Words by Chelsea Lin
Monica Lo’s first experience with marijuana was much like many of ours—sketchily procured baggies of questionable quality cannabis, inhaled hastily in a college dorm room to ease social anxieties and spur art school creativity. This was before legalization, before hip packaging, home deliveries, and reliable dosages. The Wild West of Weed (which was not all that long ago).
But her journey to becoming who she is today—founder of Sous Weed, a company showcasing the superfood qualities as opposed to psychoactive properties of cannabis, and author of the upcoming The Weed Gummies Cookbook—started with a herniated spinal disk in 2015. “My doctor had prescribed a mixture of opioids and acetaminophen, but they wrecked my stomach, making the whole situation worse,” Lo says. “I eventually tried a cannabis edible my roommate brought home from the dispensary, and that night I slept so well."
Well rested for the first time since her injury, Lo woke up knowing she had to figure out how to make her own (safe) edibles. Her small San Francisco apartment had a strict no-smoking policy, so cooking fragrant cannabis on a stovetop was out of the question. Instead, she parlayed her professional experience at a sous vide startup into innovation: “Since the cannabis flower and cooking oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater to infuse–there’s no smell!” she says. “Plus, I can make multiple cannabis infusions at once, using all my favorite cannabis strains.”
Sous Weed (we love a good pun!) was born. Touting “cannabis-infused recipes from an Asian American kitchen,” the site features a panoply of recipes, from Basque cheesecake to Taiwanese braised pork over rice. The medicated dishes helped Lo with the pain management of her injury; the blog helped her find her voice, and tap into an industry that was increasingly profitable.
Lo’s cookbook, out Aug. 30 on Ulysses Press, is the culmination of her hard work in recipe development and innovation. But realistically, Lo says it was likely green-lit because the pandemic—with its languid hours of quarantine and worry of lung issues—spurred an impressive uptick in the consumption of edibles over inhalable cannabis.
It may be easiest, in her home state of California anyway, to swing by the pot shop and pick up a pack of gummies or mints or chocolates; Lo says, though, making your own allows you the freedom to customize to your taste preferences, and also create organic treats free of the preservatives companies have to use to extend shelf life. To create the book—which she wrote and photographed—“every surface in the house was covered in gummies and candies,” she says. “I started each recipe without the cannabis infusion so I could get the process and flavors down right without wasting my precious cannabis. Since I was pregnant, I packaged up infused treat boxes to deliver to friends so they could be my taste testers.”
She delivered her baby the same week as the book manuscript.
Speaking of motherhood: I needed to know how Lo’s own parents feel about her being a boss in the cannabis industry. She laughs—says they’re at peace with it now, but definitely weren’t in 2015 at the start. “I had to bring it up to them because the SF Chronicle wanted to interview me and I felt it would be better for them to hear it from the source rather than reading about it in the paper,” Lo says. “They were initially very concerned, mainly because of the stigma around cannabis and the lack of education on its medical use.”
The stigma Lo speaks of is well-known; cannabis’ medicinal use, particularly in Asia, less so. Recognizing that “Asian Americans face unique issues when it comes to cannabis use and acceptance due to differences in culture and social stigmas” and aiming to dispel the lazy stoner stereotype, Lo started Asian Americans for Cannabis Education (AACE) with two co-founders back in 2015.
"After a meal of noodles and 25mg of XO sauce, I took a long nap on the couch while [my mom] blasted music and deep cleaned my kitchen.”
Still, it took some time for Lo’s parents to come around. The research she did as part of AACE helped her dad arrive at a place of acceptance. Her mom took longer. “I flew her out to San Francisco [from Dallas] and had her tinker in the kitchen with me as a bonding experience. I wanted to show her how I use cannabis infusions in our family recipes and we worked together on this Infused XO sauce and Oyster Mee Sua,” she says. “I mentioned in my book, that’s how I discovered her beginner’s dose is my maximum dose! After a meal of noodles and 25mg of XO sauce, I took a long nap on the couch while she blasted music and deep cleaned my kitchen.”
You’ll find the imprints of Lo’s familial and cultural background throughout the book, which is really what makes this an exceptional read. Not only is it a guide to creating your own edibles at home, but it’s one that highlights more typically Asian flavors and dishes—like snowflake crisp nougat and lychee jelly.
Ready to experiment? Buy the book (duh), but here’s a sample:
Excerpted from The Weed Gummies Cookbook by Monica Lo, courtesy of Ulysses Press
Makes 32 pieces
3 cups granulated sugar
6 teaspoons agar-agar powder
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup Cannabis-Infused Sugar*
1/2 teaspoon super-strength candy flavoring of your choice
Food coloring of your choice
8-inch square baking pan
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Crease the corners along the inside edges and leave a 1-inch overhang on each side of the pan. Lightly coat with nonstick spray.
- Add the sugar, agar-agar powder, and water to a medium saucepan and stir with a silicone spatula to combine.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes to activate the agar agar and thicken the mixture, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add the cannabis-infused sugar and your candy flavoring of choice, stirring until the sugar has dissolved into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the prepared baking pan. Using toothpicks dipped in food coloring, make colorful swirls in the mixture while still warm. Transfer to the fridge to cool until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
- Remove from the pan by pulling on the parchment paper. Slice the slab into eight 1-inch strips. Wearing disposable gloves, roughly rip the gummies into 1 x 2-inch pieces and place onto a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
- Allow to dry in the open air at room temperature for 2 to 4 days, rotating sides each day, until a hard sugar crust has crystallized on the exterior. Store in an airtight container or candy bags for up to a month.
*The Cannabis-Infused Sugar recipe can be found in The Weed Gummies Cookbook by Monica Lo. Available anywhere books are sold.
Published on August 25, 2022
Words by Chelsea Lin
Chelsea Lin is JoySauce's Seattle-based managing editor and a lifelong storyteller (read: loudmouth). She loves memoirs, bold patterns and bright colors, travel (armchair or otherwise), and dessert—always dessert.