Hmong culinary diets: Native American Woodland plant, “Solomons seal”

The Hmong Cookbook

Hmong Diet

Typical US Hmong Diet

There are a lot of common items that the average Hmong families eat. Mustard Greens, Pork, Chicken, beef, and rice.

To answer some of these questions, I did a bit of research and found that Hmong diets differ slightly depending on geographical location. For the most part though, a lot of the same ingredients are use and the basic pallet of taste applies to most Hmong families. Also of note is that most Hmong foods are simple, earthly and a lot of it is influenced by historical and geographical location. What do I mean by that? Well, take for example a very popular and common dish eaten by a lot of Hmong family, the “green papaya salad”. Most likely it was not invented by the Hmong, but instead adopted by them while a large population of them lived in Thailand and Laos before coming to the US. Another example of a more recent assimilation of the Hmong culinary diets is the addition of a Native American Woodland plant called “Solomons seal”. It is often harvested along roadsides or near wooded area and is picked before it leafs out. The shoot is then prepared similar to asparagus.

How much and how often?
Growing up, I’d have to say it seemed like every Hmong family I knew ate traditional food when at home. I don’t recall too many pizza or spaghetti night but then again I was first generation and my family was very traditional. Fast forward 20 years and I see a vastly different diet among Hmong people. Yes, a lot of family still eat the traditional foods, but now, even my parents make an occasional Taco Bell run or buy frozen pizza.

As for my family, we have a healthy mix of 60/40, sixty being Hmong of course. My kids often start the day with the standard cereal or toast, eggs and bacon for breakfast. For lunch and Dinner we often have Hmong with a splatter of casserole or pizza thrown in every once in a while. For the Hmong dish, it’s often a fresh vegetable and meat almost always made from scratch and fried, broiled or boiled depending on the dish. Noodle dish with fresh herbs too are favorites among some of the kids.

Gathering or parties are often when the very traditional dishes are prepared. From the bitter beef stew to Hmong eggrolls to finely ground beef salad, there are plenty of odd and familiar smells and tastes to take in.

Authentic or unique?
One dictionary defines authentic as: made or done in the traditional or original way. By that definition, I’d have to say most of the Hmong food I’ve eaten were authentic. As far as unique, I can think of a some that I would classify as very unique, but in general most of the dishes have similarities to other Asian cuisine.

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