garlic (for a small batch of sauce, use 2-3 cloves and for a large use 4-6 cloves). Add sugar and mix everything together! I like to use about 4-6 tablespoons of sugar for a small batch. If you are making a larger batch, keep tasting the sauce and adjust accordingly if need be. You can also add a teaspoon of chili upon preference. The sauce should taste sweet, salty and lemony. The sauce should be refreshing so if it is too concentrated with fish sauce, sugar or lemon, add water and mix until dissolved. 

Vietnamese: Vietnamese Home Cooking Recipes by Vicky Pham: https://www.vickypham.com/

Vietnamese/Filipino/Chinese: Hungry Huy: https://www.hungryhuy.com/

Malaysian: Woon Heng (Plant Based): https://woonheng.com/

Written by Grace Vo

This article appeared in the October 2020 Issue of The Asian American Arts Zine

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