January... asian food month



At the top of the New Year, in our Winter Wishes Jar, was a fun little challenge to explore and cook a different food culture/cuisine each month during 2018. For January we chose Asian/Eastern cuisine. Inspired by cookbooks and recipes found online, we created loosely translated versions of food from the East. We do enjoy variety in our meals, and so while not every single day has been Asian on the menu, once or twice per week it has been. 

One evening we made a chana masala --chickpeas cooked in a spicy tomato-based sauce, a kind of curry. I based what we made on a recipe from a cookbook, making a couple of small modifications--like adding more spice. The tomato sauce seemed to disappear--there was not nearly enough of it. But it tasted good!



Another evening on our plates, was teriyaki baked tofu "steaks."  These we served over rice noodles with vegetables that echoed the teriyaki flavors... garnished with cashew nuts. This was one of our favorites this month! (I used this recipe as inspiration for the baked tofu, which is one of the most excellent preparations of tofu we've tried. I want to try it again using BBQ sauce!)


Chicken with Broccoli and Water Chestnuts in an Orange-Ginger Sauce spiked with chili... served with rice. YUM! This was a nice, easy weekend meal one busy Saturday here.


I've tried making naan bread several times (like those lovely flatbreads served in Indian and other Eastern cuisine restaurants), and each time has been a flop... And this latest try was also disappointing. I used a recipe from a cookbook borrowed from the library, and followed the recipe exactly. For some reason--not sure why--the breads puffed up way too much. We baked them in the oven, to save some time... in a pan, on the stove top, would have been better. These looked and tasted nothing at all like naan bread... more like a tasty bread roll. These were paired with the chana masala. I've put the leftover naan breads in the freezer. We can eat them with soup...

These are just a few of the Asian-inspired meals we've made this month. We love Asian cuisine, and it's fun to try different dishes at restaurants, and be inspired by what we eat at different places. But I've pretty much given up making certain Asian-style meals at home. I'm often disappointed with the results--there's often an ingredient I can't get, a spice our local store doesn't have, etc., a recipe that turns out not so well, or doesn't even look like what's in the accompanying photo. So it's more a treat to go to a restaurant, where it's made well, than feel like I'm wasting ingredients, resources, time, packaging, etc. Still, it's been fun to try...and we've made some very healthy meals this month!

Now we're considering what cuisine to cook during February... How about Norwegian?! ;) 

So what's been cooking in your kitchen?!

Oh, and if you'd like to see how we did with No Shopping in January as part of our Make Do and Mend Year, revisit this post--scoll to the end for an update. 


Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What a terrific idea, Tracy! Trying a new cuisine each month. I'm sorry about the naan but at least they were tasty, if not totally traditional. It looks lovely, as does your service. You remind me it's time to up my game.

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    1. Thanks, Jeanie! Our dinner service is from Ikea's 365+ range. We've had it for 17 years, and it's held up well. The square plates felt like fun at the time we bought them. Next time, I will return to white/cream porcelain service in classic round shapes. ;)

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  3. holy moly tracy!!!
    came back to see if others had left any recipe ideas and saw the BOOK I left as a comment.
    SO SORRY!
    seriously. PLEASE delete it! I can't!
    you could leave Janet's recipe for the hotcakes though. they're good!
    can't wait to experiment with the teriyake baked tofu you linked as well. xo

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    1. aaawww Tammy... I was sorry to see you removed your comment! It was long but it was good, and useful! I always like how you put a spotlight on important things for us to think about or consider--like vegetarianism. I was veggie for 12 years, so I understand! We try to strike a balance with regards animal protein, trying to keep for the weekend, and eatin plant-based during the week. I do think we need to eat less meat, and that factory farming must end. Not/less meat is better for animals and the environment. We try to buy ethically supported protein. But yes, do try this tofu recipe... it's best, and easiest, crisy tofu! :))) LOVE YA ((HUGS))

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  4. I guess Dale and I need to give new recipes a try. I like to cook but sometimes he does not like new things. Guess I just need to make the tasty. lol
    I love making breads, just don't love the carbs and calories. :)

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    1. Go on, Judy... be bold! ;) I'm with you on the bread--too much calories and carbs... but we still eat it! LOL...

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  5. What a unique way to celebrate a month by highlighting a cuisine and I cannot think of one we like more than Asian cuisine! Todd prefers basic British cuisine, but a lot of that is due to his age and lack of adventurous palate. I am pretty much game for change most of the time. That Tofu recipe looks good. My friend back in Canada makes fabulous Tofu burgers! Love and hugs. xoxo PS - Sorry about the naan bread disappointment. I hate it when I go to the trouble of trying a recipe and it turns out to be a flop! xo

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    1. Asian cuisine is pretty versatile, isn't it... what we make is more of an Asian-fusion, really, but it's good. And, mostly, healthy too. I need to try making tofu burgers! I make various bean/lentil burgers, but haven't played much yet with tofu burgers. :)

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  6. Such a fun idea! Do you also put matching music on for atmosphere? Sorry no cooking advice from me. I think you make such lovely delicious food.

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    1. I love the idea of adding music to the cooking experience--thanks for sharing that! Oh, and maybe some language experience too?? I think you can still get language learning CDs at the library. I wonder what music to put on for February now...

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  7. I’m feeling rather guilty about how easy (and inexpensively) it is to find great Asian food around here. When I used to work a few miles east of Pasadena (of the Rose Parade fame), there was a little vegetarian Indian restaurant with these combo meals: 2 choices of veggie somethings (dal or potato-cauliflower or chickpea somethings) with rice and some kind of yogurt thing, a poori or chapati, and pickled condiment. $2.99. Chai was complimentary. Most recently, they increased the price to $3.99 for that combo. Miss working near there!

    Sounds like you did find some options to add to your rotation, though. And maybe a new favorite or two!

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    1. Oooo... your Indian vegetarian restaurant sounds sooo good--and very nicely priced! We could not get a meal out for that price here! I could eat a good dal with a chapati and some hot pickled lime...mmm...

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  8. Wow, I do love that you are trying to cook for different cultures. My husband and I really love the India restaurants. We have a very dear friend that is like a brother to my husband that is from Iran. When we visit him in California he loves to take us to various mid-eastern eateries. There is a young man from our missionary days that we go out to lunch to a India place that he loves. He really likes Naan bread and says it is hard to find a place that makes it right.
    I will look forward to what your next month of dishes are. I think Norwegian would be awesome.
    Warm blessings and hugs for you dear sister in Christ!

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    1. That sounds delicious, LeAnn!! Middle Eastern food, real Middle Eastern food is something we have yet to experience on a restaurant level. We have an Indian restaurant in our small town... but need to go to the bigger cities for other cuisines!

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  9. I do love trying new ethnic cuisine from time to time. Tonight I made a new recipe. It was an endive/goat cheese tart. We liked it fine, but probably wouldn't repeat it. Not long ago I made an Indian bireyani (don't think that is spelled right). It was very good and I will repeat it. My husband makes the naan when we make Indian food or curries. Your chicken with broccoli looks particularly good. I just ate dinner and now I want to eat again.

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    1. I love that your husband makes the naan bread, Marilyn... a gardener he is, and a bread-baker too??!! Sounds like a keeper! ;)

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