This month, the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! While we aren’t able to highlight every one of these amazing and diverse cultures, each week will feature an overall theme with related information.
For our penultimate week, we’re talking about the delightfully diverse world of AAPI cuisine.
When you think about Asian food, what comes to mind? Maybe you think about your favorite Chinese restaurant or sushi place. Perhaps it’s an Indian restaurant down the block. Your mouth may be watering thinking about pad thai or a banh mi.
While those things are all delicious, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AAPI cuisine. Unique flavors and dishes are found all around the Pacific Islands and Asian continent. Styles of cooking certain dishes even vary within the same country, adding a localized touch to everything.
Below is a list of some of the most popular foods from each region. You may recognize certain items and be surprised to know it’s something you already enjoy! We didn’t explain what each dish is, but encourage you to go through our resources below and do your own online exploring to learn more about these regional cuisines.
Check out our topic from week one to learn more about the specific countries in each of these regions.
Traditional Dishes from the AAPI Regions:
- Northern Asia: Blini, beef stroganoff, priozhki, pelmeni
- Central Asia: Beshbarmak, manti dumpling, dimlama, oromo
- Western Asia: Mulukhiyah, hummus, tabbouleh, baklava, baba ghanoush
- Southern Asia: Sheer khurma, chicken tikka masala, dal bhat, tsampa
- Eastern Asian: Kimchi, khorkhog, bubble tea, Portuguese egg tart
- South East Asia: Fish amok, apam balik, adobo, tom yum goong
- Melanesia: Saksak, tavioka, poi, lap lap
- Micronesia: Kadon pika, fruit bat soup, Barramundi cod, coconut fish
Polynesia: Maori hangi, fa’apapa, ota’ika, poke
Resources to Explore
For recipes and information about specific dishes:
- Maangchi (Korean food)
- The Woks of Life (Chinese food)
- Kawaling Pinoy (Filipino food)
- Hot Thai Kitchen/Pailin’s Kitchen (Thai food)
- Miwa’s Japanese cooking (Japanese food)
- Helen’s Recipes (Vietnamese food)
- Maunika Gowardhan (Indian food)
- Onolicious Hawai’i (Hawaiian food)
Challenges to Complete
Watch an Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander creator cook a dish from their culture on YouTube
You don’t have to cook or eat to learn about a new cuisine (although eating is usually the fun part). Chefs and talented home cooks are always posting cooking videos to YouTube, and watching their videos is a great way to learn about an especially complicated dish or to feel better prepared to make a new recipe. If you’re not sure where to start, search for a dish you already know you like, or check out videos from Chinese Cooking Demystified (Chinese food), Nyonya Cooking (Malaysian food), Vahchef (Indian food), Cooking with Dog (Japanese food), Russian Food (you guessed it—Russian food), or Dalia’s Kitchen (food from across the Middle East).
Eat at (or get takeout from) a local restaurant serving food from an Asian or Pacific Island cuisine
There are hundreds of locally-owned restaurants in Western New York that serve cuisines from Asia and Pacific islands. Support a small business in your area and try a new cuisine! If you already have a favorite local Asian restaurant, step out of your comfort zone and try a new place—you can search on Yelp or Google to see what people recommend in your area.
For an added challenge, do a quick Google search about the dish/dishes you order. How is the dish prepared? What ingredients does it use? If the dish is traditional, what cultural significance does it hold? If the dish is modern, how did it originate and become popular?
Research, cook, and serve a dish from an Asian or Pacific Island cuisine
Roll up your sleeves, put on your apron, and practice your cooking skills! You can pick an Asian or Pacific Island dish that you already know you love, or you can try something totally new to you that sounds interesting or fun to make. Do some research online about where the dish comes from, how to make it, and how to eat it, and have fun putting it together in the kitchen!
AAPI Celebration Challenge from Girl Scouts of Central Texas
Last year, GSCTX put together a patch challenge focused on celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The activities included are a great way to learn more about AAPI culture, history, people, and more! Once completed, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Girl Scout Values: Anti-Racism Patch
The Girl Scouts Anti-Racism Patch is a reflection that we are committed to our Girl Scout values that foster a community of justice, fairness, and inclusion. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, consider using the list of ideas and resources provided to earn the patch with your girl or troop and when you are ready, sign our Girl Scouts Stands Against Racism Pledge.
GSWNY acknowledges and condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community across the country. We uplift and amplify the Asian American Federation’s statement with Asian, Black, and Hispanic Association nonprofits condemning attacks and calling for solutions. We want to reiterate to all girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, and staff that we do not tolerate racial injustice, and we strive to create a welcoming space where all of our members feel they belong. Girl Scout members stand up and for the principles of the Girl Scout mission and law. You can find resources from the Asian American Federation here.