With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, we’ll be breaking out some staple Asian and Pacific Islander dishes that the whole family can enjoy. From bold and savory to spicy and sweet, we’ve got you covered this holiday season with various flavors from across the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands. So, skip the basic dinner spread this year in favor of some delicious API recipes that everyone can try!
Paneer makhani is a popular Punjabi dish that originated in Delhi, India. The subtly sweet gravy is usually made with butter, tomatoes and cashews and seasoned with spices like red chili powder and garam masala. Paneer, also known as Indian cottage cheese, is then soaked in this tomato-based curry to delicious effect. Usually curdled from either cow or buffalo milk, paneer is a non-aged, non-melting cheese with a soft, tofu-like texture. Perfect for winter, this comforting dish pairs super well with plain basmati rice, jeera rice, roti, naan or paratha.
Huli means “turn” or “reverse” in Hawaiian, and refers to how this recipe is cooked to simple and smoky perfection. These wings are traditionally cooked on spits, but all you have to do is grill your chicken between two racks and flip them several times while they roast. Huli huli gets its tangy, sweet flavor from an easy-to-make marinade glaze of brown cane sugar, soy sauce and other aromatics like ginger. Other variations on the glaze typically include soy sauce, ginger, garlic and something sweet (like honey or maple syrup) and something acidic (like vinegar, white wine or lime juice).
Bulalo, or bone-marrow soup, is a well-known dish in the Batangas and Tagaytay regions in the Philippines. Made with beef, beef bone-marrow, cabbage, potatoes and corn, the soup highlights a prominent Filipino cooking technique referred to as nilaga, which means “boiled” in Tagalog. Traditionally served with sawasawan (dipping sauce), people have also been known to add in plantains or bananas. Another common variation, kansi, blends bulalo with sinigang (tamarind meat stew) and is soured with batwan (a tart Filipino fruit).
If you’re an avid fan of noodle soups, this wonderfully savory recipe is sure to become an instant favorite. This particular dish, typical to Hong Kong, is served with rice noodles in a creamy broth made from chicken and pork stock. The soup is then garnished with fresh Thai basil, cucumbers, tomatoes and bean sprouts. The base of the satay flavor itself typically comes from ground, roasted or fried peanuts. From there, other ingredients like sugar, chili, tamarind, coconut milk or galangal (Thai ginger) can be mixed with the peanut base.
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean side dish made with small, cylindrical rice cakes simmered in a sweet and spicy sauce. The sauce is composed of gochujang (red chili paste), gochugaru (red Korean chili powder), soy sauce, sugar and garlic. Fish cakes (eomuk), boiled eggs and scallions are often paired with tteokbokki.
6. Vietnamese Chicken Curry (CÀ RI GÀ)
Hearty soups are simply a must during the colder months. Bold and vibrant, this recipe features tender drumsticks and slow-cooked vegetables in a thick, creamy broth, all tied together by its wonderfully earthy and aromatic flavor. Often paired with rice noodles or fresh baguettes, Vietnamese chicken curry is the perfect meal to eat on a cold, frosty day.
7. Yaki Udon
Both savory and sweet, yaki udon is a Japanese stir-fried dish consisting of thick udon noodles cooked with meat and vegetables in a soy-based sauce. Not only is it incredibly quick and easy to make, but it’s also an extremely versatile dish, meaning you can toss in whatever proteins and vegetables you want! These simple noodles are extremely popular in Japan and can be found worldwide at different restaurants and festivals, the most prevalent variations being shrimp or chicken yaki udon.
8. Cantonese Steamed Fish (清蒸鱼)
Often consumed during Lunar New Year celebrations, this one is an easy and healthy dish sure to be a winning crowd-pleaser. Make sure to select a fish with large amounts of fat so that the flesh stays silky and tender throughout the cooking process. This will also ensure the meat’s better absorption of the light, soy-based sauce.
Densely nutritious, this heavenly recipe only calls for four main ingredients. A mouthwatering Chinese delicacy, fish maw soup tends to be eaten at the biggest celebrations such as weddings or Lunar New Year banquets. The soup itself is made from a simple blend of chicken stock and chicken bouillon powder. After simmering in the broth, the fish meat will then achieve its signature, cloud-like texture.
Braised beef honeycomb tripe is a classic dim sum favorite for a reason. Often served as part of a meat stew (牛雜, pronounced “ngau jahp” in Cantonese), the tripe (cow stomach lining) is slow-cooked in a variety of traditional Chinese spices and aromatic sauces until succulently tender. It’s also usually simmered with daikon, which gives some natural sweetness to its flavor profile. While tripe doesn’t really have a distinct taste, it does have a distinct, chewy or springy texture that’s often compared to the consistency of firm squid.
Which dish will you try your hand at this holiday season? Whether it’s to impress your loved ones or to celebrate across cultures, these finger-licking recipes are sure to win any crowd over.