When Christina Phan learned that she had won the Test Challenge of the first episode of America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation, her hands flew to her mouth and her eyes widened in shock.
ATK Next Gen's Christina Phan on Her Ep. 1 Winning Recipe
It was a beautiful moment and one that was clearly well deserved, with judges Julia Collin-Davison and Dan Souza singing the dish’s praises.
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“It was this out of body experience,” said Christina, describing her win. “I was still taking everything in; coming to ATK, meeting the contestants… I felt intimidated and I was questioning my abilities,” she added.
“But I knew coming into this that this is what I love to do, and you can’t go wrong with that. So winning with this recipe, it just made it that much sweeter. It made me feel like I could really do this.”
The dish in question, Sizzling Steamed Fish with Chinese Broccoli and Chili Crisp (which you can see the recipe for now!) isn’t only special for Christina thanks to it’s challenge-winning status. For her, it’s a connection to her family and culture.
Sizzling Steamed Fish with Chinese Broccoli and Chili CrispCelebrate Lunar New Year with this inspired Vietnamese meal.
“This dish is heavily based around Tết, which is Vietnamese Lunar New Year. My parents were refugees when they came to America, and I grew up seeing families celebrate Christmas on the TV,” Christina said.
“So this recipe makes me feel a strong connection with my culture and with my family, and I get to bring that into my home with my husband and my daughter, who can experience what I experienced as a child—tables and tables of food and togetherness! I feel so fortunate to be able to now celebrate this with my own daughter.”
Most of the dishes that we enjoy during the holiday season can take hours of effort, a laundry list of ingredients, and miles of patience. But Christina’s willingness to serve up her steamed branzino under such immense time pressure proves just what a weeknight-friendly dish this can be.
“I think that there’s a lot of symbolic value in the fish itself which is usually served whole, and technique is important, but at its core this dish is very simple. It’s super healthy; there’s not a ton of ingredients. I’ve definitely cooked it on a weeknight when we’re trying to eat a little healthier. We have it multiple times a year, but then we really do it up for Lunar New Year.”
If you missed seeing Christina’s win or just want to relive it, you can read all about it in our Episode 1 Recap or watch the show completely for free on Amazon Freevee.