Learn to Cook Chinese Soul Food with Linda Lau Anusasananan

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Linda Lau Anusasananan

Linda Lau Anusasananan

Linda Lau Anusasananan, author of The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food from around the World, will share her book that traces the diverse cuisine of the Chinese nomads known as the Hakka. In Bay Area events, this former Sunset Magazine food writer will discuss her journey to discover her Hakka identity through food. Beginning in her grandmother’s kitchen in California, Anusasananan travels to her family’s home in China, and from there fans out to embrace Hakka cooking across the globe—including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Peru, and beyond.

This book likens Hakka cooking to a nomadic type of “soul food,” or a hearty cooking tradition that responds to a shared history of hardship and oppression. Earthy, honest, and robust, it reflects the diversity of the estimated 75 million Hakka living in China and greater Asia, and in scattered communities around the world—yet still retains a core flavor and technique. Anusasananan’s deep personal connection to the tradition, together with her extensive experience testing and developing recipes, make this book both an intimate journey of discovery and an exciting introduction to a vibrant cuisine. Seattle artist, Alan Lau gracefully weaves a visual trail through the pages.

The book was awarded “Best Chinese Cuisine Cookbook or the World 2012″ by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It was also included in lists for “best cookbooks of 2012″ from Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Associated Press, and Toronto Globe and Mail. The book appeared in an article by Mark Bittman in the New York Times Magazine on May 19, 2013. For more information visit http://TheHakkaCookbook.com

Fall Bay Area Schedule of Appearances and Book Signings:

October 10, 2013, Thursday, 7 pm. Cupertino Library Story Room, 10800 Torre Ave., Cupertino, CA 95014. Talk, slides, book sales and signing. 408 446. 1677. Free and open to public. http://tinyurl.com/kewjjgw

October 26, 2013, Saturday, 2 pm. San Francisco Public Library Sunset Branch, Children’s Area, 1305 18th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122. 415. 355. 2088. Talk, slides, book sales and signing.  Free and open to public. http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1014462301

November 2, 2013, Saturday, 1 to 4 pm. An Author Faire at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Second Floor, 150 San Fernando St., San Jose 95112. 408. 808. 2397. Several local authors, including Anusasananan, will be speaking about their books, signing, and selling books. Pre-registration required.  http://www.sjpl.org/event/author-faire

From The Hakka Cookbook, Chinese Soul Food From around the World. By Linda Lau Anusasananan   http://TheHakkaCookbook.com  Page 199

Hakka Cuisine

Soy -Glazed Chicken Morsels. Photo by Linda Lau Anusasananan

Soy-Glazed Chicken Morsels (from page 199

You might call these Hakka chicken nuggets. Fah Liong, contributor to The Hakka Cookbook, uses Indonesian sweet soy sauce known as kecap manis  to cloak chunks of chicken with a sticky, smoky, aromatic, sweet, salty glaze embedded with bits of garlic and ginger.

Makes 4 to 5 servings as a main dish, 8 to 10 servings as an appetizer or part of a multi-course meal.


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh ginger

1/4 cup Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) or dry sherry

2 tablespoons purchased kecap manis (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce and 1 1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar)

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Thinly sliced romaine or iceberg lettuce

Fresh coriander sprigs and cherry tomatoes for garnish


1. Cut the chicken into about 1-inch chunks.

2. Set a 12-inch frying pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, about 1 minute, add the oil and rotate the pan to spread the oil. Spread the chicken in a single layer, cook, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, turn the pieces over and continue cooking until lightly browned and chicken is no longer pink in center (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium-high.

3. Push the chicken to the sides of pan and add the garlic and ginger. Stir until the garlic begins to brown, about 15 seconds. Add the wine, kecap manis, and white pepper. Stir often until sauce thickly coats chicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour onto a serving plate lined with lettuce. Garnish with the cilantro and tomatoes, if desired.

About the Author