A couple of months back, my wife and I moved to Chinatown in Vancouver. While it’s only a few blocks from our former neighbourhood of Mt. Pleasant, the move has made for a few notable changes in our lives. The biggest change has been with how we eat. We have to venture further than we used to for simple things that were always quite easy to come by, everything from fresh dill and cherry tomatoes to, well, personal staples like bread and cheese.
Oh, the greens, spices, vegetables and wide array of noodles, though! Not to mention the myriad of mysterious offerings of dried fish and other dried, uh, things we’re still learning about. We’ve been eating a lot of ramen, greens and stir-fries, incorporating plenty of ginger, miso and garlic, but basically kinda winging it the best we know how.
Since we’re going to be living here for a while, I figured it was time to know Asian cuisine a little better, so we could take advantage of the many ingredients at our convenient disposal. While I’ve been an enthusiastic reader of Lucky Peach, the quarterly food and lifestyle journal from food writers Peter Meehan and Chris Ying, along with Momofuku’s David Chang, I was delighted to recently learn they had published their first cookbook, Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Recipes, so I went out and found myself a copy.
While I’ve only tackled a couple of recipes, I’m already enamoured with the book. It hits us with all of the basics we need, including three levels of pantry necessities from Basic (rice vinegar, peanuts, fish sauce), to Intermediate (Sichuan peppercorns, nori, bonito flakes), and Champion (dried lotus leaves, preserved black beans, umeboshi). It’s then divided into general sections like ‘Pickly Bits,’ Breakfast, Noodles, Chicken, Seafood, ‘Super Sauces,’ and many more. There are also photos of every singe dish the book offers, something I almost insist on when I buy a cookbook.
The first thing I made was ridiculously simple. The ‘Bok Choy and Oyster Sauce’ recipe doesn’t employ much more than those two things, along with a little sautéed garlic, oil and kosher salt. The rich, saltiness of the oyster sauce was easily slurped up by JoieFarm's 2015 Rosé, a cult-favourite Okanagan blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Gamay, loaded with wild strawberry, cherries and a nice little stream of citrus. I’m thinking this will be a good wine with a plethora of salty-ish fare in the book like ‘Miso Clam Chowder,’ ‘Chinese Sausage Fried Rice’ and ‘Fish Sauce Spareribs.’
Of course, many a rosé will go well with this style of food, complementing both its saltiness and occasional wisp of heat. When I attempt the ‘Tod Mun Fish Cakes,’ I’m thinking something slightly heartier like Ontario’s 13th Street Winery Cabernet Franc Rosé may be in order, and – hey – they’re doing free shipping with a minimum six-bottle order right now, too! Next up though, I’m looking at whipping up a little ‘Cumin Lamb,’ and ideally pairing it with Quebec’s Coteau Rougemont Versant Rosé; all of that red berry fruit and touch of spice should treat it pretty darn well.
For more on Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes, click here, and to find a boatload of deliciously pink Canadian wines to go with all of the deliciousness, click here.
You can buy Kurtis' pairing picks by clicking on the bottles below!
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. Track him down at KurtisKolt.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @KurtisKolt.