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The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World

Linda Lau Anusasananan
Art by Alan Lau
Foreword by Martin Yan
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    The Hakka Cookbook
    Book Description:

    Veteran food writer Linda Lau Anusasananan opens the world of Hakka cooking to Western audiences in this fascinating chronicle that traces the rustic cuisine to its roots in a history of multiple migrations. Beginning in her grandmother’s kitchen in California, Anusasananan travels to her family’s home in China, and from there fans out to embrace Hakka cooking across the globe—including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Peru, and beyond. More than thirty home cooks and chefs share their experiences of the Hakka diaspora as they contribute over 140 recipes for everyday Chinese comfort food as well as more elaborate festive specialties.

    This book likens Hakka cooking to a nomadic type of "soul food," or a hearty cooking tradition that responds to a shared history of hardship and oppression. Earthy, honest, and robust, it reflects the diversity of the estimated 75 million Hakka living in China and greater Asia, and in scattered communities around the world—yet still retains a core flavor and technique. Anusasananan’s deep personal connection to the tradition, together with her extensive experience testing and developing recipes, make this book both an intimate journey of discovery and an exciting introduction to a vibrant cuisine.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95344-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
  3. List of Recipes
    (pp. x-xiii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xiv-xv)
    Martin Yan

    My earliest memories of Hakka cooking date back to my childhood in Guangzhou. On several occasions, I sampled Hakka dishes at the homes of friends and neighbors. My mother, who was a formidable home cook, would graciously compliment our hosts on their delectable offerings. Afterward, on our way home, she would comment on some of the finer differences between Hakka and our day-to-day Cantonese cooking. Much of that went over my head. All I knew was that everything was delicious and that I wished that my stomach could hold twice as much food the next time we got invited.


  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvi-xvii)
  6. Notes to the Reader
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    “You should be proud to be Hakka,” my grandmother, or Popo, told my brother Alan and me over and over. But even with Chinese lessons after school, her efforts to instill ethnic pride in us were lost. As the only Chinese kids growing up in a small white community in Northern California, those sentiments meant little to us. Now that most of the relatives who could have filled in my family history have passed on, I wish I had paid closer attention. What does it mean to be Hakka?

    Although I have been a food writer for over thirty-five years,...

  8. ONE Popo’s Kitchen on Gold Mountain: California
    (pp. 15-34)

    On the deck of theS.S. Nile,the petite Chinese woman shivers with excitement as the ship pulls into view of San Francisco, the entry to Gold Mountain, the Chinese nickname for California. Fear tempers her joy as the ship anchors at the cove of Angel Island, where the immigration station for the Chinese is located. Her dream could end here.

    Moist clouds of fog billow in as the immigration authorities lead the Chinese arrivals up the hill to the detention hall. The guards separate the men from the women. She is shunted into the women’s barracks. Wind whistles through...

  9. TWO Hakka Cooking in the Homeland: China
    (pp. 35-86)

    After Popo passed away, reminders of my Hakka identity grew scarce. Although my parents were proud to be Chinese, they seldom spoke of their Hakka heritage. As I pursued a career and raised a family of my own, my Hakka identity slid into dormancy. Decades passed. As retirement approached, I decided I finally had time to research the food of my culture. The heart of my plan was a trip to China in the fall of 2005. My travel companions and I began in Guangdong Province, where I searched for my ancestral roots in Meixian and explored the home of...

  10. THREE Leaving the Mainland: Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Mauritius
    (pp. 87-133)

    Once we leave the Hakka heartland in mainland China, the food loses the narrowness of a singular society. On Taiwan, just over one hundred miles from the mainland, the Hakka food scene expanded as the result of a movement to preserve Hakka culture and reinvigorate and reinvent the cuisine. In Singapore and Malaysia, some dishes tasted livelier, with a more varied palette of fresh ingredients. Farther south, on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the multicultural society brought fusion elements to the Hakka table.

    The Chinese influence on the countries of Southeast Asia is felt in all areas...

  11. FOUR Across the Pacific: Peru, Hawaii, and Tahiti
    (pp. 135-156)

    During the latter half of the nineteenth century, Hakkas crossed the Pacific to Peru, Hawaii, and Tahiti. They came as contract or indentured workers. In Peru and Hawaii, the need for laborers at sugar plantations brought the first wave of immigrants. Most came from the Pearl River Delta.

    In Tahiti, the first Hakkas arrived in 1865 to work for a cotton plantation. When the plantation went bankrupt, some workers stayed on to develop businesses while many others returned to China. The unrest in China brought a new wave of Hakka immigrants in 1907. Women were included and a family society...

  12. FIVE Multiple Migrations: Toronto and New York
    (pp. 157-195)

    I knew I couldn’t visit every Hakka enclave in the world. As I wrestled with the choice of my next destination, a fortuitous meeting with a Canadian filmmaker, Cheuk Kwan, sent me to Toronto. There, I met more than a dozen Hakkas. They weren’t from just one country but, rather, they represented the worldwide Hakka migration in one place. Some had started in China, migrated once, and then moved again, settling in Canada. Others were descendants of Hakka nomads who had settled elsewhere. This was a new wave of migration, largely created when former British colonies gained independence in the...

  13. SIX Return to Gold Mountain
    (pp. 197-234)

    Even though I found my Hakka roots in China, Gold Mountain is my home. Popo entered this county with uncertainty and fear, but she prevailed so that I could prosper and succeed. As my journey tracing the Hakka diaspora returns to where it started, I wish that Popo were here to teach me how to cook and to answer my many questions. More than fifty years have passed since she lectured me about my Hakka identity. In the last seven years, I’ve interviewed over fifty Hakkas around the world. I saw common traits among a great majority of them, especially...

  14. The Hakka Kitchen
    (pp. 235-246)

    Given the Hakkas’ frugal nature and transitory lifestyle, it’s most likely that their kitchens were portable and spare. Perhaps the basic kitchen centered on a large lidded wok, a spatula, and several ladles, steaming racks, and cleavers. Today, we have dedicated gadgets and Western appliances to make cooking easier. But for Chinese cooking, basic equipment and techniques still prevail.

    If I could choose only one pan for my kitchen, it would be a wok. In the Chinese kitchen, the wok is an all-purpose pan, used for stir-frying, steaming, braising, and deep-frying. Add a curved wok spatula, lid, steamer basket, and...

  15. The Hakka Pantry
    (pp. 247-266)

    You can make many dishes from this book with a few basic ingredients: allpurpose soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, fresh ginger, garlic, various cuts of pork, tofu, bean sauce, fresh vegetables, and long-grain rice. You’ll find most of these ingredients, or suitable alternatives, at a well-supplied supermarket. Look for the vegetables at a farmers’ market. To add more Hakka flavor to your cooking, seek out an Asian market to find some of the preserved ingredients, such as Chinese sausage, Chinese bacon, salted mustard greens, Tianjin (Tientsin) preserved vegetable, fermented black beans, preserved mustard greens, preserved radish, and...

  16. Basic Recipes
    (pp. 267-270)

    In my mother’s kitchen, there was always a pot of homemade broth brewing on the stove. It was a haphazard affair. She would throw bones and vegetable trimmings into the pot as they accumulated. She never refrigerated the broth; she just boiled it furiously once a day. She said that the boiling killed all the bacteria. We’re still alive, but I suggest a safer routine: As you collect bones and scraps, freeze them. When you collect enough, make broth. Or you can readily buy chicken carcasses and pork bones (see note) at Asian supermarkets.

    Broth can be stored in small...

  17. Table of Equivalents
    (pp. 271-272)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-278)
  19. Index
    (pp. 279-293)