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Cooking from the Heart

The Hmong Kitchen in America

2009
Authors:

Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang

Cooking from the Heart

The first cookbook of Hmong-American cuisine, filled with unique recipes and stories

Simple, earthy, fiery, and fresh, Hmong food is an exciting but still little-known South Asian cuisine. Cooking from the Heart is the first cookbook to clearly set out Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang have gathered more than 100 recipes, illustrated them with color photos, and provided descriptions of unusual ingredients and cooking techniques.

This book is a wonderful blend of the Hmong American experience. The recipes feature not only traditional Hmong foods but also tastes from our journeys through China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The recipes supply the base ingredients, but the narratives and stories provide the spices that truly flavor the dish!

Senator Mee Moua

Simple, earthy, fiery, and fresh, Hmong food is an exciting but still little-known South Asian cuisine. In traditional Hmong culture, dishes are created and replicated not by exact measurements but by taste and experimentation—for every Hmong recipe, there are as many variations as there are Hmong cooks—and often served to large, communal groups. Sami Scripter and Sheng Yang have gathered more than 100 recipes from Hmong-American kitchens, illustrated them with color photos of completed dishes, and provided descriptions of unusual ingredients and cooking techniques.

Cooking from the Heart is the first cookbook to clearly set out the culinary traditions of the Hmong people as well as the cultural significance such traditions hold. The recipes are accompanied by anecdotes, aphorisms, and poems that demonstrate the importance of food and cooking in Hmong culture and offer a dramatic perspective on the immigrant experience. Scripter and Yang outline diet restrictions and taboos as well as how herbs and foods are traditionally used for healing purposes. The dishes featured in Cooking from the Heart range from well-known items such as egg rolls and green papaya salad to more unfamiliar dishes such as Nqaij Qaib Hau Xyaw Tshuaj (Chicken Soup for New Mothers) and Dib Iab Ntim Nqaij Hau Ua Kua (Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup).

The oral tradition by which these recipes have been passed down has meant that Hmong cooking has not yet reached a wide audience in the United States. While designed for an American kitchen, Cooking from the Heart encourages readers to seek out Hmong herbs and vegetables only recently introduced in the United States. After all, the authors say, the essence of Hmong cuisine is cooking with an adventurous and creative spirit—from the heart.

Cooking from the Heart

Sami Scripter, a retired educator, lives in Portland, Oregon.

Born in Laos, Sheng Yang now lives in Sacramento, California, where she works as a medical assistant.

Cooking from the Heart

This book is a wonderful blend of the Hmong American experience. The recipes feature not only traditional Hmong foods but also tastes from our journeys through China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The recipes supply the base ingredients, but the narratives and stories provide the spices that truly flavor the dish!

Senator Mee Moua

Cooking from the Heart is a comprehensive look into the Hmong community kitchen and a valuable key for so many born within it—for the return home.

Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

This is a gem, a superb illustration of a piece of wisdom from long ago—to begin to understand a people you must first eat with them. Any serious collector of food books and anyone intrigued by the nearly unknown Hmong ways with food will want this book. The recipes draw you in, but it is the stories and the cultural portraits that keep you turning pages.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Host, The Splendid Table®, public radio's national food show from American Public Media

The authors have opened the kitchen window into Hmong life with a fascinating book containing fresh, inspiring recipes.

Star Tribune

Designed for the American kitchen and written to honor this unique culinary tradition, Cooking from the Heart is a spirited, valuable book.

Star Tribune

Beyond recipes, this cookbook offers valuable insight into a culture that makes up Minnesota’s largest Asian population.

MinnPost.com

A glorious book.

A Closer Look at Flyover Land

This is a comprehensive cookbook on an emerging cuisine. Hmong food may be the last unexplored frontier in Southeast Asian cooking.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Cooking from the Heart is an excellent first look at this ‘simple’ cuisine and complex culture.

Asian Pages

Summer is the perfect time to try Hmong cuisine. With Cooking from the Heart and a visit to the Hmong vendors at your local market, you’ll be on your way to a wonderful tasting experience.

Edible Twin Cities

Gracefully, intelligently written, Cooking from the Heart documents the way traditional Hmong dishes are made in America and also includes new recipes that feature both Asian and American regional ingredients.

Isthmus

Cooking from the Heart is noteworthy not just because it is the most comprehensive repository of these traditional Hmong recipes, it’s also a history, complete with personal stories and poetry. There is a melancholy to the Hmong immigrant experience in America born of a longing for a home that no longer exists, and these passages express this beautifully.

Sacramento News & Review

Cooking From the Heart presents Hmong cooking as a tradition of earthy, simple food with big flavors, and if you’re the slightest bit curious about this cuisine, it’s a must have.

Mystery House

A landmark work that chronicles the Hmong experience.

The Fresno Bee

The recipes are liberally sprinkled with cultural information and illuminating prose.

Villager

Almost all Asian markets and many farmers’ markets will have what you’re looking for, and the recipes are clear, simple, and result in new flavors and successful results. This cookbook is a staple for any serious Sacramento foodie.

The Sacramento News & Review

It is filled with a wealth of information, easy to understand recipes, and provides a way to truly appreciate traditional Hmong food.

Twin Cities Daily Planet

The next time I have to cook for a crowd, this is definitely one book I’ll reach for.

Heavy Table