Thursday, November 27, 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite American holiday. I think it's less commercial than some of the other holidays. Except for the mad rush for turkeys, what you're really left with is a holiday that pays homage to being thankful and to gathering with family. And of course, the food. Can't forget about the food.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 1

This is the fourth time I've hosted Thanksgiving dinner. As we've gotten older, there's less and less occasion for the cousins to gather. This year, I fed 18 people. So despite the full day of cooking that usually entails, I actually enjoy hosting. I usually make one or two turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy, and stuffing. Other dishes might vary from typical American sides to ethnic ones. Someone usually brings a pie or two to finish off the meal.

Really, all my cousins want are the core dishes -- the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie. After all, Thanksgiving really is the only time of year we eat all of the above. But this year, I decided to mess around a bit with tradition.

It started off with a recent visit to the San Gabriel Superstore. While waiting for my half-duck to get cut up for my Thai Red Curry with Roast Duck recipe, I noticed a sign for turkey with free sticky rice for $35.

Then Foodbuzz put out the call for Thanksgiving ideas for the November edition of Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24, in which 24 food bloggers post about 24 meals in 24 hours.

That challenge got me thinking. Could I still serve a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner with all the usual side dishes, but with an Asian fusion twist? I didn't want to just serve Asian dishes on Thanksgiving. I wanted to add my own variation to popular "traditional" American Thanksgiving dishes. Since the turkey was being made roast duck-style from a Chinese barbecue, it seemed obvious to serve it with the usual Peking duck accompaniments of flour wrappers, scallions, cucumbers, and hoisin sauce. How would I handle the mashed potatoes? Green beans? Pot pie? Dinner rolls? Pumpkin pie?

Wanna see what I did?

Lil' sis picked up the roast turkey from the store at 4 p.m., my designated pick-up time. She said there was a huge crowd of people. I guess most people didn't want to make their own turkey either? The turkey was ... underwhelming. It was cold, dry, and rather anemic. Oh no! I should have stuck to last year's Salt Rub and Butter Turkey. The turkey ended up not being as dry as I feared, but not as good as my homemade version.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 2

Lil' sis had to insist that they give us the free sticky rice that was advertised. They tried to tell her that I only paid for a turkey and nothing else. Ha! The free sticky rice was written right on their sign. Anyway, the sticky rice was marvelous, studded with dried shrimp and Chinese sausage.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 3

Instead of the usual mashed potatoes, I decided to make mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes. Look at that color! I've cooked with these sweet potatoes before when I made Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower) and the result was an almost black mess. But add butter, milk, and sour cream and I got this gorgeous purple. I served this with cream gravy since the white gravy better complemented the purple sweet potatoes.

Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato 1

I've tried making the traditional canned green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. Blech! Soggy. Salty. Instead, I recently tried replicating, with good results, the Sichuan green beans I enjoyed at several Chinese restaurants. Admit it. You'd rather eat this version of green beans than that mushy casserole.

Sichuan Green Beans 1

Instead of a typical chicken pot pie, I decided to make ca ri ga (Vietnamese chicken curry) pot pie. I originally planned a Thai green curry pot pie, and I'll still probably try at some point, but when I started cooking, the simple ingredients of chicken, potatoes, and carrots with curry powder and coconut milk seemed much more appealing.

Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Curry Chicken) Pot Pie 1

My family usually serves store-bought dinner rolls. You know, the packaged brown-n-serve kind you see in the top photo. Since I was going all-purple with the mashed potatoes, I also wanted to try making taro dinner rolls, a variation of Hawaiian sweet rolls. I adapted a potato dinner roll recipe, subbing taro for the potatoes, added some of the mashed Okinawan purple sweet potatoes for color, and a bit of sugar for sweetness. The result wasn't quite as taro-y as I wanted, but was a hit with my youngest aunt and the oldest '87's middle sister.

Taro Dinner Rolls 1

OK, now we get to the roast turkey served Peking duck-style.

Peking Duck-Style Roast Turkey with Flour Wrappers, Scallions, Cucumbers, and Cranberry/Plum/Hoisin Sauce

You'll need:
Roast turkey
Flour wrappers, the kind for Peking duck or moo shoo pork
Scallions, white parts only, julienned
Persian or Japanese cucumbers with less seeds, julienned
Cranberry/Plum/Hoisin Sauce

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 4

The traditional cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sauce 1

To which I added equal amounts of plum sauce, otherwise known as duck sauce, and hoisin sauce.

Cranberry, Plum, Hoisin Sauce 1

Peking duck wrappers look like tortilla wrappers but they're a bit thinner. Create a wrap by piling on the roast turkey, julienned scallions, julienned cucumbers, and cranberry/plum/hoisin sauce.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 5


Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 6


Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 7

Here's my plate with the roast turkey, Peking duck-style roast turky wrap, Vietnamese curry chicken pot pie, Sichuan green beans, taro dinner rolls, and mashed Okinawan purple sweet potatoes with cream gravy.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 8

But wait! I wasn't done fiddling around with tradition.

Instead of the typical canned pumpkin pie, I had a fresh sugar pumpkin I wanted to bake into a pie. Rather than using pumpkin pie spice, I wanted to add Indian spices such as cardamom. That gradually evolved into making chai black tea with cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. So I baked a pumpkin pie with chai spices. The cardamom lent a subtle aromatic twist.

Pumpkin Pie with Chai Spices 1

Since I had already steeped the mixture in soy milk to be blended with the pumpkin puree, I poured the extra chai black tea into a cup and I took a quick 5 second break.

Chai Black Tea 1

Then it was back to work!

I still had an apple crumble pie that the oldest '87 had requested. I told her she had to come over and peel the apples. Ha! Her middle sister did it instead.

Apple Crumble Pie 1

And cousin Q's older brother purchased a black forest cake from Taiwanese chain, 85 Degrees C Bakery Cafe in Irvine.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 10

The oldest '88 is currently studying abroad in Japan and requested I make her a frozen turkey dinner like I did last year for the middle '87, who studied abroad in Singapore.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist 9

My cousins were bewildered by this year's menu and asked why I couldn't make the traditional dishes. Well, lil' sis made 5 lbs of Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and three boxes of Stove Top stuffing so that appeased them.

Cousin Q's mom made two Hainanese chickens with rice with Mam Gung (Vietnamese Ginger Fish Sauce), and a salad.

My oldest uncle's wife sent over Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls).

Lil' sis's best friend brought his mom's egg rolls and a crudite platter.

My brother and his wife brought blueberry pie and plenty of Italian sodas.

The oldest 87's middle sister brought ice cream to go with all the pies.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanks Foodbuzz for allowing me the opportunity to get creative with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. See what other food bloggers did for the November 24, 24, 24 event. Diana of Appetite for China had a real Peking duck dinner in Beijing, China for her post on this month's event.

I'll be posting recipes to all of these dishes in the coming weeks. Which would you like to see first? And what do you think of my Asian fusion twist to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner? Would you serve these side dishes or stick to the traditional dishes?

My "Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist" recipes:
Apple Crumble Pie
Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Curry Chicken) Pot Pie 
Chai Black Tea
Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry/Plum/Hoisin Sauce
Mashed Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes
Peking Duck-Style Roast Turkey with Flour Wrappers, Scallions, Cucumbers and Cranberry/Plum/Hoisin Sauce
Pumpkin Pie with Chai Spices
Sichuan Green Beans
Taro Dinner Rolls

And the leftover turkey recipes:
Shichimenchou (Japanese Turkey Bone) Ramen
Turkey and Cranberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Turkey Vegetable Soup

1 year ago today, I Ate What? 2006 Eating Out Roundup.
2 years ago today, Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen - Rosemead.


  1. Welcome back, WC! Been very worried about you after what happened, but I see you've just been absolutely busy creating. This meal looks AMAZING! I wouldn't change a thing and your relatives should be more appreciative.

  2. wow! wat a spread!! I am loving the idea of fusion pot pie...i just made my first pie yesterday...boy! it was a disaster! i will try to do better next time.

  3. The Asian falred dinner looks wonderful and I would be sampling everything!

    I think the turkey looks very appetizing (great colour) and again, everyone should celebrate Thanksgiving.

  4. Nice! I like the color of the sweet potatoes. Our Thanksgiving foods for Foodbuzz somewhat overlapped...I had Peking duck, fried rice, purple sweet balls, and a ton of other Chinese food. Cranberry sauce would have been nice, though. Did you have a ton of leftovers?

  5. We had an Asian fusion twist Thanksgiving too! Turkey, eggrolls, fried rice, che, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes etc etc. It was AWESOME! Best of both worlds right? Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  6. What a glorious post! Everything looks so delicious! I wish I could have some :)

    Congratulations on being part of 24 24 24!

  7. The Asian dishes sound more appealing to me than traditional turkey. I'm particularly drooling over the sticky rice and egg rolls! I normally do a traditional Thanksgiving unless it's with my family. With them, we tend to have more "ethnic" side dishes, some Thai and some Puerto Rican (my stepdad).

  8. The turkey and that black forest cake look delicious!!Happy Holidays!!!

  9. Glad to see you blogging again. I made your salt rub and butter turkey for Thanksgiving. I guess I should have used unsalted butter - I'm a bit new to this reading recipes and cooking thing. :-\ HOWEVER, despite the skin being a wee bit too salty (but OMG crispy and delicious), the turkey was the best ever! So moist and tasty and it was a hit with the Mister! I'm using too many exclamation points! :-D Anyway, I will definitely be making this again. Thanks!

  10. I am really interested in how the peking style roast turkey with the rice stuffing. It look really good. You are really creative in creating the usual traditional fair into something fusion.

  11. Loved the colour of your potato/cauliflower dish! It pops!

  12. Everything looks so delicious - especially the purple dish and sticky rice!

    What a great thanksgiving you had. Well done!

    Jun @

  13. My favorite part of T-day is the stuffing; the turkey is just a necessary evil.

    I love your concept of serving the bird Peking duck style.

    Can't wait to read your recipe for the green beans.

  14. very creative dishes for thanksgiving! :) I'm glad to know you're back!

  15. SIS,
    Thanks! I just thought of one thing and all the dishes kind of snowballed from there. My cousins are plenty appreciative, I just threw them a curveball with this year's dishes.

    Oooh, I wonder what you can do for an Indonesian pot pie?

    Thanks. I can't take any credit for the turkey though. ;)

    I noticed! Well, some of the dishes overlapped since I was going for a Peking duck effect. :) I had some leftovers but not too much. Some of my family members took stuff home too since I can't finish it all by myself.

    Sounds like my kinda spread!

    Haha. I feel like I've joined the cool kids now. ;)

    The sticky rice was particularly good. I gotta try and replicate it soon.

    Inland Empire,
    Happy Holidays to you too!

    I saw and was envious how great your turkey turned out. Made me regret not making it this year. Perhaps for Xmas... I'll go back and specify unsalted butter in the recipe. I assumed people would know since there's already plenty of salt, but it's always nice to clarify.

    I didn't think the Chinese BBQ's turkey was that great. I think it'd be far better to make my salt turkey and add some Chinese 5-spice powder into the mix. Juicy, crispy, and more flavorful.

    I loved how the sweet potatoes came out too! Welcome back!

    Thanks! Your Thanksgiving looks pretty great too.

    I love stuffing too. Especially Stove Top. :)

    Thanks. It's nice to be back.

  16. Great looking srpead WC! The first thing my eye was drawn to in your first picture was the purple of course! So of course I'd like to see the recipe for the purple mash ASAP! Hope you had a great thanksgiving.

  17. I think between the two of us we covered the entire continent of Asia!

  18. Wow THAT is a feast !!! Looks yummy !!! I like the szechuan string bean version

  19. woah, what a great feast! I love the asian twist and being a lover of peking duck, I totally adore the idea of the turkey served peking duck style hehe. And I like the look of the purple potato mash as well ... great job ^o^

  20. I love it! My family actually has Peking roast turkey with pancakes every year!

  21. wow! what a feast! those Okinawan purple sweet potatoes look quite attractive. they're so very "Prince"/Purple Rain-y. when I first saw the photos (without reading your description), i thought it was ube (purple yam). most Filipinos eat it as a dessert - it's mixed with sugar and coconut milk among other ingredients.

  22. We also tried the peking style turkey and it tasted pretty good on the first day! The breast portion was moist for our turkey which we got at Full House. It also came with some juice...probably turkey drippings? For leftovers we made a turkey bone soup which was so rich and yummy.

    It's nice that you are back and running the blog with many new posts now! Your feast looks very creative and scrumptious! You must have put a lot of hard work and thinking into making it :). I like the fusion ideas, which are very interesting! We did something similar to what you did with the turkey, but we used the steamed "gua bao" that is an another thing which some restaurants use for peking duck.

    Thanks for writing this post! It's very nice to share your feast with us :).

  23. Oh my god. That purple sweet potatoes dish is simply glorious. mmm. I want some.

  24. Add my vote to the "nice to have you back" comments! Hope you are feeling a little bit better and have worked out the complications that a break-in involves. All the twists in your Thanksgiving meal made my head spin! Glad you detailed them all out -- how were all the changes received?

  25. Marvin,
    The mashed sweet potatoes have nothing on all your ube recipes. I wonder how different ube and Okinawan sweet potatoes really are? I just added butter, milk, and sour cream. Nothing special.

    No Recipes,
    I think we definitely did! Who knew?

    My College Kitchen,
    Thanks. I prefer Sichuan green beans to the casserole myself.

    Thanks. I like Peking duck too, especially the skin. Mmm. Crispy skin.


    Canine Cologne,
    These purple sweet potatoes were very dessert-like. I should have thought of adding coconut milk instead of regular milk. But I was thinking more of savory to serve with the cream gravy instead of dessert.

    I like eating the Peking duck with steamed buns too, but that can get a bit heavy if you're eating a lot of things. Either way, it's all good.

    Mama Nabi,
    Isn't the color so pretty? Not so special to eat, but oh so pretty to look at.

    Thanks. It's nice to be missed. I think the overall consensus was that the food didn't taste as weird as everyone feared. I mean that they were all able to eat it, some liked certain dishes more than others. But I think for Thanksgiving, my cousins really do prefer the traditional.

  26. Welcome back and a very belated Happy Thanksgiving. I don't know how you cooked all of those dishes! My vote is for the Chai Black Tea recipe. I've been working from home and wouldn't mind being able to make that for my afternoon tea.


  27. Yiata,
    Thanks. I ran around for the better part of the afternoon. My sister took over the rest so I could hop into the shower right when guests started arriving. :P The chai tea recipe is super easy. Just steep some black tea and spices in soy milk, but I'll post it soon.

  28. Welcome back! I hope everything is ok for you now, was saddened to heard about your house and laptop.

    Your thanksgiving feast looked absolutely mouthwatering, I like the idea of Turkey done Peking duck style. I'd love to see the pumpkin pie recipe first. =D

    I think that when it comes to side dishes, the more the merrier, so I'd probably have served the 'traditional' ones and the Asian ones. My Asian rendition of Thanks giving is usually roast chicken with my mom's yam rice for stuffing. Yummy.

  29. Priscilla,
    Thanks. We had plenty of Asian side dishes too. We do every year. That's why I wanted to create Asian versions of the traditional dishes instead of simply serving Asian food on Thanksgiving. All the recipes will come in due time. :)

  30. Terrific menu! I love that you paired the purple potatoes with a white gravy and your turkey wraps look awesome, I especially like how you made the sauce for those. Happy holidays.
    Lori Lynn

  31. Yey, am finally here and have read your post! I was delinquent.

    Anyway, I was thinking the same thing: that perhaps the purple sweet potato and the "ourple yam"(ube) may be the same thing or really close.

    It's so funny how this Chinese turkey is so "slender" while a butterball turkey is... well, butterball!

    I love 'green beans with minced pork". I tried making green bean casserole once from scratch because having never really had them, it was actually quite appealing to me. But, I made it and it was too rich! I felt I couldn't even down it.

    I'm not really a dessert person, but I love the chai pumpkin pie concept!

  32. Lori Lynn,
    Thank you. It's nice when someone else notices the little details like the color scheme in my cooking! :)

    The turkey was placed breast side-down so I think that also makes it look skinnier than it really is. I love cream of mushroom soup, but all that creaminess was too much for me to appreciate the green bean casserole. Yay! You liked the pumpkin pie concept. That was too weird for some people, but it worked for me.


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