China-US / People

Blogger brings fusion food to family table

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-16 11:54

Blogger brings fusion food to family table

Katie Hsieh and her older daughter prepare a meal in her kitchen.

Aspiring lifestyle guru offers tips on how to expand a kitchen's culinary horizons without losing sight of the importance of the basics, like family, fun and free time.

"I want to be the Asian Martha Stewart," said Katie Hsieh, a Chinese-American food blogger living in the San Francisco Bay Area, when asked what she wanted to be.

An author of three books and a popular blogger creating her own recipes of Chinese-American fusion food, Hsieh said her goal is to "change the world with food".

Her ambition started four years ago when she found that her blog, featuring recipes, cooking tips and techniques, was very popular. "I had hundreds of followers in weeks and then thousands in a few months," said Hsieh, a 36-year-old mother of two.

Since she set up her Facebook account in 2011, she has had more than 275,000 followers, and her posts have been viewed tens of millions of times. Many of her fans leave messages, expressing thanks for sharing her recipes or asking for English translations.

"The Americans are interested in Chinese cuisine, and they have a desire to learn more about our food culture," she observed.

Chinese ingredients and cooking styles are often adopted in today's haute cuisine, she said. She has had traditional Chinese dishes, like steamed fish and Dongpo pork, at French restaurants.

"There are good Chinese cooks, but no influencer of Chinese food culture in the US," said Hsieh. "That's why I want to be the Chinese version of Martha Stewart, bringing Chinese food to average people's tables, helping them to enjoy not only the food itself but also the process of preparing the food and the time spent with their family."

So she tries to simplify the cooking methods so people can prepare food at home. Her dishes can be cooked in a microwave oven, and most of the recipes have less than three steps.

"I often share this with my audience: When you can save some time in your kitchen, you will have time to stop and take a look at the world outside the window, or to engage in a conversation with yourself.

"It's important to make good use of the kitchen utensils so you can save time for yourself and your family," she said.

Recently, Hsieh was approached by Tastemade, a video website for people to share food and travel experiences, and became their first Chinese host to provide food programs for the audiences from around the world.

Among the 11 videos, which were produced by Tastemade and debuted on You Tube in July, the steamed pork bun, or Chinese burger, is the most popular one.

Different from the traditional recipe, her secret ingredients are cola and peanut brittle. The carbonic acid helps to soften the meat and allows the marinade to better penetrate the pork, she explained. "Coupled with chopped peanut brittle and cilantro, the easily made steamed bun reminds me of the hometown flavor," she said.

In her books and blogs, Hsieh often expressed her feelings and reflections on life to her audience.

"After so many years of living in the US, we still cherish the memory of the hot casserole of pickled cabbage and pork in our hometown," she wrote in one of her posts. But it was hard to procure Chinese pickled cabbage in the US, so she replaced it with German sauerkraut. When the fusion casserole was ready, "the small kitchen is filled with homesickness as well as satisfaction", she wrote.

Hsieh, who got an engineering degree in Taiwan and an MBA in the US, has been living with her husband and two daughters in the Bay Area since 2011. She gave up her e-commerce business and to devote time to her family.

In July, she launched her own website "How Living", where she shares recipes and cooking techniques and promotes "table revolution" by calling on families to find connections in everyday meals and influence others and eventually society.

Next year, she plans to launch an English version so her concept can reach more people, especially those of Chinese descent, so they feel more connected with their own culture.

"Food has the power to change a person's life," Hsieh said. "Such is my own experience, as most of my best memories happened at tables.

"Food not only nourishes our bodies but also our souls," she said. "It connects us with the earth and those we love. I hope to make the world a better place by starting from the table, where we re-establish our values on families and the relationship with others."





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