Food blogger and San Mateo resident Sharon Wong is releasing her new cookbook highlighting how to adapt Chinese recipes for food allergies and create access to Asian food for those previously left out.
“I wanted to show people that it’s possible to make Asian food even though they might have food allergies,” Wong said. “I really take pride in sharing recipes from my cultural heritage, and I think that’s a great way to bridge different cultures.”
Wong was born and raised in San Francisco by Chinese immigrant parents and has lived in San Mateo for 20 years with her husband and children. She wrote the book, “Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook: 60 Quick and Easy Classic Recipes,” over four months in 2021. She founded the popular food blog Nut Free Wok focused on allergy-aware Asian food in 2013 after receiving encouragement at a Food Allergy Blogger Conference. Her work and her dedication led to a publisher approaching her in 2021 about writing a cookbook.
Wong’s kids have nut allergies, which influenced her cooking as they grew up. Her kids de ella did not have the option to always eat out given their allergies, so she cooked food from scratch, altering and modifying recipes for them. Food allergies affect millions of people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 8% of US children are affected by food allergies, around one in 13 children. Her book by her reflects her experiences by her. All the recipes are nut-free except for one recipe variation, as she wanted to make food allergy recipes more mainstream. Most are dairy-free, with recipes and modifications for vegetarians, gluten-free, soy-free or quickly made.
“I learned to adapt the traditional recipes so that they can enjoy Chinese food but still be safe,” Wong said.
She ensured her cookbook had accessible recipes for everyone, especially those with time constraints. She said the simple recipes and ingredients ensure that everyone will relate to the book and that people at any cooking level can use it. Most recipes have 12 ingredients or fewer and can be purchased online or in supermarkets.
“I think someone who’s living outside the Bay Area or the East and West Coast can buy the ingredients,” Wong said.
Her cookbook relies on the use of an Instant Pot, an electronic multicooker that combines a pressure cooker and slow cooker for convenient use. Its convenience helps people who don’t have a full kitchen, as it does not require constant stirring and can be used while on vacation, in a dorm or in an RV. She noted some truckers use Instant Pots while on the road. The recipe chapters focus on appetizers, seafood, stocks and soups, beef, lamb and pork, and vegetables and rice. Her background and recipe influences are from the Cantonese region. However, she includes well-known Chinese cuisines from the north and south and regions like Hong Kong and Sichuan.
“Some of the recipes are original. Some of them were my childhood favorites from my grandmother and grandfather. I included those family recipes as well as restaurant favorites and traditional favorites,” Wong said.
Wong spent her childhood learning from her grandparents and aunts, often receiving advice and tips. Her family de ella did n’t always write recipes down growing up, and instead, she learned through watching and doing. One of her favorite recipes from Ella she makes is a braised duck recipe similar to her grandmother’s braised goose recipe. Cooking helps bring back fond memories and her generational connections de ella with family and friends.
“When I make that dish, it reminds me of my family and my childhood. It has a lot of good, positive memories for me,” Wong said.
She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, as a molecular biology major, combining her scientific approach from education to cooking. Her career background de ella as a teacher in education helped make recipes and ingredients are clear and presented in clear terms.
“I like looking at books about food chemistry and culinary techniques about all cultures. I enjoy cooking, and even as a small child, I would cook recipes,” Wong said.