Friday, August 12, 2022


Today I'm introducing a weekly feature on Mystery Fanfare: Foodie Fridays. So many authors feature food in their mysteries for so many different reasons. Some authors include recipes, some feature foodie professionals, and still others use food to further the plot. And, some authors just love to cook! I've invited mystery authors to submit an article about their 'culinary' mysteries for Foodie Fridays. First up, the amazing Jennifer J. Chow, author of the new  L.A. Night Market Mysteries series


Photo credit: Kim Davis
The spicy gene must have skipped me. My dad grew up in Malaysia and loves curries and chili oil on everything. As for me, I’m constantly in search of water whenever spiciness reaches my taste buds. 

My food preference has always veered toward the sweet. Give me chocolate anytime! But when my dad moved in with us temporarily, I had to change my cooking ways. Since he was experiencing health issues, he had some dietary restrictions, and I needed to adjust my recipes. I opted to be creative by using different fresh and dried herbs. To make sure his food wasn’t too bland, I also spiced it up. Thankfully, hot sauce wasn’t on the doctor’s list of banned items. 

To provide him with extra vitamins and nutrition, I wanted to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in our meals. But what would he enjoy eating? I wracked my brain for viable options and wound up with spicy cucumber salad.

I’m from a family who doesn’t measure stuff when they cook, so it took me a few attempts before I was satisfied with the dish. My final version of cucumber salad has only a hint of hotness. (If you like things more spicy, I’d up the chili oil level to at least half a teaspoon.) 

The salad ended up being a hit with my dad. Over the course of his stay with us, I made it multiple times. I’m happy to report that his health is much improved now. He’s since moved out and is doing wonderfully and enjoying his independence. Spicy cucumber salad always brings me joy whenever I eat it because it reminds me of his recovery and the precious bonding time we had together.  

I didn’t know then that this same recipe would eventually be paired with my writing. When I pitched my latest book idea, I just wanted to lean into my food-loving ways and personal history of working at a family restaurant. 

I’m grateful I got a contract for the L.A. Night Market Mysteries. Since they’re food-themed mysteries, I decided to add recipes to the back of the book.  In Death By Bubble Tea (Book 1 in the series), the two cousins at the heart of the book run a food stall at their local night market. Yale and Celine have opposite personalities and must work together to serve food—and solve crime. The cousins sell cold drinks and cold food at their stall, so what better recipe to feature than my spicy cucumber salad?  

I’m hoping that readers who like to try out recipes in culinary cozies will gravitate to the salad. Maybe it’ll also bring them a sense of joy like it does for me—or at least some eating entertainment. Amazingly, it’s already been featured on the Cinnamon and Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder blog as well as Criminal Element’s Cooking the Books. What an honor! 

Cucumbers are refreshing to eat in the summertime. What’s your favorite summer food?

Spicy Cucumber Salad


·       6 Persian cucumbers (washed)

·       2 cloves garlic

·       1 tablespoon soy sauce

·       1 tablespoon black vinegar

·       1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

        1/4 teaspoon chili (I like to use Laoganma's Spicy Chili Crisp)

·       Salt to taste


1.     Slice or use mandoline to cut cucumbers to approximately 1/4-inch thickness.

2.     Peel and mince cloves of garlic.

3.     Place cucumbers and garlic in a bowl.

4.     Add soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, chili, and salt.

5.     Mix together and refrigerate for at least ten minutes before serving.

Jennifer J. Chow is the twice-nominated Lefty Award author of the Sassy Cat MysteriesHer new series is the L.A. Night Market Mysteries; Death by Bubble Tea, which the New York Times called “the first in a fizzy new series,” hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List. She currently serves as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime, participates in Crime Writers of Color, and blogs at Chicks on the Case.



Jennifer J. Chow said...

Thanks for featuring me today, Janet! I really appreciate it!

Unknown said...

That looks really, really good!.. May I post a picture of something I made from a cozy?

Janet Rudolph said...


Mary Beth Magee said...

Creative in the kitchen as well as on the page - I love it! Well done, Jennifer.