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Healthy Home-Cooking – 8 Questions with Woon Heng Chia

My friend Woon Heng is such an inspiration with Chinese-Malaysian home cooking, authentic in flavor and comfort, with a vegan twist. She started her account @woon.heng at the request of her children and friends who love her cooking and hoping she would write them all down. She has taken Instagram by storm in a short time by sharing all her recipes (a few featured here, and linked in each caption) which "inspire people to go meatless, one meal at a time." Her food always evokes a sense of nostalgia, with the comfort of a home-cooked meal.

Photo courtesy of © Woon Heng Chia

1) Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Woon Heng Chia. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a hustle and bustle city with a lot of delicious food. I came to Oklahoma for my undergrad and settled in Texas after graduation.

2) What/who inspires your cooking?

I am the eldest in the family and love to be in the kitchen testing out recipes on my own. I remember watching 'Yan can cook' and other cooking channels in Malaysia. Then, when I came to US, I love watching Food Network for inspiration.

3) Do you cook "by the book"?

I never like to cook by the book, it's always based on how I feel and how the food tastes like. I started to jot down the ingredients and measurements after I started to share my recipes on Instagram @woon.heng 

Photo courtesy of © Woon Heng Chia

4) Do you have tips for anyone who wants to incorporate more vegetables into their diet?

Try a new veggie in a different style of cooking. It takes at least 10 plus times to love new food. Or add veggie into the soup so you can get the same nutrition while slowly introducing the taste to your palate. One of my favorite way to get my kids to try a new veggie is to add them to their favorite dishes. 

5) What is your favorite, and most recreated dish?

I love different types of food and explore new cuisines. Growing up in Malaysia gave me a great opportunity to explore different cuisines without going far. Each has their own characteristics and spice, a common one is curry. There is a distinct flavor in Malay, Chinese and Indian curry. I love dumplings, buns, noodles and rice, all the comfort food and so hard to just say one. My most recreated dish up to this point is probably my Pan-fried Zucchini Buns.

Photo courtesy of © Woon Heng Chia

6) What are your top three pantry staples?

Toasted sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce

7) I know you love dumplings as much as I do. What's your favorite filling? And boiled, fried, or steamed?

Dumplings are amazing, and that's how I get everyone to sit with me wrapping dumplings together (sometimes, not most of the time ;0) ). I love a filing with texture and color, so I always add something crunchy in it, like raw carrots, softened black fungus or jicama. I prefer them pan-fried, boiled or steamed. Fried is my least favorite unless it's with curry, like fried wonton. 

8) What does the future of Asian food look like to you?

I think it has a bright future especially when you simplify a popular recipe for others to try at home & show others that Asian food is not only tasty but can be easily recreated at home with a healthier twist.

Photo courtesy of © Woon Heng Chia

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