Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in racist hate crimes against people of East and Southeast Asian heritage (ESEA), largely due to racist misinformation around Covid-19, reminding us that pandemics can lead to fear and the like.
Claire Sachiko Fourel and Lex Shu Chan – AKA Sachiko and Shu, a London-Asian Third Culture Kid duo who, before the lockdown, hosted music events and supper clubs – believe that through the power of food we can overcome this discrimination. “We believe that food is more than just a livelihood – it tells a story,” they write on their website. “It can be a source of comfort, a bridge of discovery beyond our own cultural identity, or a way to bring us back home.
“Most importantly, food can be a vehicle for social change – it can broaden the worldview, break down barriers and bring people together.”
That’s why they’ve rounded up 20 recipes from London’s best restaurants and dinner clubs with Asian and Asian influences – not just to love Asian food, but to support Asian minorities in the fight for racial equity.
All profits from Recipes against racism will be donated to two UK-based non-profit organizations: Stop Hate UK and Ending the virus of racism. Donations will help these organizations maintain a 24-hour hotline to report hate crimes in different languages, as well as provide mental health support and legal aid to people in the ESEA.
Steeped in the London food scene, a melting pot of so many different cultural identities, the book features mouthwatering recipes such as Chinese Laundry, Farang, Kiln, Lucky & Joy, Poon’s and Solip. Here are three recipes to introduce the book, the cuisine and the cause.
Large plate of chicken
Through: Lucky and joy
Makes: 4 portions to share
For the chicken marinade:
6 pieces of bone-in chicken drumstick or thigh
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
4 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, plus another glug for later
3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
1 handful of dried Chinese peppers
1 large handful of dried Szechuan peppercorns
6 garlic cloves, cut into thick slices
10cm of ginger cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 bunch of green onions, cut into sticks
1l Chinese chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
5 star anise
4 fresh bay leaves
2 teaspoons of brown sugar (to taste)
Handmade noodles (optional)
3 Cypriot potatoes
Rice vinegar to serve
Start by marinating the chicken in soy sauce and Shaoxing wine for about 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Then heat the oil in a large, wide pan. Add the dried peppers (not chopped) and toast in the oil. When they have a nice color, filter the peppers and keep the oil for reuse. Put the peppers in a bowl and save them for later.
In the same saucepan, return the oil and add the Sichuan peppercorns. Fry over low heat until they are aromatic and crisp. Strain the oil again, discarding the cooked peppercorns – the oil should now be fragrant and spicy.
Return the oil to the pan and add the marinated chicken. Try to shake out as much of the marinade as possible, as it will spit out on the heat – but save the marinade for later. Fry over high heat until they are nicely colored on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a larger pot and set aside.
In the pan, add the spring onions, ginger, garlic and green pepper to the oil, and sauté until aromatic, about five minutes. Then pour the entire contents of the pan into the pot with the chicken, discarding any excess oil. Deglaze the pan with the rest of the marinade and pour it into the pan with the chicken. Also add the chicken broth, peppers, sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon and star anise.
Put the saucepan on the heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Cut the potatoes into 2 cm cubes and boil in very salted water until just cooked. Drain and add to the pot along with the chicken and the stew. I would recommend letting everything sit for a while – at least a few hours – for the chicken and potatoes to soak up the flavors. When you’re ready, warm the stew to medium, add a little vinegar and maybe sugar and soy to taste, and add some hand-cooked noodles if you feel like it.
Through: Chen table
For the pork filling:
1 cup ground pork
120 ml / ½ cup of water
30g Chinese chives
A pinch of salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine
For the dumpling dough:
80ml lukewarm water (I usually use half a cup of room temperature mixed with half a cup of boiling)
160g all-purpose flour
For the dip:
Chinese Chinkiang Vinegar
To note: If you are making this vegetarian / vegan dish, omit the 120 ml / ½ cup water and replace the ground pork with finely chopped lightly sautéed vegetables. Things like mushrooms, carrots, pak choy, spinach, onions, and cabbage work well.
Put the flour in a bowl and slowly pour in lukewarm water.
Use your hands and knead the dough until you can get it into a smooth ball, then cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Uncover and knead the dough again for about 5 minutes, then cover and let sit for 30 minutes (you can leave this longer if you are making the dough ahead of time; just be sure to give it another good knead before you knead it. use it).
Break the ground pork into a bowl and add 120 ml / ½ cup of water. Stir vigorously until it has absorbed all the water.
Combine Chinese rice wine, salt and pepper, light soy sauce, sesame oil and oil into the pork mixture. Continue to mix well for a few minutes.
Get your dough and roll it into a 1cm thick cylinder. Cut into 16 equal pieces.
Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand. Roll it up until it measures about 10-12cm in circumference.
Add a scoop of the mixture on the skin of the meatball but leave a space of 5 mm around the edges. Fold in half and pinch the top. Pull the outer edge of the skin to the middle and pinch. Do this three times on each side, making sure each fold is behind the front one.
Cook the meatballs
Frying pan: Add a tablespoon of oil to a cold pan. While the pan is heating, add the meatballs (don’t worry if they are touching). Once the meatballs start to sizzle in the pan, check the bottom to see if they are golden brown. Once golden, add 120 ml / ½ cup of water and cover. Once the water evaporates, which takes about 8 minutes (13 minutes if cooking from freezer), they will be ready to serve. These are called Guōti d (pot-sticker dumplings).
Boil the meatballs: boil a pot of water and place the meatballs inside. Once they reach the surface, take them out and serve with Chinese vinegar mixed with chili oil for a dip.
Steam the meatballs: Boil a pot of water. Place steam liners inside the steamers (they look like circular sheets of parchment paper with holes cut out). Place the meatballs in the pan and put the lid on. Let them steam for 15 minutes and serve with the dip.
Agedashi eggplant soba salad
Here is our take on a Japanese classic. Agedashi is the method of frying and then dipping vegetables in a dashi sauce. In this recipe, we use eggplant, seasonal vegetables and tofu served on a bed of soba noodles. I’ve always loved eggplant cooked this way because it acts like a sponge soaking up all that umami-rich sauce.
Makes: 2 servings
½ eggplant (cut lengthwise)
50g green beans
½ red pepper
250g firm tofu
15g of cornstarch
300 ml (approximately) vegetable oil for frying (the oil should be 3 cm deep in a pan)
180g buckwheat soba noodles
3 g grated ginger
5 g of finely chopped spring onion
1 pinch of shichimi pepper powder (optional)
For the dashi sauce:
200 ml dashi broth (kombu if you are vegan). You can also use vegetable broth.
40 ml soy sauce
30 ml of mirin
10g of sugar
On a plate, place the tofu between sheets of paper towels. Place another plate on top of the tofu and add some sort of weight (e.g. a bowl of water) – this helps to extract moisture from the tofu. Let stand 30 minutes, then drain and pat the tofu dry and cut into 3 cm blocks. Put aside.
Get ½ eggplant and cut in half horizontally, then cut into 12 quarters. Make shallow slits in the flesh of each quarter (this will help absorb the dashi sauce later). Soak the quarters in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the green beans and cut the red pepper into slices 5 mm thick. Dry with absorbent paper.
In a saucepan, combine the dashi, mirin, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. Then pour the sauce into a shallow dish large enough to hold the vegetables and tofu.
In a frying pan, heat the vegetable oil to 170 ° C and brown the eggplants. Place them skin side down first and fry them for 3 minutes, turning them occasionally. Then transfer to the dashi sauce.
Fry the green beans and red pepper for 2 minutes. Transfer to the dashi sauce.
Lightly coat the tofu cubes with cornstarch and sauté for 3 minutes until lightly browned. Turn occasionally then transfer to the dashi sauce.
Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain well and rinse with cold water to cool.
Assemble in a bowl, starting with the soba noodles followed by the vegetables and tofu. Pour the dashi sauce over it and garnish with chopped spring onions, grated ginger and a pinch of shichimi pepper powder.
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