The Hakka Cookbook - Chinese Soul Food from Around the World
By Linda Lau Anusasananan


Of all the Chinese people, the Hakka are the most nomadic. Migration - often forced upon them through war or invasion of their original homelands, in central China, or indeed famine and drought - meant the Hakka people became dispersed, not just throughout the mainland, but also into other, far-reaching corners of the planet. " Hakka" means "guest families", and this is what they were called wherever they moved to. The term makes it clear that although they might have been part of a community, they were still considered outsiders.

Because Hakka cuisine makes great use of inexpensive ingredients such as offal, preserved vegetables and bean curd, it's often considered peasant food, but that doesn't mean it isn't delicious. As with all types of regional Chinese cuisine, the Hakka made use of what they had available, adapting ingredients common to whatever community they lived among. They incorporated the ingredients into their existing dishes, which changed them slightly while retaining their essence. Linda Lau Anusasananan, a Hakka who grew up in the United States, researched the cuisine in places with large Hakka communities such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, various parts of the mainland, Malaysia, Singapore and America, and in countries with lesser-known Hakka populations such as Peru, India and Mauritius.

She gives recipes for classic dishes such as stuffed bean curd, steamed pork belly with preserved mustard greens and salt-baked chicken. Other dishes include stir-fried cumin beef and Tangra masala chicken (created by Indian Hakka), Hakka soup noodles with egg rolls (by Jamaican Hakka) and chicken fried rice with fresh tomato chutney (by Mauritian Hakka).