Nom Nom Paleo Gluten-Free Recipes (Yes, Butlers Labels!)
“Gluttony is another good translation,” Tam says with a laugh. “And that is very accurate, going back to my grandparents.”
There is no time of year when food and its symbolism are more celebrated than the approaching Chinese New Year – or Lunar New Year. In the Year of the Tiger, which begins on February 1, Tam and thousands of other Bay Area home cooks will whip up family specialties of all good luck foods, from dumplings and long-lived noodles to fish.
If you follow a paleo diet or avoid gluten, like Tam and her husband, Henry Fung, do, you don’t have to miss out on any celebratory food.
Introducing their latest cookbook, “Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!” 140 delicious recipes centered around protein and plant, from Cantonese Pipa Duck with Sunbutter Hoisin Sauce to Chicken Chow Mein, made with spiralized white sweet potatoes. The majority of the recipes are Whole30-compliant and about half are keto-friendly, with vegetarian, vegan, and instant options.
Tam, the daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong, grew up eating her grandmother’s boiled whole chicken every Chinese New Year’s Eve. It’s always been slathered in a savory ginger scallion sauce that Tam now puts on everything, from weeknight poached chicken breast to white fish, which is traditionally eaten on holiday to promote prosperity.
But it’s the Butchers Pork and Shiitake stickers that make the most sense. While quick and easy recipes are her jam (especially when there’s a sheet pan involved), Tam says the time she spent making these crunchy bags of fried treats with her mom and grandmother are among her favorite memories.
“Homemade dumplings are the physical embodiment of Asian mothers’ love for their children,” says Tam, who makes a gluten-free dough with cassava flour and arrowroot powder, the same combo found in her scallion pancakes. “Sometimes you just have to do the work. It’s all worth it.”
It helps that all of Nom Nom Paleo’s content—the blog, meal planning app and three cookbooks—is filled with Fong’s step-by-step photos, kid-friendly animations, and quirky jokes.
“We were very intentional about it,” Tam says. “And we try to make it so that there’s no way you can spoil a dish.”
Tam began blogging again in 2010, after she and Fung switched to the paleo diet and noticed improvements in their health. But Tam says they’re not Paleo preachers, so go ahead and have some rice with those ginger fish fillets, if you feel like it. The couple simply want families to get into the kitchen and believe that the healthiest meal is the one you prepare yourself.
And while the duo’s first two cookbooks focused on what they thought others wanted to cook, this latest collection, written and illustrated during the pandemic, focuses on what they like to eat, from simple Garden Pesto scramble to Shoyu ramen and Green Mall’s Simmered Shrimp.
“I think for many people[making and eating]sourdough was their comfort during this time,” Tam says. “But for me, comfort foods are the Chinese and Mexican dishes I grew up eating in the Bay Area, especially my mom’s Chinese food.”
“Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!” Tam says he is dedicated to their grandparents, who showed affection not with hugs and kisses, but with food.
“We knew we were loved because of the foods they cooked for us.”