Sara’s Weeknight Meals: Season 02

Episode 216: One Pot Asian Meals with Ming Tsai

episode_216_sara_ming_tsai1-280x373I have known Ming Tsai for years. I like to say that he was discovered on my Food Network show, “Cooking Live,” because he filled in for me for 1 week in 1997 when I was on vacation and then promptly got his own show, “East Meets West.” But somehow I think he was going to be discovered anyway. What I love about his recipes is that they are so accessible, particularly these one pot meals. When we made them on the show I was astonished at how little time they took to make, yet they are so packed with flavor.

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About Ming Tsai

Ming was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent hours cooking alongside his mother and father at their family-owned restaurant, Mandarin Kitchen. His love of cooking (and eating!) great food was forged in these early years, while also gaining valuable experience in front and back of the house. Ming headed east to attend school at Phillips Academy Andover. From there, Ming continued to Yale University, earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering. During this time, Ming spent his junior summer at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. After graduating from Yale, Ming worked in kitchens around the globe. He trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Herme in Paris and in Osaka with Sushi Master Kobayashi. Upon his return to the United States, Ming enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing. Ming continued to learn varied styles of cuisine, holding positions in both front and back of the house at establishments in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Santa Fe.

In 1998, Ming opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA and immediately impressed diners from Boston and beyond with the restaurant’s innovative East-West cuisine. In its first year, Blue Ginger received 3 stars from the Boston Globe, was named “Best New Restaurant” by Boston Magazine, was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as “Best New Restaurant 1998,” and Esquire Magazine honored Ming as “Chef of the Year 1998.” The James Beard Foundation crowned Ming “2002 Best Chef Northeast” and, since 2002, the Zagat Restaurant Guide has rated Blue Ginger the “2nd Most Popular Boston Restaurant.” In 2007, Blue Ginger received the Ivy Award from Restaurants & Institutions, for its consistent achievement in meeting the highest standards for food, hospitality and service and, in 2009, Ming and Blue Ginger won IFMA’s Silver Plate Award in the Independent Restaurant Category recognizing overall excellence in the industry.

In 2008, Blue Ginger expanded with a feng shui-inspired addition doubling its size, creating three private dining rooms and the casual-chic Blue Ginger Lounge, serving an Asian tapas menu featuring Ming’s Bings, Ming’s take on the classic Asian street food xiar bing, a cross between a dumpling and a slider.

Ming is a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), working to further education and research on food allergies. Ming is proud to have developed the Food Allergy Reference Book, first used at Blue Ginger, a pioneering system that creates safeguards to help food-allergic people dine safely. For the past four years, he worked with Massachusetts Legislature to help write Bill S. 2701, which was recently signed into law. This groundbreaking legislation, the first of its kind in the US, requires local restaurants to comply with specific food allergy awareness guidelines.

Ming is the host and executive producer of the public television cooking show, SIMPLY MING. In 2009, SIMPLY MING received two Emmy nominations for ‘Outstanding Culinary Program’ and ‘Outstanding Lifestyle/Culinary Host,’ and received two Bronze Telly Awards in the categories of ‘Lighting’ and ‘Art Direction.’ His SIMPLY MING video podcasts, the first of their kind, feature tutorials on everything from filleting fish to food allergy basics (available on ming.com and iTunes). Ming began cooking for television audiences on the Food Network, where he was the 1998 Emmy Award-Winning host of East Meets West with Ming Tsai. Ming’s Quest, his popular cooking adventure series, also aired on Food Network. In the summer of 2008, Ming traveled to the Beijing Olympics with NBC’s Today show to provide viewers with insight into food customs and traditions that define his Chinese heritage. In addition to television, Ming is the author of four cookbooks: Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai, Simply Ming, Ming’s Master Recipes, and Simply Ming One-Pot Meals.

In addition to restaurant, TV and print endeavors, Ming is also a prolific designer and product developer. His Blue Ginger® Multi-Grain Brown Rice Chips are a hugely popular item in club stores across the nation. For the past decade, Ming has used Kyocera Advanced Ceramic cutting tools. Ming is a proud member of Common Threads, the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Round Table, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Cam Neely Foundation and Squashbusters.