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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

The case for making Italian food with Asian ingredients



Chef Alex Wong grew up with an Asian remix of Italian cuisine: his mother sprinkled her spaghetti Bolognese with salty Maggi spice. “Because I’m Chinese-Vietnamese, it wasn’t rag, but rather fried beef with tomato paste,” he says. “It was delicious, but when I tried real Italian for the first time, I was blown away.”

He attributes this culinary introduction to his school friend Daniel. “After school we went to his Nonna because his parents were working,” he says. Daniel’s Nonna was from Naples, so her penne was flavored with tomatoes and basil the Napoletana style. “They always had fresh pane di casa, fresh bread, on the table, that blew me away,” he says.

These two styles of Italian cuisine – traditional and Asian inspired – were to shape his career as a chef.

At Ajò in the Welcome Hotel in Rozelle, he was trained in Sardinian cuisine. Under Chef Daniel Mulligan (of Pilu at Freshwater) he became particularly skilled at making culurgiones.

“It’s every pasta archenemy,” says Wong. “It was very painful to do and only two people in the kitchen could do it – I was one of them.” It is a Sardinian custom to eat them on the day of the dead or to celebrate a good harvest. Culurgiones were always on the menu in this restaurant.

“It looks like little wheat pots,” says the cook, describing the dumpling-shaped dish. Pleating each one was a challenge and required 16 meticulous folds. “You have to pinch it tight enough, otherwise it won’t lock,” he says. “If you don’t do it right, the filling will come out and it won’t do any good.” You don’t want the potatoes, pecorino, and mint to leak. Or a mixture of pumpkin, ricotta and spinach. Sometimes Jerusalem artichokes roasted in butter mixed with cheese were put in the culurgiones.

It wasn’t until Wong opened Allegra Dining in 2017 that he considered incorporating Asian ingredients into his Italian dishes, as his mother used to do. “The first thing that inspired me was the opening of LuMi,” he says. This restaurant in Pyrmont opened in 2014 and chef Federico Zanellato presented crabs with puffed sushi rice, ravioli with pumpkin and plain flavor and parmesan pudding in a delicate Chawanmushi style.

Wong recalls being blown away by LuMi’s brioche with caramelized koji butter. “I’d never used koji before,” he says, referring to the starter that gives Japanese staples – like miso and soy sauce – their hearty punch.

Mitch Orr’s ACME opened around the same time as LuMi. His Italian menu did not stick to European borders either. His pork head macaroni caught fire from Filipino sisig, his black garlic and burnt chilli linguine resembled Mee Goreng, and his idea for the Sydney restaurant came from daily visits to a udon shop during his first trip to Tokyo. ACME also took inspiration from the Asian institutions on its doorstep: “It’s been 100 percent influenced by Chinatown and restaurants like Golden Century,” he says.

Orr notes that there is a lot of overlap between Asian and Italian cuisine: they fill the tables with rice and noodles, they turn up the umami levels if necessary, both have a strong sense of regionality and have produced lasting dishes from poor backgrounds. He credits Alessandro Pavoni and Federico Zanellato for working together at Ormeggio at the Spit more than a decade ago to bring Asian ideas to your Italian food. Other chefs have also shared this reflex: O Tama Carey smuggled curry leaves into their Italian menu at Berta back in 2014, while Trisha Greentree continues to do so in a subtle way at 10 William St and Fratelli Paradiso.

“One of the first things I did was my own Italian-inspired XO sauce.”

Like Wong, Greentree grew up with Asian ingredients that refined her Italian food: her Filipino mother prepared spaghetti Bolognese with a dash of fish sauce. “The traditional Filipino spaghetti come with hot dogs,” she says. “This is a whole new level.”

In her restaurants, the cook uses Asian ingredients in a subtle and subtle way. Your blood orange crudo could be garnished with a herbal note from macrut. Or she could flavor something with yuzu – a movement that to her feels more Italian than strictly Japanese. “It’s also very Sicilian. For me, citrus fruits are Italy,” she says.

The chef recalls when some Asian Australian diners discovered a Szechuan flavor profile in an Italian dish. “But it’s not intended at all. There’s no way it’s intended,” she says. Greentree tends to balance flavors in a certain way. “It just so happens that it tends to have an Asian palate. It’s nothing more than that.”

Wong remembers eating her dishes; a squid salad with fish sauce stands out in particular. Even if their Asian flourishes are reserved, you will notice if you are aware enough, he believes. “Asian people can safely say it.”

Like the aforementioned chefs, Wong has been experimenting with Asian flavors in his Italian cuisine for years. “Allegra was like a stepping stone, I tested a lot of things there,” he says. “One of the first things I did was my own Italian-inspired XO sauce.” So he put ‘nduja and pancetta in place of jinhua ham and added capers to add saltiness.

“I used to make a lamb rag and season it with fish sauce. Because traditionally in Italian there are recipes in which lamb is served with anchovies,” he says. With this Asian note, he channeled his childhood when Mama salted Bolognese with Maggi spice.

Those Asian riffs on Italian food can now also be found on his menus. At Lana in Sydney’s Circular Quay, where he is currently the head chef, he spices his Acqua Pazza broth with Thai basil, Korean kombu and Chinese dried prawns. And the Mannaggia a Trois pop-up, which he runs with chefs Andrea Sonnante and Hai Le, is about exploring the two kitchens in a creative way.

They originally planned to have their next dinner at Sonnante’s Sagra Restaurant in Darlinghurst, topping Chinese donuts with lardo and liver pate, and presenting rigatoni with holy basil, king prawns and salumi xo sauce. But with the current COVID-19 outbreak restricting all Sydney restaurants for takeout and delivery only, they have focused on offering packaged meals for the home. A recent menu featured a chickpea dip spiced with Szechuan peppers – ready to be scooped with long curls of deep fried noodle fritta. There was a burrata drizzled with scallop sambal, also made by Queen Chow’s close friend Andy Wirya.

Eating in the restaurant may be paused at the moment, but Wong’s mind is still buzzing with ideas for the future Mannaggia a Trois menu: He plans to have smoked Parmesan chawanmushi, ginger and shallot salsa verde for a fish dish, and stracciatella with black sesame and saffron pappardelle to prepare – inspired by Japanese goma ae. Breaking the boundaries and mixing in different culinary influences makes these dishes possible.

“Old-school Italian is good, but sometimes boring,” he jokes.

Do you love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @leetranlam and Instagram @leetranlam.

Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

From tacos to wings, learning to cook with plant-based meats



It’s that time of year when many people decide to eat less meat. The “whys” are many: sustainability and concern for the planet, health considerations, ethical concerns about dealing with animals.

An increasingly popular option is “plant-based meat,” which can be found in meat aisles from grocery stores to restaurants.

These products aim to mimic meat in taste, texture, look and smell and the similarities are now quite impressive. The ingredients usually include a plant-based protein, such as soy or pea, and sometimes other beans, wheat, or potatoes.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are the two monster names in this space, but there are dozens of brands out there. In the fresh food aisles of grocery stores, plant-based options focus on ground beef, burger patties, meatballs, and sausage. Freezer aisles have that, as well as many products designed to replicate specific dishes, like chicken nuggets, pot pies, or stir-fries.

So, how to cook at home with these products?

“The vegetarian meat is an easy substitute,” says Angela Campbell, a pescetarian living in Portland, Maine, who relies on plant-based meats to enhance her cooking. She says she can use the ground beef and imitation sausage 1:1 in recipes.

They can be used in pasta sauces, stir-fries, casseroles, fajitas, etc.

Like ground beef, plant-based crumbles are perishable, so treat them like ground beef, use within a few days, and cook thoroughly.

Many of them cook faster than their meat counterparts and seem more sensitive to precise cooking times; the packages often warn against undercooking or overcooking. So you might want to add them towards the end of preparing a dish. Most brand websites offer recipes.

Campbell says she’s had less success with the “chicken” products.

“You can’t reproduce long-simmered chicken dishes or whole-breasted dishes,” she says. “The (plant-based) chicken generally tastes best in a pan or with a separately prepared sauce. The chicken may brown, but nothing will crisp up.”

Cheyenne Cohen, a food photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, follows a vegan diet at home and says, “When I use plant-based meat, I’m never trying to replicate a meat meal perfectly. I want to learn the texture and overall flavor of each brand/variety and then experiment with preparation and seasoning until I find something that works well.”

She loves using soy crumbles as taco meat or in any other way you’d normally use ground beef, and says it’s generally easy to make the swap.

Rather than placing the meat substitutes at the center of the dish, Cohen finds them “a good recipe ingredient,” just one component.

Jade Wong, owner of Red Bamboo in New York City, has been running restaurants specializing in plant-based meats for 20 years. She says her menu caters to vegetarians and vegans looking for comfort food.

“Do you really want a salad on a cold winter’s day? Or would you rather have a chicken parmesan hero or a burger?” says Wong.

Red Bamboo makes its own plant-based meat products (100% vegetarian and 100% vegan) and sells them wholesale to other restaurants. Wong notes that many store-bought plant-based meats are pre-cooked, so they just need to be heated.

She suggests marinating soy burger patties in your favorite marinade before quickly searing them on a griddle. And cooking soy-based meat substitutes on a ridged grill pan offers the appeal of traditional grilled meat dishes.

Crumbled “sausage,” says Wong, is great as a pizza topping or, when sautéed and mixed with vegetables, as an accompaniment to pasta dishes, perhaps along with sauce and condiments.

At the restaurant, they get more creative, offering options like grilled buffalo wings, which are soy-based “chicken” wrapped in tofu (they even stick a stick in the wings to mimic the bone).

Some plant-based products are like blank slates, destined to be used in your favorite recipes. Others are prepared in a heat-and-eat manner.

Gardein has a strong presence in the frozen food department, known for its “chik’n” products; They also make homemade beefless tips that you can skewer, sauté, or stir-fry, and pork-free sweet and sour bites. Before the Butcher makes seasoned, plant-based ground meat products and patties with interesting flavor profiles like roast turkey burgers. They also make a lower-priced line of burgers under the Mainstream name, which aims to compete with beef patties not only in taste but also in price.

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Ming Tsai recently launched a line of Ming’s Bings, a treat bonanza made from ground, plant-based meats, vegetables, cheese and assorted spices, encased in brown rice paper and crispy when baked.

Some plant-based meat products are vegan, some vegetarian, some gluten-free, some dairy-free; If you have feeding problems, read the packaging carefully.


Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks that focus on family-friendly cooking, Dinner Solved!. and The Mama 100 Cookbook. She blogs at She can be reached at

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Celebrating Veganuary: Heart-and planet-healthy eating



To set the momentum for the coming months, it’s important to start talking about healthy eating right at the start of the year. And a portmanteau of January and vegan, Veganuary, a global pledge to adopt a plant-based lifestyle for 31 days, does the same. This global movement is an initiative by the UK-based charity of the same name to promote vegan diets for a better planet. The movement, which was officially launched in India in December 2019, has garnered widespread interest from people across the country. A recent survey by YouGov, a market research and data analytics firm, showed that 65% of Indians are interested in replacing meat with plant-based options in 2022.

Several brands have launched vegan menus to meet the demands. “There is no denying that the pandemic has made people more aware of the consequences of their lifestyle choices on their immunity, health, mental and physical well-being. Veganism is a long-term lifestyle and cannot be limited to just one January. To cater to this new trend, we have launched a plant-based chicken biryani,” says Mohammed Bhol, chef and co-founder of Charcoal Eats. Vegan meat is made from ingredients like plant-based protein, soy, or wheat, and has the flavor and texture of real meat. “Plant-based keema is made from soy. From the keema we make kofta balls. And these mock meatballs are used in the biryani,” adds Bhol.

Healthy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos (Photo: Shutterstock)

Vegan food is considered the cleanest of all diets and isn’t lacking in flavor or variety. Uday Malhotra, executive chef and co-founder of Kneed, a bakery that operates on a cloud kitchen model, says, “We make homemade breads, rolls, cereal, nut butters, dips, hummus, and energy bars that are 100% plant-based products. Veganism is one of the dominant trends of 2022.” However, vegan baking is time-consuming and technical in terms of temperature and ingredients used. “Because vegan products don’t use dairy or eggs, the recipes formulated are time and temperature sensitive,” adds Malhotra, who suggests using Belgian dark chocolate for chocolate bread and banneton baskets to shape gluten-free loaves.

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cashew Cake (Photo: Shutterstock)

Cakes are another food category that is in high demand for vegan options. For vegan cakes, you can substitute flaxseed, ripe bananas, or aquafaba for eggs. Instead of milk, use almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk. “I suggest only using one substitute as too many of these will ruin the end product,” says Atifa Nazir Ahanger of The Boho Baker, which offers vegan cakes, cupcakes, breads and cookies. For those trying a vegan diet for the first time, it’s easier to start with substitutes like plant-based milk, nut butters like peanut butter, cashew butter, and cheese substitutes.

This movement has also seen vegan restaurants grow in popularity. “As a trend, Veganuary helps us support people in making the switch to a vegan diet. The right taste is the first step. Vegan food can be made equally tasty by appropriate swaps. We use coconut cream for our cream-based recipes. For Japanese soba noodles, we use gluten-free soba noodles, homemade peanut butter sauce, button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, zucchini, galangal, soy sauce and coconut milk,” says Rajender Chabotra, Executive Chef at Getafix Café. The restaurant also offers buckwheat pancakes, barley and bok choi bowl meals, among other vegan options.

Cauliflower Moilee is a healthy vegan recipe

Cauliflower Moilee Recipe


Cauliflower: 1

carrot: 1

Coconut Oil: 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

Curry leaves: 10-14

Onion: 2

Ginger: 1 inch

Garlic: 12-15 pieces

Tomatoes: 3

Beans: 8-10

Green chilies: 3 to 4

Chili power, turmeric powder and cumin powder: 1 tsp each

Tamarind pulp, coconut cream: ¼ cup

Coconut milk: 1 cup


Heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaf and let it bubble.

Chop the onions, ginger and garlic in a blender and add the paste to the oil. Saute this for five to seven minutes.

Once the onion paste is light golden, add mashed tomatoes ground in a blender, whole green chillies, dry spices, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and cumin powder and salt to taste.

Cook this mixture until you see the oil separate.

Add the tamarind pulp, coconut milk and coconut cream and stir.

Blanch the carrot, cauliflower, and beans to add to the sauce.

Cook until boiling and serve hot with steamed rice or millet.

Recipe by chef Natasha Gandhi


    Ruchika Garg writes about arts and culture for the daily supplement Entertainment & Lifestyle, HT City
    …see in detail

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

These recipes can make your winter snacks pop



Looking for a tasty treat with a wide variety of flavors? Popcorn is a versatile pantry staple that can be served plain or as a better addition to your winter snacks.

With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and fluffy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO, and gluten-free, making it a sensible option for satisfying cravings for something savory, sweet, and just about every flavor in between. Plus, whole grain popcorn contains energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber that can help keep you fuller for longer.

National Popcorn Day on Wednesday, January 19 honors one of America’s oldest and most beloved snack foods, so this week is a perfect opportunity to crack open a bowl to share or indulge in whole grain culinary masterpieces like Jamaican jerk popcorn create. with pepperoni, spices and jerk butter, plus furikake popcorn, a lighter recipe that explodes with the flavors of sesame, nori and a Japanese spice blend.

You can also pair some favorite movie night flavors with Cheesy Pepperoni Popcorn or Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters with Chocolate, Marshmallows, and Nuts.

Furikake popcorn

(Makes 2-3 servings)

• 6 cups of popcorn

• 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Furikake Seasoning:

• 1 sheet of nori, broken into pieces

• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, divided

• ½ teaspoon of salt

• ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar

How to Make the Furikake Seasoning: In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, finely grind nori with ½ tablespoon sesame seeds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the remaining sesame seeds, salt, and sugar.

In a large bowl, toss popcorn with butter and furikake spices until evenly coated.

Tips: Use store-bought furikake seasoning and season to taste.

To toast sesame seeds: In a small, dry skillet, cook sesame seeds over medium-high heat for two to three minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Allow to cool completely before use.

Jerk popcorn from Jamaica

(Makes 4-6 servings)

Jerk popcorn from Jamaica

(The popcorn board)

• ¼ cup butter

• 1 tablespoon chopped, seeded scotch bonnet chili pepper

• 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

• ½ teaspoon chili powder

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme

• ½ teaspoon ground allspice

• ½ teaspoon pepper

• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

• 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1/8 teaspoon onion powder

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 8 cups of popcorn

In a small saucepan, combine butter, chili pepper, lime zest, chili powder, thyme, allspice, pepper, ginger, garlic powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, onion powder, and salt. Cook over low heat for three to five minutes, or until butter melts and mixture is fragrant.

In a large bowl, toss the popcorn with the spice mixture until evenly coated.

Tip: If desired, omit the Scotch Bonnet pepper and substitute ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Cheesy Pepperoni Popcorn

(Makes 6-8 1 cup servings)

Cheesy Pepperoni Popcorn

Cheesy Pepperoni Popcorn

(The popcorn board)

• ¼ cup low-fat parmesan cheese

• 2 teaspoons garlic powder

• ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

• ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

• ¼ teaspoon dried basil leaves

• 1/8 teaspoon dried sage

• Black pepper to taste

• 12 cups of air popped popcorn

• ¾ cup turkey peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces

• Olive oil cooking spray

In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, and pepper and mix well.

In a large bowl, combine popcorn and turkey peppers and lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Sprinkle the popcorn and pepperoni with the cheese mixture and distribute evenly.

Rocky Road Popcorn Cluster

(makes 3 dozen)

Rocky Road Popcorn Cluster

Rocky Road Popcorn Cluster

(The popcorn board)

• 1 bag (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

• 4 cups of popcorn

• 1½ cups mini marshmallows

• ¾ cup chopped walnuts

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on high for 1 minute until melted. Stir in vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, add popcorn, marshmallows, and walnuts. Pour the melted chocolate over the mixture and toss to coat.

Drop the mixture, tablespoon at a time, onto a jelly roll pan lined with wax paper.

Refrigerate until set, about two hours, or overnight.

Visit for more fun, fluffy, and flavorful recipes. ◆

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