asian food

Chive Blossom Vinegar Recipe

I have an appetite for chives. Chives in boiled dumplings, chives in pot stickers; chives chopped, stir-fried and hidden into chive pockets; chives wrapped into steamed buns and strung onto sticks with enoki or chicken skewers from vendors on the streets in Asia; chives fried with egg, dried shrimp, thin slivers of pork and rice noodles grandma would make by the mountain-full. I eat chives for the taste just as much as the love of the memories I have of eating them.

There is something incredibly beautiful about chives blossoms, the tiny bursts of purple on long green stems, the pungent smell and tiny seeds that fall from their pods. I also cherish the fact that I get to harvest a handful of these beauties every year from my dad’s yard — so pretty that I put them in vases for a few days before making a recipe out of them. 

I chuckle to think of the traits I bring from Asian culture into photography —choosing to photograph subjects that are at once tasty, photogenic, accessible and meaningful. It’s almost like someone said, “I created these chive blossoms, make good use of them!” An opportunity one must not pass.

So here is a recipe for chive blossom vinegar. A vinegar that will taste slightly like chives and turn the liquid into a deceivingly shade of rosé. Great for pickling daikon or adding flavour to a salad.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

You will need:

• A handful of chive blossoms (use blooms that bloomed and have yet gone to seed)
• Vinegar (I used rice vinegar for this one)

Instructions:

1. Behead chive blossoms, wash thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Transfer chive blossoms into a clean jar. Mash slightly with a spoon to release flavour. Top the blossoms with a sprig of chive stem if you like, chopped.

3. Fill to the brim with vinegar.

4. Let sit in a cool dark place for two weeks. Strain the liquid and keep in a sterilized jar for up to 6 months.

* Rice vinegar can be substituted with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.

* For a quick pickle, heat the vinegar until it comes to a simmer (do not boil, it will drain the colour from the blossoms), repeat with steps 3 and 4 above. Vinegar will be ready in 3 days.

More chive blossom vinegar recipes here: 

http://www.hungryghostfoodandtravel.com/blog/chive-blossom-vinegar
https://www.thespruceeats.com/chive-blossom-vinegar-1327760
https://foodinjars.com/recipe/chive-blossom-vinegar/

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A Recipe: Roasted Korean pears with Ginger

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This post has been updated on my website here.

One of my new year goals for 2019 is to write more — and what better subject to write about than food? Asian culture is a culture that revolves heavily around food. The making, the eating, the sharing. Oftentimes revolved around gossip, singing, or maybe a game of mahjong for the uncles and aunties. It is something I am really excited to share.

These pears were grown by Papa Hsin in his yard in Canada. As Asian parents go, I didn’t grow up knowing my dad as he spent a lot of time working. As a child, sometimes the only interaction we will have is when he signed my report cards every week (a moment where I will tremble slightly, even though I have always been a top student). But food — will forever be a way Asian parents show love. A catch-up session with Papa Hsin will always start with him pulling out fruit, steamed buns or something he made from his bag and handing it over with a smile. I think it is his peace offering for all the smiles he didn’t give me when he signed my report cards.

Similar to me, my dad grew up in many places. One of my favorite subjects to ask him about is the time when he lived in Saudi Arabia and worked as a martial arts trainer for the police force. The stories of endless deserts, lizard hunting with bearded men, drinking camel milk and getting lost in sandstorms. Terrorism, female rights. They were the stories that teleported me to faraway places and planted in me a seed for travel and social justice. In fact — one of my career goals as a high school student was to become a journalist and cover stories of war and in the Middle East. Of course, that didn’t end up happening and today, both of us settled in Canada where I work as a photographer and him as a retired officer. I like to think that we are both finding our peace and place here. Him in his garden, hosting dinners with Chinese neighbors and me in the kitchen, behind the camera, or off backpacking to another exciting location.

Food to me will always be magic. It is the art of creating something from simple and good ingredients. Food is a vehicle for stories, culture, and tradition. A delicious reminder that we are cared for and thought of.

So here to the new year, I hope it will be one filled with stories and meals shared over tables with conversations that are long and good.

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Roasted Korean pear with ginger

Ingredients:

• 4 Korean pears. Sliced in half with the seeds removed

• 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger*

• A dash of ground cinnamon

• A squeeze of lemon juice

• 1 tbs brown sugar (opt out if you aiming for less sugar)

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 

2. Place pears on a baking tray with cut sides up. Sprinkle ground ginger, cinnamon powder, lemon juice on pears. Top with brown sugar.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender. 

4. Let the pears cool before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream. Preferably with a friend. Enjoy.

*I like to use organic ginger since I find it more pungent. I’ve also found ginger jam to be a good substitute.

A photo of me and Papa in his yard. Shot on film in 2017.

Happy New Year!