Crispy Baked Tofu with Garlicky Hoisin Sauce



Many moons ago when I was in primary school, street food was frowned upon. Schools derided vendors for lacking basic hygiene standards and blocking their entrance, while parents were worried about unknown ingredients and harmful additives. As kids, these concerns did not trump the little treats they saw when classes ended and the school gate opened. And often, what was forbidden then became irresistible (to me), especially when I was loaded with savings from my pocket money. Continue reading

On Learning and a Marinade That Came About From a Mistake


I grew up in Vietnam where schooling mostly meant studying. We attended classes, jotted down notes, completed homework, took one test after another. We studied much but learned little, for the elusive prestige of getting into yet another good school, securing a stable job and then continuing the circle of life. There was this structured, uncomplicated path that you were advised (or expected?) to follow to become law-abiding functioning members of the society. Continue reading

Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

When I was younger, I didn’t get the deal with pumpkins. I didn’t like their texture and taste. They reminded me of the mushy congee cooked in pumpkin broth, which was pretty much akin to baby food. And not surprisingly, it was a regular item on the menu of many kindergartens or primary schools. Teacher: “Look at the vibrant orange color! So much nutrition in one spoon!” Me (in silence): “No thanks.” Continue reading