To tell the truth, keeping kosher was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. Shabbat made sense to me. It was about creating sacred space. Dressing modestly felt like the most powerful feminist statement I could make that my body was a private thing and by covering it appropriately I was in control of the way I was viewed. I felt empowered when I put on a skirt and a shirt that had a high neckline. It felt like an act of respecting myself.

Keeping kosher just seemed erroneousBut keeping kosher just seemed erroneous.

Growing up I had once been told that the kosher laws no longer applied because the USDA now made sure that cleanliness was observed in all of their slaughtering facilities. The information, I know now, had nothing to do with why we should keep kosher but at the time it made sense. I just didn't get the point.

I'll never forget the day I took my first step toward really keeping kosher. My mom and myself had already begun to keep Shabbat and dress modestly but I, just fifteen at the time, was still refusing to get on board with the kosher thing. Genius that she is, my mom didn't try to force me. She knew better than to give a teenager something to rebel against. We had an agreement; in the house we would keep kosher, out of the house I could do what I wanted.

And then the day came, I asked my mom for money to go to a non-kosher restaurant, and she quietly turned to me and said, "You can eat wherever you want, but I am not paying for you to eat non-kosher food." We had never discussed it before. In a moment everything shifted. I didn't put up a fight, I must have been in shock, "Oh, o.k. " I said and that was that. I got on board. I don't know what switched inside of my head, but something changed inside of me.

It wasn't easy at first. I was so used to being able to buy food anywhere and more than that I really loved food. My fondest childhood memories were of my mom taking me for dim sum in San Francisco's Chinatown. When I thought about the switch to keeping kosher that was one of the biggest issues. I loved good Asian food. I was raised on it. By age two I could eat with chopsticks by myself. By ten I was inventing Chinese recipes and making dinner for the family.

But it wasn’t just the food I didn’t want to let go off, it was the times we used to shareBut it wasn't just the food I didn't want to let go off, it was the times we used to share, the memories we were so busy making in all of those Asian restaurants. I wasn't ready for that part of my life to be over. On top of that I was a teenager living in Northern California where there was not only no kosher Chinese, there were very few kosher restaurants at all. At first I missed it. It wasn't only the taste it was the nostalgia I had around the restaurants, around my favorite Chinese dishes. It was the memories my family had made at each little restaurant we used to frequent.

But luckily new memories started to form. For starters, there were the six hour drives to LA where we used to stock up on kosher meat and dairy products. Keeping kosher changed everything about our lives in those years. I once had a craving for real Chinese food so bad that I insisted on jumping in the car and heading to LA just for dinner. My mom nixed the idea, but oh how I tried to convince her. We had to find another solution. So we started to create Asian masterpieces in our little northern California kitchen. My mother became a whiz at tofu, while I focused on the noodle dishes.

Time passed and our life together shifted again. This time we found ourselves in Jerusalem where there were lots of kosher Asian restaurants and for the time being we were happy. I got married, taught my husband about sushi, and one restaurant even served dim sum. We thought we were in the clear.

But then the winds changed again and Thank G‑d I found myself with a beautiful baby boy with radar. Any restaurant, didn't matter which one, the moment the food arrived at the table he started to cry. Me, a first time mother so embarrassed that people were spending their money to have a relaxing dinner with my baby crying in their ears, found it too stressful to go out to eat any more, even for Chinese. So my mother, brilliant as always, got an idea.

We would start our own Café; it would be in the backyard, only seat our family, and we could cook as much kosher Asian food as possible. Taking her new self-appointed position as Café owner seriously she started on a menu and soon after that the first phase of our own real Asian cookbook was underway.

Honestly I don't know why we didn't think of it sooner. We had eaten so much incredible Asian food through the years and cooked so much at this point we were pros. We started with the Chinese section of the book which lent itself to the Japanese, then I remembered how much I had loved Thai food as girl.

Each recipe was attached to a memory, each memory created in joyWe started experimenting with recipes. Each recipe reminded me of the restaurant I had first eaten it in. I remembered, Beef Chow Fun from the time my mom took me out to lunch on my fifteenth birthday in Marin. I remembered chicken and beef Satay from a little place we used to stop at on the way home from Sonoma. Each recipe was attached to a memory, each memory created in joy. I realized that the recipes for me weren't only about my love for Asian food they were about revisiting special times in my life.

I still cherish the memories we formed together growing up but now we are making new memories. Together we have created our own Asian Kosher Cookbook, as two women trying to share one kitchen, and one vision. Like my son, who in a way inspired the project, when he started to ask for To-fu at meal time. Or the time I put our newest test batch of Pad Thai on the table and before we could sit down to try it he, at 13 months old, had his little hand in the middle of the plate and a second later before I could reach him stuffed a hand full of rice noodles into his mouth.

All those years ago when we started keeping kosher one of the things that made it such a challenge was thinking I had to give up the foods I loved the most. What I didn't realize was that I could take them with me.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the great recipes in our cookbook, The Complete Asian Kosher Cookbook

Grilled Beef and Chicken Satay

Great for a party or an appetizer for sheva berachot.

1½ pounds tender beef, cut against grain into ½-inch thick slices
1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut against grain into ½-inch slices

charcoal, for grilling
24 bamboo skewers

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ teaspoon ground coriander, optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light fire in grill. While charcoal is heating, mix marinade ingredients together. Skewer meat or chicken and place in a long pan. Marinate 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. When coals are hot, grill skewers for 3–4 minutes on each side. Grilling time may vary, so watch skewers closely.

Serves 24 as an appetizer, or 12 as a main dish.

Note: Meats can also be grilled under broiler in the oven.

Peanut Sauce For Satay

This peanut sauce adds a wonderful flavor to chicken or beef satay.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup water
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup light coconut milk
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional
1 tablespoon sugar

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Serve as a dipping sauce with Grilled Beef and Chicken Satay (see page 60) or Cucumber and Carrot Salad (page 62).

Serves 12-24.

Note: If using unsalted peanut butter, add ¼ teaspoon salt.

Tofu with Stir-Fried Bok Choy

The sauce in this dish makes it a one-of-a-kind tofu treat.

2 16-ounce blocks tofu, cut into 2-inch squares
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
6-8 cups bok choy, baby bok choy, or beet greens, chopped
3 large green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 large cloves garlic, sliced into ¼-inch chunks
1 cup chicken soup stock, or 1 cup water plus 1 teaspoon pareve chicken soup mix, prepared according to package directions
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon water, for thickening

Fry tofu in 2 batches in 2 tablespoons of oil, until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Add 1-2 tablespoons oil and fry onion, bok choy, green onions, and garlic. Stir-fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Combine vegetables and tofu in a bowl. Add chicken soup stock to frying pan. Bring to a boil. Stir in soy sauce and molasses. Mix together cornstarch and water and add to pan, stirring constantly until thickened. Return tofu and bok choy to frying pan and reheat.

Serve over rice.

Serves 8.

Beef Chow Fun

A favorite in our family. The rice noodles make this dish a special treat.

1 pound tender beef, cut into 2 x ¼ inch slices
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, slivered
4 large green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 14-ounce package wide rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes or until soft, and drained
½ cup water plus ½ teaspoon pareve chicken soup mix, prepared according to package directions
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 cups bean sprouts
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional


1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Mix together marinade ingredients and marinate sliced beef for ½ hour. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions. Fry for 1 minute. Add marinated meat and stirfry 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and green onions and stir-fry for an additional minute. Remove beef, onion, and garlic to a bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in pan on medium-high heat and add noodles. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add pareve chicken soup and soy sauce to the noodles. Return beef and onions back to the pan and reheat. Stir in bean sprouts 1 minute before serving. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

Serves 6–8.