south-east Asia

#1 Asian Cuisine Wine Book favourite

With four Masters of Wine now living and residing in Asia, the first person to receive Master of Wine title was Jeannie Cho Lee MW. She is an award-winning author, television host, editor, wine critic, judge and educator based in Hong Kong.

Her pioneering #1 Asian Cuisine Wine book Asian Palate book 2009, explores wine and Asian food pairings. It has won many awards, including the Gourmand Award for Best Food and Wine Pairing Book in the World in 2010.

Her second book, Mastering Wine for the Asian Palate (2011), introduces a new set of Asian wine descriptors for major grape varieties and wine styles.


Visit her website Jeannie Cho Lee where authentic Asian Cuisines and wines are celebrated together; mastering wine, food trends, pairing guide and taste notes database are just a few highlights.

 "Savouring Asian Cuisine & Wine" by Jeannie Cho Lee MW

Asian Cuisine and Wine book favourite; Asian Palate by Jeannie Cho Lee MW

Jeannie has developed an Asian-oriented Food and Wine Wheel with wine recommendations for various southeast-Asian cuisines, which I ordered online directly through Jeannie Cho Lee website.

I genuinely can recommend her first book based on 5 valuable reasons. The content is exceptionally informative about the pairing of Asian cuisines with old and new world wines.

Reason #1 Asian Cuisine Wine Book

Why? It definitely is a first book, where Asian ingredients and terms are truly introduced to the language of wine.

The popularity of Asian cuisines rising up all over the world from fine dining to trending street food restaurant and food truck outlets. The use of typical sub-tropical ingredients showcasing native dishes.

A lot has been written and said about wine pairings with Asian cuisines, but never from an Asian point of view.

Reason #2 Focus on Asia

The Asian perspective, this book brings a wide-angled view focusing on Asian cuisines mentioning specifically ingredients in dishes and cooking styles.

Typical native ingredients tied to Asia which you will not come across Europe or other Western parts of the world.

Reason #3 Demonstrate dishes and considerations

Illustrating regional cuisines with wine consideration, recommendations and what to avoid. This by itself is significantly refreshing, instead of the boring and copied standard advice to choose for the outdated choice of sweet wines.

Reason #4 Eye seduction

Important to realise, as the wine is approached by appearance, nose and taste, the visual value is made by alluring food photography.  In effect seducing the eye and wetting the palate.

Appetising food photography of wine and Asian cuisine, along with snapshots of the location and introduction of the regional or national cuisine.

Reason #5 Asian Cuisine Wine book

Not the last or least reason, the value, this should have been on top but then it wouldn’t make any sense without the introduction. The western approach is often to match one wine with one dish, this is difficult in reality with food served on the Asian table.

A simple bowl of rice is often accompanied with at least 10 different dishes in Korea. A humble Chinese meal at least with 2 dishes and a soup not counting the small sides or a festive banquet dinner of many courses.

While a perfect pairing between an Asian meal and wine is often possible, Jeannie has identified among Asian wine and food lovers four key consideration: –versatility, umami character, intensity and quality – when matching Asian cuisines and wine. Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

Singapore is highlighted featuring the national poultry classic dish, here’s my Hainan Chicken post with the recipe. Or click for Thai famous beef salad Yum Nuea instead.


food and wine wheel - Asian Palate

Food & Wine wheel

She also collaborated with the German Wine Institute, launching the 52-page book in November 2011, for a full read here’s the article link: “Perfect Pairings: German Wines and Asian Flavours“.

The German Wine Institute Dutch brand office hosted a book launch event held in Amsterdam where Jeannie presented the book during luncheon with Dutch-Asian Chefs and Restaurateurs. I stumbled upon this online Dutch review article  Smaak van Wijn (Dutch readers only, no translated transcript).

For more information on how to obtain a book copy, visit the German Wines website. The site also offers an online shop with interactive web-based food and wine pairing tool with other helpful accessories.

Most importantly it has tonnes of information how to discover, experience and enjoy German Wines with wine travel tours and tips.

A video impression, watch The Deutsches Weininstitut (DWI), German Wine Institute


Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

Bitter gourd is very popular vegetable throughout South-East Asian cuisines, you will find this Asian vegetable in soups, stews, stir-fry dishes and healthy juice drinks. Bitter gourd aka Bitter Melon (or Bitter squash) is now widely available in Asian supermarkets and shops.

This uneven textured green vegetable is good for one’s health. Drinking bitter gourd juice is a great way to detox your body, while regularly eating bitter gourd as a part of your daily diet is known to prevent skin ailments and aids a glowing skin. It contains a lots of vitamins ad nutrients and is especially highly beneficial for diabetics for lowering down their blood sugar levels. The bitter taste boosts the immune system and while there is no accounting for taste, you are definitely into Asian food if you serve, cook and eat Bitter gourd often.

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cut in halve, remove seed & pith

Cleaning Bitter Gourd

The secret of appreciating bitter gourd is to make sure you clean the bitter gourd well;

  1. Slice the gourd in half and scrape out all the seeds with membranes and pith (white sponge), leaving only a thin layer of white 2-3mm to the green skin of the bitter gourd and cut in thin slices.
  2. Or cut cylindrical and carefully clean by hollowing and removing the insides out for stuffing and further preparation.
  3. Parboil the remaining flesh (especially with larger cuts) to mellow its strong flavor for a few minutes only, then prepare for casseroles, stir-fries, stews or soups.

With young and smaller bitter gourds I skip parboiling but make sure I clean them well and season during stir-frying, to ensure that bitterness turns into a pleasant flavor adding to the final dish.

Salted Duck eggs, Chicken eggs, Preserved eggs \.jpg.jpeg

From left to right: Salted Duck eggs, Chicken eggs, Preserved eggs

Various eggs

  • Century eggs 皮蛋 pídàn is a Chinese delicacy, preserved duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. The traditional method of processing time depends on the method and may take several week up to several months. At present a simplified approach of soaking the eggs in a chemical bath for 10 days speeds up the aging process while wrapped in plastic. We buy both interchanging century eggs wrapped in rice hulls or in plastic packs for convenience, it can be cooked and often used in cold dishes as salads too.
  • Salted duck eggs 咸鸭蛋 xián yā dàn or 咸蛋 xián dàn (salted eggs) is another typical Chinese food preserve made by soaking the duck eggs in brine or in damp salted charcoal. You do not see them often anymore, eggs covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste, mostly they are wrapped in plastic containers or vacuum packed. We often eat them as a side dish with congee (rice porridge) or as an ingredient in baking, rice dumplings or stir-fry dishes. You need to cook salted duck eggs before further preparation in cooking or baking.
  • Eggs are a common staple food and one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking. The most commonly used bird eggs are chicken, duck, goose. In more refined gourmet dishes the two opposites in egg sizes, quail eggs or ostrich eggs may be used.

Bitter gourd stir fry egg mix preserved & salted

While stir fried bitter gourd with eggs is a common dish found in many local South-East Asian cuisines, the origin of this dish is infused by leftover rather than a particular native dish  since we have eaten many bitter gourd egg stir fry versions. The ingredients are more or less the same the used seasonings may differ by locality and cook. A simpler version will be linked here soon.


Sliced bitter gourd, three eggs mix and chopped garlic

Scroll down for this recipe as shown in the image.


Note: a word of caution while bitter gourd is highly nutritious, the vegetable should not be eaten or given to allergy sufferers, pregnant women and young children:

  • If you happen to be allergic for melons such as honeydew and cantaloupe (cucurbitaceae plants aka gourd family) you better avoid preparing or eating bitter melon.
  • For pregnant women the vegetable contains laxative component which may cause premature contraction and lead to miscarriages. Contact your doctor first.
  • For very young children, since the plant insulin is very effective in keeping blood sugar levels down it might cause the child sugar levels to drop.
  • For diabetes, you can add bitter melon to your diet but MUST check you blood sugar level and consult your doctor if in treatment with sugar medication, because bitter melon can cause your blood sugar levels fall dramatically if consumed too excessively.

Maids silent slaves exploitation

Last Sunday the Guardian posted an online editorial: “Slavery is a violent and cruel trade that the world must finally stamp out” based on the Oscars nomination which was awarded later that night for best picture category: 12 Years a Slave, the true story of Solomon Northrup who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Click on the title link for article, here is an excerpt;

“Modern slavery is every bit as cruel, dehumanising and violent as the portrait painted in 12 Years A Slave. But with greater mobility, transparency and international institutions who could work in unison, it is unforgivable that it remains a crime largely hidden from view. At this rate, it might well be another 150 years before the scale of the horrors visited on so many to force them into labour is properly apparent.” ….

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), what is Human Trafficking?

Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. (Source:, United Nations on Drugs and Crime)

Trafficking is the Act, Means and Purpose, these are the elements of criminalization and UNODC marked a milestone in international efforts to stop the trade in people with The adoption in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children. Translating the protocol into reality remains problematic. Very few criminals are convicted and most victims are probably never identified or assisted.

Maids silent slave exploitation

Who pays? Not the maid, please - the online citizen

Who pays? Not the maid, please – the online citizen

This Facebook post was brought to our attention through our social media connections titled; “Who pays, not the maid, please!” published in the Online Citizen and know that similar stories from Philippine maids occur in the Middle East as well living in abusive employments. Click on the title link to read the post, here is an excerpt: “And now when someone asks `Who pays?’ I presume that they want the maid to bear the burden. They already do. And most of them have to work for 10 years or more to get themselves out of the debt they’re in. These stories in the New Paper, they ask for more protection for the employees against the already defenceless maids. And all this time the Singapore government is collecting half the amount of money a Singaporean has to spend on a maid, they call it a LEVY. They’re the biggest fat greedy agent, every maid in Singapore they collect their toll of the maid’s blood and the employer’s blood. And still, with all the money they collect they don’t protect the maids properly, they make ineffective laws (they weekly day off rule is a bloody stupid joke, nobody cares about it and the idiot who made the law doesn’t care too!).

And so when somebody asks `Who pays?’, after laughing, I hope that everybody realises one of the axiomatic answers should definitely be `Not the maid, please!’

A very well written true account, not a movie, a cry to be heard. The article was written as a response to an on-line article titled: “When maids want out, who pays?” with the closing line; “In Ground Zero, the heartlands ponder why there is not more protection for employers too.” The content is short and not significant but your reaction changes when you read the local posted Facebook reactions and other comments.

Free the Slaves image source:

Just wonder when services in a market with supply and demand have turned into war zones in domestic households, with injured parties on both sides. However workers are more often than not defenceless wilfully “neglected” by employers, officials and the public. Reading through the articles and comments on both sides one can not help but notice that local government could have done a better job towards both parties beside pocketing on both sides, instead of aiding better regulations and work conditions. Around the world immigrant workers have been for centuries easy marks, now called modern slaves is actually disgusting when governments fail to protect by not implementing and applying protocols with right actions. Far gone are the sugar plantations, instead, it has moved literally back in the modern household “maid slave exploitation” version 1.0 running up to 5.0 and higher?!

In The Guardian, a previous article published last January 2014 titled; “When is a slave a slave?” refers to the debate about definitions and what it is we seek to change. Click on the title link for a full read, here is an excerpt:

“Certainly, to call something slavery helps to raise attention and to galvanise action. But will it help end the misery of poor and distressed people the world over? No. Ending slavery or forced labour requires targeted action to change laws, to bring offenders to justice, to protect victims and to empower those at risk. While some measures of prevention, such as eliminating abusive recruitment and wage payment systems or enabling children to attend school, can go a long way in addressing systemic problems of injustice, much more is needed to eradicate child labour and to ensure decent work for all. Hence, definitions help to narrow down a problem and to target our action.

Clear definitions are also necessary for measuring change. Only by quantifying a problem are we able to understand whether it decreases or increases over time and whether we are on the right path solving it. Some problems are easier to measure than others and everyone would agree that measuring slavery poses many challenges. The hidden nature of the problem, political sensitivities and ethical considerations make it very difficult to implement national surveys on the basis of which reliable global data can be generated.”…

Modern slavery exploitation it still exists, it must be stopped, period.

Southeast Asia food memory, apps & books

Sharing southeast Asia food memory, apps & books. I had taken photo’s between stages of cooking and edited with Picsart smartphone app. In the spur of the moment, I shared it with Google Communities and what better compliment to receive responses from fellow foodies and ‘locals’ :-).

Fish head curry

Sometimes you just need your butt kicked to get going, the intention of planning to do isn’t going to cut it but the action does. Chinese New Year was the opening to start downloading photo’s from my smartphone or better said upload them and start pecking on my keyboard to post images with information or other random food for thought. I had created a while ago Asianfoodtrail Google+ page and never finished the details to go live, but cooking home cooked comfort food just did the trick to get inspired with a mouth full of flavour to boost things up.

Over the years I have accumulated favourite recipes clippings taken from magazines and as an avid reader, collected old and new cookery hardcover or digital books. Saved on my smartphone or Kobo e-reader, have a look here at the affiliate ad below for gift ideas and/or inspiration to cook up a storm. Please be advised the following ad is an affiliate link promotion, read the full disclaimer & disclosure in the left sidebar or here.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Last week I stumbled on to a fresh market with local fish stalls in Leiden, The Netherlands. As a fish, nation devouring famous raw ‘herring’ nothing special, but big codfish heads definitely are far from being called speciality.

Too bad, but lucky for us asked the fish monger for the largest pieces with one dish only in my mind. Hoping to duplicate the flavour explosion I experienced in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and at Muthu’s on Racecourse Road Singapore. You might have guessed the very well known “Fish head curry”. Surprised the family with this wonderful dish, a little south-east Asian feast on a Dutch winter’s dinner table. Visit Google+ Asianfoodtrail and share your favourite south-east asian comfort foods or other food memories. The gift of giving is sharing the good thing together.

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