Sous Weed Cuisine
Sous Weed Cuisine
(From the Banana Archives: Issue 005)
Words and Photos: Monica Lo
Hand Models: Courtney Wu and Haejin Chun
Heritage preservation weighs heavily on me these days. I yearn to connect with my roots and to deepen my sense of identity. Born in Texas as a second-generation Taiwanese American, I strived hard to assimilate into American culture. I spent my formative years rebelling against my Asianness. I hid in bathrooms during Chinese language lessons. People called me ‘Twinkie’ and ‘Banana’—yellow on the outside, white on the inside. It was hard growing up Chinese, even though my parents moved to Texas back in the ‘80s with whatever little money they could scrounge up. They made it through college with limited spoken English—a challenge not to be taken lightly. I could never thank them enough for all the hardships they’ve endured so we can live the American dream. As my parents have grown older, I’ve taken it upon myself to maintain and safeguard the traditions they’ve handed down.
Food has always been the main ingredient that binds our family together. In a way we were able to find common ground through cooking and education. I started Sous Weed in 2015 to document my cannabis-infused meals while healing from a herniated disc. I didn’t respond well to pain medication and wanted something gentler on my system so I began to sous vide my cannabis infusions to add into my everyday meals.
Years later, this little passion project has evolved into a new form of creative expression as I begin to connect the dots between my cultural foods, memories, and places I’ve lived to cultivate a way of cooking and eating that truly represents me. Coming out of the cannabis closet wasn’t particularly easy growing up in a conservative Asian and Southern family. We struggled for years before we were able to see eye-to-eye on career paths and cannabis use. Through my journey with Sous Weed, my parents watched me heal myself with cannabis-infused edibles and plants as one would with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Since recovering from my injury, my parents have been more open-minded about my cannabis-infused creations. The dishes below are adapted from family recipes that have been passed down to me. The Taiwanese beef noodle soup is my dad’s pride and joy—the long cook time and medley of herbs ensures a deep, rich, flavorful broth. Mom’s zongzi is something I look forward to every year because she always adds an extra salted egg yolk just for me!
Cannabis-Infused Recipe Disclaimer:
*Note: The amounts of cannabis-infused lard and honey specified in these recipes are a very loose suggestion; the actual amount you use should be modified based on the strength of your infusion and the potency you desire. Add regular lard or honey if you do not wish to consume any cannabis. Dosing homemade edibles can be tricky, so the best way to test for potency is to start with one portion of a serving and wait up to two hours, then make an informed decision on whether to consume more.
Mama’s Double Yolk Zongzi
Makes 30 sticky rice dumplings
• 60 dried bamboo leaves
• 10 cups glutinous rice
• 2 lb pork belly, cut into 1” pieces
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1 tbsp cane sugar
• 2 tsp five spice powder
• ½ tsp white pepper, ground
• 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
• 30 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water for 1 hour
• ½ cup dried shrimp, soaked in water for 1 hour
• 60 salted duck egg yolks
• 1 ½ cups raw peanuts
• 2 cups toasted chestnuts, shell removed
• 2 ½ tbsp medicated lard, recipe on sousweed.com
• 1 roll butcher’s cotton twine
Directions for the night before:
1. Rinse bamboo leaves off to make sure they’re clean.
2. Fill bathtub with hot water and soak bamboo leaves overnight.
3. In a large pot, soak glutinous rice overnight.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add pork belly with soy sauce, sugar, salt, five spice, Shaoxing wine, and white pepper. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.
1. Take two bamboo leaves, smooth side up, and place the smaller one slightly to the left and on top of the larger leaf. Form a cone by folding the two leaves up at the center. Tighten the leaves into a cone shape.
2. Fill the bottom layer with a tablespoon of glutinous rice and add two salted yolks, shiitake mushroom, pork belly, toasted chestnut, dried shrimp, peanuts, and ¼ teaspoon of medicated lard. Add two more tablespoons of glutinous rice on top.
3. With one hand, secure the shape of the cone, while using the other hand to fold the top leaves down to seal the cone. Tightly secure the zongzi with cotton twine.
1. Cook zongzi in batches. Add zongzi in a large pressure cooker and fill with water ⅔ of the way. Cook for 1 hour before turning off the heat and letting the zongzi steam for another 30 minutes.
2. Enjoy while they’re soft and steamy. Refrigerate or freeze the rest of the cooked zongzi. Reheat the zongzi by steaming for 15-20 minutes.
Bàba’s Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
• 3 lb mixed beef bones
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 4 scallions, cut into 2 ½” pieces
• 3 small shallots, quartered
• 4 thumbs ginger
• 2 tbsp Taiwanese satay paste
• 1 tbsp soybean paste, spicy
• 2 lb flank steak, 2 ½” chunks
• 1 lb beef tendons
• 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
• 1 white onion, cut in half
• ½ cup soy sauce
• 1 oz brandy
• 3 large carrots, cut into 2” long pieces
• 1 tbsp rock sugar
• 1 tbsp medicated beef tallow, recipe on sousweed.com
• Salt to taste
Herb Satchel Ingredients:
• 4 pieces Sichuan lovage rhizome (川芎)
• 3 pieces dried galangal (沙薑)
• 5g white peony root (白勺）
• 3g Chinese licorice (甘草)
• 6g Chinese Foxglove (熟地)
• 4g Szechuan peppercorn
• 1g cloves
• 4 cinnamon sticks
• 3 whole star anise
• Chinese wheat noodles, cooked
• Bok choy, 2 per person
• Scallions, to garnish
Bone Broth Directions:
1. Fill large stock pot with beef bones, water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and stew for 8 hours.
2. Remove bones and skim the top layer of fat and discard. Set beef stock aside for later use.
Beef Noodle Soup Directions:
1. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil, scallions, shallots, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add satay sauce and soybean paste and stir to mix evenly.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add flank steak and beef tendons to the pot and cook until meat has browned on each side, about 3 minutes.
3. Add beef stock to cover the meat. Add tomatoes, white onion, herb satchel, soy sauce, and brandy. Simmer on low for 4 hours.
4. After 4 hours, add carrots, rock sugar, medicated lard, and salt to taste. Simmer on low for another 30 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and discard the large onion pieces. Add bok choy to the pot to quickly cook through in the residual heat.
6. To serve, add prepared chinese wheat noodles in bowl, soup, meat, and carrots. Garnish with bok choy, scallions, and cilantro.
Sous Vide Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns
(Adapted from my recipe in the ‘Sous Vide Made Simple’ cookbook)
• 1 lb skin-on pork belly
• ½ tsp five-spice powder
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1” ginger, thinly sliced
• 1 star anise pod
• ¼ cup hoisin sauce
• 2 tbsp medicated honey, recipe on sousweed.com
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 8 oz package steamed buns, reheated according to package instructions
• ½ cup pickled daikon, thinly sliced
• Sriracha, to personal preference
• ¼ cup toasted, unsalted peanuts, rough chop
• ¼ cup cilantro, with stems
Directions for the night before:
1. Preheat your sous vide water bath to 70ºC (158ºF)
2. Place pork belly, five-spice powder, soy sauce, ginger, and star anise in a gallon-sized freezer-safe zip bag and seal using the water displacement method.
3. Lower the bag into the water bath once it reaches temp, making sure it’s fully submerged. Sous vide for 16 hours with the top of the water bath covered to minimize evaporation.
4. Remove bag from water bath and let pork belly rest while you make the sauce.
5. To make the sauce, strain the cooking liquid from the bag through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Discard the star anise and ginger. Add hoisin sauce and medicated honey and simmer until the mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
6. Cut the pork belly into ¼” thick slices and fit a slice into each prepared steamed bun.
7. Assemble with pickled daikon, a drizzle of sauce, a squeeze of Sriracha, toasted peanuts, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
Grandpa Lo’s Mapo Tofu
• 2 tbsp medicated lard, recipe on sousweed.com
• 1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
• 3.5 oz ground pork
• 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
• 2 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
• 1 tbsp fermented black beans
• 1 small handful dried red chiles
• ½ tsp chili powder
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp lacto-fermented long beans, minced, optional
• 1 cup water
• 1 container medium firm tofu, cut into 1” cubes
• 2 tbsp cornstarch, mixed in ¼ cup water
• ¼ tsp Sichuan pepper, ground
• Chopped scallions, to garnish
1. Add medicated lard in a wok over high heat. Add ginger, ground pork and Shaoxing wine. Stir fry for 1 minute and reduce heat to medium.
2. Add Sichuan chili bean paste, fermented black beans, chili powder, dried red chiles, and minced garlic. Stir fry for another minute. 3. Add water to the wok and tofu cubes. Gently stir to coat with sauce and cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced by a third. 4. Add cornstarch slurry and Sichuan pepper to the wok. Gently mix while the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. 5. Remove from heat and serve hot with scallions on top.
Matcha Bubble Tea with Medicated Honey
• ½ cup dried tapioca pearls
• 1 tbsp medicated honey, recipe on sousweed.com*
• 1 tbsp regular honey
• 4 tsp matcha powder
• 3 cups milk or nut milk
Directions for the night before:
1. Cook tapioca pearls according to the instructions on the package.
2. Strain tapioca pearls and mix in both kinds of honey.
3. Place tapioca pearls at the bottom of two glasses. Using a cocktail shaker, shake the matcha, milk, and ice. Strain into each glass and fill the rest with ice.
4. Serve with a fat straw.
*Note: Potli CBD-infused honey is an excellent substitute if you prefer to not make your own. You can order on potlishop.com.
More cannabis-infused recipes on sousweed.com.
Thanks for reading and being a part of the Banana community! While we stay put to combat the COVID-19 pandemic together, the Banana team wants to be a resource for you to stay inspired, hopeful, and creative. We’ll be curating stories from our past issues every week to rediscover our ambitions and to remind ourselves to, even during these tough times, stay positive and celebrate the moments that bring us happiness and pride.
Sous Weed Cuisine Sous Weed Cuisine (From the Banana Archives: Issue 005) Words and Photos: Monica Lo Hand Models: Courtney Wu and Haejin Chun Heritage preservation weighs heavily on me
Q&Azn: Sous Weed for Banana Mag
Heritage: Taiwanese Texan
Hometowns: Dallas, Brooklyn, San Francisco
Zodiac Sign: Fire-Tiger, Virgo
Banana you look up to: Ophelia Chong of @stockpotimages
Tell me a little bit about your childhood and the first time you were exposed to weed/first high? Along with that, what was your family’s perception of weed? I feel like in a lot of first or second generation Asian American families, that shit don’t fly. Seems like this is why you also started Asian Americans for Cannabis Education.
Monica Lo: I grew up in a little Dallas bubble and lived a pretty sheltered life. My first high actually happened in college—I went to an art school, so obviously it was in all social gatherings. I especially loved how creative it made us. Conversations were deeper, the art we created had more meaning, and it made shitty cafeteria food tolerable.
You’re totally right. As a first gen Asian, that ish don’t fly but, I’ve always been fairly responsible with my consumption and it was always in safe spaces. My parents never knew until I started dabbling in the cannabis industry two years ago. I have always been the rebellious one in the family and though my parents don’t always agree with my choices, I’ve been successful in my career and I lead a dope life. They freaked out, yes, but there had been enough studies on the medicinal and health benefits of cannabis that they were more open-minded.
What does it mean to you to be a female chef pioneering the cooking w/ cannabis industry? The food industry is known to be heavily male dominated and women in the kitchen sure as hell know how to roll with the punches?
ML: I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries so I have pretty tough skin. Luckily, we’ve seen a lot of women and minorities rise to the top in this new, legal cannabis industry and it’s pretty fucking awesome.
Sous vide sounds super high-tech, especially for someone like me who recently just mastered the rice cooker and coffee maker. Tell me more about your cookbook and the sequence of events that went from Sous Vide cooking, to Sous Vide weed-cooking, to Sous Weed? I know you mentioned you had a strict landlord.
ML: I’ve always been fascinated with cooking and the latest tech gadgets. A few years ago, I picked up the first ever sous vide device made by a start-up called Nomiku. My dad (a software engineer and also a food lover) had been hacking together rice cookers to cook at very regulated temperatures, much like a sous vide machine, and I was excited there was actually a device out there that didn’t have a million wires hanging out of it. I was new to San Francisco at the time and started posting my sous vide creations on Instagram. Coincidentally Nomiku is also headquartered in SF and they quickly hired me on as their creative director and second employee.
Sous vide cooking is really quite simple. You use a sous vide device to heat a pot of water to your temperature of choice, you put your food in a bag, and drop it into the water to cook to that perfect temperature.
For example, if you know a perfect medium-rare steak is 54ºC, you set your pot of water to that temperature, put your steak and marinade in the bag and drop it in the pot. The steak will cook and hold at that perfect temperature. You’ll never have to worry about over or undercooking. And since it’s inside a bag in a pot of water, you can fit as many steaks in as you’d like, making party or restaurant prep easy-peasy.
After two years of brand building and consumer education, we landed a huge book deal with Ten Speed Press. I shot 100+ recipes for the cookbook and since then it’s been a bestseller on many lists and featured on NPR. It’s currently in its 7th printing and we’re stoked!
The transition from sous vide to Sous Weed happened when I herniated a disc in my lower back. I was in excruciating pain and the doctors had put me on nine Ibuprophens and three Percocets a day. I was sick to my stomach, worried about my liver, and lived in a haze.
I decided to make the switch to cannabis for my pain management. Traditionally, when you make cannabis edibles, you need to babysit a crockpot or stovetop for hours while the infusion happens and the smell is overwhelming. I had a shitty landlord at the time so that was not gonna fly. I figured if I could seal my infusions in a bag, submerge it under water, there wouldn’t be any smell! It worked and I started healing myself with cannabis and documented my creations along the way.
The same way that people/chefs are talking about elevating Asian food through the use of fine ingredients, techniques etc.– are you trying to do the same thing with weed cooking to also elevate and change perceptions? Why is food such a good medium to do the latter through?
ML: I’m just trying to treat cannabis as a culinary challenge like any other. Cannabis at it’s core is a vegetable. It’s versatile, nutritious, and so much more than just brownies and gummies.
Can you talk to us a little bit more about Sous Weed? How did you, Scott and Jose all come together?
ML: Chef Scott and Chef Jose both came from impressive culinary backgrounds in NYC, working with the likes of Jean-Georges and Thomas Keller. We hired Scott to be the executive chef at Nomiku and Jose went to run the kitchens at Google. Since I started dabbling in Sous Weed at Nomiku, I pulled the two of them in when interest started to pick up and we all began hosting secret pop-up dinners together.
What does it mean to you to be an Asian American?
ML: This question is really difficult. For me, it means not always being able to fit in with my Asian counterparts and also not feeling American enough. It’s guilt for not keeping up with my Asian heritage but also pride for being a daughter of immigrants who came here with nothing but has achieved the “American Dream.” It’s the ability to embrace both cultures yet reject them as well.
Q&Azn: Sous Weed for Banana Mag Heritage: Taiwanese Texan Hometowns: Dallas, Brooklyn, San Francisco Zodiac Sign: Fire-Tiger, Virgo Banana you look up to: Ophelia Chong of