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Dan’s Taste of Summer Countdown: Penn Hongthong, Author

Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, will be held on Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. Long Island cookbook Author Penn Hongthong will be there. She shares some insights into what “harvest” means to her: “As a child, my mom and grandmother’s influence instilled a deep love of food and gardening. Health and nutrition were both a factor in their cooking. The passion was always there. After coming to the U.S., the creativity was ignited to develop simple nutritious meals adapted to western taste buds. The expression of amazement with every client and student who tastes my creation continues to drive me every day.”

What fuels your creativity as a chef?
To recreate my mom’s home cooking as gourmet Lao cuisine.

What local ingredients are you using right now?
Right now it’s mint, a lot of mint, mint in everything. I use seasonal and local herbs in abundance to enhance flavor. Each meal can taste different seasonally, using the herbs available at that time.

What’s your local beverage, or cocktail, of choice this season?
Riesling and a mojito.

Which of your dishes would you most like to serve to another chef?
My Honey Peanut Sauce with my Fresh Spring Rolls; mint, scallions, cilantro, carrot, radicchio, jicama and tofu wrapped with rice paper. My honey peanut sauce can also be served with steamed rice, vegetables or anything you desire.

How has the gluten-free eating trend affected your menu?
The gluten-free eating trend is great because my Lao cuisine is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

What are you most looking forward to at Dan’s Harvest East End?
I’m looking forward to serving my healthy, tasty, gluten-free and diary-free Lao cuisine to the public.

Please complete this sentence: My mother would not approve of my using canned coconut milk because she prefers fresh coconut milk that she grates and extracts herself; but she would approve of the flavor I get from using honey to make peanut sauce instead of sugar and using peanut butter to make it creamy. (Chopped peanuts would make it watery.)

I could survive on a desert island if I just had: rice and water.

What would you like to share with our readers that I have not thought to ask you about?
I would like to share that my Lao cuisine is incredibly easy to make. One does not need to be a cook. The recipes are quick and easy. They are easily adaptable to be tailored to individual taste, using a small amount of meats, large amounts of vegetables and a lot of fresh herbs to create flavor. My cuisine is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, low-fat, low cholesterol, making it a healthy and delicious choice for anyone who wants to look and feel good.

Dan’s Taste of Summer kicked off with Dan’s GrillHampton on July 22, and continued on July 23, with Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company, both on the waterfront at Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. New to the lineup this year is the oceanfront food and drink fest ClambakeMTK at Gurney’s Montauk, 290 Old Montauk Highway in Montauk on July 30. Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic, rounds out the series on August 20 at McCall Vineyard and Ranch, 22600 Main Road, Cutchogue. For tickets and more information on all Dan’s Taste of Summer events, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.

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