By Pat Tanumihardja
Pat Tanumihardja offers tips adapted from her new cookbook, Farm to Table Asian Secrets, for pairing local produce with Asian flavors:
• Pick one or two favorite recipes and experiment with different vegetables every season. In the spring use peas and pea shoots in fried rice, in summer use tomato and chives, in fall use fennel and carrots, and in winter use cabbage and mushrooms.
• Go for complementary flavors. If a recipe has bold flavors (miso, Sichuan peppercorns), use blander vegetables (zucchini, green beans), but remember to contrast flavors too by balancing palm sugar (sweet), soy sauce (salty), tamarind juice (sour) and chili paste (spicy).
• Think about varying textures by adding fried shallots, crispy garlic slices and crunchy pickles.
• Pick the right cooking technique. Sturdy vegetables like Brussels sprouts or winter squash are best roasted or braised. Tender vegetables like tomatoes do well with a quick stir-fry; chop them up to similar size and add to the pan in order of cooking time.