A Post-Mother’s Day Post and “Losing Face”

Hand copy of well-known graphic called endless...
The endless knot, also called mystic or love knot, is a feng shui symbol representing never-ending love and unity among family members in Chinese culture.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, I had written a Mother’s Day post that came from the heart.

My many days of soul-searching were rewarded with memories that revealed themselves in full Technicolor splendor. My words were honest and truthful, as personal essays ought to be. I did share some intimate moments from my childhood but nothing I thought would color anyone’s opinion of me or my mother. Yet, something was nagging at me, like a hangnail so teensy yet so there.

When it came time to hit the ‘publish’ key, my finger froze. I couldn’t do it. I hit ‘delete’ instead. I shut down my computer and went off to wallow in a teetering bowl of Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream and a decadent afternoon nap.

A few days later, I made a new acquaintance. When she found out I was a food writer, she told me she knew a very famous food blogger and writer and had once asked her, “Does it bother you that the whole world knows every detail of your life?” The answer was, “No.”

That simple conversation was a revelation. In hindsight, I was concerned about how my mum would react to my essay (not that she reads my blog but still…), or that she might “lose face” if any of her friends or friends of friends read the piece (not that they will but still…).

As Asians, we are very concerned about “saving face,” an abstract concept that can simply be described as taking steps not to publicly humiliate oneself or others. Western culture appreciates honesty (sometimes to the point of being too in-your-face) and transparency but the opposite holds true with Asians.

As such, we never air our dirty laundry. Certain topics are so taboo they’re not even discussed behind closed doors, let alone laid bare for the prying eyes and ears of others!

I was also feeling particularly sensitive having just read Amy Chua’s contentious Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The book evoked many emotional (and verbal!) responses that I won’t get into but what I found most shocking was that despite Chua’s flagrant claims of being a very traditional Chinese parent, she’s flaunting some seriously filthy laundry for the whole entire world to ogle, rips, tears, stains, racy hot pink panties and all.

I could never do that to my family. And knowing how sensitive–and how very Asian–my mum is, I was right to err on the side of caution.

After some reflection, I decided on the following guideline *for my blog: If I thought my words may have even the slightest chance of hurting someone *close to me or making them feel uncomfortable, I would keep them to myself. (The same goes in real life, no?) My family and friends are worth much, much more than any number of hits on my blog.

What about you? Where do you draw the line when revealing details about your private life to the blogosphere? Do you have guiding principles? Please share your responses in the comments section, I’d love to hear them!

(*Addendum: I added the words in red after original publication)


Chinese New Year Cake

New year cake and mandarin oranges are two standards eaten during Chinese New Year’s

My family doesn’t celebrate Chinese New Year in a big way. In fact, my dad has always insisted we are NOT Chinese. My siblings and I always took that statement with a pinch of salt, and we had a real giggle the day he got a phone call from an old classmate asking for Tan Giok Sin (his entire family officially changed their Chinese names to Indonesian names in the 1960’s to promote “assimilation”).

This year, I’ve been thinking about this holiday in a new way since our baby is due on February 16th, two days after the Spring Festival (another name for the new year as it also marks the transition of winter into spring) on the 14th. I expounded on my reflections in an essay to be published on Leite’s Culinaria on this date so I won’t repeat them here but I did try out a few new year recipes I’ve been craving, one of them being nian gao (literally “year cake” or as a homonym, “higher year”) made with Chinese brown candy/sugar and glutinous rice flour.

When I was growing up, my dad would come home with a gift basket of goodies from the office during Chinese New Year and nian gao was inevitably one of the items nestled among the luxury dried goods (mushrooms, scallops, oysters and other expensive unidentifiables), candies, sweetmeats and mandarins. Legend has it that nian gao was offered to the Kitchen God either as a bribe or so that his lips would be busy chewing on the sticky cake that he wouldn’t report unfavorably on your family to the Jade Emperor in heaven.  An unfavorable report meant bad luck for the household for an entire year and you didn’t want that!

I didn’t really like nian gao then—the circular cake was usually wrapped in lotus leaves which to my childhood nose had an odd musky smell, I hated how the brown sticky bits got stuck in my teeth, and besides the cake was far from sweet enough.

Funny how tastes change. I now love its mellow sweetness, and each slice coated with a light, crisp egg batter and a heat-softened sticky interior offers my mouth bites akin to delicate pillows of edible goodness.

New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

Adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen (Simon & Schuster Editions, 1999) by Grace Young


The main ingredient, glutinous rice flour, is a symbol of cohesiveness; be sure you don’t use regular rice flour. Brown candy (peen tong in Cantonese) is a Chinese sugar sold in slabs about 5 x 1-1/4 x 1/2 inches. You can find them in 1 pound packages or sometimes sold loose in bins at Chinese herbal shops or Asian markets. Use soft golden brown sugar if you can’t find it. In Indonesia, nian gao is called kue keranjang (basket cake) or kue cina (Chinese cake) and are sold widely during Imlek, the Indonesian name for Chinese New Year. Instead of being dipped in egg and fried, the slices can be grilled and rolled in shredded coconut.

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (30 minutes active) plus sitting overnight
Makes: 1 (6-inch) cake

3 slabs brown candy (peen tong), about 6 ounces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for pan-frying
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) glutinous rice flour
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten until frothy

Chop the brown candy into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the sugar and set aside until it dissolves into syrup.

Grease a 6-inch, round, straight-sided baking dish with 1 teaspoon oil (or use cooking spray).

In a large bowl, place the flour and make a well in the middle. Stir in the cooled syrup and knead into a dough, adding about 1/4 to 1/3 cup more cold water. Knead for about 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, slightly moist and shiny.

Turn the dough out into the dish and pat down until it fills the dish evenly.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and pour 1 teaspoon oil over, using your fingers to lightly press down on the seeds.

Steam the cake for 35 to 40 minutes over high heat until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the dish. (Click here for steaming tips).

Carefully remove the dish from the steamer and place on a rack to cool. Cover loosely and let cool at room temperature until the next day.

Run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it and invert onto a plate. Flip the cake right-side up onto a cutting board and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter crosswise, not into wedges but into 2-inch wide strips and cut each strip crosswise into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices.

When ready to serve, coat a frying pan with oil and heat over medium until hot. Dip each slice into the egg and pan-fry in batches, cooking each side until golden-brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pat’s notes:
Nian gao is usually served over the course of the 15 days of the new year celebrations when family and friends come to visit. You can wrap it up in plastic and refrigerate for this time, if it lasts that long!

As grandma always says, please share!

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In the Kitchen With Mum and Popo

In this installment, Audrey Low contributes a little snippet that reflects on the kitchen chores she had as a child, plus a whimisical look at an old wives’ tale . Of Malaysian-Chinese descent, Audrey is an anthropologist living in Australia. Her blog: papayatreelimited.blogspot.com combines her love of Asian art, food, travel, and writing, blending her personal journey with people’s stories and her research.

If you would like to guest blog about cooking with a special woman in your life, please email me at pat@ediblewords.com.

In the Kitchen with Mum and Popo
By Audrey Low

Audrey and mum

Audrey and her mum, Judy Low, at graduation

Choy keok, a Hakka hot and sour soup, is a dish my mother learned to cook when she was a child from her nyonya grand-aunt. Imagining my mother as a child reminded me of learning to cook with her.

My mum cooks in silence; it’s like meditation for her. I remember my dad urging me to go into the kitchen to learn how to cook, but she would never say anything except, perhaps, the occasional instructions to get some ingredients: “Take the blunt knife and cut some serai (lemongrass) from the garden,” or “Pluck some curry leaves/fresh limes/chilies.” Mostly, I learned through observation.

There were many chores for kids around the kitchen. I, like Pat, had the interminable chore of breaking the ends off every single bean sprout. I too could never understand why it was necessary, and no amount of reasoning could get me out of that chore.

Pounding chili in the heavy stone mortar and pestle was another favorite job to give kids. And when I was doing the task, I would inevitably get a speck of chili in my eye. My grandmother’s solution was to pour cold water on my feet. Admittedly, it’s a far more elegant method than simultaneously hopping around in agony, rubbing one eye and splashing water on my face, which I did repeatedly.

However, after trying her way a couple of times unsuccessfully, I gave it up. But I’m pretty sure my grandmother still swears by the method to this very day.

Mum’s Choy Keok

Photo and recipe courtesy of Audrey Low

For this soup, mustard cabbage is not interchangeable with other leafy greens — it’s the only vegetable that will not fall apart in this robust soup. You can buy roast pork from a Chinese restaurant or deli or make it yourself with this recipe. Please visit Papaya Tree Limited for more stories and photos!

Makes: 8 to 10 servings
Time: 20 minutes plus simmering time

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
20 slices assam keping or assam gelugor (sometimes mistakenly called dried tamarind), or 3 heaping tablespoons tamarind paste
8 cloves garlic, smashed
5 dried whole chilies
3 fresh red Thai chilies, sliced
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 to 2 pounds roast pork (or any other roast meat like duck and chicken)
2 (12 ounce) bunches mustard cabbage (gai choy), cut into thirds
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a big stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the assam keping, dried and fresh chilies (add more to taste, if desired), ginger, and garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the roast pork and mustard cabbage. Add the sugar, salt and enough water to cover the ingredients. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the mustard cabbage is soft. Serve with rice.

As grandma always says, please share!

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Grandma in Living Color

Alvina and Alyssa Mangrai by you.

Alvina and her granddaughter Alyssa making Burmese salad.


I have been so blessed to have met and cooked with a wonderful array of women in the process of researching and writing The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook. Learning priceless nuggets of culinary wisdom was one thing, but the experience has also lessened the void of not knowing my own grandmothers. My maternal grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born and my paternal grandmother lived in an entirely different country. Now I have over a dozen surrogate grandmas!


Alvina Mangrai, is one of those amazing women. Alvina is my friend Manda’s mom. She migrated from Burma in 1972 and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a fascinating story (not the least the fact that she married a prince) and you can read all about her when my cook book comes out in September ’09. In the meantime, meet Alvina as she teaches her granddaughter Alyssa to cook in this video from CHOW.com, the first in a series called “Cooking with Grandma.” (BTW, if you live in the Bay Area and would like to feature your grandma, email Meredith Arthur.) You’ll also find Alvina’s yummy recipes for prawn curry and coconut rice on the Web site.



p/s Welcome CHOW.com visitors please explore my blog and leave a comment to tell me what you think!

Pretty and Proper Foods Accompany Japanese Tea Ceremony

table setting2 by you.

The beautiful table setting of a cha kaiseki meal

The moment I arrive, Hiroko Sugiyama starts to make tea. She pours water into her cast-iron teapot and sets it over her center stove to boil. So begins our chakaiseki (tea kaiseki) class. Sugiyama has been teaching the art of kaiseki, the formal meal served for the Japanese tea ceremony, since 2002. Sugiyama, who runs a culinary school out of her home, is a lifelong student of the Japanese tea ceremony.

Sugiyama, who runs a culinary school out of her home, is a lifelong student of the Japanese tea ceremony. “The tea ceremony is a clean, pure place, like another world,” she explains. “This time for me, it’s peace. It purifies the mind. It makes my worries go away, having a bowl of tea.”

Over the years, she has become an authority on the art of the kaiseki too.

Hiroko Sugiyama by you.

Sugiyama is a conscientious and patient teacher.

Dating back to late-15th-century tea ceremonies common in the temples of Kyoto, kaiseki cuisine was once strictly vegetarian due to its Zen roots. Modern kaiseki menus, however, feature fish and meat. Sake is served if a tea ceremony is not scheduled.

Every kaiseki meal has a theme. Today, our kaiseki meal christened Hagi (a wisteria-like flower) Chakaiseki is an ode to the matsutake mushroom now in season.

But Sugiyama has another reason for this vegetarian feast. “My mother passed away on Oct. 10, 11 years ago. You don’t use fish and meat on death anniversaries.”

In a kaiseki meal, exquisite care is taken in selecting dishes and ingredients. Fresh seasonal ingredients are prepared in ways that enhance their flavor.

Sugiyama has even obtained the right kind of water for her guests. “This is water from Mt. Rainier,” she jokes, but she is not far off. She has hauled spring water bottled in 10-gallon jugs all the way from Lynnwood, an hour’s drive from her Sammamish home, to make tea and dashi (stock).

Kombu (sea kelp) and katsuobushi, dry bonito flakes flown in from Tokyo, are boiled in the spring water to make both Ichiban dashi (first stock) and the weaker Niban dashi.

To begin kaiseki, we are each served a fragrant brew of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, steeped in hot water. The meal we prepare and consume in the hours that follow is as pleasing to the eyes as the palate, all packaged within the beauty of tradition.

The serving ware and garnishes are as much a part of the kaiseki experience as the food. Dishes are systematically arranged, from the placement of plates, bowls and chopsticks to the patterns on the wares (facing bottom right).

Despite the multiple courses in the kaiseki progression, it is not a filling meal. And the appetizer-sized portions dictate nothing should be left on the plate.

Our first dish is chasoba-zushi, a sushi of green-tea soba rolled with cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms, yamagobo (similar to salsify), yamaimo (mountain potato), takuan (pickled daikon radish) and daikon sprouts, served on genuine Wajima lacquerware renowned for its durability and elegant beauty.

soba sushi by you.

 Chasoba-zushi may not be a sushi restaurant staple but it makes for an easy and satisfying dish at a cha kaiseki meal 

“It took me six to seven years to find this set,” says Sugiyama, reflecting the thought that goes into selecting serving ware that enhances both the aesthetics and seasonal theme of the meal.

The dishes are often garnished with real leaves and flowers, as well as edibles in the shape of plants and animals.

The wanmori (soup dish) is a perfect example. In traditional kaiseki, this course is the heart of the dinner. Sugiyama builds a landscape comprising a tofu dumpling studded with green edamame and red adzuki beans (the “mountain”) lying on a bed of mizuna (mountain greens) and garnished with a single shiitake and pine needles made from lemon zest. The bowl is lidded and served. “Open the lid to enjoy the scenery,” instructs Sugiyama. “Then lift up the bowl to smell the fragrance.”

According to Sugiyama, the third dish is always grilled (yakimono). “It is usually fish, but now matsutake (yaki-matsutake).” The soy- and vinegar-marinated matsutakes are grilled over binchotan charcoal that imparts a distinct smoky flavor.

Next, the shojin gomadoufu, a tofu-like sesame dish, is served in a pool of soy sauce and garnished with a delicate maple leaf. Made from sesame milk set with kuzu, an arrowroot-like thickener, this dish is like nothing I have ever tasted before. The delicate flavor of sesame fills your mouth as each bite melts like a pat of butter on your tongue.

sesame tofu2 by you.

Soft and silky shojin gomadoufu decorated with Japanese maple leaves

Petite rectangles of kabocha (Japanese squash) topped with a dollop of mustard are served swimming in a red and white miso broth. This is the takiawase (simmered dish). White miso is usually consumed in the winter, while salty red miso is popular in summer, says Sugiyama. “When seasons change, you change the ratio of miso. Since August is over and it’s a little cooler, you mix two to three kinds.”

kabocha by you.

The skin of the kaboch is peeled at random to create a pretty pattern

The kabocha is eaten with rice served in a lacquer bowl Ichimoji-style, with the rice sculpted into an ichi, or number one using a paddle.

ichi rice by you.

Ichi rice or number 1, signifying rice’s place in the Japanese diet 

The kaiseki progression usually includes diverse ingredients hailing from the mountains, fields, forests, rivers and oceans. Modern chefs tend to stray from this convention but still endeavor to strike a balance. The next dish of satoimo taro and green beans represents ingredients from mountain and field, and also serves to cleanse the palate.

At the meal’s conclusion, the tomewan (literally “stop bowl”) is konomono (Japanese pickles) made of seasoned Japanese cucumbers, eggplant and takwan.

With each dish, the presentation is flawless and the flavors dazzling. However, the underlying Zen influence keeps chakaiseki focused on the holistic experience, a peaceful place where host and guest are in harmony with each other and with the natural world.

The Hiroko Sugiyama Culinary Atelier is located at 22207 N.E. 31st St., Sammamish. For more information, call 425-836-4635 or visit http://www.hirokosdolly.com

Eating Silver and Gold–Chinese New Year Dumplings

There is a popular Chinese saying: “There is nothing more delicious than jiaozi.” Such an accolade no doubt points to the popularity of the simple Chinese dumpling. (Chinese dumplings come in many shapes and sizes but the most common are jiaozi and guotieh. They’re essentially the same dumpling– the only difference is how they’re cooked. See headnote below.)

No one can trace the origins of the dumpling definitively but it’s been around for over 2,500 years. Its evolution may have started when people living in the vicinity of the Yellow River learned to grind wheat into flour, and it became even more widespread when an official decree during the Han Dynasty produced a food item filled with mutton, chilies and medicinal herbs to help the poor get through the cold winter. Today, Chinese dumplings all over the world seem to adhere to one common denominator–a soft, pillowy pouch filled with pork and cabbage.

Chinese dumplings are a must for Chinese (or Lunar) New Year. The Year of the Rat (starting February 7th) is almost upon us and Chinese households across the globe will be making dumplings on New Year’s eve. Like all the foods and dishes eaten during the New Year, dumplings are full of symbolism. Thanks to their resemblance to shoe-shaped gold or silver ingots, they are believed to bring fortune and good luck. SILVER + GOLD = MONEY = PROSPERITY = WEALTH.

In northern China, families usually chop the meat and prepare the filling themselves. This symbolizes the chopping out of bad luck. Dumplings have always been regarded as some of the best food one can eat, so enjoying it at the intersect between the old and new years brings the past to a close and ushers in good luck for the coming year.

Generally, the dumplings are prepared before midnight on the last day of the previous year, a tradition Ellen Chou remembers well. “On New Year’s eve, you have the big feast. Then the women in the family prepare dumplings for New Year’s day breakfast.”

Born in 1942 in China’s Hubei province, Ellen fled to Taiwan with her family when the communists took over in 1948.

As a young girl, Ellen didn’t learn to cook. “My mom never went to school and her dream for me was to have as much education as possible so she chased me out of the kitchen,” she explains. Since Ellen’s mother dominated her kitchen, Ellen learned to make dumplings in school. “It was the first thing we learned in home economics,” she says. “I went to an all-girls school and we’d clear the ping pong table and everyone stood around it making dumplings.”

Ellen was kind enough to share her recipe for guo tieh or pot stickers, just like how she made it way back when, giggling with her schoolmates around the ping-pong table in Taiwan.

Happy Year of the Rat, everyone!!

Ellen Chou’s Pot Stickers

Pot stickers are a favorite Northern Chinese snack, the Chinese version of fast food if you will. That being said, it’s considered peasant food, made with pork and cabbage, two cheap and ubiquitous ingredients. The dumpling can be steamed, boiled or pan-fried. When it is pan-fried, it is called guotieh, literally pot sticker, because the bottom sticks to the pan and forms a crispy crust. When it is steamed, boiled or served in soups, it’s called jiaozi.

Considering how readily available it is frozen or as take-out, why would one even attempt to make pot stickers at home, with dough made from scratch at that! Let me tell you: pot sticker skins really make the dumpling and nothing beats the texture of homemade skins. Store-bought skins, like fresh pasta sheets, are thin and flat. Pot sticker skins should have some heft to them and are thicker in the middle to endure the heat of cooking and protect the filling.

Time: 1 to 2 hours (depending how nimble your fingers are at making the pot stickers)
Makes: about 40

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water

1 pound ground pork (2 cups)
2 cups finely chopped napa cabbage (half a medium cabbage)
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (about 1/2-inch)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons plus pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour with 3/4 cup water. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together, adding more water if necessary. With your hands, form dough into a rough ball. You want the dough to be pliable but not stick to your fingers. Sprinkle a little more flour if dough is too wet. The dough won’t feel smooth at this point. Set the dough ball in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and let it rest while you make the filling.


Place cabbage in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well. Taking a handful of vegetables at a time, squeeze water out. Or wrap cabbage in batches in a cheesecloth or non-terry towel and wring dry.


In a large bowl, combine pork, cabbage, green onions, ginger, soy sauce, salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Mix well with chopsticks or a set of clean hands. Set aside.

Make the wrappers. Knead dough for several minutes until it is smooth all over. Divide it into 4 balls. Knead each ball individually for about 30 seconds. Roll each portion into a log about 5-inches long and 1/2-inch in diameter. Pinch off 9 or 10 even walnut-sized pieces. Dust with flour as needed.

Roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a disc between your palms. Place flattened disc on a well-floured surface. Starting at the bottom edge of the disc, use a Chinese rolling pin* and roll from the outside of the circle in. Use your right hand to roll the pin as your left hand turns the disc anti-clockwise. So the sequence goes: roll, turn, roll, turn. Roll each disc into a circle about 3-inches in diameter. Don’t worry about making a perfect circle. Ideally, the wrapper will be thicker in the middle than on the edges.


Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling into the center of wrapper. Fold wrapper in half over filling to form a half-moon pocket and pinch shut**.



Repeat until all the dough or filling is used up. Set pot sticker down firmly on a parchment-lined tray seam-side up so that dumpling sits flat.

Heat an (8- to 10-inch) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl 3 tablespoons vegetable oil into the bottom of pan to coat evenly. Place about a dozen dumplings in a single layer seam-side up in the skillet and brown for 1 minute.


Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to the pan, depending on its size. Cover immediately and steam 9 to 10 minutes, until all the water evaporates. The bottom of the pot stickers should be golden brown and crisp but not burned. Remove pot stickers with a spatula and serve on a plate with bottom side up. Serve with dipping sauce (recipe below).

*Chinese rolling pins are skinnier and don’t have handles. They’re available in Asian markets, or get a 3/4-inch wooden dowel from a hardware store.

**The simplest way to seal the dumplings is to pinch the edges shut so that you have a flat seam. It will look like a turnover. If you are good at crimping, you can create a “pleated” edge. Pinch the middle of pocket to seal. Starting from the outer right edge of the back flap of wrapper, make 3 pleats facing the outer edge while working your way toward the middle. Repeat on the left and continue pressing edges together until entire curve is sealed.

Grandma says:
-To keep or make ahead, freeze pot stickers in a single layer on a tray until firm (about 15 minutes will do) so they don’t stick to each other when placed in a plastic bag. Freeze for up to a month. Do not defrost before cooking. Simply increase cooking time to 15 minutes.

-To reheat cooked pot stickers, swirl 1 tablespoon oil in the bottom of pan. Set pot stickers and pour in 2 tablespoons water, cover and steam until heated through.

-Since weather can affect how dough comes together, the ratio of flour to water  for the dough may not be 2 to 1 as suggested. Use your judgment to determine whether the mixture is too wet or dry and add flour or water as needed.

Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Makes: 1/2 cup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (about 3/4-inch)
1/4 teaspoon chili sauce, or to taste
1 clove garlic, smashed

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. This will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days.