Asian Recipes

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The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Preventing pancakes from sticking

For a richer flavor in pancakes and crepes, and to help prevent their sticking to the pan, stir 1-2 tablespoons melted butter or oil into the batter before cooking.

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23:13:52 on 08/31/06 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

Barbecuing Sausages

If you are cooking lots of sausages over the barbecue, thread them onto skewers first to make turning them easier. The sausages will then brown more evenly as they grill.

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14:15:17 on 08/31/06 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

Barbecuing using fish racks

Barbecuing fish is easier if you use a special fish rack. To prevent the fish sticking to the metal, brush the rack inside and out with oil - but do not preheat it. Before starting, you can stuff a whole fish with fresh herbs or wrap it in vine leaves. Oil the fish or fish steaks, place in the rack, close it tightly and place the rack on the barbecue grill. Turn the rack over once during cooking and baste the fish often through the metal bars, so that the flesh will stay moist.

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12:25:02 on 08/31/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Cooking asparagus

Asparagus takes 10 - 15 minutes to cook, depending on how thick the stalks are. These need longer cooking than the tips, and determining cooking time can be tricky. Here are three solutions to solve the tricky situations.

1. Using an asparagus steamer - To cook in a specially designed asparagus steamer, stand the stems upright in the wire basket and add water to about halfway up their length. Simmer until tender when pierced just above the water level with the tip of a knife.

2. In a wok - Shorter stems of asparagus can be cooked in a wok. Arrange them like the spokes of a wheel, so that only their bases are immersed in the cooking water. Cover with the lid and simmer until tender.

3. In a saucepan - Tied bundles of asparagus can be cooked in a deep saucepan, held up by new potatoes. Cover with a dome of foil tucked in tightly around the outer rim of the pan and cook until tender. The asparagus flavored potatoes can be eaten hot or cold.

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00:03:21 on 08/31/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Cooking and Serving Artichokes

An artichoke is usually boiled or steamed whole until it is tender, and then the leaves are pulled off and eaten one by one. Below is one of the ways to cook and serve artichokes.

1. Wash the artichokes and remove discolored leaves from the base.

2. Break off the stalks close to the base, pulling away any strings. Pack the artichokes in one layer in a stainless-steel or enamel saucepan. Sprinkle on some salt and lemon juice, then add enough water to come halfway up the artichokes.

3. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and simmer for about 40 - 45 minutes until a leaf from the middle of an artichoke pulls out easily. Tip the artichokes into a colander and leave upside-down to drain for 5 minutes.

4. For a dinner party presentation, peel back the outer leaves, pull out the purple central cluster of leaves and scoop out the inedible choke beneath with a spoon.

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19:10:23 on 08/30/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Preventing apple from discoloring

To prevent apples from discoloring after they have been peeled, put them, either whole or in slices, in water containing juices of one or two lemons. Plain effervescent vitamin C tablets can also be used instead of lemon juice and will not affect the apples' flavor.

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14:12:30 on 08/30/06 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

Making praline flavoring

Sweet, nutty praline is made by caramelizing almonds in sugar and then crushing the mixture to make a delicious, crispy flavoring for desserts.

1. Put 125 g/0.5 cup caster sugar and 125 g/0.75 cup unskinned almonds into a heavy saucepan. Stir continuously over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolved completely and turns golden caramel. Pour onto a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper and leave to set.

2. Peel the baking paper off the back of the set praline. Put the praline into a strong plastic bag and crush it using a rolling pin, coarsely or finely, as the recipe dictates. The praline may also be ground in a food processor, but process it for only a few seconds at a time, or it will turn to dust.

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11:00:17 on 08/30/06 by Webmaster - Recipes -

Healthy bananas

Bananas are handy to carry, easy to peel and highly nutritious. They are a very good source of potassium, iron and many key vitamins except B12 and D. Look for Lady Finger bananas, which are often the most delicious.

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07:33:59 on 08/30/06 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -

Making a delicious lemon barley water

This traditional summer drink is extremely easy to make. Allow plenty of time for cooling, as it is most appealing served chilled with ice and lemon slices.

1. Wash three large lemons, dry them and pare the zest using a potato peeler. Place the pieces of peel in a bowl and add 60-125 g caster sugar, according to your taste. Put 3 tablespoons pearl barley in a large saucepan, pour in a 1.25 liters of water and bring to the boil. Cover and leave the grains to simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft.

2. Pour the water and barley over the sugar and peel and leave to cool.

3. Squeeze the lemons and strain the juice into a jug to discard the pips. Strain the barley liquid into the juice.

4. Serve.

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02:57:22 on 08/30/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Making Basic Batter

This basic batter will make 8-10 pancakes. Include 3 tablespoons of extra milk if making lighter crepes, and halve the liquid for making thicker coating batter.

1. Sift 125 g/1 cup plain flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and make a well in the center, then break in 1 egg and beat with a balloon whisk or wooden spoon. You can also use a food processor for a few seconds or a hand-held electric mixer for slightly longer.

2. Beat in 300 ml milk, little by little, incorporating the surrounding flour gradually so the batter becomes very smooth.

3. The batter may be used at once, but it is much better if it is left in a cool place for some 30 minutes, allowing the starch grains to soften.

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16:47:16 on 08/29/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

What type of batter should be used to coat fish before deep-frying?

Batter is used to help protect delicate foods such as fish from the intense heat of deep oil. A crisp coating forms which stops oil penetrating the food, so it stays soft and tender inside. The batter used for fish is usually a savory coating batter, using beer instead of milk to add flavor as well as air, or a more robust yeast-raised batter.

Yeast batter is preferred for the coating of fish because although it is strong enough to protect the fish, it has a particularly light texture. To make a yeast batter that will coat 350g fish, you will need 1 teaspoon dried yeast, 150ml milk or water, 125g plain flour and a pinch of salt. The yeast is dissolved in the liquid and then added to the flour and salt.

Unlike an ordinary batter, yeast-raised batter is beaten vigorously to develop gluten in the flour. Leave it to stand in a cool place for up to an hour, until risen and bubbly before using.

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14:23:29 on 08/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is pikelet tend to be stodgy even though the batter has been left to rise?

Pikelets, just like waffles, need a raising agent to help make them light and bubbly. And that is why self-raising flour is used for them. One disadvantage, however, is that self-raising flour starts into action as soon as it becomes wet, so the batter must be used immediately.

If self-raising flour batter is left to stand, the bubbles escape and the results will be heavier instead of a lighter pancake. So the secret is to make the batter just before you make the pikelets.

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12:53:48 on 08/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How long should batter be beaten to achive a good texture?

The basic batter only needs a fairly brief beating or whisking in order to combine the ingredients. If you beat the mixture too much, this tends to develop the gluten in the flour and results in the batter becoming tough when it is cooked. The exception is any yeast-raised batter, which does need to be beaten heartily to develop gluten.

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15:20:43 on 08/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can the same batter be used for different dishes like waffles, fritters and pancakes?

The batter that are used to make pancakes, waffles and such dishes are much the same. It is the exact proportions of all the ingredients that vary slightly.

Pancakes, crepes, baked batter puddings and Yorkshire pudding are all made with a basic pouring batter. To make crepes, which are slightly lighter than pancakes, the batter is thinned with a few tablespoons of extra liquid.

Fritters and battered foods such as fish, shellfish and vegetables are made with coating batter. This uses the same amount of flour, salt and egg as pouring batter, but only half of the liquid. Whisked egg whites may be folded into a coating batter, and sugar added for sweet fritters. The type of liquid used in batters will influence the result. Water makes a light batter, milk helps to make it smoother and causes it to brown faster, while beer adds lightness and flavor.

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11:28:03 on 08/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Before using, should pancake batter be allowed to stand for an hour or two?

While it is not strictly necessary, taking the time to cover and rest a pancake batter in a cool place for about 15-30 minutes to allows the starch in the flour to swell, will give a lighter result. If the batter is cooked just after being made, the pancakes will have a bubbly surface rather than appearing flat. But do not leave the batter to stand for more than 1 hour at room temperature or it may begin to ferment.

Batter left to stand for an hour or more may separate out. If so, just stir to remix. If it thickens slightly, thin it with some extra liquid.

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09:50:01 on 08/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between whole grains and pearl barley?

Whole grains are the grains as they are harvested, while pearl barley has had the outer layer removed to reveal a polished white kernel. Whole grains must be softened before being cooked in order to be edible. Soak them in plenty of cold water for at least 2 hours or even overnight. The whole grains are then often combined with meat, and lamb in particular, as in the classic recipe for Scotch broth. The barley thickens this wholesome soup as well as adding flavor and a pleasing nutty texture.

As pearl barley has been well polished to remove the outer husk, the grain cooks more quickly and no prior soaking is necessary. Pearl barley is also used to thicken and enhance the flavor and texture of soups.

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15:26:28 on 08/26/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between barley flour and other flours?

Barley flour is produced by milling the whole grain. Barley is notably low in gluten, the protein that gives bread dough its elasticity. For this reason, it needs to be used with other, higher-gluten flours to make successful yeasted bread. While barley flour or meal does not make good leavened bread when used on its own, it adds considerable flovor to tea breads and scones and can be used to thicken soups and milk-based sauces.

As one of the earliest cereals farmed, barley grains were used for making bread before wheat. While much barley is now used for animal feed, it is still malted for brewing and remains an important grain for human food in the Middle East.

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14:11:29 on 08/25/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do we make barbecued desserts?

Your guest may have had enough of barbecued food after eating the main course, and a fresh fruit salad or some homemade ice cream to follow is often the most refreshing choice. However, fruit does lend itself to being barbecued and the soft flesh of banana is especially delicious when grilled.

Split the whole banana lengthways through the skin, without removing the flesh, and sprinkle orange juice, rum, brown sugar and cinnamon down the middle. Dot the banana flesh with butter, sandwich the fruit back together and wrap it in foil. Grill the banana slowly for about 5-10 minutes, turning the parcel over carefully about halfway through cooking. A variety of other fleshy fruits, such as nectarines and peaches, can be cooked in the same way, but they will need to have their hard stones removed beforehand.

Fruit kebabs are very attractive and cook quickly. Cut a mixture of firm-fleshed fruit into chunks and thread them onto a kebab skewer, choose fruits that have a harmonious mix of colors and flavors. Sprinkle with caster sugar and a liqueur, or the juice and zest of one orange, and leave them to soak for at least 2 hours. Then drain the kebabs, save the marinade, and grill the fruit for 5-10 minutes. Turn them often while they cook, basting with a little marinade.

To serve, arrange the mixed fruit kebabs decoratively onto a platter and pour over the remaining juice.

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11:25:57 on 08/25/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Should we marinate vegetables before barbecuing them?

Vegetables cannot be made tender by marinating, but using marinades does enhance the flavor of food. The results on vegetables can be surprising and delicious.

For instance, try the following few below -

Marinate thick slices of eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, plus halved egg tomatoes, in olive oil with some crushed garlic, sprigs of thyme and a squeeze of lemon. Cook the vegetables on a grid placed directly over the hot coals, starting with the eggplant, which needs about 6 minutes on each side; add the zucchini for 4-5 minutes on each side; followed by the peppers for about 23 minutes on each side; and then the tomatoes, skin side down only, for 23 minutes.

Grilled asparagus is wonderful with a mixture of hazelnut oil and red wine vinegar. Use three parts of oil to one part of vinegar, whisk the two together and pour the marinade over the asparagus .

You can cook the spears straightaway or leave them soaking in the marinade for about an hour. Put the asparagus spears on a grill which is directly over the hot coals, and rotate them to allow quick cooking for 23 minutes on each side.

A popular choice to barbecue is corn-on-the-cob. Pull the corn husk back without taking it off the stalk, and then remove the silky threads. Coat the corn cob with a barbecue sauce and cover it again with the husk. Wrap each cob in foil and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Cook the prepared corn parcels on the cooler part of the grill for about 15-20 minutes, turning frequently.

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08:55:11 on 08/25/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Do we need to wrap the fish in foil before going on the barbecue?

Fish cutlets, steaks or whole fish do not need to be wrapped in foil to be barbecued, but it is generally better to choose a firm-fleshed fish such as snapper, swordfish or tuna rather than a soft-fleshed fish, which may fall apart.

The fish can be wrapped up in bacon to provide protection, or it can be marinated to lubricate the flesh - but if the marinade has lime or lemon juice, do not leave it too long.

Note - Do not marinate fish for longer than an hour in any mixture that contains either lime or lemon juice, as the acid in the citrus fruit will start to 'cook' the fish.

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16:07:19 on 08/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

The best way to cut up meat for a barbecued kebab.

Trim the fat and connective tissue from the meat, then cut across the grain into fairly even-sized cubes that are no larger than 5 cm thick. If you prefer rarer meat with pink centers, then you should skewer the cubes closely together in order to achieve that. However, if you prefer the kebab to be much better done, then ensure that the cubes are separated more.

Any lean cut of meat can be used for kebabs. For example, you can try using cubes of pork fillet, or the fillet end of leg of pork. Other good choices for making skewered kebabs are lamb fillet or fillet end of leg of lamb, fillet of beef and chunks of either turkey breast or chicken breast.

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12:08:52 on 08/24/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Can we directly barbecue frozen meat and fish without defrosting?

Barbecue frozen food directly is not recommended. Large cuts of meat, poultry or large whole fish that are still frozen would be cooked, and even charred, on the outside by the fierce heat well before the inside had become sufficiently hot. So you may get your food burnt on the outside while it is still uncooked inside.

Small cuts of meat such as thin steaks and small fish could be cooked from frozen but you may need to add extra time with smaller fire. However, the texture of the rapidly defrosted meat will be impaired and not taste good.

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02:02:06 on 08/24/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why are meat and fish so often marinated before barbecuing?

Marinades are not only helpful in tenderizing meat but also enhance the flavor. And they are particularly useful for barbecuing, where the intense heat can result in dry food. Barbecue marinades are usually based on tomato, onion and garlic, which suit the smoky flavors very well. Tomato is often included for its tenderizing effect, but any other acid ingredients, such as vinegar or lemon juice, can also be used.

A marinade may include garlic, fresh ginger, lemon juice, olive oil, sherry and brown sugar, as well as soy sauce to provide a tangy falvor.

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14:42:30 on 08/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to barbecue a large piece of meat, such as a leg of lamb?

It is possible to cook a large piece of meat successfully on a barbecue, and the Christmas turkey can also be cooked in this way. This technique works best with a covered barbecue, which gives an indirect, reflected heat and much greater temperature control.

Place the joint on the grill, with a drip pan underneath to catch the juices, and adjust the air vents to ensure very slow, even cooking. Check the coals from time to time and add more charcoal gradually if it seems necessary. The cooking times are approximately the same as when you are using an oven, although they can be quicker. This is because temperatures fluctuate in a barbecue and may become a good deal higher than they would be in an oven. If you are in any doubt, especially with poultry, use a meat thermometer to check the joint's inner temperature.

An excellent method of cooking a whole leg of lamb is to butterfly bone it. The joint is opened out like a book and the meat takes less time to cook.

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12:25:11 on 08/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the appropriate fish to cook on the barbecue?

Fish is an excellent food to barbecue. The intense heat and quick cooking sear the outside while keeping the flesh moist and full of flavor inside, especially those oily fish cooked whole in their skins are ideal. The skins will release their oils into the flesh while providing a protection against the heat, so the firm flesh does not easily fall apart.

Some of the very best fish to cook on a barbecue whole are like jewfish, kingfish, sea bream, mullet, salmon, sardines and trout. Barramundi are more expensive, but can also be cooked in this way. For easy handling and turning, use a special fish rack to barbecue fish..

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00:43:38 on 08/23/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Different types of barbecue

There are many types of barbecue available in the market. The most basic is one that you can make yourself from bricks and an iron grill. Although this can be an attractive feature in the garden, it is permanently installed and the grill is usually fixed so it is difficult to control the temperature.

Portable barbecues, which can fold up are easy to carry around and ideal for picnics and holidays. The most popular model known as hibachi or firebowl in Japanese, has a grate to hold the charcoal, adjustable grills and vents to control the air flow. As portable barbecues are usually quite small, the amount of food you can cook at any one time will be limited.

Standard barbecues are usually about 60 cm across and have a built-in windbreak. They generally have a grill and a hotplate, which makes it easier to cook different types of food at the same time. For example, sausages that need quick cooking and chicken joints that need much slower cooking.

Covered, kettle barbecues are the most efficient. Charcoal burns in baskets on either side and the food is put on a rack in the center so that it cooks using the indirect heat reflected off the lid.

The most expensive barbecues are covered models where blocks of lava rocks are heated by gas or electricity. This takes less time and is less messy compared to those using charcoal, but the food is cooked in the same manner as in a conventional covered barbecue. It will still have the smoky flavor, but this is from the fat and juices spitting onto the lava rocks, not from the charcoal. Whichever you buy depends on your need and preference.

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16:01:54 on 08/22/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Is it advisable to have bananas as an addition to a mixed fruit salad?

Since bananas do have a strong flavor, so it is probably best to exclude it from any fruit salads containing delicately flavored fruits such as melons, peaches or grapes. However, bananas can blend in well with highly spiced sugar syrup, perhaps with some rum and one or two other fruits that are also strong in flavor like oranges or pineapples. Some red fruits like raspberries and plums will actually turn bananas pink.

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13:30:32 on 08/22/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to stop bananas from browning?

When we include sliced bananas in desserts, they tend to turn brown very quickly. And the riper the banana, the faster it will seems to turn brown.So if you need attractive slices of banana for your desserts, choose those that are not too ripe and always use a stainless steel knife to cut them. When decorating a dessert or gateau, simply brush the banana slices with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Do not dip them in a bowl of lemon juice as this can make them slimy.

However, if you are mashing bananas, turning those slices in a bowl of lemon juice first not only keeps the flesh white but also encourages the slices to soften into a creamy paste. This would make the job of mashing easier.

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21:41:50 on 08/21/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we keep bananas alongside other types of fruits?

Bananas give off a gas known as ethylene which makes any other fruits surrounding it to ripen faster and possibly spoil. Keeping bananas separately from other fruit lets them all ripen naturally. However, if you need to ripen fruit quickly, such as peaches that are hard, store a banana together with them. Bananas is best store at room temperature and not in the refrigerator as it dislikes the cold temperature.

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15:05:56 on 08/21/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it better to buy bananas while they are still green or when they have turned yellow?

Whether it is green or yellow, it all depends on what you intend to do with them. When bananas turned deep yellow and brown speckles appear on the skin, they are fully ripe. The flesh becomes sweeter and fuller in flavor as they mature, so buy ripe ones if you want to eat them the same day. Otherwise choose those that are still green or just beginning to turn yellow if you intend to eath them later in the week as they will ripen quite quickly once you get them home.

When using bananas for cooking, especially for those savory dishes, use the fruit that is not completely ripe and still has partly green or pale yellow skin. That way will enable us to slice easier and the flavor is not so dominating. However, for the moist, high-fiber type of recipes, it is best to use fruit that is ripe.

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12:28:47 on 08/21/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do we know whether the food being baked in individual paper or foil parcels has been fully cooked?

Experiencing the sudden escape of aromas when the diner open the parcel at the table is the whole reason of cooking in individual paper or foil parcels. Therefore, you should not attempt to open the parcel to check whether the food has been cooked. Otherwise it would defeat the whole purpose. Choose food that cooks quickly at a high heat, such as fish fillet and finely chopped vegetables and fruit, and stay faithful to the times that are suggested in the recipe.

A small amount of liquid in the parcels also creates a steamy atmosphere that helps to cook the food more quickly. As they are opened, the puffed parcels will release an explosion of appetizing smells and aromas to the delight of the diner.

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07:40:35 on 08/20/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between nonstick baking paper and greaseproof paper?

Greaseproof paper is a type of non-absorbent paper that can be used for various purposes in the kitchen like layering fragile foods such as pancakes, wrapping food for storage and lining cake tins. Whereas nonstick baking paper which sometimes also known as parchment paper has a non-stick coating that eliminates the need to grease the paper. Although it costs more than greaseproof paper, it is especially good for lining baking trays when you make meringues and other dishes with a high sugar content. These foods are likely to stick to greaseproof paper.

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19:07:31 on 08/19/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it absolutely important to have the right temperature when baking?

A fairly precise cooking temperature is essential when baking because baked dishes do not have the protection of fat or liquid and can burn easily. Unfortunately, many domestic ovens do not have thermostats that are really accurate. For best results, it is worth buying an oven thermometer and using it with your baking over a few weeks. This will give you the chance to adjust the oven settings.

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14:25:55 on 08/18/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there a difference between baking and the other methods of cooking in the oven?

So you may ask, what is the difference between these two? The main difference between them is that baked foods, such as bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries and baked potatoes are cooked by dry heat. There is no surrounding bath of fat or liquid as there is with roasted or casseroled dishes.

Baking is one of the very oldest cooking techniques. Ovens in the early days are made of stone or brick and were filled with wood, which was set alight. After burning, the ashes were removed and bread or other dishes put in to cook in the residual heat. Today's baked dishes are cooked on the same principle, with heat coming from every side.

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21:17:04 on 08/17/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can bacon be frozen and how long can it be kept?

Bacon should not be kept for more than one to two weeks. The expiry date on prepacked bacon may state a longer period, but once the packet has been opened, use the meat quickly. Put loose bacon in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Vacumm packed bacon joints can be frozen for up to three months, vacumm packed rashers for four to six weeks while home packed rashers for four weeks (interleave rashers with freezer wrap to separate them easily, then store in a freezer bag).

Rasher can be grilled or fried from frozen, but bacon joints should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

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22:30:03 on 08/16/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Sometimes boiling a bacon joint could make the meat tough and dry. What went wrong?

Toughness and dryness are the result of cooking at too high a temperature for a long time. If you cook a bacon joint in water, make sure you adjust the heat so that the water bubbles gently throughout. Simmer the joint for 20 minutes per 500g, plus 20 minutes. Start calculating the cooking time from when the water reaches simmering point.

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13:48:14 on 08/15/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to reduce the saltiness in a joint of bacon?

First fill up a bowl with cold water and soak the joint in it overnight. To test if this has indeed removed enough salt, cut off a small piece and eat it as it is, or fry it gently first. If you find that it is still too salty, put the joint into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Then drain off the water and the joint should now be ready for cooking.

However, modern curing techniques mean that bacon is not longer that salty as it used to be, and often does not required to be soaked to remove the saltiness.

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15:44:07 on 08/14/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Three simple, delicious and fruity treats for avocados.

Below are three simple ways to prepare a delicious avocados -

For a rich and yet healthy starter before meals, try a dressing thickened with a lightly sweetened rhubarb. For four persons serving, cook four thick stalks of rhubarb, puree and mix it with 2 tablespoons of walnut oil and a splash of lemon juice. Season and spoon the dressing into the halved avocados.

Avocado also makes a very good side salad by slicing and cmbining with chunks of pineapple or mixed with segments of sweet pink grapefruit and then garnished with coriander leaves to serve with roast chicken.

Halve the avocados and fill the cavity with a homemade Waldorf salad mixture. Waldorf salad mixture can be made by stirring together a diced apple, two celery stalks and a little chopped walnut in a dressing made with 3 tablespoons walnut oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

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05:22:48 on 08/14/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Are there any other ways of serving avocado other than plain avocado vinaigrette?

It is best to eat avocados when it is very ripe and uncooked. They are delicious when halved and stoned, served with an olive oil vinaigrette dressing. Avocados can also be pureed raw with chicken stock and cream, into a chilled summer soup. Their buttery richness works wonderfully well as a spread on toast and sandwiches, and in partnership with sharp fruits, such as tamarillo. By the way, avocados were once called 'poor man's butter'.

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18:20:17 on 08/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can brushing lemon juice on cut surface of an avocado prevents it from discoloring?

Brushing citrus juice or vinegar on cut surfaces of avocados is a way to conserve the pale green of the avocado flesh. However, it does not gives a long term effect as it will last for only a few hours, after which the avocado flesh will darkens. Instead, place a plastic wrap directly onto its surface will keep it fresh looking for about a day.

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13:35:04 on 08/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there a way of speeding up the ripening of an avocado?

It is always advisable to purchase avocados which are still on the firm side as ripe ones will have their flesh bruised very easily. Avocados will ripe in just a few days if left at room temperature but the process can be quickened by putting them together with a banana in a roomy paper bag and leaving them in a warm place. You will know they are riped when they 'give' all over to a slight pressure and feel especially yielding at the stem end. Store ripe avocados in the salad drawer of the refrigerator if you want to keep them for a few days.

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20:03:08 on 08/12/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the traditional way to serve asparagus?

Asparagus has been traditionally served hot with butter or a butter sauce, like the hollandaise, or cold with a vanaigrette dressing or mayonnaise. Using your fingers, pick up the stem by its base, then dip it in the sauce and eat from the tip downwards. As a meal starter or a light supper dish, serve it with a softly boiled or fried egg. Dip the tips into the yolk, then eat with white bread or toast. Egg and butter can be added in a dressing that provides contrasting crispness.

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15:13:39 on 08/12/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is asparagus sometimes referred to as sprue?

Sprue is the name for the thinnnings or first pickings of the asparagus bed. They should be cheaper than asparagus proper and the flavor is good. They do not need to be scraped before cooking. When cooking, immersed them in water in a saucepan, and eat them either hot or cold, on their own or as an accompanying vegetable. You can also use them in stir-fries or with potatoes and peas or broad beans in an early summer vegetable stew. They can also be processed with some onion and potato to make a cream soup.

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19:44:03 on 08/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to cook asparagus and not spoiling the shape of the tips?

The best way to preserve the delicate heads is to cook the asparagus with the head above the cooking water. The stems should be cut off to a level that leaves them all the same size. Some even peel the lower stems with a small sharp knife or vegetable peeler, and this is certainly necessary with older asparagus, especially the white asparagus, which usually has a thick woody skin. Remember to wash the tips in cold water to remove any grit before cooking.

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16:23:28 on 08/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When is the best time to eat asparagus as it seems to be available all year round in some shops?

In Australia, the asparagus season starts in August and will peaks for about three months. And this is the time to serve and eat asparagus at its best. Asparagus is great for salads, soups, garnishes or in crispy stir-fries throughout the year.

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07:52:34 on 08/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it true that artichokes are incompatible with any wine?

It is not exactly true. Globe artichokes contain an acid called cynarin that will affects our tastebuds. So when food and wine consumed with them or soon after, will taste sweeter than they normally would. Some manufacturers for baby-food actually use mashed soft artichoke bases into vegetable purees to appeal to the sweet palate of the infant too. Adults have found that a young white riesling or a light red wine, are good with an artichoke dish.

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20:34:00 on 08/10/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there an easy way to deal with globe artichokes which look rather spiky and daunting?

Globe artichokes is also known as French artichokes and they are the members of the thistle family. Globe artichokes are usually eaten as a starter in a meal. Boiling them until soft and then serving them whole is probably the easiest way to cook artichokes. When eating, you'll just need to pull off each leaf, dip in sauce and then pull the flesh off with your teeth, discarding the rest of the leaf. When you get to the papery purple leaves at the center, discard them by just pulling them off. Then cut away the choke and enjoy the delicious heart with a knife and fork.

Another way to prepare them is to trim the top third off each raw artichoke, then quarter them and cut out the chokes. Drop each piece as it is ready into a bowl of water acidulated with lemon juice to prevent artichoke from discoloration. Then cook them as they are or add them to vegetable stews or other dishes.

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16:05:37 on 08/09/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Thickening liquid in cooking with arrowroot

Arrowroot and cornflour are used in the same quantities to thicken liquids and in the same way. In order to thicken 300 ml of sauce, such as a gravy or a custard, mix 2 tablespoons arrowroot with the same quantity of cold liquid. Heat the rest of the liquid to boiling point, then pour it into the blended mix and stir well. Return the sauce to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously until it is thickened and smooth, then simmer gently for 1 minute. If you are making a glaze, use only 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for each 300 ml of liquid.

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21:04:15 on 08/08/06 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

What is the advantage of using arrowroot compared to cornflour when thickening dishes?

Arrowroot has tiny grains and is a pure starch, which makes it more easily digested than other thickening agents. It is suitable particularly for invalid diets. Arrowroot is also valuable for thickening liquids, such as fruit and vegetable juices, and to use in a glaze, as it makes a clear glaze with a gelatinous texture compared to cornflour which will go cloudy.

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12:01:20 on 08/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we make a successful jam by using fresh apricots?

Yes, this is a good way to use up those imperfect or slightly unripe fruit. Apricot contain only a moderate amount of pectin and so the best way to ensure a good set, good flavor and attractive color is to use sugar that has added pectin and to follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you do not have any pectin, it might be necessary to add some lemon juice and to give the apricots a fairly lengthy boil in order to obtain a good set. However, this can darken the color of the jam and also affect the flavor.

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14:38:40 on 08/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When baking apple pie, how can we stop the juices from leaking out?

Other than apples, there are also many fruits that make too much juice as they cook in a pie. And this juices will cause the pastry to become soggy or make it stick to the tin on cooling. To avoid the juices from leaking, toss the fruit in a little cornflour as this will soak up the juices and help to thicken them as they cook. Besides, you can also flavor the cornflour with spices of your choice if you prefer.

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10:32:26 on 08/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can apples be baked in the microwave and will they explode?

As long as the steam can escape as they cook, apples will not explode in the microwave and that can be done by scoring through the skin. Cut deeply into the skin around the center of some medium cooking apples, then core and place in a deep, microwave-safe dish, in batches of up to four. You can also fill the centers with sugar or fruit filling then add a few tablespoons of water or apple juice to the dish.

Cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and ensure that it does not touch the apples. Then pull back one edge to vent. Cook the apples on High for 4-6 minutes or until they are tender but retain their shape. Before serving, let them stand for 2-3 minutes.

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14:23:46 on 08/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do we use aniseed in our cooking?

Aniseed can be used as a substitution for caraway seeds in seed cake, added to rye or wholemeal bread, used in plain or spiced biscuits or even added in a Mediterranean fish soup. In the Middle East, aniseed is used to make an infusion with or without tea leaves.

During the medieval times, aniseed was widely used both as a medicament and as a food flavoring. However, its taste fell out of fashion and today aniseed balls are almost the only reminder of its past popularity. Nevertheless, Aniseed is still popular in the central Europe where it is widely used for flavoring sweet dishes, biscuits and cakes. In many Mediterranean countries, it is used to flavor absinthe-related drinks, called variously anisetter, arak, ouzo, Pernod and raki. In India and Southeast Asia, the seeds are used in curries, and are also chewed whole after a meal as a digestive.

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02:39:53 on 08/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is aniseed?

Aniseed is the seed of the Mediterranean anise and this annual plant is a member of the parsley family which can grows up to a height of about 45 cm. It has sharply indented leaves and tiny, star-like white flowers which resembles both dill and fennel in appearance although its flavor is quite distinct compared to the other two. Despite its name, anise is not related to the star anise tree, which is an Asian flavoring.

The liquorice flavor is found in the seed, that looks much like a caraway seed which is small, oval, grey and ribbed. It is best bought already ground as it should be finely and evenly ground before use and it is difficult to grind evenly at home. Anise can be found in most supermarkets and because it could lose its flavor, it is best to buy a small amount and replace it often.

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13:22:23 on 08/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How do we reduce the saltiness of anchovies?

To reduce the saltiness, just rinse the anchovies in cold water then pat them dry. Alternatively, they can be soaked in milk for about 20 minutes, then rinse and dry.

Jars of anchovies in olive oil are less salty than the canned brands, but they might cost more. However, there are some specialty shops and delicatessens that sell anchovy fillets marinated in olive oil loose by weight. These are sweet and delicious, and can be used in any recipe calling for anchovy fillets.

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10:27:31 on 08/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

It is true that ground almonds can be used as a thickener in soups or stews?

Ground almonds can definately be used as a soups or stews thickener. In fact, almonds were often used to add texture and flavor to a 'white' soup and are still used for this purpose in some traditional dishes. This delicate flavor of almonds blends particularly well with fish and chicken.

However, compared to other starchy ingredients such as flour, ground almonds do not thicken soups in the same way. Flour will blend into the liquid to make a thick, smooth sauce but ground almonds add body, texture, flavor and richness. When using ground almonds, it is best to start off with a small amount and increase more, a little at a time, if necessary.

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14:08:17 on 08/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is almond praline and what is it used for?

Almond praline is actually a mixture of almonds and caramelized sugar, ground in a food processor after cooking. Sometimes, it is also ground up by hand. It is used as a crunchy flavoring for ice cream, creamy desserts, pastry and cakes, or even sprinkled over puddings and gateaux. Mixed with cream, chocolate and rum, praline makes wonderful truffles. Once made, praline can be kept for one to two weeks in an airtight container.

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02:07:44 on 08/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do some recipes specify using dessert apples and others cooking apples - Does it matter which ones are used?

When cooked, cooking apples and dessert apples react differently. If you want a soft and fluffy apples when they are cooked, a Granny Smith or similar cooking apples works best. If retaining their shape is important for the apples, especially on top of a flan or cake, then a dessert apple such as Cox or Golden Delicious is ideal.

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14:21:43 on 08/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between almond extract and almond essence?

Almond extract is a pure, natural product made from the oil of bitter almonds and it has a good flavor. However, the price is higher due to its quality. As for almond essense, it is made using artificial flavorings and is therefore much cheaper compared to almond extract. When cooking, it is worth the effort of seeking out almond extract in good delicatessens, health food shops and the larger branches of supermarkets. Whichever you decided to use, for the best results, always add cautiously.

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08:05:03 on 08/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How many different types of almond are there?

Basically, there are 2 types of almond. The bitter and sweet types. Bitter almonds are actually the kernel of the apricot which is commonly used in Chinese medicine while the sweet almonds are creamy white, smooth nuts with a brown skin and encased in a shell. In US, almonds are cultivated mainly in California.

When buying whole almonds, always try to buy with their skins on and blanch them yourself for recipes that asked for them as they have more flavor compared to the already-skinned almonds and are also not so dry. Nuts lose their flavor quickly, so only buy them in small quantities as required.

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14:45:18 on 08/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are low-fat spreads really healthier than butter or margarine since they seem to list many chemicals in their ingredients?

In the Western countries, there is a general consensus among the health experts that we tend to eat too much fat, particularly saturated fat, and that reducing the overall amount of fat in our diet can help us to be healthier.

As such, food manufacturers are now producing a wide range of low-fat products, including low-fat and reduced-fat spreads based on butter or margarine. These spreads contain considerably more water than is permitted in margarine or butter and, as a result, a number of emulsifying agents are added to them to prevent the fats and water from separating.

Labelling regulations require that these additives are declared. However, we must remember that most foodstuffs are ultimately made of chemicals and there is just no legal requirement to declare the chemical composition of butter.

So if using a low-fat spread can help to reduce our intake of fat, it is generally an accepted healthier choice than butter or ordinary margarine.

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10:00:31 on 08/01/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -