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Giving Thanks with Cultural Cuisine: Sticky Rice

CHERYL CORLEY, host:

I'm Cheryl Corley, in for Michel Martin. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Coming up on our Wisdom Watch, a conversation with poet and publisher Haki Madhubuti. But first, we kicked off our Thanksgiving fusion meal with a Cajun spiced, deep-fried turkey. But sometimes it's what's inside the bird that makes it special.

Contributor Lynne Char Bennett infuses her stuffing recipe with the flavors of her Chinese-American identity.

Ms. LYNNE CHAR BENNETT (Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle): Growing up in Oklahoma as a third-generation Chinese-American was often challenging to my brother, sister and me. We tried to be like our classmates, eating pizza, burgers and soft-served ice cream cones for lunch from the local Dairy Queen. But we always appreciated our heritage in sitting down at the dinner table, especially at Thanksgiving.

My father, who is a chef at our family's restaurant, always served traditional Thanksgiving dishes: roast turkey, bread stuffing, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes. In addition, there was also roast duck, both white and fried rice, stir-fried vegetables and steamed dumplings for the older generations of our family and the many non-Asian friends who joined our table and shared our meal.

Making a Chinese-style, rice-based stuffing for Thanksgiving is one thing my father didn't do, but something I now incorporate into my own holiday menu. Using either a sweet glutinous rice or Jasmine rice as a base, I add minced garlic, roasted chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, dices of ham or Chinese sausage, and occasionally, I throw in a small handful of dried shrimp. Special flavorings to the rice include turkey broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce and a touch of toasted sesame seed oil. The rice is cooked, before stuffing it into the turkey. Because the amount stuffing in the holiday bird is never enough, I serve a separate bowlful on the side.

What a delicious way to honor my heritage and my family's holiday table.

CORLEY: Lynne Char Bennett is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of the syndicated weekly column Pairings, which matches recipes with recommended wines. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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