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The Woks of Life

Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family: A Cookbook

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Hardcover (Paper-over-Board, no jacket)
$35.00 US
8.27"W x 10.28"H x 1.12"D   | 48 oz | 10 per carton
On sale Nov 01, 2022 | 320 Pages | 978-0-593-23389-4
JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE • NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER • IACP AWARD FINALIST • PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW • “The Woks of Life did something miraculous: It reconnected me to my love of Chinese food and showed me how simple it is to make my favorite dishes myself.”—KEVIN KWAN, author of Crazy Rich Asians

The family behind the acclaimed blog The Woks of Life shares 100 of their favorite home-cooked and restaurant-style Chinese recipes in ”a very special book” (J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and The Wok)


ONE OF THE TEN BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, Simply Recipes
ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Food & Wine, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, Delish, Epicurious


This is the story of a family as told through food. Judy, the mom, speaks to traditional Chinese dishes and cultural backstory. Bill, the dad, worked in his family’s Chinese restaurants and will walk you through how to make a glorious Cantonese Roast Duck. Daughters Sarah and Kaitlin have your vegetable-forward and one-dish recipes covered—put them all together and you have the first cookbook from the funny and poignant family behind the popular blog The Woks of Life.

In addition to recipes for Mini Char Siu Bao, Spicy Beef Biang Biang Noodles, Cantonese Pork Belly Fried Rice, and Salt-and-Pepper Fried Oyster Mushrooms, there are also helpful tips and tricks throughout, including an elaborate rundown of the Chinese pantry, explanations of essential tools (including the all-important wok), and insight on game-changing Chinese cooking secrets like how to “velvet” meat to make it extra tender and juicy.

Whether you’re new to Chinese cooking or if your pantry is always stocked with bean paste and chili oil, you’ll find lots of inspiration and trustworthy recipes that will become a part of your family story, too.
The Woks of Life did something miraculous: It reconnected me to my love of Chinese food and showed me how simple it is to make my favorite dishes myself, something I never thought I’d be able to do. Beautifully and lovingly created by the Leung family, this fantastic cookbook should be in every home!”—Kevin Kwan, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians

“For years, Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin have been my go-to source for recipes and techniques that have roots firmly planted in Chinese tradition but with a uniquely American experience and voice. Their intergenerational approach makes The Woks of Life unique in its ability to inspire and educate, with an eye toward practicality and usefulness. This is a very special book.”—J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and The Wok

The Woks of Life blog has been one of my absolute favorites for years—these recipes are not only delicious, but they make me excited to try new dishes and flavors. The Leungs help home cooks by explaining everything from cooking tools to pantry staples, and even providing QR codes to reference techniques you may not be familiar with. I cannot wait to cook through this book with my family!”—Alex Snodgrass, New York Times bestselling author of The Defined Dish and The Comfortable Kitchen

“This book allows everyone to get in the kitchen and effortlessly start cooking well-researched and delicious recipes while enjoying the personalities and tastes of Judy, Bill, Sarah, and Kaitlin. The Woks of Life cookbook is a must for any food lover.”—Andrew Zimmern

The Woks of Life is one of the first places I go when I need a recipe that I know will be as knowledgeable as it is usable. Having a whole book of recipes to cook through at last is such a gift—I cannot find a single recipe that doesn’t entice me to cancel all of my plans and spend my evening cooking instead.”—Deb Perelman, author of Smitten Kitchen Keepers

“The Leung family have been my go-to source when I want to make everything from fried rice and scallion pancakes to spicy chili wontons and sesame-slicked Shanghai noodles. I’m thrilled to have all their best recipes in one beautiful book!”—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen & Drinking French

The Woks of Life became a staple resource for our family when we moved away from home and embarked on re-creating the flavorful memories of our childhood.”—Lina and Mei Lum, Wing on Wo & Co

“I’ve been following The Woks of Life on Instagram for years, and I’m so excited for their first cookbook! Every recipe feels like an invitation to the table.”—Emma Christensen, Simply Recipes

“The Leung family shares their favorite restaurant-worthy, family-friendly, and forward-thinking Chinese recipes, plus tips on how to approach essential cooking tools and pantry items with confidence.”Epicurious

“For years, home cooks have turned to food blog The Woks of Life as a trusted source of Chinese and Chinese-American recipes and cooking tips….here, just as they do online, the Leungs dive thoroughly into all the essential techniques, must-have tools and pantry staples that you’ll need.”—Vetted by Forbes
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Bill Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Kaitlin Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Judy Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Sarah Leung
Introduction: Meet the Family


Stuck with Each Other
Some say that between your previous life and the next life, you choose your family. Others say that you stay with the same people from lifetime to lifetime—in the same boat, but perhaps in slightly different seats.


In our family, it certainly feels like this isn’t our first rodeo. Bill and Judy meet, marry, and have daughters Sarah and Kaitlin—each personality seemingly carved in stone and each more strong willed than the last.

While most people find it easier to forge their own path in the world at least an arm’s length from their family, we’ve found ourselves doing just the opposite. Despite our aforementioned strong-willed personalities, we’re together a lot, spending inordinate amounts of time deliberating shrimp placement and the correct temperature for chili oil. It’s all in the name of The Woks of Life, a food blog we started in 2013 to document our family’s history through recipes—some from old-world Shanghai, others from a Chinese restaurant kitchen in the Catskills. Many were inspired by the streets of Flushing, Queens, and countless more were dreamt up in our home kitchen in a New Jersey suburb. Through food, we’ve preserved collective decades of experience, spanning parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, and friends.

When someone asks us how we manage to pull it off, you can see in their eyes the mental flash of their own family dynamic, usually followed by a slow head shake of utter disbelief that anyone could take on such an endeavor with their parents, siblings, or kids. Recording your family’s heritage and history can be daunting. A few rough edges are inevitable—and trust us, we’ve had our fair share. But we also choose to work together in the same way that we might have chosen our family in the cosmic “before.” 

Growing up, Judy would ask Sarah and Kaitlin: “Are you glad you chose us as your parents?” The answer is here, in this book, and also on The Woks of Life.

We’re all here. For our personal histories, for the web of memories and pathways that we share with so many around the world, and, yes . . . we’re here for the food. 


How did we end up here?
Our family cares a lot about food. Like, a weird amount. It’s hard to say exactly when and why it’s gotten to the level that it has, but we’ll try to explain.


JUDY
Bill and I both come from immigrant families. He lived with his two sisters and their parents, Cantonese immigrants who came to the US in the 1940s and ’50s, in Liberty, New York. Liberty was one of many little upstate towns collectively known as the “Borscht Belt,” a popular summer destination for Jewish families from New York City that had its heyday from the 1920s to the 1960s. I lived just a stone’s throw away in Monticello, after leaving Shanghai with my family when I was sixteen.

For both Bill and me, food was a life raft that connected our families to where they came from. In Bill’s small town, penny pinching was just a way of life for a working family. As for me, back in China, we were downright poor, and money was still tight after we moved to America. Food became an everyday treasure that anchored our days, and we worked to maximize enjoyment and ensure that little went to waste. Nothing felt more like home than an afternoon spent making dozens of dumplings to stash away for future busy weekdays or preparing a special poached chicken for a night of mahjong with friends.

Bill learned to cook from his father and stepfather—both chefs—and his mother, an excellent home cook. Cooking was one of the most common jobs for immigrant Chinese men in those days, so learning how to prepare and enjoy food was a valuable skill. When Bill and I first started dating, we both helped run Sun Hing, his parents’ restaurant. Fast-forward through our early days as newlyweds in the late ’80s, and along came Sarah and Kaitlin, both before I turned twenty-six. With two American babies and me still improving my English, ready or not, parenthood was in full gear.

SARAH AND KAITLIN
With two parents who take food seriously and know how to enjoy it, dinner at our house has always been an all-hands-on-deck event. Building familiarity in the kitchen began with little tasks here and there—trimming vegetables, taste testing (rather, snagging bits of roast duck before it got to the table), and remembering to make the rice.

Then there were the little lessons we learned along the way, like how to reveal the tender chunks of fillet from a whole steamed fish, the finer points of sandwich construction (i.e., how to not end up with a giant wad of roast beef hanging from your teeth), and how to mix up a bowl of cold noodles with just spaghetti, soy sauce, and sesame oil. “What’s for dinner?” was the omnipresent question, and the dinner table was where we always came together.

Paging through cookbooks became our favorite hobby, and on weekends we played chef and sous chef and devoured old Iron Chef reruns (the original Japanese version). Soon, we were trying out new recipes for family parties and juggling mixing bowls and roasting pans on Thanksgiving.

Aside from being our favorite hobby, cooking became the medium that moderated the full spectrum of our family’s life. When we visited our grandparents, preparing an elaborate dinner was the activity that facilitated the exchange of gossip and questions about how school was going. For every family argument, there was the plate of dumplings to ruminate over. And to break through an icy cold shoulder between sisters, there was the begrudging snack break of instant noodles that made it hard to remember what we were mad about in the first place.

Those years were the build-up to the food fanatics that we now are. Little did we know that the eternal question, “What’s for dinner?” would become the only constant after our parents moved halfway across the globe. 

BILL
Call it a shock when, in 2011, we suddenly found ourselves at different corners of the world. When a new work assignment came knocking at my company, Judy and I relocated to Beijing. We put our New Jersey house into hibernation, loaded our suitcases with bulk-size jars of peanut butter and two-pound bags of coffee beans (priorities!), and headed east. Kaitlin found herself navigating her freshman year of college solo in Philadelphia, and Sarah was starting her senior year of college in the Hudson Valley.

In China, Judy quickly became our translator, interpreter, and guide. She organized weekend trips to check out Xi’an night markets, old water villages just outside of Shanghai, the Harbin ice festival, and other destinations where we could discover new flavors outside our Shanghainese and Cantonese roots. It wasn’t long before we realized how little we had really explored the vast universe of Chinese cuisine.

About

JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE • NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER • IACP AWARD FINALIST • PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW • “The Woks of Life did something miraculous: It reconnected me to my love of Chinese food and showed me how simple it is to make my favorite dishes myself.”—KEVIN KWAN, author of Crazy Rich Asians

The family behind the acclaimed blog The Woks of Life shares 100 of their favorite home-cooked and restaurant-style Chinese recipes in ”a very special book” (J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and The Wok)


ONE OF THE TEN BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, Simply Recipes
ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Food & Wine, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, Delish, Epicurious


This is the story of a family as told through food. Judy, the mom, speaks to traditional Chinese dishes and cultural backstory. Bill, the dad, worked in his family’s Chinese restaurants and will walk you through how to make a glorious Cantonese Roast Duck. Daughters Sarah and Kaitlin have your vegetable-forward and one-dish recipes covered—put them all together and you have the first cookbook from the funny and poignant family behind the popular blog The Woks of Life.

In addition to recipes for Mini Char Siu Bao, Spicy Beef Biang Biang Noodles, Cantonese Pork Belly Fried Rice, and Salt-and-Pepper Fried Oyster Mushrooms, there are also helpful tips and tricks throughout, including an elaborate rundown of the Chinese pantry, explanations of essential tools (including the all-important wok), and insight on game-changing Chinese cooking secrets like how to “velvet” meat to make it extra tender and juicy.

Whether you’re new to Chinese cooking or if your pantry is always stocked with bean paste and chili oil, you’ll find lots of inspiration and trustworthy recipes that will become a part of your family story, too.

Praise

The Woks of Life did something miraculous: It reconnected me to my love of Chinese food and showed me how simple it is to make my favorite dishes myself, something I never thought I’d be able to do. Beautifully and lovingly created by the Leung family, this fantastic cookbook should be in every home!”—Kevin Kwan, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians

“For years, Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin have been my go-to source for recipes and techniques that have roots firmly planted in Chinese tradition but with a uniquely American experience and voice. Their intergenerational approach makes The Woks of Life unique in its ability to inspire and educate, with an eye toward practicality and usefulness. This is a very special book.”—J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and The Wok

The Woks of Life blog has been one of my absolute favorites for years—these recipes are not only delicious, but they make me excited to try new dishes and flavors. The Leungs help home cooks by explaining everything from cooking tools to pantry staples, and even providing QR codes to reference techniques you may not be familiar with. I cannot wait to cook through this book with my family!”—Alex Snodgrass, New York Times bestselling author of The Defined Dish and The Comfortable Kitchen

“This book allows everyone to get in the kitchen and effortlessly start cooking well-researched and delicious recipes while enjoying the personalities and tastes of Judy, Bill, Sarah, and Kaitlin. The Woks of Life cookbook is a must for any food lover.”—Andrew Zimmern

The Woks of Life is one of the first places I go when I need a recipe that I know will be as knowledgeable as it is usable. Having a whole book of recipes to cook through at last is such a gift—I cannot find a single recipe that doesn’t entice me to cancel all of my plans and spend my evening cooking instead.”—Deb Perelman, author of Smitten Kitchen Keepers

“The Leung family have been my go-to source when I want to make everything from fried rice and scallion pancakes to spicy chili wontons and sesame-slicked Shanghai noodles. I’m thrilled to have all their best recipes in one beautiful book!”—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen & Drinking French

The Woks of Life became a staple resource for our family when we moved away from home and embarked on re-creating the flavorful memories of our childhood.”—Lina and Mei Lum, Wing on Wo & Co

“I’ve been following The Woks of Life on Instagram for years, and I’m so excited for their first cookbook! Every recipe feels like an invitation to the table.”—Emma Christensen, Simply Recipes

“The Leung family shares their favorite restaurant-worthy, family-friendly, and forward-thinking Chinese recipes, plus tips on how to approach essential cooking tools and pantry items with confidence.”Epicurious

“For years, home cooks have turned to food blog The Woks of Life as a trusted source of Chinese and Chinese-American recipes and cooking tips….here, just as they do online, the Leungs dive thoroughly into all the essential techniques, must-have tools and pantry staples that you’ll need.”—Vetted by Forbes

Author

The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Bill Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Kaitlin Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Judy Leung
The Woks of Life includes Judy Leung, designated translator and culinary researcher; Bill Leung, who specializes in all things Cantonese and American Chinese takeout; Kaitlin Leung, younger daughter and master of sauces and condiments; and Sarah Leung, older daughter and photographer with a penchant for quick and easy recipes. Since its founding in 2013, The Woks of Life has become the #1 online resource for Chinese cooking in English, documenting generations of recipes for millions of home cooks. The Leungs have been featured in various media, including Magnolia Network’s Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Lucky Chow on PBS, and Food Network digital series Family Meal, as well as Time, Good Morning America, Woman’s Day, Saveur, and The New York Times. View titles by Sarah Leung

Excerpt

Introduction: Meet the Family


Stuck with Each Other
Some say that between your previous life and the next life, you choose your family. Others say that you stay with the same people from lifetime to lifetime—in the same boat, but perhaps in slightly different seats.


In our family, it certainly feels like this isn’t our first rodeo. Bill and Judy meet, marry, and have daughters Sarah and Kaitlin—each personality seemingly carved in stone and each more strong willed than the last.

While most people find it easier to forge their own path in the world at least an arm’s length from their family, we’ve found ourselves doing just the opposite. Despite our aforementioned strong-willed personalities, we’re together a lot, spending inordinate amounts of time deliberating shrimp placement and the correct temperature for chili oil. It’s all in the name of The Woks of Life, a food blog we started in 2013 to document our family’s history through recipes—some from old-world Shanghai, others from a Chinese restaurant kitchen in the Catskills. Many were inspired by the streets of Flushing, Queens, and countless more were dreamt up in our home kitchen in a New Jersey suburb. Through food, we’ve preserved collective decades of experience, spanning parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, and friends.

When someone asks us how we manage to pull it off, you can see in their eyes the mental flash of their own family dynamic, usually followed by a slow head shake of utter disbelief that anyone could take on such an endeavor with their parents, siblings, or kids. Recording your family’s heritage and history can be daunting. A few rough edges are inevitable—and trust us, we’ve had our fair share. But we also choose to work together in the same way that we might have chosen our family in the cosmic “before.” 

Growing up, Judy would ask Sarah and Kaitlin: “Are you glad you chose us as your parents?” The answer is here, in this book, and also on The Woks of Life.

We’re all here. For our personal histories, for the web of memories and pathways that we share with so many around the world, and, yes . . . we’re here for the food. 


How did we end up here?
Our family cares a lot about food. Like, a weird amount. It’s hard to say exactly when and why it’s gotten to the level that it has, but we’ll try to explain.


JUDY
Bill and I both come from immigrant families. He lived with his two sisters and their parents, Cantonese immigrants who came to the US in the 1940s and ’50s, in Liberty, New York. Liberty was one of many little upstate towns collectively known as the “Borscht Belt,” a popular summer destination for Jewish families from New York City that had its heyday from the 1920s to the 1960s. I lived just a stone’s throw away in Monticello, after leaving Shanghai with my family when I was sixteen.

For both Bill and me, food was a life raft that connected our families to where they came from. In Bill’s small town, penny pinching was just a way of life for a working family. As for me, back in China, we were downright poor, and money was still tight after we moved to America. Food became an everyday treasure that anchored our days, and we worked to maximize enjoyment and ensure that little went to waste. Nothing felt more like home than an afternoon spent making dozens of dumplings to stash away for future busy weekdays or preparing a special poached chicken for a night of mahjong with friends.

Bill learned to cook from his father and stepfather—both chefs—and his mother, an excellent home cook. Cooking was one of the most common jobs for immigrant Chinese men in those days, so learning how to prepare and enjoy food was a valuable skill. When Bill and I first started dating, we both helped run Sun Hing, his parents’ restaurant. Fast-forward through our early days as newlyweds in the late ’80s, and along came Sarah and Kaitlin, both before I turned twenty-six. With two American babies and me still improving my English, ready or not, parenthood was in full gear.

SARAH AND KAITLIN
With two parents who take food seriously and know how to enjoy it, dinner at our house has always been an all-hands-on-deck event. Building familiarity in the kitchen began with little tasks here and there—trimming vegetables, taste testing (rather, snagging bits of roast duck before it got to the table), and remembering to make the rice.

Then there were the little lessons we learned along the way, like how to reveal the tender chunks of fillet from a whole steamed fish, the finer points of sandwich construction (i.e., how to not end up with a giant wad of roast beef hanging from your teeth), and how to mix up a bowl of cold noodles with just spaghetti, soy sauce, and sesame oil. “What’s for dinner?” was the omnipresent question, and the dinner table was where we always came together.

Paging through cookbooks became our favorite hobby, and on weekends we played chef and sous chef and devoured old Iron Chef reruns (the original Japanese version). Soon, we were trying out new recipes for family parties and juggling mixing bowls and roasting pans on Thanksgiving.

Aside from being our favorite hobby, cooking became the medium that moderated the full spectrum of our family’s life. When we visited our grandparents, preparing an elaborate dinner was the activity that facilitated the exchange of gossip and questions about how school was going. For every family argument, there was the plate of dumplings to ruminate over. And to break through an icy cold shoulder between sisters, there was the begrudging snack break of instant noodles that made it hard to remember what we were mad about in the first place.

Those years were the build-up to the food fanatics that we now are. Little did we know that the eternal question, “What’s for dinner?” would become the only constant after our parents moved halfway across the globe. 

BILL
Call it a shock when, in 2011, we suddenly found ourselves at different corners of the world. When a new work assignment came knocking at my company, Judy and I relocated to Beijing. We put our New Jersey house into hibernation, loaded our suitcases with bulk-size jars of peanut butter and two-pound bags of coffee beans (priorities!), and headed east. Kaitlin found herself navigating her freshman year of college solo in Philadelphia, and Sarah was starting her senior year of college in the Hudson Valley.

In China, Judy quickly became our translator, interpreter, and guide. She organized weekend trips to check out Xi’an night markets, old water villages just outside of Shanghai, the Harbin ice festival, and other destinations where we could discover new flavors outside our Shanghainese and Cantonese roots. It wasn’t long before we realized how little we had really explored the vast universe of Chinese cuisine.

Ring in the Year of the Dragon on Lunar New Year!

Dragon dances, plates of dumplings, and red paper lanterns help ring in the new year in many East Asian cultures as the lunar calendar ticks over to 2024 with the first new moon! Exact dates vary by region, but this year’s Chinese New Year begins on February 10, with fifteen days of celebrations culminating in the Lantern Festival.

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