This week, I have a fistful of flavor to bring to a new quinoa dish from my latest cookbook, The AGE BEAUFITULLY Cookbook.
In Southeast Asia, where I grew up, the cuisine has been influenced by many countries: China, Japan, Spain, France, America, and to some extent the Middle East and Northern Africa. So I’ve been practicing fusion cooking my whole life. My mother ran a cooking school and my family operated multiple restaurants. My recipe for shrimp on sugar-cane skewers is a perfect example of Asian fusion food. It became very popular in our restaurants and then spread all over the world. When I see it on menus in restaurants today, it makes me smile.
Asian fusion cooking is about using Mediterranean or American ingredients and, possibly, French techniques in classical Chinese, Thai, or Filipino recipes. I’m not intimidated by exotic ingredients, but I know that many of my American friends can be. For them, I try to use more familiar spices to simplify the cooking process. I also look at trends in the healthy cooking sector and add my own delicious Southeast Asian spin to the recipes that are sometimes bland.
Take quinoa, which is a very trendy ingredient right now because of its many health benefits. To me, it has almost no flavor, and because I won’t eat something just because it’s good for me, I have to find a way to cook it so that I crave it. So I did. I took that crunchy Incan grain and added some sautéed shrimp, onions, scallions, and orange bell peppers and kicked up the flavor.
Quinoa has plenty of fiber, which helps with weight loss. It’s also an excellent source of folate, which protects the brain and heart. Shrimp contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory, as well as immune-boosting selenium.
Asian Fusion Shrimp and Quinoa
3-4 cups water
¼ tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
1 medium-sized stalk of lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup quinoa
1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
¾ cup chopped orange or red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 tsp. crushed garlic
4 Tbs. coconut oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
Salt or salt substitute and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chef’s Note: If using chicken, cut a skinless, boneless breast (organic or free-range) into 1-inch cubes. Sauté the chicken and vegetables for 5 minutes (step 3).