The coconut rice and curried corn in this recipe could very well be eaten separately, and they would make fine additions to lunch or dinner, but the combination of the two is truly special. I call for my homemade Jamaican curry powder, giving the corn a complex spicy, sweet, and slightly sour flavor profile. Even if you don’t plan to make a whole 4th of July feast on your own, this is one of those dishes that always impresses when you show up at someone else’s cookout.
If you can boil a pot of water, you will have no trouble making these delicious and refreshing pops. The rich sweetness of the mangos is mellowed out by the creamy coconut milk infused with bright and aromatic makrut lime leaves, which are often paired with coconut milk in savory Southeast Asian dishes. The lime and orange juices provide brightness and faint acidity.
This modern take on classic coleslaw has everything you want in a nutrient-rich summer salad — lots of greens. The combination of mildly flavored Napa cabbage, earthy lacinato kale, delicate green peas, and crunchy green beans makes you feel like you have fulfilled your nutritional requirements for the next three days after having a serving or two. The pièce de résistance of this dish, though, is the tangy, flavor-filled miso, ginger, and silken tofu-based dressing.
After sweet tea, a refreshing glass of lemonade is the quintessential summer thirst-quencher in the South. I have memories of gallon-sized pickle jars filled with white sugar-laced lemonade that my maternal grandmother used to make at her home in Memphis.
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.
In our industrialized system of growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, and marketing what we eat, food is considered a commodity. For the handful of transnational corporations that control most of our food system, art, culture, community, and the like only become important when being used in the service of raking in profits.
Being from Memphis, I’ve been a bit nervous about crafting a recipe for barbecue sauce. People take barbecue seriously in my hometown, and from all available evidence, Memphis-style barbecue sauce is better than any other. In the past, I’ve created a barbecue-inspired marinade in which to bake tofu or tempeh, but this is my first attempt at making a proper sauce.
You can’t go wrong serving these kebabs this 4th of July. You can prepare them in advance, and they’re practically a meal unto themselves when served along with couscous, potato salad, or a grain-based dish. And what a great way to showcase summer’s bounty of vegetables! Tweak the recipe by using whatever vegetables are most exciting to you.