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  • Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD

Asian American and Pacific Islanders Foods

(Image credited: United States Central Intelligence Agency, 2002)

Hello friends! How are you guys doing? Oh boy, time sure does fly, I feel like I’ve just posted the April nutrition topic here, and now it is already May. LOL! This month, let’s talk about something different, but interesting. One of the popular May nutrition topics is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage month. When we talk about culture, food is the way we get to know each other. Don’t you agree?

How much do you know about Asian and Pacific Islanders cuisines? My personal experience about Asian and Pacific islanders cuisine is that they consist of rice, noodles, root vegetables (yam, taro), and many different kinds of leafy vegetables. Asian cuisines may look similar but they all have their own uniqueness depending on the regions (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, India, and others). Pacific islanders cuisine is the same way too, it varies from island to island, but it is influenced by a blend of many cultural foods, such as European, Japanese, American, Asian Indian, Chinese, Korean, as well as Filipino.

I am always passionate about cultural food and very excited about trying all the recipes! I think the easiest way of tasting good cultural food is by traveling to places, but not everyone has the budget to do so. Thanks to the current technology, there are many great authentic recipes being shared on the internet. We all can now enjoy those delicious cultural foods at home at a much lower cost and also make them based on our preferences. OKAY, I need to stop myself from talking too much. Let’s get our hands dirty in the kitchen!

Chinese BBQ Pork Steamed Buns: This is a very popular dish served in Hong Kong, at breakfast places. We called these Char Siu pork buns. Although it is quite a lengthy process in making these steamed buns, I promise you it is worth the effort. The filling (chinese BBQ pork) of the buns is SO FLAVORFUL! The recipe is inspired by the woks of life.

Egg Tart: This is also another popular dish served at breakfast places in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. It is a mini tart version of egg custard recipe. For people with a sweet tooth, they tend to get these tarts for breakfast. The recipe is adapted from the woks of life.

Roti Canai with Dhal Curry: This is a Malaysian/Indian dish, it is served all day long (breakfast, AM snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, or midnight snack). I am not joking! Roti canai is flat bread that originated from southern India. There are many ways to enjoy roti canai, but the popular way is to serve it with dhal curry. The recipe is inspired by Marion’s kitchen.

Japanese Noodles: I thought it would be nice to try two versions of japanese-inspired noodle dishes (Cold noodle and stir-fried noodle). Hiyashi Chuka (the dish on the right) is cold japanese noodles, the ingredients are super flexible. I made mine with julienne carrots/cucumbers, thin shredded omelet, turkey deli, ramen noodles, pickled sushi ginger, and served with some homemade dressing. Yakisoba (the dish on the left), on the other hand, is Japanese stir-fried noodles, and I made it with some shredded pork. The Hiyashi Chuka recipe is adapted from Just one cookbook, and the yakisoba noodle recipe is adapted from Marion’s kitchen.

Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice: Judging by the name, I am pretty sure you already know that this is the popular Taiwanese rice dish that people serve at lunch and dinner. How do I start to describe this dish? It is a braised pork sauce that has a bursting flavor, served over a bowl of steamed rice. We also served it with some stir-fried bok choy and a soft-boiled egg. The recipe adapted from What to cook today.

Hainanese chicken rice: I have a very special memory of this dish, my family and I had it every Friday at lunch. This Chinese rice is very popular in Southeast Asia countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. The highlights of the dish are the cooking methods of preparing the rice and chicken. The rice is cooked with some chicken fat, chicken broth, and garlic. We prepare chicken using a poaching approach, which is a low-temperature, moist-heat cooking method. The recipe is adapted from Marion’s kitchen.

Gado Gado: Are you interested in trying a new salad recipe? This is an Indonesian salad that is served with spicy peanut sauce. The recipe is adapted from RecipeTin eats.

Loco Moco: It is a Haiwanese rice dish. Traditionally, it is a white rice dish that is topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and brown gravy. I tried to make it into a healthier leaner version. I swapped the hamburger with homemade turkey patties and also added some diced zucchini and mushrooms. Also, I substituted white rice with cooked quinoa. The recipe is adapted from the American Heart Association.

Strawberry Daikufu: I just realized that Mochi is a trendy food these days. It is a Japanese rice cake dessert/snack. It is made with short-grain glutinous rice flour, corn starch, sugar, milk, and vegetable oil/butter. If you are a mochi person, do you know you can make mochi at home? It is super easy and budget friendly. I stuffed my mochi with sweet red bean paste and a whole strawberry. The recipe is inspired by Catherine Zhang.

*NOTE 1: Due to Asian American and Pacific Islanders cuisine being a wide topic, I could only share with you some highlight recipes.

*Most ingredients used for the blog sponsored by the DRH Health Food and Nutrition department.


United States Central Intelligence Agency. (2002) East Asia and Oceania. [Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency] [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

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