Book Cover for First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw

FIRST GENERATION: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home

Frankie Gaw

Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House
October 25, 2022
ISBN-13: 978-1984860767

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First Generation Author Frankie Gaw headshotFrankie Gaw is a former designer turned food writer and photographer who creates recipes based on his Taiwanese American upbringing. He’s the founder of the food blog Little Fat Boy, which has been nominated for a Webby and won Saveur’s Blog of the Year and the IACP Individual Food Blog Award. Frankie resides in Seattle, Washington.

In this stunning exploration of identity through food, the blogger behind Little Fat Boy presents 80 recipes that are rooted in his childhood as a first-generation Taiwanese American growing up in the Midwest.

“This book will transport you, it will make you cry (again and again), and it will delight you with flavor combinations that are both new and nostalgic.”—Molly Yeh, cookbook author and Food Network host

In First Generation, Frankie Gaw of Little Fat Boy presents a tribute to Taiwanese home cooking. With dishes passed down from generations of family, Frankie introduces a deeply personal and essential collection of recipes inspired by his multicultural experience, melding the flavors of suburban America with the ingredients and techniques his parents grew up with.

In his debut cookbook, Frankie will teach you to master bao, dumplings, scallion pancakes, and so much more through stunning visuals and intimate storytelling about discovering identity and belonging through cooking. Recipes such as Lap Cheong Corn Dogs, Honey-Mustard Glazed Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken, Stir-Fried Rice Cakes with Bolognese, Cincinnati Chili with Hand Pulled Noodles, Bao Egg and Soy Glazed Bacon Sandwich, and Lionshead Big Mac exemplify the stunning creations born out of growing up with feet in two worlds.

Through step-by-step photography and detailed hand-drawn illustrations, Frankie offers readers not just the essentials but endless creative new flavor combinations for the fundamentals of Taiwanese home cooking.

Classic Pork Dumplings

Makes about 24 dumplings

Classic Pork Dumplings First Generation by Frankie Gaw

This recipe has been a constant thread in our family, a communal ritual shared between three generations huddled around a kitchen island, all covered in flour while folding dumplings and talking nonsense together. A classic combination of pork and napa cabbage beloved by many families, it’s a recipe that uses simple ingredients but provides maximum flavor through techniques I’ve learned watching my grandma since childhood. For example, she always grinds her own pork shoulder to provide the utmost freshness (although fresh, good-quality packaged ground pork works just fine if you don’t have a meat grinder). She also salts diced napa cabbage and then squeezes it to release excess water, a technique that allows the cabbage to soak up pork juices later and prevents cabbage liquid from diluting the filling. She even taste-tests the filling by microwaving a small pea-size amount for 20 seconds (so it’s fully cooked), and then adjusts seasonings as needed before folding. It’s these little rituals of ingenuity that make a grandma’s dumplings so special. Dumplings take time, especially the first go-around, but they’re worth the effort—especially when done with friends, family, and good conversation.


1 recipe Dumpling Wrappers (below)


  • 1⁄2 medium head (1 pound) of napa cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound ground pork or freshly ground pork shoulder
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock

MAKE THE FILLING: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage and the ½ teaspoon salt. Mix with your fingers to incorporate the salt throughout. Set the cabbage aside to sweat out water for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in another large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, scallions, ginger, garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, brown sugar, sesame oil, and chicken stock.

After the cabbage has sweated out all its water, transfer it onto a thin dish towel or a few layers of thick paper towels and wrap around the cabbage to enclose. Using your hands and brute strength, squeeze out as much excess water from the cabbage as you can. Transfer the cabbage to the rest of the filling mixture and use your hands to mix all that juicy meat mixture goodness together, using a circular motion, until the filling looks homogeneous and feels sticky, about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge until ready to form the dumplings, up to a day in advance.

FOLD THE DUMPLINGS: When ready to fold, place a spoonful of filling about a third the size of the wrapper into the center of the wrapper. Seal the dumpling using the fold of your choice. Repeat until you’ve run out of filling or wrappers. Tip: Stir-fry the extra filling and eat with rice for a delicious second meal.

BOIL THE DUMPLINGS: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place dumplings into the pot with a slotted spoon. Let sit for a couple minutes, until the water is boiling again. Pour ½ cup of cold water into the pot to settle the boiling water back down (this will allow the filling to cook without having the wrappers break apart). When the water comes to a second boil and the dumplings float to the surface, they should be done. Cut into one to make sure the filling is cooked. If it needs more time, repeat the process with another ½ cup of cold water. Use a strainer to fetch the dumplings from the water, and serve.

Dumpling Wrappers
Makes 24 wrappers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3⁄4 cup warm water

Place the flour in a medium mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, incorporating it with the flour with a silicone spatula until loosely combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Dust the work surface with flour, then cut the dough into 4 pieces.

Roll each piece into a small log.

Cut each log into 6 approximately 1-inch pieces, then sprinkle with a generous amount of flour.

Place each piece on your work surface, cut side up. With the palm of your hand, press down to make a roughly flattened circle.

Dust both sides of the circle with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll around the edges to create a circular wrapper of your desired thinness.

Cover with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. If you’re not folding dumplings right away, dust with flour or cornstarch on both sides of the wrappers. Lay the wrappers flat on a large tray or plate (their edges can slightly overlap to save space) and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to a day.

Reprinted with permission from First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw. Text and photography by Franklin Gaw copyright 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.


Felix Cruz