Cooking Asian Food

By: Silvia Blach


Asian cooking can generally be classified into several categories on the basis of the regional styles of cooking and the people and culture of those regions. Some of the main categories of Asian food are East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern. In common usage however, Asian food (also referred to as Asian cuisine) primarily includes South and Southeast Asian cuisine. The main countries that constitute this region are India, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma etc.

Chinese food is generally considered to be East Asian food, even though China stretches from across mid-Asia to the Far East. Rice is the most important staple through most of China. In some regions however, noodles are preferred to rice. Most foods are prepared by mincing or cooking, and are cooked in a wok, using very little oil. Traditionally, there are eight main regional cuisines in China: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang. The three distinct regional cuisines however, are Shanghainese – characterized by hot and spicy chilly pepper flavoring, Cantonese – associated with flavorful meat and vegetable combinations, and Mandarin – associated with steamed noodle and bread dumplings.

Since Japan is an island nation, much of its food includes fish and fish-based ingredients. Rice and sliced, salted vegetables are staples in Japanese cooking. Soy products such as soya sauce, soya paste and tofu are also used in many Japanese preparations. Japanese cuisine also includes sushi, meats in teriyaki sauce, lightly battered and fried meat and fish, as well as shellfish called tempura. Japanese food is healthy, tasty and simple to cook. It is low-fat, low-cholesterol, and well-known for reducing heart-related diseases.

While different parts of India are known for their different cultural backgrounds, they are also known for their different flavors and cuisines. Vegetarian food includes khakra and dhokla from Gujarat, daal-baati-choorma from Rajasthan, the Kashmiri dum-aloo, as well as dosas and kesari bhaat from South India. Non-vegetarian delicacies, especially the tandoori kind, were especially devised for the Nawabs of India. The saffron-flavoured reshmi kebab, and the lime juice and garlic marinated fish tikka serve as delectable appetizers in combination with the yoghurt-marinated chicken sheek kebab. Tandoori food is the perfect evidence of the richness of India’s cultural diversity and royalty.

Asian recipes were casually shared among the womenfolk in Asia, who generally got together after a long day’s work, to discuss the day’s events. Many of these recipes were guarded as important family secrets and carefully passed down from one generation to another. Thai food is a blend of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Myanmar, Khmer, Laotian and to a lesser extent, Portuguese cuisines. It is a harmonious blend of indigenous spices. Malaysian cuisine consists of fish, seafood, vegetables and poultry, though beef is conspicuously absent. It is usually spicier than Chinese food. Indonesian cuisine is also known for its unique blend of sweet and sour spiciness. Asian cooking has enormous potential in modern times, as Asian food chains are springing up all over the world very rapidly, and are also enjoying immense popularity.

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