31 Delicious Recipes to Make to Celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which celebrates the contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders to American culture. And to honor the impact these groups have had on food, we’ve pulled together these delicious recipes that you can make all month long. Dishes like Shrimp & Chicken Congee, Dal Makhani and Pancit Bihon are a great way to taste and enjoy some of the ingredients and flavors that are popular in these cultures and cuisines.
Filipino Pancit Bihon
This healthy version of the classic Filipino noodle dish pancit bihon has plenty of vegetables, along with chicken and pork. And since it comes together in about a half-hour, this traditional party food can do double duty as an easy weeknight dinner.
Shrimp & Chicken Congee
This recipe for savory rice porridge comes from EatingWell's Test Kitchen manager, Breana Lai Killeen, who shared it for Father's Day because it is one of her father's favorite dishes. "In the U.S., this dish is called congee, but in Hong Kong, we call it jok," she says. "My dad's version was always pretty bland, but this recipe is adapted from one in the cookbook A Place at the Table from a Laotian chef who, just like me, is a first-generation Asian raised in North Carolina." Congee can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and leftovers freeze well.
Spicy Vegetable Lo Mein
Skip takeout and make a healthier Chinese lo mein at home that's packed with vegetables. Make sure you drain your noodles well before adding them, as wet noodles will turn your stir-fry into a soggy mess. For a less spicy option, omit the sriracha hot sauce.
Idli with Coconut Chutney
Idli, steamed cakes made of fermented rice and lentils, are a South Indian staple. These fluffy, soft dumplings are one of my daughter's favorite breakfast foods. She eats them with sambar, a lentil-based vegetable stew. That's one traditional way to serve them, but idli can also be eaten with yogurt, ghee and sugar, or with coconut chutney. This idli recipe is adapted from my former mother-in-law's many emails and texts over the years. As with any fermented foods, making idli is a process. The times suggested in this recipe are just guidelines; use your senses (feel, smell) and your intuition as you work through the recipe. The coconut chutney recipe is adapted from my mother's. Learn more about the story behind this recipe in the article These Fluffy Idli with Coconut Chutney Are My Daughter's Favorite Breakfast Comfort Food.
Chicken & Shiitake Dumplings in Tangy Chile-Oil Sauce
Serve these deliciously savory mushroom-and-chicken dumplings for Lunar New Year or any other special occasion. The sauce has just the right balance of sweet, spicy and tangy flavors.
Scrambled Egg Curry
This mildly spiced Indian scrambled egg recipe makes a great light lunch or light dinner. Tuck the curried eggs into a warm whole-wheat tortilla or an Indian flatbread, like paratha, which can be found in the freezer case at Indian markets. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Chinese Chive Pancakes
In this traditional Chinese pancake recipe, chives are added for a pretty green hue and savory flavor. Serve as an appetizer with a soy dipping sauce or use like a tortilla for chicken or pork that's been marinated in ginger and soy sauce. The amount of water needed for the dough will vary depending on the type of flour and the humidity.
Tinola (Filipino Ginger-Garlic Chicken Soup)
Tinola, a comforting chicken soup seasoned with plenty of ginger and garlic, has countless variations throughout the Philippines. The soup calls for malunggay leaves (aka moringa), which can be found fresh or frozen at Asian markets. Bok choy is a good substitute. Feel free to increase the amounts of garlic and fish sauce for an even more flavorful soup. Serve this easy and healthy chicken soup on its own or with jasmine rice, quinoa or wild rice.
Korean BBQ Short Ribs (Galbi)
The longer you marinate these Korean sweet-and-savory ribs, the better. Look for flanken-cut short ribs in the meat department or ask your butcher to cut them for you. If you can't find perilla or shiso leaves, try using mint instead.
Longevity Noodles with Spicy Pork & Vegetables
Serve this spicy pork-and-vegetable lo mein for Chinese New Year or for dinner anytime. While some cooks like to cut the noodles into 6- to 8-inch lengths to make them easier to combine with other ingredients, for the New Year the noodles can never be cut because that symbolizes bad luck. The longer the noodles, the longer your life! Be sure to thinly slice the pork and mushrooms so they cook through. And thoroughly dry the bok choy to avoid creating a braise instead of a stir-fry.
Khanom Tom (Coconut Balls)
This recipe for traditional Thai coconut balls is all about the coconut. First, skip the preshredded stuff (the filling won't hold together with it) and get yourself to the produce department for a fresh one. Look for a coconut with a brown husk (rather than one with a white fibrous exterior, often labeled “young Thai” coconut). Brown-husked coconuts have firmer flesh that's easier to shred.
Stir-Fried Shrimp & Sugar Snap Peas
This shrimp stir-fry has bright flavors from sugar snap peas, garlic and ginger and comes together in less than a half-hour for a quick, healthy meal.
Mushroom & Shrimp Pancakes (Pajeon)
Pajeon, a crispy, savory pancake chock-full of healthy vegetables and seafood, is one of the most popular Korean dishes. Serve with a dipping sauce: Combine 1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari, 1 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar and 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil with a pinch of toasted sesame seeds, gochugaru (see Tips) and sliced scallions.
Chickpea Curry (Chhole)
Made with convenient canned beans, this quick and healthy Indian recipe is an authentic chickpea curry that you can make in minutes. If you want an additional vegetable, stir in some roasted cauliflower florets. Serve with brown basmati rice or warm naan.
Vegan "Pancit Bihon" with Spaghetti Squash
Umami-rich shiitake mushrooms take the place of meat, and spaghetti squash strands stand in for the traditional rice noodles, in this riff on the classic Filipino noodle dish pancit bihon. Serve alongside your favorite vegan main or add some cubed tofu to make it a meal.
Seared Arctic Char Hand Rolls
This sushi recipe, a version of a hand roll inspired by chef Bun Lai's creative sushi recipes, uses blanched Swiss chard instead of the traditional nori as the wrapper for the sushi roll.
Burfi is an Indian sweet treat often served and gifted during Diwali and other festivals--or whenever one has a craving. Usually made with either condensed milk or ghee (or both), it's a decadent sweet that's not quite a cookie, not quite a candy, but something in between. It's often described as a kind of fudge. Throughout South Asia and the diaspora, different families have their own unique ways of making it, and that's the beauty: from the size and shape to the toppings and mix-in spices, everything can be customized. Even chocolate burfi is a thing! This version uses nonfat dry milk powder, almond flour and less sugar than most other burfi recipes for sweet satisfaction that's just a bit lighter, so you can feel good about serving up seconds.
Savory Summer Squash Muffins (Dhoodhi Handvo)
Indian handvo are savory quick breads traditionally made with lauki (also called calabash), a large, mild squash found in India. In this healthy recipe, we use easier-to-find zucchini and bake them in a muffin tin so they all get delightfully crispy edges.
Lobster, Ginger & Scallion Stir-Fry
Andrea Nguyen, renowned author and cooking teacher, makes a mild stock for the stir-fry with the lobster shells. Freeze the leftover stock for up to a month and use it to make soup. If you don’t have a wok, fry the lobster in a medium saucepan and make the stir-fry in a large skillet.
Okra Fry (Bhindi Masala)
To avoid the sliminess that turns many people off okra, Indians cook it over high heat in a lot of oil. In this healthy okra recipe, we get similar results with less oil using a nonstick pan. For an authentic taste, use a hot, smoky Indian chili powder, such as reshampatti. Serve with brown basmati rice and yogurt.
Japanese Shiitake & Vegetable Rice (Takikomi Gohan)
Dashi gives this vegetable rice recipe its savory depth. Rinsing the rice may seem like an extraneous step but it removes some of the surface starch for fluffier rice. And soaking the rice in seasoned dashi before cooking infuses the dish with more flavor.
Korean Chicken Skewers (Dak Ggochi)
Skewers are a popular Korean street food. The easy marinade in this healthy chicken recipe adds flavor, fast, to chicken thigh pieces. Serve as a platter for a party or as main dish with brown rice.
Black Pepper Crab
Black pepper amplifies crab’s briny sweetness in this Singapore favorite. Use the freshest crab possible, and enjoy with lots of cold beer and have plenty of napkins handy. Snow or king crab legs may be substituted for Dungeness.
Arroz caldo, a bowl of comforting rice porridge seasoned with plenty of ginger and garlic, has countless variations throughout the Philippines. The porridge can have a variety of toppings, such as hard- or soft-boiled eggs, crispy tofu, crispy garlic bits or crispy shallots, lime, lemon, nutritional yeast and so much more. For a change of pace, you can swap cubed smoked tofu for the chicken. Quinoa, wild rice, cauliflower rice and other grains can also be substituted for the jasmine rice. Feel free to increase the amounts of garlic and fish sauce for an even more flavorful porridge. Serve this easy and healthy ginger-garlic rice porridge with love as my mother would always do.
Teriyaki-Mussel Maki Rolls
Try making this sushi recipe once and you'll see how easy it is to make maki sushi rolls at home. In this sushi roll recipe, inspired by chef Bun Lai, we use teriyaki-style glazed mussels, plus plenty of crunchy vegetables and even fruit. Vary the ingredients in the roll to suit your own taste. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy dipping sauce on the side.
Pork Satay with Spicy Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce
Freshly grinding the spices yields a much tastier pork satay. Indonesian sweet kecap manis soy sauce is typically called for in this dipping sauce, but can be hard to find. Here, we spice up tamari (or soy sauce) and molasses for a similar flavor.
Rice Pilaf with Lime & Cashews
In southern India, this fragrant dish is served during the harvest season. We've made it the traditional way using white rice (though brown rice is nutritionally superior, it is rarely used in India because the oils in the bran cause it to deteriorate faster, reducing its shelf life). If you are committed to eating only whole grains, you can use brown basmati rice (see Variation).
Pan-Fried Cod with Green Chile-Tamari Sauce (Gochu Ganjang Daegu Gui)
The sauce for this super-simple Korean fish recipe gets a kick from the spicy chile. Pair with brown rice or thin rice noodles and steamed greens.
Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani
Using a slow cooker for this dal curry recipe is brilliant--the lentils cook until they're perfectly tender. For the creamiest results, use whole urad dal (versus split), which you can get online or at Indian markets. This particular bean breaks down beautifully, giving the dish its rich, creamy texture. For a stovetop variation, see below. Serve it over rice with Indian-style green chutney and a side of plain yogurt.
Ginger Beef Stir-Fry with Peppers
This vibrant, colorful dish is great for those who love a little heat. Adjust the amount of chile-garlic sauce according to your preferred heat level. To smash ginger, use the side of a chef’s knife or the flat bottom of a sturdy mug. Serve with rice, if desired.
Lemon Rice (Chitrannam)
Use up leftover rice and make it into something delicious with this healthy Indian recipe. Because cooked rice refrigerated overnight dries out a little, it's better suited to absorb all the flavors in this dish without getting sticky or mushy. In a pinch, use frozen or shelf-stable precooked basmati rice, available in many stores. Urad dal and roasted chana dal add texture and authenticity to the rice--look for both types of dal in Indian markets or online.