Food Profile No.2 – Salted Fermented Seafood

This week’s dish is Salted Fermented Seafood, which could sound very strange to western people. It was first developed in Chinese civilization and started to spread in Asian countries to preserve seafood and fish better. Now, it is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and featured heavily in Cambodian, Philippine, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. In specific, it is an amber-colored food extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt, and fish sauce from it is used as a condiment in various cuisines.

In addition to being added to dishes during the cooking process, it is also used as a base for a dipping condiment that is prepared in many different ways by cooks in each country mentioned for fish, shrimp, pork, and chicken. Most are made from raw fish, some from dried fish; most from only a single species, others from whatever is dredged up in the net, including some shellfish; most from whole fish, a few from only the blood or viscera. Fish sauce that has been only briefly fermented has a pronounced fishy taste, while extended fermentation reduces this and gives the product a nuttier, richer and more savory flavor. The very merit of salted fermented seafood is that it makes available to reserve fish for a very long time. Names of salted fermented seafood differ from ingredients that consist of it, and how to make it is a matter of national or regional cultural background.

1. Chinese : 醢(hǎi) / 鱼酱 (yújiàng)

It is said that the first salted fermented seafood was from China. In the ancient book <爾雅 ěryǎ > written around BCE 3c – 5c, the first story about salted fermented seafood was mentioned. In A.D. 530 – 550, the book <齊民要術qímínyàoshù > featured details of how to make and use the salted fermented seafood. Fermenting and salting have been a popular way to cook food in China since very ancient times as proven by the books and a variety of fermented foods such as fermented tofu has been enjoyed these days too.

2. Korean : 젓갈 (Jeotgal)

The first salted fermented seafood in Korean Peninsula appeared in 7th century. As for official record, the book <삼국사기> mentioned it first. Because Korean Peninsula had a variety of sea foods, salted fermented seafood could have easily developed. A number of seafood is used to make Jeotgal, for example, shrimp, fish, shelfish and so on. It was used as seasoning with pepper at the first time and deeply related to Kimchi as well because it is one of the ingredients making Kimchi. Nowadays, Korean use salted fermented seafood in various ways and eats it as a side dish too. Still, some kinds of salted fermented seafood are added when making Kimchi, and it tastes different with different kinds of Jeotgal.

korean fermented seafood

Squid Jeotgal                                                        Myeong-ran Jeotgal

3. Vietnamese : Mam

mam nem

PC: Wandering Chopsticks Blog

Mam is made of fermented fish and its liquid extract. It is fermented for a shorter period than fish sauce, Nuoc Mam, which is very popular as a sauce for various Vietnamese cuisines. There are various kinds of fish which are used for making this salted fermented fish. For example, Mam Ruoc is made of shrimp, and Mam Neum is made of anchovy.


Recipe No.5 – Pancit Lomi

Earlier this week, OAPIA held a panel discussion focused on how Asian American identity is expressed through food. During the event, one of our panelists, the White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford shared with us her “go-to” dish. The recipe featured here is what Chef Comerford shared with us last Tuesday.

By the White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford

comerford recipe


  • 2 Tbsp  vegetable oil
  • 8 oz pork belly, diced
  • 12 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julliened
  • 4 stalk Chinese celery, sliced
  • 2 qts chicken stock
  • 1 lb “lomi” noodles  (wheat noodles)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 6 baby bokchoy, 1 inch slices
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in water for slurry
  • Dash sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • ½ lb cooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ½ c chopped scallions
  • ½ c cilantro, chiffonnade
  • 2 chilies, sliced thinly
  • ½ c fried garlic chips
  • 6 soft boiled eggs, peeled
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Lemon or lime wedge
  • Pork Cracklings


  1. In a preheated large pot,   drizzle the vegetable oil and brown the  diced pork butt or belly.  Add the garlic cloves and sweat until fragrant.  Add the onion,  carrot and celery and sweat fro a few minutes until transluscent.   Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes.  Add the lomi noodles and continue simmering until the noodles are tender.  Season with fish sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the julliened baby bokchoy and the  cornstarch slurry to thicken the broth.
  2. To serve,  ladle in a large soup bowl.  Garnish with  the cooked shrimp,  scallions,  cilantro,  chilies,  garlic chips, cracked pepper and citrus wedge.
  3.  Use the pork cracklings like croutons.

Recipe No.4 – Pancit Bihon

[Philippines – Pancit Bihon]

By Arielle, Argyle Middle School 8th grade, Asian American LEAD Participant (

Every time we have a party in the Philippines the first thing that pops into my head is Pancit Bihon. I remember my mom would always make extra Pancit Bihon because my family would never get tired of it. We would eat it for lunch, dinner, or even just as a snack. This dish reminds me a lot of the Philippines because most everyone there knows how to make it and every person who cooks it has their own different variation to the recipe. This is one of my favorite foods because it brings back memories of when I lived in the Philippines.

pancit bihon


  • 8 ounces ”Excellent” brand rice sticks
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 2-3 pieces chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 small green cabbage (shredded in 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2-3 medium carrots (either shredded or finely chopped)


  1. Boil chicken in 4 cups of water to make the stock. Once cooked, shred the chicken meat into thin strips. Discard the bones and set the stock aside.
  2. Heat a large wok to medium-high heat. Add canola oil. Stir fry the garlic and onions until the onions turn clear. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the shredded chicken pieces and shrimp (if using). Once the shrimp turns pink, add cabbage and carrots. Lightly stir fry 2-3 minutes. Pour the mixture onto a bowl and set aside.
  4. Pour the chicken stock into the heated wok. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat down to medium. Add rice sticks, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Boil for another 5 minutes or so until there is approximately 1/4 cup stock left.
  5. Add the meat mixture back into the wok. Lightly stir fry until all the liquid has evaporated. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Garnish with a lemon wedge, chopped scallions, and chili garlic oil

Recipe No.3 – Almond Tofu

[Taiwain – Almond Tofu]

By Lan Thomas, Asian American LEAD Office Manager (

Hi, my name is Lan Thomas and I am the Office Manager here at AALEAD. Anyone that knows me, knows that I LOVE desserts. It’s the best part of any meal! One of my favorite desserts is Almond Tofu. It’s the food I look forward to the most when going to get Dim Sum. No matter how full I am, there’s always room for Almond Tofu! Although it might seem a little confusing, Almond tofu is not actually tofu. It’s called tofu because of its tofu-like texture. Almond tofu is actually made with agar, a gelatin. This recipe is one I actually created through trial and error. My co-workers had to endure several batches before I came up with the recipe you see. They seemed more than happy to oblige. I hope you enjoy it too!

almond tofu


  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons agar
  • 2-3 tablespoons almond extract
  • 5-8 tablespoons sugar (depending on preference)
  • 1- 64 oz canned fruit with syrup (fruit cocktail or logans are my favorite)


  1. Stir water and agar in a sauce pan until boiling.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add sugar and milk.
  3. Pour mixture into dish and add almond extract. Taste the mixture and add more sugar and almond extract to your liking. Be careful not to add too much sugar, since you will later add the syrup from the fruit.
  4. Allow tofu to cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The mixture should be somewhat set.
  5. Place in refrigerator and allow it to firm to a tofu-like consistency. In about an hour, the tofu is ready to cut and serve with your favorite fruit.

Food Profile No.1 – Noodles

This week we will be featuring signature noodle dishes in various Asian countries. What noodles exactly refer to are a type of long, flat and thin dough. Noodles can be curly or straight and its length and shape also varies depending on regional tradition. N1 As Asian restaurants become more frequent in a number of western countries, Asian noodle dishes are also becoming more prevalent. The oldest noodles were said to be found well-preserved near the Yellow River in China by the archaeologists. It is now known that the first noodle was made in China. The earliest written record of noodles is also found in an ancient book in the Eastern Han period (A.D. 25 – 220) of China.

1. Japanese : Soba (そば or 蕎麦)

As for Japanese noodles, instant Japanese ramen has become very famous these days. However, Soba is a more traditional type of Japanese noodle dish. It originated from the era of Edo period in A.D. 17c. Soba refers to buckwheat in Japanese, and now it usually refers to a specific type of noodle made from buckwheat flour. On the last day of the year, N2December 31th, Japanese people regard eating soba on that day as a symbol of longevity. Surprisingly, unlike other hot soupy noodle dishes in many Asian countries, Soba is originally enjoyed as cold. Although nowadays soba can be served in both ways, hot Soba and cold Soba, cold soba has been always the favorite dish by Japanese people. The noodles in cold soba is typically served separately from the soy sauce soup so that people can dip the noodles as they please and eat.

2. Korean : Naengmyeon (냉면)

Among Korean noodle dishes, Naengmyeon is one of the most traditional and preferred noodles. According to the 19th century documents of Dongguksesigi (동국세시기), it has been made since the Choseon Dynasty. Similar with other Asian countries, Naengmyeon refers to both a type of noodle and a noodle dish using it. Naeng means ‘cold’ and myeon means ‘noodles’ in Korea, so when you combine the two it means ‘cold noodles’. Naengmyeon is also another cold noodle dish similar to the cold Soba found in Japan. Naengmyeon can only be served cold with ice and in a cold big bowl. Naengmyeon noodle can be made from the flour and starch of various ingredients such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, kudzu, arrowroot, buckwheat and so on. The regions famous for Naengmyeon are Pyongyang(평양) and Hamhung(함경) in North Korea where Naengmyeon originally started. The two main varieties of naengmyeon are mul-naengmyeon (물 냉면) and bibim-naengmyeon (비빔 냉면). The former is cold beef soup with noodles. The latter is served with a spicy dressing made primarily from gochujang (red chili paste).N3

3. Chinese : Daoxiaomian(刀削面dāoxiāomiàn)


Daoxiaomian is one of the most common foods Chinese people enjoy to eat. Dao means ‘the knife’, Xiao means ‘cut’, and mian means ‘noodles’. Thus, the word literally refers to noodles cut by the knife. Daoxiaomian is thin but wide like Linguine pasta. In Chinese culture people usually add soup, meat and vegetables with Daoxiaomian (ingredients differ from regions). Although the ingredients and the taste of the soup are different, dishes using Daoxiaomian noodles are generally called Daoxiaomian.

4. Vietnamese : Pho

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle dish using noodles made of rice. Pho is known to have originated from Hanoi (Northern Vietnam). People have various suggestions on how the word ‘Pho’ was created. Some say that it originated from FrenchN5 and some say that it came from a Cantonese pronunciation. Pho usually contains soup, bean sprouts and various kinds of meat. These days, Vietnamese restaurants are widely found in Western countries as well as Asian countries contributing to the growing popularity of Pho.


5. Thai : Pad Thai

Pad Thai is probably one of the most well known noodle dishes of Thailand. Pad Thai is made with rice noodles and has a sweet and sour taste because of the use of sugar, fish sauce and lemon (or lime). A cooker is used to stir the rice noodles quickly with a variety of vegetables such as bean sprouts, peanuts and garlic chives. Shrimp Pad Thai is the most common Pad Thai and usually served with eggs too. In spite of its reputation, the history of Pad Thai is not very long. Originally this dish was meant to reduce the consumption of rice during a time when Prime Minister Luang Phibunsongkhram served the nation. Since then, Pad Thai has become a favorite in Thailand and was once listed as number 5 on the World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll compiled by CNN Go in 2011.N6

Recipe No.2 – Chicken Curry

[India – Chicken Curry]
By Ameena, Argyle Middle School 8th grade, Asian American LEAD Participant

This dish, Chicken Curry, originated from Hyderabad, India. What’s interesting about this culture is that when a guest arrives at someone’s house to show appreciation the host usually serves food. This dish is often served at these gatherings. This food is very delicious but spicy. Even though it looks very complicated to make, it’s not all that hard if you read the instructions carefully. I interviewed my family about this dish and they believe that it is very delicious.

curry chicken


  • 8-10 quartered portions of chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 ounces cashews
  • 2 ounces coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 cup oil/butter
  • mint


  1. Wash your chicken and put it to the side while you prepare some hot oil for your chicken.
  2. Deep Fry some pieces of onions, this will make the onions crunchy, then grind half of the deep fried onion until you have a paste. Put aside the other half.
  3. Roast the coconut and cashew and grind it until you have a paste
  4. Fry the chicken in the hot oil for 5 min
  5. Add the yogurt, the coconut and cashew paste, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, cumin powder, cinnamon powder and stir for 5-10 min.
  6. Add the onion paste and the water, then let it cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the leftover onion and mint (Do not mix them together before sprinkling them on top)
  8. Serve your Curry while it’s still hot. ENJOY!!!!

Recipe No.1 – Peking Duck

Throughout May OAPIA will post two recipes per week, taken from the cookbook of Asian American LEAD (AALEAD).

AALEAD is an organization that provides educational enrichment and youth development programs to low-income and under-served Asian American youth in the Washington, D.C. metro area. These recipes were written by youth participating in AALEAD programs and AALEAD staff. For more information about AALEAD, please check out this following link:

[China – Peking Duck]
By Kaison, Loiederman Middle School 8th grade, Asian American LEAD Participant

peking duck

Peking Duck originated from Beijing China. Southern and Northern Dynasties were the first to come with the idea of making it. Peking duck was called “Shaoyazi”. When I hear Peking duck it reminds me of my home back in China and its culture. Back in China when we would have this dish it would also remind me of me and my family back in China reuniting since most of my relatives live in China. Sometimes this dish is used for special occasions such as a formal party, but in America my family just has it when we can. Did you know the first place to make Peking duck was a Chinese place called “Bianyifang”? Usually my mom and dad make Peking duck for me and my other two brothers. The time that I can remember eating Peking duck was after arriving in Hong Kong when the airplane landed. Me and my family checked in and had dinner. The scene was great. There were fish under us (the floor was made of glass). When I went back to China it felt more of a reunion than a vacation. Because every part of the day I would always be around one of my relatives whenever it was my cousins, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, I would feel safe. Every time I have Peking duck it tastes sweet or sour depending on what you put in the wrap. My parents usually do not put much in it, only putting duck, green onions, and Hoison sauce, while wrapping it in the Chinese pancake.


  • 2.5 kg of duck
  • 6 green onions
  • 1/2 of sliced cucumber
  • 2 red chilies


  1. Clean the duck, removing and discarding any excess fat in the cavity. Tie a piece of string around its neck. Pat dry.
  2. Bring 25 cups of water to the boil and turn off the heat. Put the duck into the water and turn it backwards and forwards for about 1 minute. Remove. Repeat about four times. Hang the duck in a cool place for about 5 hours.
  3. Mix the coating ingredients with 10 tablespoons hot water and brush the duck all over with the mixture. Hang to dry for a further 4 hours and apply a second layer of coating.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F / 230°C. Put a roasting pan in the oven with a wire rack in it, making sure that there is a space of about 5 cm between the rack and the pan base. Place the duck on the rack, breast side up, and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the duck over using a towel, not a fork, and roast for a further 8 minutes.
  5. Reduce the temperature to 350°F / 180°C and turn the duck breast side up again. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 250°F / 120°C and roast for 10 minutes. Increase the heat again to 450°F / 230°C and roast the duck for about 10 minutes. At this point watch carefully to make sure the skin of the duck does not burn. Turn off the heat once the skin has turned a rich deep red.
  6. Blend together the sauce ingredients over a low heat. Arrange the skin and meat on a large plate and serve it with cucumber, green onions and the sauce.