Meet Emily Lew, Asian Feastival Designer and Correspondent

What’s cooking? Who’s coming? What am I going to eat? — All questions that we will hopefully answer in time for the big September 6th event.

To get ourselves better acquainted, we’ll begin with an introduction of who’s behind the keyboard over here at Asian Feastival HQ, starting with our very own graphic design guru and correspondent, Emily Lew! She’ll be going behind the scenes, poking into kitchens and interviewing the restaurants that will be serving their signature dishes for the tasting portion of Asian Feastival. Here we go…

Name: Emily Lew
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Designer and Writer

Guilty Pleasures?
My kryptonite is ice cream/gelato. I am always up for a creamy scoop of ice cream on a sugar cone. It makes me so happy, like no other food. In Paris, I remember having a croissant everyday! Mmm…the layers upon layers of fluffy…flakey…buttery dough baked to perfection. I felt like such a glutton, I wanted to have them all day!  Raw dark chocolate tastes soo good too!

Describe your perfect meal:
Hmm, my perfect meal…that really depends on the day!
If I am cooking, it would have to be ong choy sautéed with garlic and fermented bean curd, and a fresh caught fish that I steam with ginger, scallions, garlic and soy sauce.  I do love sushi…so an omakase dinner with kinpira as a starter sounds about right.
But there are other things I also like, so I will break it down by cuisine:
Italian: Funghi pizza and fresh homemade butternut squash ravioli in truffle and sage butter.
Middle Eastern: a lentil soup to start, with a fresh salad, tabbouleh, hummus, and a freshly baked pita.
Mexican: Guacamole and chips, calamari salad and spicy enchiladas verdes!

What food will you not eat?
I’m always willing to try anything once, but I try to stay away from anything that is really fatty. I know, my biggest weaknesses are ice cream and gelato, which are both highly fattening, but in terms of savory food, I don’t like to taste the fat — for instance, in pork belly or sweetbreads. I’ve tried spicy insects in Mexico City, but I don’t think I would eat that again…especially since there are so many great options other than eating a crunchy little bug.

Who is your favorite food person?
Lidia Bastianich because she really knows how to teach – step by step and her dishes look authentic and delicious. I love Italian food, and I like how she does her show, she is not over zealous, too quick or trying too hard. She also is not the best looking person on TV, which really appeals to me; it shows that she is really all about the food. She is an old school Italian woman who knows how to do it right.

I also love Martha Stewart. We all know that everything is just a façade with her. Outwardly she seems perfect, but we all know the real story. She is the successful American businesswoman that women aspire to be. Even when she shows her recipes, everything is done so carefully and so well. She knows what she is doing and she is perfect in this deceptively, creepy way.

When did you first realize that you were a foodie?
Being Chinese, I feel like it is a given…you have to be into food. I come from a long line of serious chefs and eaters, which I am sure most Chinese people can relate to. I grew up having sit down dinners with my whole family. We would wait for everyone to come home and have a feast! When I was younger my metabolism was so fast, I could eat anything I wanted and I did eat everything! I ate more than anyone in my family, but I was still the skinniest one in my family.

What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it?
Definitely breakfast! I can eat breakfast items all day. I love pancakes, eggs, waffles, home fries, French toast, fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, bagels, smoked salmon. I think Dizzy’s in Park Slope is fantastic. Consistently delicious breakfast, and on the weekends you get coffee or tea and your choice of juice with freshly baked mini muffins and scones with your breakie! You can’t beat it!

Do you cook? What’s the best dish that you make?
Yes, I love cooking and baking. But I enjoy the latter more. My favorite dish to make is Chilean Sea Bass sautéed with fresh ginger, scallions, and garlic in a delicious black bean sauce. In terms of sweets, I love baking everything, from cookies, cakes to muffins and cupcakes. I’ve even made some really good gluten free baked goods.

What are some staple Asian ingredients in your kitchen?
GARLIC!!! Oyster sauce, dried black beans, fresh ginger, scallions, dried Shiitake mushrooms, fermented bean curd sauce, dried baby shrimp.

Why and how did you get involved with Asian Feastival?
I met Wendy Chan, the producer behind Asian Feastival, through a mutual friend — my landlord! I’m currently writing a cookbook and compiling some of my dad’s traditional Chinese recipes, so I decided it’d be a great opportunity to get involved and immerse myself in the community of Asian foodies.

Emily Lew’s Chilean Sea Bass Sauteed in Black Bean Sauce
Serves 2 people

Chilean sea bass, 1 pound
1 sprig of scallion, sliced
1” section of ginger, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Dried black beans
Oyster sauce
Canola oil
Salt

  • First you need to prepare all of your ingredients by slicing the scallions and ginger into 1/8 inch thick slices.
  • Mince the garlic, and wash the black beans in lukewarm water so that the skin of the beans come off. Then mash the black beans with the back of a spoon to get the flavor to come out of the beans.
  • Fire up your wok and add some oil to your pan. Then add the black beans and garlic. Let the garlic sizzle up until it starts to brown a little.
  • Once the garlic starts to get a little color add the Chilean sea bass. Add a little salt, and then put a cover over it. Check on it, and flip it over about 5 minutes into it being cooked.
  • Add a little salt to this side of the fish as well. Add some oyster sauce and half of your scallions and ginger, and cover it again. Let it cook in the wok for about 7 more minutes (if it is not frozen, if it is you will need to cook it longer).
  • Once it is ready, transfer it on your plate with the black beans, garlic, ginger and scallions over the whole fish. Top it off with the rest of the scallions and ginger you sliced up.