The Hakka Cookbook: Memoir, Cultural History, Cookbook

A memoir, a cultural history and a cookbook all in one

Linda Lau Anusasananan began digging into her roots when she left Sunset magazine after working there for 34 years.

The San Mateo-based writer, whose family were the only Chinese-Americans in the Northern California town where she grew up, knew that her family was Hakka. "But I didn't know much about being Hakka," she says.

As she researched her fascinating new book, The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food From Around the World (UC Press, $40), she traveled to China and Singapore, to international conferences and the U.S. National Archives, where she uncovered her grandparents' immigration records.

The book chronicles her identity quest through personal anecdotes and well-tested recipes. There is no one Hakka cuisine, it turns out. The story of the Hakka diaspora is one of frequent migration, both within China and around the world.

The book contains recipes for classics, including tofu stuffed with ground pork, as well as dishes such as a Hakka-Jamaican goat stew with preserved-lime sauce, that tell stories of movement and adaptation.

With Anusasananan's book in one hand and a hot wok in the other, we too can taste what it means to be Hakka.