Next weekend, the inaugural Asian Culinary Forum kicks off at the San Francisco Ferry Building and the theme is Asian Food Beyond Borders. There will be tours, classes, workshops and panel discussions. Learn about chutneys, kimchi and sambal, how to pair wine with Asian food, all about Asian diasporas, the delights of South India and so much more.

One highlight of the weekend will be the program The Politics and Practicalities of Rice, a panel discussion and tasting, taking place on Saturday October 11th from 10-12 at the Ferry Building and tickets are only $20, $12 for students/seniors. On the panel will be Ross Koda, of Koda Farms, a Japanese American family rice farmer from the Central Valley, Kenneth Lee, president of Lotus Foods, specialty rice importer and distributor, Kent McKenzie, researcher and director of the California Rice Experiment Station and Raj Patel, food policy analyst and author of Stuffed and Starved. Learn about farming techniques, global food policies, and environmental issues. You’ll also get a chance to taste half a dozen different varieties of rice from California and around the world.

What: Asian Food Beyond Borders presented by the Asian Culinary Forum

Where: Events take place at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and at various other locations for tours

When: Friday October 10 – 12, 2008
How: Purchase tickets.

Why: Hear from speakers ranging from Maddhur Jaffrey, to Martin Yan, local farmers and chefs with ties to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and more. Taste, talk, explore!

About 3 million people depend on rice for survival. This simple rice soup is almost endlessly versatile. Recipe adapted from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, by Asian Culinary Forum co-director and co-founder, Andrea Nguyen.

Basic Rice Soup “Cháo”
Makes about 8 cups, to serve 4 as a light lunch or 6 with 2 or 3 other dishes

3/4 long-grain rice
2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) chicken stock
4 quarter sized slices unpeeled fresh ginger
2 scallions, white part only
Salt

1. Put the rice in a 4 quart saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Stir the rice with your hand 8 -10 times then let the rice settle. Drain the water and rinse the rice to remove some of the starch.

2. Add stock, ginger, and scallions and ring to a oil over high heat. Lower the heat to a vigorous simmer , and then cover partially. Cool for 5 minutes, stir the rice to make sure it is not sticking and gently simmer.

3. Recover partially and continue cooking for one hour or until the rice has thickened and turned creamy white. Discard the ginger and scallions and salt as necessary. Use this soup base with chicken and cilantro, seafood, shredded pork or salted preserved eggs.

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