Danielle Chang's family loved food and had a knack for business. Born in Taiwan, she grew up in Texas and California before heading to college in New York. The entrepreneur went on to work in an incredible variety of fields including art, journalism, banking and fashion.
In 2010, she took her lifelong interest in promoting Asian culture and created LuckyRice, a food-and-culture festival that became a huge hit in New York City. Now, it's spread to seven other cities and is recognized as one of the nation's premier showcases for Asian cuisine and culture.
Here are some of Chang's signature recipes:
Grilled Korean short ribs
1 medium yellow onion, quartered 6 to 8 garlic cloves, plus 2 to 3 sliced cloves for serving
1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, smashed
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup soy sauce
1 medium pear, quartered (preferably a Korean "nashi" pear, commonly known as an Asian pear)
½ cup mirin or other rice-based wine
3 pounds beef short ribs, cut LA Galbi-style (see headnote)
Gochujang chili paste, for serving
2 heads red-leaf or romaine lettuce, torn into palm-size pieces
1 medium jalapeño pepper, sliced Fresh perilla or mint leaves, for serving
3 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
Perfect Steamed Rice (page 145), for serving
1. In a blender, combine the onion, garlic cloves, ginger, sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, pear, and mirin and puree until smooth.
2. Put the meat in a large self-seal plastic bag. Pour the puree into the bag and massage the puree into the meat. Seal tightly and refrigerate overnight.
3. On a charcoal grill or a tableside grill, remove the ribs from the marinade and cook for about 5 minutes, turning them over halfway through, for medium doneness. Use kitchen shears to cut the meat apart into bite-size pieces, discarding the bones.
3. To serve, smear some gochujang paste on each lettuce leaf, add some meat, and top with some sliced garlic, sliced jalapeño, perilla leaves, and scallions. Wrap the lettuce around the contents, and serve with hot steamed rice.
Sichuanese chicken wings
3 pounds chicken wings, split in half, wing tips removed (optional)
2 tablespoons crushed red chile flakes
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Sichuanese peppercorns
1 star anise pod
1 cup dried red Chinese chiles
1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, julienned
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the chicken wings out on it. Sprinkle them generously with salt. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the wings are golden brown and crisp. Drain off the fat and transfer the wings to a serving bowl.
2. In a cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat, toast the red chile flakes, cumin seeds, Sichuanese peppercorns, and star anise, shaking the pan constantly, until the spices are toasty and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour them into a bowl to stop the cooking. Cool slightly, and then grind to a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
3. In the same dry skillet, toast the dried chiles, shaking the pan constantly, until they darken in color and smell fragrant, 3 minutes.
4. To serve, toss the wings with the ground spice mixture. Then add the toasted whole chiles and the julienned ginger. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve at once.
Eight treasure rice
1½ cups uncooked sweet glutinous rice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the molds
1½ cups chopped candied Chinese fruits, such as mandarin orange slices, winter melon, cherries, dates, kumquats, lychees, ginger, and/or plums
½ cup red bean paste
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1. Rinse the glutinous rice well in a colander under cold running water. Place the drained rice in a saucepan, add 1½ cups of cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Then cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low, and cook for 30 minutes, until the rice is almost completely cooked.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and butter. If the rice is very dry, stir in a little more water to make it creamier. Set aside. Fill a deep steamer pot with a few inches of water, insert the steamer basket, and bring the water to a boil.
3. While the water is heating, butter the inside of 8 small, individual-serving cone molds or a large Bundt pan. Press the candied fruit onto the buttered sides of the molds, forming a decorative pattern, if desired. Spoon half of the rice into the molds, and then spread the bean paste on top. Add the remaining rice and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Cover the bottom of each mold tightly with aluminum foil. Set the molds in the steamer basket, cover, and steam at a simmer for 1 hour.
4. While the molds are steaming, whisk the granulated sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Whisking constantly, drizzle in 1 cup of water, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon zest and juice; then remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Remove the molds from the steamer, and let cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before unmolding each one onto an individual plate. Pour some of the zesty syrup around each one, and serve.
Grandma Hsiang's Chinese tamales
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
1 teaspoon five-spice powder, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought
2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups uncooked sweet glutinous rice
24 dried bamboo leaves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 shallots, sliced
12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1. In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, cinnamon stick, star anise, and five-spice powder. Add the pork belly and stir well. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
2. Put the glutinous rice in a large bowl and add cold water to cover. Let it stand at room temperature, covered, for as long as 2 hours. Rinse the bamboo leaves and soak them in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Drain the rice and return the grains to the bowl. Add the soy sauce and stir to combine. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and mushrooms, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened and lightly colored.
3. Assemble The Zongzi: Place 2 bamboo leaves, overlapping, on a clean surface to make a 5-inch-wide piece. Fold 2 to 3 inches of the stem inward to form a straight edge. Cup the rectangular end in your hand, and place 1 tablespoon of the rice in the "cup." Spread the rice out about 3 inches toward the leaf tip.
4. Remove the meat from the marinade. Place 2 pieces of meat directly on top of the rice, and add 1 tablespoon of the shallot-mushroom mixture. Spread 2 tablespoons of the rice over the meat so it is completely enveloped by the rice. Bring the other side of the leaf over the rice-filled cup to enclose it. Wrap a 2-foot-long piece of kitchen twine several times around the middle of each zongzi, tying it off with a knot, so the rice won't escape during the cooking process. Repeat with the remaining bamboo leaves, rice, and filling.
5. Place all the zongzi in a large pot, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to low and cook the zongzi for 3 hours. (Make sure there is enough water to cover the zongzi at all times, adding more as necessary.) Transfer the cooked zongzi to a plate and let them cool slightly.
6. When you are ready to eat, cut off the string, unfold, and dig in! The cooked zongzi can be kept in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen for months. Simply thaw the zongzi if they are frozen, and steam them for about 10 minutes or until heated through.