Faith Kramer's Baba Ghanoush with Asian Flavors (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer's Baba Ghanoush with Asian Flavors (Photo/Faith Kramer)

For Lunar New Year, add Asian spice to Jewish staples

It’s become a tradition in our house to serve an Asian-themed dinner during the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities as well as other cultures. This year, I’m adding Asian ingredients to two Jewish favorites — moist meatloaf and smoky baba ghanoush.

Korean-inspired meatloaf starts with the recipe used by my grandmother, which includes hard-boiled eggs and matzah meal, and is enlivened by the flavors of the Korean barbecue sauce beloved by my family. Baba ghanoush with Asian flavors is a mashup of what was in my kitchen when I first made the dish.

Both are enjoyable in any season, not just during the Lunar New Year (which begins on the night of Feb. 4 and continues through Feb. 19).


Korean-Inspired Meatloaf

Serves 4 to 6

Korean BBQ Sauce:

  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. dried ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Asian sesame oil

Meatloaf:

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil plus extra for pan
  • 2 large eggs, raw
  • Korean BBQ sauce (see recipe), divided
  • 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil, divided
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup matzah meal
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 4 large eggs, hard-boiled and shelled
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped
Faith Kramer's Korean-Inspired Meatloaf (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer’s Korean-Inspired Meatloaf (Photo/Faith Kramer)

For sauce:

Combine all ingredients except oil in small pot. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally, until reduced by half. Cool. Stir in oil.

For meatloaf:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heavily grease large (preferably nonstick) loaf pan. Beat raw eggs with 2 Tbs. sauce, ¼ tsp. sesame oil, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, ginger and cayenne. Stir in matzah meal. Gently mix in beef. Do not overmix.

Place half of meat mixture in bottom of pan. Make 1-inch-deep channel in center of pan (parallel to long sides). Lay hard-boiled eggs end to end in channel. Sprinkle eggs with 1-2 Tbs. sauce. Mound remaining meat over eggs, covering completely. Baste top with 1 Tbs. sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir 1 Tbs. vegetable oil into remaining sauce. Baste meatloaf with sauce. Pour remaining sauce evenly across top. Bake until firm to the touch and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes more (160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

Let rest 10 minutes. Loosen edges with knife. Use 2 spatulas to lift from pan to platter. Drizzle with remaining sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro and green onions.


Baba Ghanoush with Asian Flavors

Serves 4 to 6 as dip
  • Medium eggplant (1 lb.)
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil, divided
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. ground Sichuan pepper (see note)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro or green onion

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Slice eggplant in half from stem to bottom, leaving skin on. Place eggplant on baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast until flesh is very soft, about 50-60 minutes (timing will vary). Cool, then scrape flesh from skins (including charred bits) and shred flesh with fork, discarding skins. Mash with tahini, ½ tsp. sesame oil, lemon juice, salt and peppers. Drizzle with remaining sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro or green onion.

Note: Sichuan pepper adds heat and tingle. The peppercorns are sold whole in larger supermarkets and in specialty, Asian and spice markets. Grind in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. For a substitute, use freshly ground black pepper.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.