Like most of my work, this Afro-Asian 4th of July menu has the texture of autobiography and draws heavily on the way my family eats at home. Don't get me wrong, we don't pull out all the stops every day like we did for this menu. But on weekends, holidays, and celebrations, we invite family and friends over to cook multiple dishes and break bread together, all while talking, laughing, and dancing.
My wife and I are very excited to collaborate with The Kitchn on this menu, and we hope it inspires your 4th of July celebration — as well as other family and community gatherings throughout the summer!
Most often, the dishes we make at home draw on our heritage foods — specifically African-American and Chinese. More broadly, however, we honor, grow, cook, and eat foods from the African Diaspora and various cultures throughout Asia (Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, and other cuisines) on a daily basis. We strongly believe that eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet comprised of foods that one would find in traditional, pre-industrial cultures is an important way of maintaining optimal health and well-being.
But our eating this way is much more than an attempt to avoid preventable diet-related illnesses. Soon after my wife and I started dating, we began creating new culinary traditions together, combining staples, cooking techniques, and our twist on classic recipes to come up with new, exciting, and delicious dishes.
The first time we had a dinner party was a combined celebration of Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras, which happened to fall on the same week in 2007. We haven't looked back since. Cooking and sharing our traditional foods is about having pride in our culture, preserving culinary traditions, and passing down these practices to our two daughters.
Our meals carry history, memories, and stories. They connect our family to our ancestors (both blood and spiritual) and bring the past into present day.
Our Afro-Asian dishes are created in our Oakland, California kitchen, and they are deeply inspired by what we grow in our home garden and buy at local farmers markets. In fact, one could argue that our Afro-Asian food is the epitome of "California Cuisine": a fusion of different food traditions from around the globe using local, seasonal, and sustainably grown ingredients.
We hope these recipes inspire you to research, grow, and cook your own ancestral foods and drinks, and enjoy them with your loved ones!
Menu for an Afro-Asian 4th of July
- Main Course: Grilled Vegetable and Tofu Kebabs with Pomegranate-Peach Barbecue Sauce
- Side Dish: Curried Corn and Coconut Rice
- Side Dish: Fresh Herb Roasted Potatoes
- Salad: Napa Cabbage & Kale Coleslaw with Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing
- Beverage: Gunpowder Lemonade
- Dessert: Mango-Coconut Ice Pops
- A Playlist for Your Party: Bryant Terry's July 4th Playlist
Your Cooking Timeline
Up to a Week Ahead
- Freeze the tofu for the kebabs.
- Make the barbecue sauce for the kebabs.
- Make the Mango-Coconut Ice Pops. (Save the remaining coconut milk for the rice side dish.)
- Grind the spice mix for the Curried Corn and Coconut Rice.
Two Days Ahead
- Thaw the tofu in the fridge overnight.
- Make the spearmint syrup for the Gunpowder Lemonade.
The Day Before
- Marinate the tofu in the barbecue sauce overnight.
3h:30 before sitting down to dinner
- Prepare the Gunpowder Lemonade and chill until dinner time.
- For the kebabs, boil the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, drain, and combine with the other kebab vegetables.
- Prepare the tofu kebabs. Keep the kebabs refrigerated until ready to grill.
- Prepare the dressing for the coleslaw and refrigerate until needed.
- Set the table for dinner.
- Slice the cabbage for the coleslaw, sprinkle with salt, and drain for one hour.
- Prepare all the other vegetables for the coleslaw and combine in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
- Begin cooking the coconut rice for the Curried Corn and Coconut Rice side dish.
- Begin roasting the potatoes for the roast potato side dish — check on the potatoes and stir every 15 minutes.
- Prepare a medium-high heat grill for the kebabs.
- Rinse and squeeze the water from the cabbage, then combine with the other coleslaw vegetables. Toss with the coleslaw dressing and refrigerate until serving.
- Begin cooking the corn for the Curried Corn and Coconut Rice Side Dish.
- Do a final check on the roast potatoes and transfer to a serving platter once they're ready.
- Grill the kebabs.
- Combine the curried corn and coconut rice in a serving dish and take to the table.
- Sit down to eat!
Your Shopping List
The ingredients for the barbecue sauce are doubled in this shopping list to reflect making a double-batch of sauce.
To buy at the grocery store:
- Small red potatoes (4 ounces)
- Napa cabbage (1 small head)
- Lacinato kale (1/2 pound)
- Shelled peas (1/2 cup, or 8 ounces peas in pods)
- Green beans (8 ounces)
- Sweet corn (5 ears, or 3 1/2 cups corn kernels)
- Globe eggplant (1 medium or 1 pound)
- Green bell pepper (1 medium)
- Red bell pepper (1 large)
- Red onion (2 large)
- Garlic (4 cloves)
- Ginger (1 small knob)
- Sage (1 packet or bunch)
- Thyme (1 packet or bunch)
- Spearmint (1 packet or bunch)
- Parsley (1 bunch)
- Chives (1 packet or bunch)
- Lemons (10)
- Limes (4)
- Lime leaves (20 small)
- Peaches (3 to 4 medium)
- Mangoes (4 large, or 3 pounds total)
- Extra-firm tofu (28 ounces)
- Silken tofu (1 small package)
- White miso (1 small container)
- Short-grain brown rice (1 cup)
- Tomato sauce (1 16-ounce jar or can)
- Coconut milk (1 can)
- Pomegranate molasses (1/2 cup)
- Chipotles in adobo (1 small can)
- Turmeric (2 tablespoons)
- Coriander seeds (1 tablespoon)
- Cumin seeds (1 tablespoon)
- Fenugreek seeds (2 teaspoons)
- Yellow mustard seeds (2 teaspoons)
- Black peppercorns (2 teaspoons)
- Allspice berries (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Ground ginger (1 teaspoon)
- Cayenne pepper (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Whole cloves (2)
- Gunpowder green tea leaves (1/4 cup)
In your pantry (check to make sure you have these things):
- Raw cane sugar (1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Peanut oil (2 tablespoons)
- Coconut oil
- Red wine vinegar (1/2 cup)
- Rice vinegar (2 tablespoons)
- Dijon mustard (1 tablespoon)
- Coarse sea salt
- Tamari sauce (4 tablespoons)
- Tomato paste (4 tablespoons)