Some of the first arrivals were Filipino seaman who settled in Louisiana and California, at the beginning of the 18th Century. Migration patterns of Filipinos to the United States have been recognized as occurring in four significant waves. The first was connected to the period when the Philippines were part of New Spain and later the Spanish East Indies and they migrated to North America during this time.
The second wave was during the period when the Philippine Islands were a territory of the United States; as U.S. Nationals, Filipinos were unrestricted from immigrating to the US by the Immigration Act of 1917. This wave of immigration has been referred to as the Manong generation. Filipinos of this wave came for different reasons, but the majority were laborers. This wave of immigration was distinct from other Asian Americans because of the American influences and education in the Philippines; they did not see themselves as aliens when they immigrated to the United States. During the Great Depression, Filipino Americans were also affected, losing jobs, and being the target of race-based violence. This wave of immigration ended due to the Philippine Independence Act in 1934, which restricted immigration to 50 persons a year.
Later, due to agreements with the Philippines, Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the United States Navy; this continued a practice of allowing Filipinos to serve in the navy that began in 1901. Filipinos who immigrated to the United States, due to their military service, were exempt from quota restrictions placed on Filipino immigration at the time. This ended in 1946, following the independence of the Philippines from the United States, but resumed in 1947 due to language inserted into the Military Base Agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. In 1973, Admiral Zumwalt removed the restrictions on Filipino sailors, allowing them to enter any rate they qualified for; in 1976 there were about 17,000 Filipinos serving in the United States Navy.
The third wave of immigration followed the events of World War II. Filipinos who had served in World War II had been given the option of becoming U.S. Citizens, and many took the opportunity. Filipino War brides were allowed to immigrate to the United States due to the War Brides Act and Fiancée Act, with approximately 16,000 Filipinos entering the United States in the years following World War II.
The fourth and present wave of immigration began in 1965 with the passing of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 into law. It ended national quotas and provided an unlimited number of visas for family reunification. By the 1970s and 1980s Filipino wives of military service members reached annual rates of five to eight thousand. The Philippines became the largest source of legal immigration to the United States from Asia. Navy based immigration stopped with the expiration of the military bases agreement in 1992, yet it continues in a more limited fashion. Many Filipinos of this new wave of migration have migrated here as professionals, such as qualified nurses. As of 2005, 55% of foreign-trained registered nurses taking the qualifying exam administered by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) were educated in the Philippines.
Filipino cuisine is composed of the cuisines of more than a hundred distinct groups found throughout the Philippine archipelago. The style of food associated with it have evolved over many centuries from their shared Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine origins to a mixed cuisine of Indian, Chinese, Spanish and American influences.
Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to fish curry, chicken curry, complex paellas and cozidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include: lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce), dinuguan (pork blood stew), kaldereta (meat stewed in tomato sauce), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef and bananas in tomato sauce), afritada (chicken or pork and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), pinakbet (kabocha squash, eggplant, beans, okra, and tomato stew flavored with shrimp paste), crispy pata (deep-fried pig’s leg), hamonado (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls). Various food scholars have noted that Filipino cuisine is multi-faceted and is the most representative in the culinary world for food where the “’East meets West”.
Make some Filipino recipes at home.
Shrimp in Achiote Oil
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons achiote (annatto) seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1–2 Thai chiles, with seeds, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
For achiote oil:
Cook oil and achiote seeds in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the oil turns dark red, about 5 minutes. Strain into a jar and let cool. Cover and chill until needed.
Heat achiote oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chiles, garlic, lime juice, and soy sauce and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing often, until shrimp are opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Top with scallions and serve.
Substitute for Palm vinegar: 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part water with a squeeze or two of lime juice.
2 1⁄2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 cup palm vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cooked white rice
Patis (Philippine fish sauce; optional), for serving
Place the pork, vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf in a large bowl and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Heat pork mixture and 2 cups water in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Skim the foam that rises to the surface, and then reduce the heat to medium-low; cover, and cook until tender, about 2 hours.
Pour the pork into a colander set over a bowl; discard bay leaf, and set pork and garlic aside. Return broth to the pot, and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Transfer broth to a bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Set the garlic aside, then, working in batches, add the pork, and cook, turning until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and stir into the pork mixture. Stir broth back into the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook to meld flavors, about 5 minutes.
Serve Adobo with rice. Season with fish sauce, if you’d like.
Bok Choy Stir-fry
Half of a head of bok choy cabbage, cut into diagonal pieces
1 small carrot, cut into diagonal pieces
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, quartered and separated into pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Fish sauce or salt and pepper to taste
In a deep skillet, heat oil and saute garlic and onion.
Add bok choy and carrot and stir cook for a minute then add oyster sauce.
Simmer for 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a serving plate and serve with fish sauce.
Maruya (Banana Fritters)
1/2 cup flour, plus extra for coating bananas
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 ripe saba (banana plantain) or regular bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise
Cut each banana strip into 3-inch lengths. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and egg, beat until smooth.
Heat oil in a frying pan (or a large saucepan) over medium heat.
In batches, roll banana slices in flour and then dip in batter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels. Roll in sugar. Place in a serving dish and serve for a snack or dessert.
Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad
Garlic bread is a nice addition to go with this salad. Recipe below.
For 2 servings
5 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Big pinch cayenne pepper
8 oz raw shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
Juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
1 ear of corn, husked and cooked
4 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 celery stalk, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 slices crispy cooked bacon, diced
To prepare the dressing:
Place the apple cider vinegar, cilantro, dill, shallot, garlic, dry mustard, salt, and cayenne in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk and set aside for 15 minutes. Whisk in the oil and then the sour cream. Cover the dish and refrigerate until serving time.
To prepare shrimp:
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add one teaspoon of oil and swirl it in the pan. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Remove to a plate.
Cut the shrimp into thirds and place in a mixing bowl. Add the diced avocado, 2 teaspoons oil, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss gently. Cover and chill until serving time.
To prepare the salad:
Boil or microwave corn on the cob until tender, about 3 minutes. Cut the kernels off the cob and place in a salad bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
Add the bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, celery, and bacon. Toss Add the shrimp and avocado, lettuce and dressing; gently toss to coat. Serve in individual salad bowls.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
6 thick slices sourdough or Italian bread
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup shredded Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
Place the bread on a baking sheet. Preheat the broiler or toaster oven. Or heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the butter with garlic; mix well. Spread the butter mixture on each piece of bread and sprinkle with cheese.
Toast in a toaster oven or broil under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. Or bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Serve with the shrimp salad.
The term “Spanish-American” is used to refer to Americans whose ancestry originates directly from Spain. Spanish Americans are the longest-established European-American group with a continuous presence in Florida since 1565 and are the eighth-largest Hispanic group in the United States of America. The emigration of great numbers of Spaniards from Spain during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century was significant enough to place Spain among the most active migratory peoples of Europe, ranking behind the United Kingdom and Italy and ranking closely with Austria-Hungary and Germany.
Throughout the colonial times, there were a number of settlements of Spanish populations in the present-day United States of America with governments answerable to Madrid. The first settlement was at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, followed by others in New Mexico, California, Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. In 1598, San Juan de Los Caballeros was established near present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico by Juan de Oñate with about 1,000 other Spaniards. Spanish immigrants also established settlements in San Diego, California (1602), San Antonio, Texas (1691) and Tucson, Arizona (1699). By the mid-1600s the Spanish in America numbered more than 400,000. After the establishment of the American colonies, an additional 250,000 immigrants arrived either directly from Spain, the Canary Islands or from present-day central Mexico. These Spanish settlers expanded European influence in the New World. The Canary Islanders settled in bayou areas surrounding New Orleans in Louisiana from 1778 to 1783 and in San Antonio de Bejar, San Antonio, Texas, in 1731.
Like those aboard the Mayflower, most Spaniards came to the New World seeking land to farm, or occasionally, as historians have recently established, freedom from religious persecution. A smaller percentage of the new Spanish settlers were descendants of Spanish Jews and Spanish Muslims. Also coming to the Americas were the Basques (an ethnic group from north-central Spain and south-western France) who excelled as explorers and soldiers. A second reason for their emigration was their region’s devastation from the Napoleonic Wars in the first half of the nineteenth century. In the 1930s and 1940s, Spanish immigration mostly consisted of refugees fleeing from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and from the Franco military regime in Spain, which lasted until his death in 1975.
Many Spanish Americans still retain aspects of their culture. This includes Spanish food, drink, art, and annual fiestas. The influence of Spanish cuisine is seen in the cuisine of the United States throughout the country. A study published in 2010 by La Caixa found that in Spain, there’s an average of 1 bar for every 129 Spaniards, thus eating and drinking are a very important part of Spanish culture. In Spain most bars are restaurants. These establishments are social meeting places where people can just have fun. A typical bar will always have a variety of tapas that vary from region to region and are usually included in the price of the drink or offered at a discount. Many bars offer a ”menú del día” (a three-course meal offered at a fixed price), “platos combinados”(one plate with different types of food), and “raciones” (large plates of food to share with the entire group). Another popular option, especially for Spanish dinner, is “irse de tapas/pinchos”, which means to hop from one bar to the next, enjoying a tapa at each place until you’re stuffed.
According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were thin slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses with between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.
Enjoying food served as tapas at home or in restaurants has become popular in the U.S. A tapa is a small portion of Spanish food. Tapas may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as battered, fried baby squid). Tapas can also be combined to make a full meal. Here are a few recipes for tapas that you can easily make at home. The recipes make large portions, so I cut the amounts in half for our small family.
24 Medjool dates
1/2 cup cream cheese
12 strips bacon, cut in half (not thick-cut bacon)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
With a small sharp knife, make a slit in one side of each date and remove the pit.
Stuff about 1 teaspoon of cheese into the cavity.
Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each date. Secure with a toothpick.
Place on a rimmed baking tray lined with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, turn each date over and bake for 8 minutes. Repeat this step one more time, or until all the bacon is cooked. Cook longer if you prefer crispier bacon.
Drain on paper towels. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Tortilla (Spanish Egg and Potato Omelette)
2 pounds of potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
8 large eggs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Beat the eggs in a large bowl and season with some salt and pepper.
Slice the onion as thin as possible and fry in a large skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil for about 10 minutes until they begin to caramelize (stir often).
When the onions are caramelized, drain off any excess oil and add to the egg mixture.
Peel the potatoes and rinse them under cold water. Slice the potatoes into thin slices.
Pat the potato slices dry and put them into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, and mix well.
Heat a ½ inch of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan at medium-low heat.
When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and add more oil if necessary until all are covered by the oil.
Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes over low heat. When the potatoes have been frying 20 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon into a strainer and allow to cool off while any excess oil drips away. Save the oil to use for cooking.
After a few minutes, add the potatoes to the egg mixture and stir well. Let the egg mixture sit for about 20 minutes.
Reheat the pan where you fried potatoes over medium-low heat and add the egg mixture.
Over low heat, cook the eggs for about 6-8 minutes per side.
When you are sure that the bottom is cooked and you want to flip the tortilla, take a large plate and put it over the pan and flip it over quickly! When the second side is cooked, slide the omelet out of the pan onto a serving plate and let cool before serving.
Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread With Tomato)
2 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1 loaf ciabatta, split in half horizontally lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slice
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, split in half
Flaky sea salts, such as Maldon or fleur de sel
Split tomatoes in half horizontally. Place a box grater into a large bowl. Rub the cut faces of the tomatoes over the large holes of the box grater, using the flattened palm of your hand to move the tomatoes back and forth. The flesh should be grated off, while the skin remains intact in your hand. Discard the skin and season the tomato pulp with kosher salt to taste.
.Adjust rack to 4 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler to high. Place bread, cut side up, on a cutting board and drizzle with olive oil. Season with kosher salt. Place bread, cut side up, on a rack set in a tray or directly on the broiler rack and broil until crisp and starting to char around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
.Remove the bread from the oven and rub with the split garlic cloves. Spoon tomato mixture over bread. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil and season with large flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.
Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
12 cloves garlic
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch red pepper flakes or a 1-inch piece dried guajillo chili
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Finely mince 4 garlic cloves and place in a large bowl. Smash 4 cloves under the flat side of a knife and place in a large skillet. Thinly slice remaining four garlic cloves and set aside.
Add shrimp to the bowl with the minced garlic. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and baking soda. Toss to combine thoroughly and set aside at room temperature.
Add shrimp shells to the skillet with smashed garlic and add remaining olive oil and pepper flakes. Set over medium-low to low heat and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until shells are deep ruby red and the garlic is pale golden brown about 10 minutes. Oil should be gently bubbling the whole time. When ready, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, tossing and pressing the shrimp shells to extract as much oil as possible. Discard shells and garlic.
Return flavored oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until pale golden brown, about 1 minute. Add reserved shrimp and cook, tossing and stirring constantly until shrimp are barely cooked through about 2 minutes. Add sherry vinegar and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.
This classic Italian sauce is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the Lazio version. Spices are sometimes added. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). It is usually served with spaghetti but we like it with seafood.
Seafood in an Italian Spicy Tomato Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 fish fillets,(I used sea bass) (about 1 1/2 inches thick 4 ounces each)
4 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
26 oz container finely diced Italian tomatoes (I used the Pomi brand)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers
2 1-inch-thick slices Italian bread brushed with olive oil and grilled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
For the sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet.
Add the anchovy paste and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and continue to stir.
Pour in the tomatoes, oregano and basil and heat to a simmer. Add the olives and capers and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
For the fish
Season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Lightly flour the fish shaking off extra flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Brown the fish fillets and shrimp on both sides.
Pour a cup to 1 ½ cups of sauce over the fish in the small skillet and cover the skillet. Heat for 2-3 minutes. Save the remaining sauce for pasta.
Place a piece of grilled bread in each serving bowl. Divide the fish evenly and place it on top of the bread. Spoon the sauce over each portion and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage
For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.
For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.
For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.
Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.
Serve a tomato salad on the side.
For 2 servings you will need the following:
12 large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled, deveined, tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Olive oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup homemade marinara sauce, warmed
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking dish that fits the portion of shrimp you are making with cooking spray. I like to use individual baking dishes for this recipe.
Place the egg in a shallow bowl and the Panko bread crumbs mixed with the Parmigiano cheese in another.
Wash and dry the shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Put the shrimp in the bowl with the egg to coat and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place the breaded shrimp in the baking dish or six in each individual baking dish. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumbs over the shrimp.
The shrimp can be prepared ahead up to this point. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
When ready to bake, drizzle the top of the shrimp with the olive oil and bake on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 5 minutes. Pour sauce evenly over the shrimp and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and heat just until the cheese melts.
Homemade Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (26-28-ounce) cans Italian chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 large basil leaves
In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil, until soft and translucent, on medium to low heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, careful not to overcook.
Add tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir in parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the fresh basil.
Reserve 1 cup sauce for the shrimp and use the remaining sauce for other uses.
Garlic Roasted Asparagus
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
1 pound thin asparagus, ends trimmed
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a large jelly roll pan with foil. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the oil, garlic, onion powder, and parsley on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes until the garlic mixture is fragrant but not browned.
Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the garlic-oil mixture.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, until the asparagus are bright green; do not overcook.
Transfer to a platter and serve hot.
Chinese immigrants to the US in the 19th century worked as laborers, particularly on transcontinental railroads such as the Central Pacific Railroad. They also worked as laborers in mining and suffered racial discrimination at every level of society. In 1924 US law barred further entries of Chinese and those already in the United States had been ineligible for citizenship since the previous year. Also by 1924, all Asian immigrants (except people from the Philippines (annexed by the United States in 1898) were excluded by law, denied citizenship and naturalization, and prevented from owning land. In many Western states, Asian immigrants were even prevented from marrying Caucasians.
In the 1940s when the United States and China became allies during World War II, the situation for Chinese Americans begin to improve, as restrictions on entry into the country, naturalization, and mixed marriage were lessened. In 1943, Chinese immigration to the United States was once again permitted—by way of the Magnuson Act—thereby repealing 61 years of official racial discrimination against the Chinese. However, large-scale Chinese immigration did not occur until 1965 when the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 lifted national origin quotas. After World War II, anti-Asian prejudice began to decrease, and Chinese immigration increased. Currently, the Chinese constitute the largest ethnic group of Asian Americans (about 22%) in the US. As of the 2010 census, there are more than 3.3 million Chinese in the United States, about 1% of the total population. The influx continues, where each year ethnic Chinese people from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and to a lesser extent Southeast Asia move to the United States.
Foundations for American Chinese cuisine were brought by immigrants from the southern province of Guangdong, the origin of most Chinese immigration before the restriction of immigrants from China in 1924. These Chinese families developed new styles and used readily available ingredients, especially in California. The type of Chinese American cooking served in restaurants was different from the foods eaten in Chinese American homes. Of the various regional cuisines in China, Cantonese cuisine had been the most influential in the development of American Chinese recipes. Stir-frying, pan frying, and deep frying tended to be the most common Chinese cooking techniques used in American Chinese cuisine, which are all easily done using a wok (a Chinese frying pan with bowl-like features that can withstand very high cooking temperatures. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that the United States got its first taste of “authentic” Chinese cuisine. The 1960s brought new arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Mainland, who in turn brought with them the foods they had enjoyed in areas like Hunan, Sichuan, Taipei, and Shanghai. Today, according to the Chinese American Restaurant Association, there are over 45,000 Chinese restaurants currently in operation across the United States.
Here are two of my favorite recipes.
Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp
Adapted from Sang Yoon, Los Angeles Chef
1 ½ teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 pound large shrimp—shelled, deveined and butterflied
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 scallions: 1 finely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
2 whole dried Tien Tsin chile peppers
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Sesame oil, for drizzling
In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds; let cool. Transfer the peppercorns to a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Put the shrimp in a bowl, toss with 1 teaspoon of the ground peppercorns and season with sea salt.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderate heat until almost cooked through, 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in the skillet. Add the chopped scallions, garlic, jalapeños and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the scallions and garlic are softened, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ground peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and lime juice and stir until the shrimp are just cooked through 1 minute. Remove Chinese chile. Transfer to a bowl; garnish with the sliced scallion, drizzle with the sesame oil and serve.
Adapted from David Chang, New York City Chef
4 cups cooked white rice or cauliflower rice
4 thick slices bacon, diced
½ cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely diced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced
Bring the cooked rice to room temperature; set aside.
In a large deep skillet cook the bacon for 4-5 minutes.
Add the onions and celery, and sauté together for 4-5 minutes more, turning down the heat slightly if too much browning occurs.
Add the peas, and stir to combine. Then gently stir in the rice and sesame oil.
Let the rice mixture heat thoroughly over medium heat. Make a well in the middle, and add the eggs. Stir occasionally to make sure they’re cooking, then stir them into the rice. There should be little bits of cooked egg throughout the rice.