A recipe that has made family, friends, and loyal customers happy for 40 years has to be absolutely amazing! And celebrity chef Jet Tila is sharing it with you in his new cook book, 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die!
To understand Asian cooking you have to understand the philosophy of “yum”. Celebrity chef and Asian cooking expert Jet Tila captivated a crowd of enthusiastic food writers and media gathered at Melissa’s Produce with his animated breakdown of what is Yum. Yum is an actual Thai word that translates to the perfect balance of tastes, and, not surprisingly, Thai dishes are known for their sublime balance of all five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, usually achieved with palm sugar, lime, tamarind, and fish sauce.
Jet Tila’s Pineapple Fried Rice
Growing up in LA’s Thai Town, Jet learned the ancient traditions of Asian cuisine from his Cantonese grandmother and by working at this family’s famed Bangkok Market, the first Thai market to open in the U.S. So Jet knows a thing or two about authentic Asian cuisine and delivered an energetic and humorous account of his early years in Los Angeles up to how he landed his first gig with Food Network battling Morimoto on Iron Chef America.
Before Jet’s cooking demonstration, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch of Yum dishes featuring recipes from Tila’s book 101 Asian Dishes and Melissa’s produce: Kung Pao Shrimp, Szechuan-style Green Beans, Chinese Chicken salad, Buddha’s Delight, Mongolian Beef, Cinnamon and Five Spice Donuts, and Thai iced tea. The menu could not have been a better representation of some of America’s favorite Chinese classics.
Some people may scoff that all of this is Americanized Chinese food, but Jet believes that the word “authentic” is a broad term. Chinese food went global over a hundred years ago and Thai, Vietnamese and Korean cuisines have also been around for 40 or more years. If a cuisine takes hold in another country and new dishes are created, are they not authentic? In the last 50 years, new dishes like California rolls, spicy tuna, orange chicken (all are recipes included in 101 Dishes) and countless others have been created by Asians outside of Asia and have made their way into the global food vocabulary. To Jet they are totally authentic, and he will stand by that all day long!
101 Asian Dishes, is a compilation of 101 classic Asian recipes that every home cook needs to try – Jet has demystified Asian cooking and made it approachable with simplified techniques, weeknight-friendly cook times and ingredients commonly found in most grocery stores. Starting with the philosophy of “yum”, Jet expertly teaches everything from stocking your pantry with the essential sauces and ingredients you need to cook Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese food like a boss to techniques that will have you rocking the wok in no time.
Jet demonstrated how to cook Szechuan-Style Green Beans (one of my all-time favorite Chinese dishes!) and his family’s Pineapple Fried Rice – a recipe that has been served at their family table and in their restaurants for 40 years! So what do you say? Let’s get started and rock the wok with his Pineapple Fried Rice! P.S. Jet says don’t let the wok scare you. It’s a pan, same as the skillet you’ve cooked in thousands of times. The only difference is its shape. If you don’t own a wok – a cast iron or heavy skillet works just as well.
- 1 large pineapple
- 3 Tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp (30g) dried shrimp (Thai)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsp (45g) diced shallots
- ½ Tbsp finely chopped ginger
- ½ cup (95g) thinly sliced Chinese sausage
- 4-6 medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- 4 cups (960g) day-old rice
- 2-3 Tbsp (30-45mil) fish sauce
- 1-2 Tbsp (15-30ml) Thai soybean sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ½ Tbsp curry powder
- 2 to 3 green onions, chopped
- Pinch white pepper
- 3 Tbsp cilantro leaves
- Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and carve out the middle to create a bowl. Cut about 1 cup (165 g) of pineapple pieces into medium dice and reserve for making the fried rice.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil for about a minute or until wisps of white smoke appear. Add the dried shrimp, garlic, shallots, ginger and Chinese sausage and cook, stirring constantly, until the sausage starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the shrimp and cook until the shrimp starts to turn pink, about 1 minute.Fold in the rice, making sure not to break the rice grains. Stir pushing down with the flat side of the spatula in small in small circular motions. This will separate the grains without breaking them. Cook for an additional minute until the rice starts to get hot.
- Stir in the fish ssauce, soybean sauce, sugar and curry powder. Continue to stir it for another minute until well combined. Fold in the reserved pineapple and incorporate it well for another 1 - 2 minutes.
- Fold in the green onions and white pepper. Transfer the fried rice into the halved pineapple. Garnish with some fresh cilantro.
101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die is written in Jet’s casual, approachable style and is both informative and fun to read. It begins with a foreward by Alton Brown and leads into Jet’s background, an explanation of the philosophy of “yum”, and a list of core pantry ingredients. Sections include: Rock the Wok: Stir-Fry Mastery; Grilling, Roasting and More Meat; My Favorite Noodle Dishes; Soups, Curries and Larger Plates; Sushi, Salads, and Other Veggies; Dumplings, finger Foods, and Small Plates; Sweets: The Tastiest Way to End Any Day; Stocks, Staples and Building Blocks; and Sauces and Dippers. Basically, everything you need to master Asian cooking at home!
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