PhamFatale.com is a food website that speaks directly to my stomach. Its recipes range from French to Vietnamese to Indian cuisine, and I’m always happy to see where the road from its kitchen will lead next. Jacqueline Pham, creator of the website, recently talked with us a bit about food fusion, seasonal ingredients, and what inspires her creations. Grab a bite to eat (Seriously, you’ll be hungry long before you reach the last question, so go on and save yourself a commute in mid-read) and come see what this amazing culinary talent shared with us.
Flavorful World: Which of your recipes are you proudest of having created and why?
Jacqueline Pham: Pandan pistachio white chocolate cookies. I think these cookies really represent the mix of cultures in my family. It’s familiar and at the same time exotic. Cookies are quintessentially American but it also embodies my Asian heritage. In that vein, I’m also really happy with how the Masala chai creme brûlée turned out. I list these creations and other in the fusion section on my website PhamFatale.com.
FW: George Bernard Shaw said “You don’t get tired of muffins, but you don’t find inspiration in them.” Tell us the most recent food item or dish that inspired you to create something new. My dinner table is my inspiration.
JP: On any given night, there are dishes from two or more cultures on the table. And often, I take the leftovers and make something new the following day. As an example, I recently made a paneer masala pizza.
FW: What is the most unfamiliar or unusual ingredient you’ve ever worked with, and did you work with it again after that initial encounter? What prompted you to attempt using it the first time?
JP: Bánh phông sữa (Vietnamese coconut sheets). They’re usually eaten as is but I had so much, I decided to play with it and create an Asian-style strawberry Napoleon. I haven’t cooked with it since then but after answering your question, I feel like using it again!
FW: What is the last thing you ate in a restaurant (you needn’t name the establishment) that left you thinking, “My version of this is better”?
FW: Spring will be upon us soon. Describe a dish of yours that you feel embodies the season, and how it does so.
JP: My husband loves artichokes. We live near Gilroy so when the artichoke season comes, I usually make grilled artichoke salad. Artichokes are harvested year-round but I usually notice an increase in quantity and quality starting in March.
FW: Last month, an initiative called Halfsies.org was launched, aimed at feeding the poor while curbing overindulgence by allowing diners at participating restaurants to order half-portions of entrées (while still paying full price), with a portion of the meal’s cost donated to fighting hunger. What are your thoughts on the potential pros and cons of this program?
JP: I think it’s a great idea. It’s in a support of a worthy cause. If at the same time, the initiative gets us to consume fewer calories when we eat out, why not!
FW: Food fusion has gifted the world with the likes of Korean tacos and Brazilian Banh Mi. What are some of the tastiest examples of fusion cuisine that you’ve enjoyed, either in your own kitchen or elsewhere?
JP: It’s funny because I do have a fusion recipe section on my website. My onion masala manicotti is a killer dish.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
JP: “A Delicious Life.”
FW: When you aren’t cooking and/or eating delicious foods, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
JP: With my infant daughter.
*Note to Readers: To enjoy more eclectic recipes, photos, and how-to videos for foods with origins spanning multiple cultures (often in a single dish), visit PhamFatale.com. You can also follow Jacqueline on Twitter, show some ‘Like’ on Facebook, or get on board with her at Pinterest. Do any or all of these (I’d suggest “all”) and enjoy the good eating to come.