The Food You're Eating Way Too Much Of, According To Chef Ming Tsai - Exclusive

Chef Ming Tsai loves a fine roast duck — especially Peking duck, which he happens to specialize in cooking. Still, he knows there's a time in life for a great steak and is no stranger to seafood. The point being: This guy eats meat. But he also feels strongly that Americans are eating way too much of the stuff. 

"A lot of Asian food is plant-based and [plant] focused by the design of the cuisine," Tsai told Mashed during an exclusive interview. "Chinese food didn't decide to go plant-based, it's always been plant-based. We always use a little chicken to flavor a huge dish. A little [steak]. I use this example all the time. A ribeye steak that we eat in this country — that one person eats — could feed 10 people just as well, probably more deliciously, with water spinach and garlic and ginger and whatever."

"[Chinese] food is the favorite food of all of us chefs," Tsai added. "Why? Because it's delicious, it's mostly plant-based, there's a little bit meat for protein, for flavoring, but we don't eat that huge steak. You can eat Chinese and of course, the old adage, you're hungry two hours later after you've eaten Chinese food, it's actually true."

The difference is that after finishing a proper Chinese meal, as opposed to a meat-heavy American meal, is that you should feel satisfied but not stuffed after the former, whereas the latter can leave you feeling like you need to sleep off dinner. And of course, there are longer-term health ramifications to consider as well.

The benefits of a plant-heavy diet, according to Ming Tsai

It all comes back to that old adage: You are what you eat. Good human health springs from a good diet, and for chef Ming Tsai, that means what we should be eating is a lot more plant-based meals. "Eating [plant-based] is eating delicious food that's actually good for you, and that's good for the planet, because I do believe in science, like gravity, and world pandemics, and vaccines, I believe in all of that," Tsai said.

In fact, it was a medical scare that inspired Tsai to create his food line, known as MingsBings. "There's a whole backstory," he said. "My wife had a health issue, and we wanted to recreate something that she could eat while I was traveling ... Like I said, do good for your body, do good for the planet, you also do good for your soul. We made [MingsBings] based off of a traditional Chinese dim sum, which is called a Bing."

"It's a traditional food — in Thailand and Beijing they have a hockey puck-shaped dumpling that's pan-seared like a pot sticker, that is delicious, filled with juicy pork, sometimes seafood as well, that's a traditional Bing. I wanted to redefine that, because my goal is I want people to be able to drive a truck and eat Chinese food and eat something delicious — and eat something that's plant-based and good. As you know, you've probably seen all the veggie patties currently in the grocery store... they're kind of dry hockey pucks that you've got to put lettuce and tomato and avocado, and put in between a bun to choke them down. ... I flipped the paradigm. ... And the best way to describe it for people who say: 'What's a MingsBing?' It's a redefined Hot Pocket. It's the first Hot Pocket that's good for you, that's delicious, that's gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, all the above." 

To taste one of Ming Tsai's recipes, check out his cookbook "Simply Ming In Your Kitchen". Follow along with the chef's projects on Ming.com.