Thanksgiving might seem excessive because of the amount of food served during the season. What is the point of roasting a gigantic turkey for hours? Or why cook so much food that cannot be finished in the next few days? Well, the long history of this American tradition explains why some people refer to Thanksgiving as a feast! It is a reminder to everyone to be thankful for the food on the table and other simple things in life, which are sometimes taken for granted.
Why do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place?
The story goes way back to 1621 when the Pilgrims (the English colonists) invited the native Americans for a three-day festival of eating, hunting and entertainment as an expressed appreciation to the Lord for the first successful corn harvest that year.
Fun fact: Did you know the iconic dishes such as turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce were not served in the very first Thanksgiving feast at all?
Thanksgiving didn’t become official until later in the 19th century when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday. It is celebrated on the last Thursday of November and thanks to the 30-year long lobbying by writer Sarah Josepha Hale, we have the modern Thanksgiving meal of today. Hale wrote the recipes for pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce which have become the icons of the modern Thanksgiving menu.
What about Thanksgiving in Australia?
Though traditionally, Australia doesn't celebrate this holiday, the growth in demand for turkey has been increasing in recent years. While some embrace this celebration to be thankful for their family, friends and what has happened this year, others purchase turkey just to practise some Christmas recipes!
Did you know there is an Australian island that celebrates Thanksgiving as part of their tradition? Have a quick guess...
You would be surprised! It's no other than Norfolk Island located about 1,600 km northeast of Sydney. Being a convenient destination for American whaling ships to drop in back in the 1800s, Norfolk Island has adopted the traditional American Thanksgiving dishes and elaborated on their unique recipes with concoctions such as banana desserts and coconut pie. Yum yum!
Thanksgiving - To be truly thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving.
1. Peking-Style Roast Turkey with Molasses-Soy Glaze and Orange-Ginger Gravy
The name itself is mouth-watering enough. Get creative by transforming the traditional roast turkey into this yummy molasses-soy glaze. The process might take awhile but the outcome is indeed worth it. Who would have known steaming the turkey before roasting would save you a lot of time, not to mention create the soft and juicy texture afterwards!
2. Soy Miso Honey Glazed Turkey
Source: Fix Feast Flair
If you are not a big fan of spending too much time cooking and cleaning, this recipe is perfect for you. Whipping up this honey glazed turkey is easier than you thought!
- 2 cup + 1/2 cup Kikkoman soy sauce, divided
- 1 cup honey
- 3/4 cup Hirako white miso paste
- 1/4 cup Yeo’s sesame oil
- 12-13 cm, peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger
- 5 cm, peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
- 5 garlic cloves, finely grated
- One 5.5 kg to 6 kg turkey
- 4 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and divided
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp Vinaco five spice powder
- 4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 6 green onions, cut into 10 cm lengths
- 1 1/2 cup Knorr concentrated chicken stock
- 1/2 cup Vinh Thuan all-purpose wheat flour
3. Toasted Sesame Mashed Potato
Source: Love and Olive Oil
Create a subtle Asian twist to your mashed potatoes by adding pure sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Complementing the potatoes with their earthy and nutty flavour, these two items are must-haves in every kitchen!
Be thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more.
4. Sticky Rice Dressing
Source: Food & Wine
Oh yes! Who could ever say no to sticky rice? We love sticky rice so much that we would have it with either Chinese sausage or salted peanuts almost every morning before school!
This sticky-rice dressing brings out the balance of both flavour and texture. The dish complements the crunchy green bean salad and the spicy prawn skewers!
- 6 cups Horse Brand glutinous rice (sticky rice)
- 30 g Sun Brand dried mushrooms
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus more for greasing)
- 6 shallots (thinly sliced)
- 200 g Le Patron shiitake mushrooms (caps cut into 2 cm pieces)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 scallions (coarsely chopped)
- 3 Rose Brand Chinese sausages (coarsely chopped)
- 227 g can Osha whole water chestnuts (drained and sliced 2 cm thick)
- 3/4 cup Double Phoenix Shao Xing cooking wine
- 1/2 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus sprigs for garnish)
5. Refreshing Green Bean & Shallot Salad
Source: EatingWell Magazine
This green bean salad knows how to work its magic! Easy to make and great for satisfying your guests at outdoor barbecue parties. Tip: Set aside the salad in either room temperature or fridge for 20 minutes allowing the green beans to absorb the seasoning. Cut the green beans diagonally to let even more flavours get absorbed.
6. Chinese Sichuan Prawn Skewers
Source: New Idea Food
Want to spice up your Thanksgiving barbecue? Sichuan Prawn Skewers will do just that with its famous numbing effect. Serve them on banana leaves to reserve the juice and the heat of the prawn after grilling - or to save the hassle of doing dishes!
- 1 tsp Perfect Fine Food Sichuan pepper ground. Substitute with Lobo satay seasoning mix if you are a satay-lover
- ½ tsp sea salt flakes
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
- 20 raw king prawns, peeled, leaving tails intact and deveined
- 20 x 25cm wooden skewers, soaked in warm water
- Sliced green spring onions and lime wedges, to serve
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp Huy Fong chilli garlic sauce
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
When you love what you have, you have everything you need.
7. Chinese Five Spice Pecan Pie
Source: Red Stick Spice
8. Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Pie
Source: Just One Cookbook
This Kabocha pie promises to tick all your boxes: Easy and fun to make. Creamy and rich in texture. A perfect dessert after dinner. And it will steal the show because of its explosion of flavours.
9. Cranberry Apple Sangria
Source: Damn Delicious
Make this drink ahead of time and store in the fridge to enjoy the hot summer days of November. What we like most about this drink is that it is suitable for all ages. Non-alcoholic drinks such as lemon-lime soda or sparkling apple juice are great alternatives for pinot grigio!
10. Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Ramen
Source: The Wok Of Life
The days after the feast is when the real creativity happens. Wondering how you can finish the leftover turkey? Easy! Slice it up and add into ramen or your go-to instant noodles.
Even though Thanksgiving isn’t common in Australian culture, we do hope this blog will give you some Asian cooking inspirations for Thanksgiving. Celebrate it with friends and family from the States, or simply because we have so much to be grateful for.