Take A Bao is a show exploring anything and everything around Asian food. From unpacking the origins of rice and rendang, to deep dives into the depths of Chinese tea and Vietnamese pho, this show aims to give voice to the intriguing food stories of Asia. On each episode, you'll learn about how the different cultures and communities across Asia shaped its food. You’ll hear from chefs, farmers, food writers, and eaters, learn how to cook and eat iconic Asian dishes, and really celebrate the food of Asia to give it the representation it deserves, letting it have its moment to—wait for it—take a bow!
#10: Finding Refuge in Food (Part 2)
27:03This 2-part story is about refugee food—two words that carry so much weight, so much prejudice, so many layers to them. Despite our preconceptions, the vast majority of us haven’t had many interactions with refugees at all, much less shared a meal with them, or eaten their food. In part 2, we cook with Nesreen Al-Khatib, a Syrian refugee in Malaysia, get some tips from her about making hummus, and continue our conversation with Kim from PichaEats about the future of refugee food. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#9: Finding Refuge in Food (Part 1)
25:24This 2-part story is about refugee food—two words that carry so much weight, so much prejudice, so many layers to them. Despite our preconceptions, the vast majority of us haven’t had many interactions with refugees at all, much less shared a meal with them, or eaten their food. In part 1, we melt away the misconceptions around refugee food, and explore the true meaning of food cooked by refugees. We follow the story of PichaEats, a Malaysian social enterprise working with refugees to share their food with the world and hear the story and struggles of a Syrian home cook. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
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#8: Tea and Tranquility
38:19Tea is often viewed as a source of calm, of zen, of mindfulness. And in this episode, we'll lean into all of that, and more, through a tea tasting session. We touch on the history of Chinese tea, have plenty of laughs in learning to describe different varieties of tea, and seek some life advice from a tea connoisseur. And hopefully, through this episode, you'll feel a little more collected and connected. After all, in these turbulent times we’re in, we could all do with a little more grounding and zen in our lives. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, on Instagram @jun.and.tonic. And since this is the last episode for Season 1, to keep up with more food things in the lull between seasons, you can find Jun on his blog junandtonic.com.)
#7: Tracing the Way of Kueh
47:50What are kueh/kuih? A quick search on the web will tell you that “kueh are bite-sized snacks or desserts commonly found in Southeast Asia”. But kueh is so much more than that. They go beyond just sweets and snacks. Kueh came together by the clash of cultures in Southeast Asian centuries ago, and its techniques and ingredients is a culmination of cultures and communities across the world. In short, kueh is the very fabric of life. So this week, we learn how kueh connects the world, and get all warm and fuzzy hearing some heartwarming kueh stories. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#6: Rice Is Life
31:47Rice is Asia’s staple starch. It is present in Japanese hand rolls, Indonesian nasi goreng, Iranian tahdigs, and serves as a side to soak up saucy Chinese stir-fries and Indian curries. But the flavour and texture of rice is rarely talked about. So this episode, we’re flipping that on its head, as we explore the world of heirloom rice in the island of Borneo! (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#5: How to Think About Other People’s Food
39:05Around the world, there are hundreds and thousands of cuisines and sub-cuisines. It’s near impossible to understand and taste them all. So when we’re faced with a foreign cuisine, how should we seek to understand it? How should we think about food we’re unfamiliar with, other people’s food? We grapple with that, and more, through the story of the Chettis, a marginalized, multiracial community in Southeast Asia. The Chettis date back to the 15th century, originating from traders and sailors from India who settled down in the Malay Archipelago and married into the local community. Today, there are less than 500 Chettis in Malaysia, and their food and culture is dwindling with each passing generation, and most Malaysians have never even heard of them. So on this episode, we learn about the Chettis, and do our best to understand their food. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#4: Salted Egg Mania
30:21Salty, sweet, umami-laden flavor bombs, the humble salted egg has brought about a heady level of opulence and hype. In recent years, in parts of Southeast Asia, we've seen salted egg sauces slathered onto burgers and ribs, whisked into custards and cakes, and in its most popular rendition—turned into the dangerously addictive salted egg fish skin chips. But salted egg is far from a food fad, because as an ingredient, it has been used in Chinese and Asian cooking for over a thousand years, and we'll only see a steady rise in salted egg madness. So from congee condiment to Ultraman stalls, flowing lava buns to crispy fish skin chips, this episode is all about salted egg, and its journey to culinary stardom. (Connect with us at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#3: Dalgona Coffee—Viral or Vapid?
29:01Ah, Dalgona coffee. It's the latest viral Asian drink to sweep the world like a pandemic. This episode, we examine how this coffee drink was popularized by Korean social media, hear about an Indian predecessor to Dalgona coffee, and discuss the science behind coffee foam. We'll also tackle one aspect of the drink that hasn't really been talked about much—its taste. (Spoiler alert: It definitely looks much better than it tastes...) So we seek help from baristas across the world, to see if we can improve on the drink! (Connect with us and subscribe to our newsletter at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#2: The Disappearing Coffee Houses of Malaysia
35:02Kopitiams are a waning vestige of Malaysia's dining past. These are classic coffee shops that serve a hodgepodge of Chinese and Malaysian drinks and dishes with flecks of British influences. Decades ago, their dark coffees (called kopi), chicken chops, and kaya (coconut jam) toast were all the rage, especially in Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur. But nowadays, kopitiams are few and far between, and many have been forced to shutter. This episode, we learn how kopitiams first came to be from Anisha Chai, a researcher at Sunway University, Malaysia—a heady mix of Chinese traditions and British colonialism is involved—and hear an inter-generational story of one famous kopitiam's woes about its murky future. (Connect with us and subscribe to our newsletter at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.)
#1: The King of the King of Fruits
29:43Durians might have a bad reputation as the smelliest fruit in the world, but in Southeast Asia, they are called the king of fruits for a reason. Get past durian's stinky façade, and you'll find rich, creamy pockets of flesh unlike anything else that the fruit world has to offer. So on the very first episode of Take A Bao, we explore the world's funkiest fruit, find out why they're so loved in Asia, and learn of the story of one variety of durian—Musang King—that has dominated the durian market in the past decade, becoming the king of the king of fruits. (Connect with us and subscribe to our newsletter at takeabaopodcast.com, or on Instagram @jun.and.tonic.