Why do we always think we’re cheating when we cook with sauce from a jar? Hansen Shieh of One Culture Foods is on a mission to make authentic Asian flavors accessible to the home cook. He has created 3 incredible sauces that are named based on their flavor profile where every ingredient he uses is not only recognizable and pronounceable but thoughtfully sourced. The result is utterly unique sauces. You cannot pigeonhole them to any one particular region in Asia although there are clearly influences from Hansen’s childhood home of San Gabriel Valley to his new home of Chinatown, NY.
I met up with the incredibly charming Hansen this week for a tour of Chinatown and his favorite spots.
He introduced me to Wendy Lian, owner of Spicy Village (and Li pictured below) whose Dapanji (Big Tray Chicken) he is addicted to and a large influence in his Earthy, Spicy, Tingly sauce.
We explored the underground Deluxe Meat Market on Elizabeth Street between Grand and Hester filled with everything from alligator to turtle that felt like a parallel universe. Then on to the impossibly fresh (and cheap) fish market, Aqua Best (276 Grand Street).
I felt like we’d only scratched the surface after an hour and am already planning my return. Hansen’s infectious passion had filled me with ideas for ways to use his sauces. I started with a simple stir fry using nothing more than some shrimp, baby bok choy and his Spicy, Tangy, Funky Sauce. In 5 minutes, I had a dish bursting with flavor that only felt a little bit like cheating!
Shrimp Stir Fry with Baby Bok Choy
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
4 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
2 baby bok choy, roughly chopped
Sesame oil for drizzling
6 large shrimp, deveined, tail on
3-4 tablespoons Southwest Asian Sweet Chili
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a pan.
2. Add garlic and scallion and cook for 1 min on med high making sure not to burn garlic.
3. Add in bok choy stirring frequently to avoid garlic scorching and cook 4-5 till slightly wilted but still crunchy. Drizzle with sesame oil.
4. In a separate pan, heat the remaining canola oil and sear shrimp on both sides very quickly, less than a minute.
5. Add Southwest Asian Sweet Chili sauce and heat through for another minute.
6. Serve bok choy and shrimp together over a bed of rice.