Get a taste of Asian-Pacific culture at Parris Island celebration

If you'd like to take in a little Asian-Pacific culture right here in the Lowcountry, make plans to stop by the 2012 Tri-Command and Beaufort County Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration May 18 on Parris Island.

The event will feature lots of food and entertainment native to the Asian and Pacific regions. Japan, China, the Philippines, India, Thailand and Hawaii will be represented through a variety of tastes, sights and sounds.

"This is not necessarily for Asians," said Jong Gamboa, chairman of the event. "It's actually for Americans who need to learn what Asian-Pacific culture is."

The menu this year will include: lumpia, chicken adobo, teriyaki, lo mein, fried rice and vegetable masala. Traditions Restaurant at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will cater the event, with the exception of the lumpia, which will be made by local Filipino-Americans.

And for entertainment there will be a fashion show, a martial arts demonstration, and performances by a Japanese band and several professional dancers.

"It's a very colorful event," Gamboa said, adding that he encourages guests to wear Hawaiian shirts to get in the spirit.

Adm. Colin Chinn, the highest ranking medical doctor in the U.S. Navy, will speak at the event.

Gamboa said the Asian-Pacific culture is meaningful in the Beaufort area because many members of the military have spent time stationed in the region.

"So part of this event is serving them food that they really loved while they were overseas," Gamboa said.

Vegetable Masala

Courtesy of Peter J. Idsall, food and beverage manager of Traditions Restaurant at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island

Makes: 10 servings

5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 pound carrots, medium diced

2 pounds French green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

10 cups cold water

1 1/4 cups green peas

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 tablespoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound onion, finely chopped

5 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder

2 1/2 sprigs cilantro leaves for garnish

Place potatoes, carrots and green beans in cold water. Allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the vegetables; drain.

Place the potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, salt and turmeric in a microwave-safe dish. Cook for 8 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook mustard seeds and cumin. When seeds start to sputter and pop, add the onion and sautè until transparent. Stir in the tomatoes, garam masala, ginger, garlic and chili powder; saute 3 minutes. Add the cooked vegetables to the tomato mixture and saute 1 minute. Garnish with cilantro leaves.