Week Five of AAPI Heritage Month: Nepalese Food

We’re closing in on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s been a wonderful month highlighting the culture I’m so proud to be apart of. I’ve learned about so many different resources, books, and movies that highlight the AAPI people. RepresentASIAN!!! I’m so happy that President Biden signed a bill to combat hate crimes against the AAPI population (the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act).

I’d like to also mention again that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout the pandemic, especially this year, taking care of my mental health has become so important. Moreover, realizing that the little things we often take for granted are what we should be treasuring every single day. Things such as: socialization, companionship, and hugs. Those are part of the human make-up, we so desperately need.

Mental health should be openly spoken about and not looked upon as a negative stigma. Often times, people feel judged and criticized once they talk about mental health. That’s not right. My dream is that mental health would be openly discussed amongst people, freely and in a healthy, positive way. There are various support groups through mental health organizations, where people can meet and safe safe to discuss their experiences, but we need that same love and support from society.

This week’s AAPI cuisine feature is Nepalese food. I had two close friends (siblings) in graduate school who were from Nepal. While they resided here on O’ahu, they frequently invited me over to their home and made home-cooked Nepalese vegetarian food. They were so proud of their culture and country. And they were great cooks! They even taught my family and our friends how to eat with our hands. I guess they don’t really use utensils in Nepal. It was a bit strange, as I’m not used to eating with my hands, but it was an interesting experience. Likewise, my friends learned about the local culture here and were exposed to a variety of different ethnic foods. They often liked eating at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimukī. I love that place. They became friendly with the staff. I’d always have a grand time hanging out with them. They brought so much joy and a sense of calmness whenever in our presence.

If you haven’t had Nepalese food, it’s very similar to Indian food. They are neighboring countries after all. That got me thinking, what’s the difference between the two cuisines? They seem so similar- and they are. I found this article that explains the difference: https://kitchenappliancehq.com/what-is-the-difference-between-indian-and-nepalese-food/. One thing Jeff Campbell states is that Nepalese food does not contain cream like Indian food does. That’s very true! A lot of Indian dishes have creamy textures. Next time I’m dining out at a combined Nepalese/Indian restaurant, I’ll be able to tell the difference.

Have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer!

Cheers!

FS x

Week Four of AAPI Heritage Month: Filipino Grindz

Summer is right around the corner. Get ready for sunnier, longer, and hotter days. The best part about summer is the long days. I love when the sun goes down late in the evening. One summer, I’d love to visit Alaska, where the sun goes down right before midnight in some areas. That is mind-boggling! Imagine all the activities I could do late in the night.

This weekend, my dear friend and I had an impromptu dinner. We dined at Shay’s Filipino Cafe in Waipio. There’s also a new location in Honolulu- Kakaʻako. She introduced me to Filipino food many years ago and I loved it! My favorite dishes are: the pancit noodles, squid guisadong, and the sari sari soup. Pancit is a rice noodle stir fry dish, made with vegetables and meat. Super simple to make at home. Squid guisadong is sautéed squid with tomatoes, spinach, and onions. It’s so tasty! I have to order this dish at every Filipino restaurant. Sari sari soup includes squash, meat, seafood, and vegetables. It’s very hearty.

This week’s featured image includes two of my favorite dishes: pancit and squid guisadong. My girlfriend ordered pork guisantes, which was very yummy. It’s a dish made with pork, peas, and bell peppers, cooked in a tomato sauce.

We have a huge Filipino community in Hawai’i, with a lot of Filipino restaurants to choose from. My top two fave places are Thelma’s and Shay’s.

Can’t wait to explore the Filipino menu and try more yummy dishes.

Enjoy the last full week of May.

FS x

Week Three of AAPI Heritage Month: Szechuan Cooking

I’m so excited to share about Szechuan cooking. My sister and I dined at a new restaurant called SXY Szechuan. Prior to ordering, the chef and owner of the restaurant shared about Szechuan cooking. Szechuan, also spelt in multiple ways, comes from southwestern China and is known for the dishes to be spicy. Though, she said the chefs will make the dishes milder if one cannot eat spicy foods.

My sis and I were a bit overwhelmed by the menu, as we weren’t familiar with the dishes and the cuisine itself. Thank goodness for pictures as we browsed the menu. We decided to order tofu and vegetable soup, fried lamb BBQ, and mung bean jelly noodles with chili sauce. The mung beans looked the most interesting. I’ve heard of mung beans before in Korean facial products, but have never seen what they looked like.

The food was delicious! The soup was very simple, yet, it was soothing and comforting. The fried lamb resembled an Indian and Mediterranean dish because of all the herbs sprinkled on the lamb. And last, the mung bean noodles… They looked very intriguing. They were really good! That chili sauce was mild, and so tasty! I don’t recall the mung bean noodles having any taste. It literally felt like I was eating jellied noodles. We enjoyed the food very much. I can’t wait to go back to try more dishes.

Speaking of AAPI Heritage Month, I want to highlight the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved” trilogy movies on Netflix. I finally watched them and listened to the audiobooks within one week! Yes! And OMG! Why did I wait this long to listen to the stories and watch the movies?! I absolutely LOVED the story! The audiobook was a “page-turner.” It was funny, quirky, cute, and romantic- all in one! It was fabulous. It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. The story took me back to my HS days and my HS BF. Lara Jean and Peter’s love story is so sweet. I love both characters, especially Peter’s. He has grown so much over the last three books and it was great to experience his tremendous love for Lara Jean. So, so cute. There were a lot of differences between the books and movies, but the overall concept of the story was the same, which made me happy. These movies and books have been added to my all-time fave list.

I would like to also mention that May is mental health awareness month. Freshly, I’ve developed a deep passion for mental health advocacy and have been learning about ways I could become more involved in the mental health community. Taking care of our mental health is so important and we need to vocalize that mental health matters. More people need to be educated, open, and willing to share that mental health shouldn’t be shunned and hidden. The stigma needs to end. It’s ok to talk about it; to be open, and to receive help. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I give huge kudos to those who aren’t ashamed and seek treatment. It’s the way to move forward and to feel better. And that’s important above all else. Why live in darkness and in pain? There’s a bright world out there, waiting for us to shine. Don’t let mental health define and consume you.

Keep safe; take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Be proud of who you are.

In love,

FS x

Happy Mama’s Day! Week Two of AAPI Heritage Month: Japanese Cuisine

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, and aunts! I hope your weekend is filled with love, relaxation, joy, and laughter. You are appreciated. Your sacrifice, hard work, unwavering love, support, encouragement, and understanding means the world. Thank you!

Every year, I cook dinner for all my mother-figures in my family. This weekend, as we continue celebrating Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I made an Asian curried ground turkey stew (featured image), which turned out to be more like soup. Nonetheless, it was scrumptious. I’m sure it’ll taste even more delicious after all the ingredients have soaked into the broth over the last couple days. I’ve learned that it’s best to make the dishes ahead of time so they have time to marinate in their sauces and seasonings. The dishes are a lot more tastier a few days later. Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Pepper
  • Garlic pepper
  • Dried garlic flakes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Homemade curry powder
    • Cumin
    • Coriander
    • Ground ginger
    • Mustard seed
    • Red pepper flakes
    • Turmeric
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Shoyu (soy suace)
  • White vinegar
  • Chicken stock
  • Bay leaves
  • Whole wheat flour (to thicken the sauce)
  • Ground turkey
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Lentils
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Okinawan sweet potatoes

I love cooking. But cooking for a heartwarming purpose, like Mother’s Day, is exhilarating for me. I love putting all my heart and soul into my cooking. Cooking with love is the best!

“To the world you are a mother. To our family, you are the world.” ~Unknown

In joy,

FS x

Week One of Asian-American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Thai Cuisine

Happy belated May/Lei Day, and Happy AAPI Heritage Month! So grateful to have this entire month dedicated to us!

I’ve included some links to learn more about the AAPI legacy:

Each week during the month of May, we’ll highlight on a dish of Asian or Pacific Islander cuisine. I’m excited to share about the various dishes I love throughout this month.

This week, our featured dish is Thai cuisine. It’s one of my favorite Asian foods. I love this new restaurant in Kaimukī called Red Elephant Thai Cuisine. Their food is excellent. The server shared that the food is considered to be authentic to the food cooked and eaten in Thailand.

Over the weekend, my friends and I had a marvelous dinner at Red Elephant. We sat in their outdoor section of the restaurant, which is featured in the picture collage. Their outdoor atmosphere is beautiful and tranquil both in the daytime and nighttime. I love sitting out there. We were entertained by a talented pianist while enjoying our dinner. Everything about that night was spectacular. We laughed and enjoyed each others’ company. The food was delicious. It was a wonderful reunion.

Prior to dinner, we attended our late friend’s celebration of life service. I had shared in a prior blog post that one of my girlfriends unexpectedly passed a couple months ago. It was shocking to all who knew her… The service was a lovely tribute to remember and honor her life. There were lots of tears and laughter, and reminiscing about the fabulous person she was to those who had known her. She will be dearly missed. I hope she is resting in love, happiness, and peace, and watching over us. My main takeaway from this experience is to live life to the fullest. Be the best version of yourself; be kind and loving to those around you, and have faith in everything you do.

I have so many favorite Thai dishes from Red Elephant, and overall. I didn’t present them all. The dishes featured in the collage are: yellow curry with sticky rice, tom yum (hot and sour lemongrass) soup, and green papaya salad. These photos were taken when I dined there with my sister.

This weekend, my friends and I ate: red curry with sticky rice, tom yum soup, spring rolls, and pad see lew (stir fry with noodles). We loved all these dishes. Yum!

The go-to dish I must order at any Thai restaurant is the tom yum soup. It is a breath of fresh air. I love the spiciness and sourness. The broth is so tasty. I always get excited when I see tom yum soup packets and flavored snacks at the store.

Check out Red Elephant Thai Cuisine:

3196 Wai’alae Ave.
Honolulu, 96816
808-732-5461
https://www.redelephantthaicuisine.com/

Peace,

FS x