After 40-plus years of focusing on breaking news, it’s time for a change.
I don’t mean retirement from TV news — you may have noticed I did that a year ago.
Over the years, you’ve told me that you enjoyed how I told stories. So now I’d like to contribute to the Sun-Times by telling stories about something I love that will involve you: Food with a Chicago focus! Full disclosure: I’m part of a terrific group of people who bought the Sun-Times because we believe in giving working Chicagoans a voice.
“Food We Love… with Linda Yu” will let me tell your stories about foods that comfort, foods that mean family — dishes and recipes handed down from your father, or great-great-great-grandmother. Or created with your cousins, or even your best friend. Let me know what your story is and why your holiday feast, your Sunday dinner, your Tuesday night get-together would not be the same without these foods. (If you have a story about a special food tradition that you’d like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the recipe, too!)
My family story
I’m starting off “Food We Love” with something of my own.
It may be April, but I’m sharing a recipe that first became a part of my family tradition at Thanksgiving. For many Americans, Thanksgiving means turkey and bread stuffing. When 4-year-old me came to the United States, bread, as we know it, had never been part of my life. Since I had never eaten it or let alone seen it, the idea of stuffing did not sit well.
Chinese bread is eaten by Northern Chinese; it’s steamed and looks like a round dumpling called a bao. But rice is the staple through most of China. Bread stuffing was weird to me, and my mother and grandmother knew our family wouldn’t appreciate it. So, like a lot of Asian families, we developed our own version of rice stuffing.
As I grew up, my palate heartily embraced all kinds of American food, as well as many foods from all over the world. But Chinese rice stuffing is still a Thanksgiving staple for me.
I’ve modified my family’s recipe to honor my grandmother, my “Lao Lao.” She grew up in the Forbidden City, home of China’s royal family, because she was in line to become the Empress! (No, I’ll never become the empress of China). Instead of white rice, I use “forbidden rice,” named because it once was cooked only for the emperor in the Forbidden City. It’s high antioxidant content was believed to enhance longevity. Chinese citizens were forbidden to eat it.
This American citizen hopes you enjoy my family’s Chinese rice stuffing! If you try my recipe, post a photo on social media of your dish. Tag it #foodwelove and @suntimes and maybe we’ll share your photos.
See you next week!
Recipe: LINDA YU’S CHINESE RICE STUFFING
1 cup Chinese black rice (also known as Forbidden Rice)
4 Chinese sausages, sliced
3 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 5-ounce can of bamboo shoots, drained & sliced
1 5-ounce can of water chestnuts
2 stalks of celery, sliced
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 ¾ cup chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound ground sirloin, browned
3 T oyster sauce
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
Chinese Forbidden Rice
Place rice in a medium size pan, rinse then drain.
Add chicken broth.
Bring to a boil over high heat, until broth absorbs into rice.
Cover and place on low heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Meat and Vegetable Mixture
Slice shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, celery and scallions. Mince garlic, saute with onions, then set aside.
Slice Chinese sausage in diagonal pieces, saute in small pan. Set aside.
In a large, deep skillet, brown ground sirloin, cooking thoroughly. Season with Kosher salt and pepper.
Mix garlic and yellow onion into ground sirloin, add Chinese sausage, mushrooms, celery, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Saute, mixing to evenly distribute ingredients. Add oyster sauce, then add rice. Mix well.
Bake at 350-degrees in oven-safe dish for one hour. Transfer from baking dish to ornate serving vessel, sprinkle scallions over the top.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the first episode of “Food We Love with Linda Yu.” Next week, Linda invites her good friend and former colleague, Fox32 Chicago news reporter/anchor Sylvia Perez to the Sun-Times studio kitchen to talk about a special recipe that’s been in the Perez family for generations.