“In Asian cooking, the meat is the condiment.”
Selina and Lam Lum, owners of Sarasota’s two Taste of Asia restaurants, offer that tenet of their cuisine in presenting their basic ginger stir-fry recipe. It’s an idea that takes some getting used to for American cooks, but it makes sense, both taste-wise and health-wise, not to mention economically.
Taste of Asia’s pan-Asian menu includes specialties from the Lums’ native Laos, plus Thailand and Vietnam. Lam Lum cooks to order; if a customer wants to add or subtract an ingredient, the chef is not only willing but happy to do it. There are options for gluten-free and vegan diets. In addition to stir-frys and curry with the diner’s choice of meat, poultry, seafood or tofu, Taste of Asia offers an array of Vietnamese noodle dishes and its specialty — “Asia’s Duck” — “our own flavor 1/2 crispy duck on a bed of mixed vegetables with choice of sauce.”
Lam Lum grew up feeding people — his family has a restaurant in Laos. Taste of Asia is also a family business, his two daughters, ages 10 and 15, work there and the chef prepares everything from scratch. His wife, Selina, says, “In Asian culture, when you come inside, it’s our house.” That belief is behind the flexibility in their menu and their efforts to accommodate customers as guests.
Taste of Asia
Siesta Key: 5110 Ocean Blvd., 349-2743
Dinner seven days a week; 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Downtown: 1535 Main St., 366-2728
Dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday.
Owners: Lam and Selina Lum
Known for: Casual dining, freshness and flexibility
LAM LUM ON MAKING STIR-FRY AT HOME:
To peel or not to peel. Americans peel ginger; Asians do not.
Storing ginger. Keep it in water in a covered jar.
Strength of ginger. It is stronger when fresh. Soak for 24 hours to make it milder.
Prep. Cut ginger across the grain and then into a fine julienne.
Pan. If you don’t have a wok, use a deep skillet.
Lam Lum’s ginger Stir fry(Serves two)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 pound mixed fresh vegetables (Taste of Asia uses cabbage, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, water chestnuts and mushrooms), sliced 1/4-inch thin
1/4 pound meat, poultry, seafood or tofu (Slice meats approximately 1/4-inch thin; use whole shrimp, 31/40 size)
1 tablespoon ginger julienne
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups steamed rice
1. Combine liquids in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok or deep skillet over high heat.
3. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and toss quickly for a few seconds.
4. If using meat, add and toss about two minutes to partially cook.
If using shrimp, add and stir only once or twice.
5. Return heat to high, add vegetables and ginger and cook until crisp tender, approximately three to four minutes, depending on choice of veggies.
6. Add combined liquids and toss one minute.
7. Serve immediately.