A Taste of Asia with Paul Young

These are all the recipes from our recent cooking class, A Taste of Asia with Paul Young! This is an introduction to Asian cuisines, surveying the flavor profiles of Chinese, Vietnamese,  Thai and Japanese traditions. These recipes have all been adapted for the typical home cook and contain many tips & tricks to help minimize your time in the kitchen while staying true to the spirit of the original flavor profiles. 


The menu includes:

  • Chinese: Garlic Ginger Sauce
  • Chinese: Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
  • Vietnamese: Spring Rolls
  • Thai: Green Papaya Salad
  • Japanese: Ahi Poke (Yellowfin Tuna)


Paul Young is a self-taught cook, educator and graphic designer with over 30 years of experience in the marketing communications industry. His favorite pastime is trying new dishes in restaurants and then attempting to recreate them at home. He's a curious foodie and an adventurous international culinary explorer who has traveled to 25 different countries (so far). He has also been a regular contributor to Smile Politely since 2007.


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Garlic Ginger Sauce
Olive oil
1/2 cup
Garlic, minced
12 cloves
Soy sauce
2 cups
Ginger paste
2/3 cup
Toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons
Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
Fresh wood ear mushrooms
4 cups (or 1 cup dried)
Garlic Ginger Sauce
1 cup
Rice vinegar
1 tablespoon
Agave nectar
1 tablespoon
Spicy chili crisp
2 tablespoons
Toasted sesame seeds
For garnish
Spring Roll Peanut Sauce
Peanut butter
4 tablespoons
Hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons
Fresh lime juice
1/2 a lime
Soy sauce (or tamari)
2 teaspoons
Garlic powder
1 teaspoon
1/4 cup (approx)
Crushed roasted peanuts
For garnish
Spring Rolls
Dried rice noodles
2-3 ounces
Cooked bacon
4 strips
Medium shrimps, cooked, peeled, deveined, tail removed
Cold water
2 cups
Dried spring roll wrappers
Carrots, shredded
1 cup
Lettuce leaves (green or red)
8 small
Fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, mint)
Green onions, cut lengthwise (use only the green part)
Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha
Green Papaya Salad
Green (unripe) papaya
1/2 (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Fresh lime juice
1 lime
Fish sauce (nam pla)
3 tablespoons
Tomato paste
2 teaspoons
Fresh garlic cloves, minced
Agave nectar
3 tablespoons
Carrots, julienned (optional)
1/2 cup
Red or green leaf lettuce (optional)
For serving
Grape tomatoes, halved
Dry-roasted salted peanuts, crushed
2 tablespoons
Fresh serrano pepper, thinly sliced
Ahi Poke (Yellowfin Tuna)
Cry-frozen tuna, defrosted and cubed
3/4 pound
Garlic Ginger Sauce
1/4 cup
Lemon juice
1 teaspoon
Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha
To taste
Red onion, diced
1/4 cup
Green onions, diced
1/4 cup
Gomasio (or toasted sesame seeds)
Chinese: Garlic Ginger Sauce

Makes about 3 cups


Classic Chinese flavor principle:

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Soy


  1. Saute garlic in olive oil briefly (approximately 2 minutes).
  2. Turn off the heat, and stir in all other ingredients.
  3. Stir well before using.
  4. Can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks.


Chinese: Wood Ear Mushroom Salad

Serves 4

  1. If using dried mushrooms, rehydrate in water (about 2 hours).
  2. Boil fresh or rehydrated mushrooms in water (about 5 minutes).
  3. Drain and rinse mushrooms under cold water.
  4. Make the dressing: mix "Garlic Ginger Sauce", vinegar, agave nectar, and spicy chili crisp in a mixing bowl.
  5. Add mushrooms and toss well.
  6. Transfer salad to a serving dish and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.


Vietnamese: Spring Rolls

Makes 8 rolls

  1. Make the peanut sauce: combine all ingredients (except the water and crushed peanuts) and mix well; add a little water at a time until desired consistency is reached; garnish with fresh peanuts.
  2. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions, drain, cool, and set aside.
  3. Cook bacon, and set aside on paper towels to absorb extra grease.
  4. If using frozen shrimp: defrost under running cold water (about 10 minutes).
  5. If using raw shrimp: cook in cold water until barely boiling; remove from heat, rinse under cold water; peel, devein, and remove tails.
  6. Slice shrimps in half lengthwise, set aside.
  7. Add cold water to a large frying pan and soak one rice paper sheet for about 1 minute.
  8. Transfer the soaked rice paper to a plate and begin to assemble your roll.
  9. Add the ingredients in the following order: shrimp (orange side down), carrots, lettuce, herbs, noodles, and bacon.
  10. Fold the left and right sides towards the middle so that it's snug; add green onions letting one end stick out.
  11. Fold the bottom up to cover the filling, squeezing lightly as you roll.
  12. Transfer the finished roll to the serving platter (do not let the rolls touch each other).
  13. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  14. Serve with peanut sauce and chili garlic sauce (if desired).


Thai: Green Papaya Salad

Serves 4

  1. Peel and coarsely grate or shred papaya, discarding seeds and inner membrane (there should be 4 to 6 cups), and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix lime juice, fish sauce, tomato paste, garlic, and agave nectar.
  3. Add grated papaya and carrots (if desired), toss; taste for seasoning.
  4. Line serving bowl with lettuce leaves.
  5. Mound tossed papaya on top of lettuce.
  6. Top with sliced grape tomatoes, sprinkle with peanuts, and sliced serrano peppers. 


Japanese: Ahi Poke (Yellowfin Tuna)

Serves 2

  1. Defrost tuna overnight in the refrigerator, and slice into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except Gomasio).
  3. Mix well.
  4. Sprinkle on Gomasio for garnish.
  5. Serve with rice (if desired).