The kitchen goddess is definitely the Asian American grandmother. She is the glue that holds the family together; the keeper of cultural and culinary tradition; the source of all things delicious, pungent, salty, and satisfying. Pull up a chair at the kitchen table and pick up some chopsticks–grandmothers who cook Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Indonesian, Thai, and Indian cuisine are in the kitchen stirring up culinary delights for you. What’s your favorite? Crispy Shrimp Rolls or Shiu Mai or a satisfying bowl of Nepalese Nine-Bean Soup?
To compile the recipes for this gratifyingly expansive cookbook, author Patricia Tanumihardja (whose grandmother hailed from Indonesia) served as cultural historian, recipe transcriber, and surrogate granddaughter. How else could she garner the recipes for such dishes as Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste and Chilies, Pan- Fried Tofu Simmered in Sweet Miso Sauce, or Grandma Yangja’s Cabbage Kimchi? These are the authentic dishes you don’t necessarily find in restaurants: Steamed Meatballs with Tangerine Peel, Gingered Oxtail Stew, 1-2-3-4-5 Sticky Spareribs, and Clay Pot Lemongrass-Steamed Fish. And if you believe that the noodle was invented by an Asian grandmother, you are ready for a bowl of Pancit (Filipino Fried Noodles) or Ohn No Khauk Swe (Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup). This beautiful culinary tour of Asian American kitchens makes many cultural stops, with a panoply of flavors and a bountiful menu of dishes along the way. So even if you aren’t fortunate enough to have an Asian grandmother yourself, double happiness can be yours by sharing and enjoying these enduring recipes.
Praise for Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
“If you missed out sitting by your grandmother’s stove, or your family ethnicity doesn’t happen to match the food you know you were born to eat, Patricia Tanumihardja’s book goes a long way toward addressing that need. “a charming book.”
The Boston Herald
Encompassing Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Indian grandmothers, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian Kitchens by Patricia Tanumihardja (Sasquatch, Oct.) features 130 recipes the author culled from Asian grandmas. The author, a food writer who unfortunately never knew her grandmothers, was nonetheless drawn to writing about Asian grandmothers’ recipes, finding that grandmas tend to be keepers of the cultural–and culinary–flame. “In Asian cultures, you tend to have three generations living under one roof,” Tanumihardja says. Grandmothers play a role of “passing on the culture and roots to their grandchildren.” None of them cook with recipes, Tanumihardja found. “It was a pinch of this a dash of that.” Although the women Tanumihardja talked to use flavors ranging from ginger to hot chilies, curries and vinegars, their food tends to be hearty and vibrantly flavored. And soy sauce seems to be ubiquitous.
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 2009
A new book deliciously weaves together generations-old recipes–and the stories of the women who cook them–in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian Kitchens (Sasquatch Books, 2009). Patricia Tanumihardja, an Indonesian Chinese with her own memories of Asian cooking, has documented a number of family recipes–many of them in print for the first time ever–complete with insider tips from the grandmothers she cooked with. The book also features profiles of the women, highlighting the history behind each dish and revealing how cooking factors into the lives of Asian American families.
Asiasociety.org, September, 2009
Hundreds of exotic ingredients star in the 130-plus recipes in Patricia Tanumihardja’s The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian Kitchens released Oct. 1. Tanumihardja gathered the food formulas from mothers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers for the dishes that hail from Japan to India. Through a little investigative work and careful testing, Tanumihardja keeps the instruction simple. The result: a litany of innovative family meals and pieces of history that would make grandma, whatever her ethnic background, proud.
Monterey County Weekly, October 1, 2009