Asian Recipes

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The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

How to Select and Buy a Chinese Cleaver

Before Buying a Chinese Cleaver

When it comes to cutting utensil meant for all purposes, the Chinese cleaver is of no match and none could compare or beat it. Practically, all parts of the knife can be put to great use in one way or another. The edge with the sharp blade is for cutting while the other blunter side is useful for pounding and tenderizing meat. Turning the cleaver on its side and it will be a great smashing tool for ginger and garlic. Besides, it can even be used to transfer ingredients that have been cut from the cutting board to the wok for cooking. The cleaver also comes with additional bonus of the handle's flat end which substitutes nicely as a pestle when required.

It is the blade that matters

Cleavers blades were traditionally made of carbon steel. However, carbon steel is a metal that is prone to rust and that is the problem of using carbon steel as the material. Besides, there will also be a tendency of having a metallic taste in the food. Today, well-known cookbook authors recommend using cleaver made of stainless steel, or at least a combination of stainless steel and carbon steel.

Cleaver or Knife?

Unlike the cleavers of western butcher's, Chinese cleaver should not be used to chop bones even though they look similar. To chop bones, heavier cleavers are required for this job. Instead, the main function of those Chinese Chef's Knife which is also known as a lighter cleavers are meant for slicing vegetables and meat. If you use the lighter cleavers to chop bones, you run the risk of damaging the blade. If you're not sure of the types of cleaver you have at home, just check at the store that you made that purchase.

How to choose a cleaver

Check with a few experts on their most favorite cleaver and the responses will come back in different answers. Just like the flavors of ice cream, selecting a cleaver is rather a personal preference. The most crucial is to find a well made cleaver. Martin Yan, Dexter and J.A. Henckels are amongst some of the better brand names.

In addition, it is also very important when it comes to your level of comfort in handling the cleaver. It should not be too heavy but at the same time feel solid. If you felt your arms to be strained when handling the cleaver, then choose another one. Preparing meals should not be a hard work.

Sharpening the cleaver

It is essential to sharpen the blade of the cleaver regularly. If you attempt to use a dull knife, you will tend to use more forces which can result in unwanted accidents in the kitchen.

To sharpen a cleaver, there are numerous ways to do so. You can use a smooth sandstone to sharpen or using a sharpening steel for the job. Sharpening steels realign the cleaver's blade edge at the molecular level instead of removing the metals.

Maintenance and care for cleavers

Protecting the cleaver's blade is the utmost important thing when it comes to storing or cleaning it. To avoid the risk of damaging it, cleavers ought to be kept in proper knife block. When cleaning a cleaver, the best way is to wash by hand in soapy and warm water. To ensure proper storage, always dry the cleaver thoroughly as stainless steel is not completely rustproof. And always clean the cleaver's blade immediately after you have used it to work with acidic ingredients like tomatoes.

14:55:25 on 05/22/13 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Great kitchen gadgets that do more than just cooking

Home cooked meals are always the best when it comes to eating right and having healthy foods. Preparing and cooking your own foods can be quite an empowering experience by itself. You could make smarter choices with all the fresh ingredients, controlling the amount of oil and fats that goes into your food, as well as the ability to select leaner cuts of meat. With these, it will assist you in gearing towards a healthier lifestyle and better diet.

Never shy away from your own kitchen as cooking a simple pasta dish or making a salad do not require rocket science. And if you need more help to ensure that making your own meals truly work for you, then you should consider investing in some of these great kitchen gadgets if you have not already done so.

A good and useful zester

This is one tool that makes it the easiest way to add freshness and great flavor to any food you cook. The champion of zesting especially for lemons, is the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who is great at it.

Citrus zest, regardless of lime, lemon, grapefruit or even orange contains lots of healthy nutrients too. Medical studies have proven that these citrus fruits could help to lower our cholesterol, serum triglycerides that cause diabetes, and also contain a high levels of antioxidants. Use them on mashed potatoes, salad or roasted cauliflower.

A humble everyday kettle

In some coffee-obsessed countries, it may be quite difficult to switch from coffee to tea. However, drinking simple cups of green tea everyday can help you to slow down the effects of aging due to its antioxidants. There have been medical researches done and many benefits of drinking tea have been documented, such as protecting against cancers, prevention of cardiovascular diseases, burn extra calories and aging gracefully. Use a simple kettle to prepare black tea which can increased your energy and immune system, greet tea for anti-aging and the least processed, as well as rooibos which helps to support respiratory health and liver.

Grilling Tools

Not everyone owns an outdoor barbeque set, but keeping some grilling tools would definitely be handy. Nowadays, grilling can be done indoor using electric griddles or even a stove top grilling pans. The secret to having a leaner meal is to ensure that you fire up that griddle which can limit the amount of fats and oil used. To put it simply, it is healthier to grill. And, grilling does not stop with just vegetables and meat. Try grilling fruits like mangoes, pineapples and peaches for desserts by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon with a little brown sugar. Then savor them drizzled with honey and a dollop of sour cream.

Container for food storage

Food containers are a must and important to have in every home. Ensure those food containers are airtight, and preferably made of high food grade plastic, or glass. They could help to prevent any potential contamination on your food as well as to keep them fresher longer. Once you've got those food containers sorted out, they can be utilized to pre-prepare your meals ahead of a busy week. You can just reheat your food instead of relying on those microwaveable dinners and fast food. Casseroles, roasted chicken and soups are great options to prepare and cook ahead.

01:41:46 on 05/21/13 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

How to select shellfish

What are the ways to select shellfish?

Abalone is expensive because the supply is limited. These large mollusks are found mostly in the waters off California and northern Mexico. Unlike the other mollusks discussed, abalone have only one shell. Most of the animal consists of a massive, muscular foot. Only abalone with meat weighing at least 1/4. pound may be legally harvested; some extremely large abalone yield as much as 3 pounds. The strict regulations governing the harvesting of wild abalone have led to farm-raised abalone, which are largely harvested in California and Hawaii.

Lobsters are the largest of the crustaceans. They are mainly purchased as Northern (or Maine) lobster, or spiny or rock lobster varieties. Gourmet cooks prefer the female lobster for its finer flavor and because it contains "coral," or lobster roe, which is considered a delicacy When cooked, the roe turns from dark green to red and is often used to color a sauce or served alone as a garnish. Another delicacy, found in both male and female lobsters, is the pale green liver, known as tomalley.

The majority of the meat from a lobster is in the tail, but there is also some in the claws of the Maine lobster. Lobsters are right-handed or left-handed, as indicated by which claw is the larger, and although the larger claw has more meat, that from the smaller claw is sweeter and more tender. Northern lobsters with one or both claws missing are sometimes sold as "culls." They are less expensive and attractive to the buyer interested only in the tail meat. Unless they are canned or frozen, lobsters must remain alive until cooked, at which point their natural dark blue-gray or greenish color turns deep orange or red.

The tail harbors most of the meat in shrimp. They are sold, headless, in either the raw shell-on (green shrimp), cooked shell-on, or cooked and peeled form. All three forms come both fresh and frozen, but the majority of shrimp are frozen. When shrimp are bought in their shells, they must first be peeled. The next step, if the shrimp are medium or large, is to devein them, which involves removing the dark-colored "sand vein" or intestine that runs along the shrimp's back. The "sand vein" is usually left in small shrimp, where it is undetectable and does not contribute to a gritty, muddy taste. After cleaning, the shrimp are dried by pressing them between paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. Before they are cooked, shrimp are somewhat grayish green, but they turn dark pink to borderline red when heated.

Shrimp are available in small, medium, large medium, large, and jumbo sizes. They are purchased according to "count per pound," which varies depending on the region, but obviously the smaller the shrimp, the higher the count per pound. Serving size averages 1/3 to 1/2 pound for headless, unpeeled shrimp or 1/4 to 1/3 pound for peeled and deveined shrimp. The largest jumbo-sized shrimp are frequently misnamed prawns, but true prawns have lobster-like pincer claws and are otherwise different from shrimp. Another shrimp-related North American misnomer is the use of the word scampi for describing large broiled shrimp seasoned with butter and garlic.

Canned Shrimp.
Glass-like beads are sometimes found in canned shrimp, but they are completely harmless. They are formed during canning, specifically under the high heats of sterilization. Called struvite crystals, they consist of magnesium-ammonium phosphate compounds that form when the magnesium from sea water combines with the ammonia that is produced during heating of the shellfish's natural protein. Phosphate treatment prevents struvite crystal formation due to the phosphates binding with the magnesium. Struvite crystals can be crushed to a powder by a fingernail or dissolved by boiling for a few minutes in the weak acid of lemon juice or vinegar.

The majority of meat in a crab is found in its claws and legs. The four top commercially harvested crabs are the blue crab from the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, stone crabs from Florida, Dungeness crabs from the Pacific coast, and, most expensive, king crabs from the northern Pacific waters. Soft-shelled blue crabs are considered a delicacy, particularly on the east coast. These crabs are caught while molting, a process during which they shed their shell and have a soft exterior until the new surface is completely hardened. The process may take several days, during which time the crab is more vulnerable to predators, especially two-legged ones such as birds and humans.

Canned Crab.
Canned crab may have a blue tint. This is caused by copper in the crab's blood combining with the ammonia in its flesh. Although the color may appear unappetizing, it is completely harmless.

Either referred to as crawdads, crayfish, or crawfish, these small crustaceans average 4 ounces in weight. Crayfish looks similar to lobsters but however, they are smaller, and their first pair of walking legs do not develop into huge, flesh-rich claws. Only their tails serve as a source of meat. They are found mainly as a food source in freshwater streams and ponds of the southeastern United States, especially Louisiana. Crayfish are sold both head-on and tails only, fresh and frozen.

15:12:48 on 10/08/12 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

How to Sharpen Your Cooking Skills And Satisfy Your Taste Buds

Everyone can learn how to cook. Can you shop and follow directions? Is your kitchen stocked with the basic cooking utensils necessary? If you have the ability to follow the steps listed, you too can cook. These tips are here to help you improve your cooking skills and prepare great dishes.

Be open-minded about how you cook and serve your oysters. Oysters can be prepared in multiple ways even though they are typically eaten on the half shell with a tad of lemon juice. Take opened oysters in shells and place them on broiler pans; cover them with a bit of cream. Add some cheese and pepper on top, and cook until you see the liquid churning. Another option is to saute the oysters. Just drop them in some seasoned flour, then fry them in butter until they turn golden- about 2 minutes. Try baking the oysters within their shells. Start by placing a casserole dish filled with your oysters, cover them with butter and breadcrumbs, and then bake them in the oven for about five minutes at 425 degrees. Once the butter begins to bubble, enjoy them hot alongside some crusty bread.

Dark, leafy greens have tons of healthy nutrients, but they can be tedious to prepare. Removal of the tough stems may take a long time. It's much easier to just fold the leaf along the stem and then break it off. Or you could use a knife and easily cut out the steam from a folded leaf. The unfolded leaf will be intact but stem-free.

If your time is short when making a roast, speed up the process by leaving in the bone while cooking. If you leave the bone in, the meat will cook quicker. This is due to the fact that once the bone is heated it will help cook your meat from the inside out. Before serving the roast, simply cut the meat from the bone.

If you're cooking in a nonstick pan, use a spatula made from nylon, rubber, or silicone. Harder utensils, such as metal or wooden ones, can scratch or gouge the nonstick coating, reducing the effectiveness of the pan, and potentially allowing the coating to flake into your food. If the protective coat of your dishes are flaking, it might end up poisoning your food.

Layer salads so that juicier ingredients are on the bottom and crisp ingredients are on the top. Put the juiciest ingredients like tomatoes on the bottom, then put the lettuce and other ingredients that wilt easily on top.

A fun spice to experiment with is saffron. Saffron lends a sunny flavor not available from other sources. Saffron is a delightful ancient herb. It is incredibly expensive due to its popularity.

Replace your spices twice a year. Often, spices that have sat upon the shelf for a long period of time lose their pungency. If you purchase a new spice but doubt you can use it before the flavor dries up, share some of it with a fellow cook.

You need to stay organized when you are cooking, so that you can be sure the food is as great as it can be and that nothing burns. Having an organized cooking area will ensure that you are productive when cooking. Unorganized cooking stations may mean you lose money and valuable food that is better suited to eating.

Get the right kind of potatoes for the recipe you select. Waxy, mealy, and all-purpose are the three main classes of potato. Potatoes that are considered mealy are good for mashing because of their dry consistency. The russet is a common type of mealy potato. Yukon-gold are all-purpose potatoes that can work with any dish. Potatoes that are waxy hold their shape nicely, and are good for boiling and steaming. The most prevalent waxy potato varieties are red or regular white potatoes.

Do not throw away the product of your hard work. Mix one tablespoon of starch and two tablespoons of water. Thicken your sauce by stirring the mixture into the simmering liquid. Be sure to gradually stir in the solution, and frequently stir the sauce so that it does not become too thick.

If you want the cooking process to be both faster and easier, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Browse through your recipes and see what parts can be prepared early, without fear of spoiling. There is a lot of preparation that you can take care of a day in advance. By doing this, your cooking task will be quick and easy - even for very complex recipes.

Most fresh fruits with light flesh will brown when that flesh is exposed to oxygen. You can stop the browning by brushing them with lemon or salt water but pineapple juice is recommended because it will not adversely affect the taste. A quick dip is all that is required, so don't worry about leaving it to soak.

You should consider drying your tomatoes on your own. Cut Romas tomatoes in lengthwise halves, or slice ripe regular tomatoes into half inch slices for drying. Set them on a rack cut side up and sprinkle lightly with salt. The next step is to put the rack on an old cookie sheet and then place in an oven set at 190 degrees for at least 10 hours. You can store your dried tomatoes in a plastic bag in the freezer. Dried tomatoes could also be put in a jar with fresh herbs and topped up with olive oil. This will be good for up to two weeks, and should be refrigerated during that time.

Different varieties of potatoes can have specific uses; you cannot always use one type in lieu of another. There are some potatoes that are waxy and recommended for making boiled potatoes and potato salad but are not recommended for mashed potatoes, french fries or baked potatoes. Russets, and other less dense potatoes, tend to work best for baking, frying and mashing.

You can make cooking a pastime, a skill or a profession. Food can be prepared in millions of methods, and the most ideal approach to learning new culinary skills is to solicit advice from the masters in cooking. Therefore, experiment with some of these suggestions whenever you are responsible for preparing a meal.

14:17:58 on 07/24/12 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir limes are not true limes. They are from the subspecies of the citrus family and also known as makrut. In South-east Asia, the tree is found easily as they are the native to that part of the world. The rind of the dark green knobbly fruit is sometimes used in Thai cooking while the leaves are the most used. The flesh of the kaffir lime fruit is not edible.

Whenever the leaves are torn or shredded, they release out an unmistakable citrus smell. In Thai cooking, the kaffir lime leaves are used very extensively and also a popular flavoring in Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam cuisines. The leaves are either shredded finely or torn to be used in soups especially the hot and sour soups, and curries.

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04:45:18 on 12/26/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Long-grain rice

This is by far the most popular rice eaten in China and throughout Southeast Asia. The kernels are about five times as long as they are wide. Long-grain rice is the least starchy of all rice and cooks up dry and fluffy with grains that separate easily. It is the best type for making plain steamed rice, pilaf, and fried rice dishes.

There are many brands and varieties to choose from including naturally fragrant jasmine from Thailand called khao hom mali, aged basmati from India, and American labels such as Carolina, Patna, and Louisiana Pecan. Other good Thai jasmine brands are Ba Con Nai with a blue and red deer head logo on a white bag. Alternatively, you can also buy cartons of fresh-cooked rice from the deli counter to take home when you don't have time to cook your own.

13:35:03 on 08/26/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Cooking with Mussels

A bivalve mollusk (similar to scallops, oysters, as well as clams), mussels consist of a variety of species. Two of the most well-known types are blue-black mussels, located across the Pacific, Atlantic, in addition to Mediterranean shorelines, plus the considerably less common New Zealand green mussels, shipped in from New Zealand. Both varieties have the identical taste, however the green varieties can be a little bigger and also significantly more costly.

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06:27:11 on 08/21/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Truffles Mushrooms (Tuber spp.)

Appearances usually are not everything. On first glance, a truffle seems similar to some sort of irregular, warty, coarse, as well as lumpy formed mass. However the actual taste can be smooth just as velvet. Truffles mushrooms are actually highly valued fungi which grow subterranean, most abundantly underneath some specific oak and also hickory trees in Italy and France. They tend to be very costly for the reason that it normally takes keen pigs and canines to sniff out their natural undercover position during the fall and winter. Typically the common truffle is the size of a walnut, however they can easily grow until up to 6" across. Lots of varieties can be found, however white and black truffles are usually the most significant.

Black truffles (also known as black diamonds) come from the Perigord region in France. The color is in actual fact a dark brownish or even grayish purple-black. They possess an amazingly earthly fragrance and abundant, delicate taste together with nutty undertones. Moderate cooking gives away the finest flavor. White truffles are usually much more aromatic as well as pungent, tan or slightly brownish in shade, and thrive generously within the Piedmont location of Italy. Their musky, natural aroma along with flavor contains nuances of garlic and aged cheese, having an occasional peppery bite.

White truffles are generally almost often introduced raw into Italian cuisine, typically shaved into wafers over pasta, risotto, and also cheese gravies. When buying truffles, choose by means of scent. To keep them, bury the truffles within rice grains and then refrigerate up to 10 days. Make use of the truffle-flavored grain as well. For an inexpensive approach to delight in the flavor of truffles, purchase truffle oil, keep it inside the fridge, but finish it within one year. Truffle oil can be splendid drizzled over bread, salads, pasta, risotto, polenta, seafood, or vegetables.

Processed truffles are also readily available, however they possess significantly less flavor as compared to fresh and reduce to half their actual size, forming a more dense consistency and darker color.

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09:44:59 on 08/12/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinus edodes)

Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinus edodes)

Also known as black mushrooms, Chinese Black Mushrooms, black forest mushrooms, and golden oak mushrooms. Here we have one of the most successfully cultivated mushrooms. The dark, almost pointy caps range from just 1" to a very large 8" in diameter. The color of the caps is usually dark brown, almost black, but sometimes you will find them with a variegated or crackled beige appearance. The wonderful woodsy aroma and flavor of shiitake mushrooms intensifies when the mushroom is dried. Fresh shiitake should be firm and dry. The stems are always tough and should be removed before using. Shiitake can be grilled or broiled and they can star in simple stir-fries.

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11:13:42 on 07/25/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Portobello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)

Portobello Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)

This mushroom is also known as portabella. When cremini mushrooms are left to grow larger, they turn into portobellos. Cultivation of portobellos has flourished in recent years and their price is coming down as supply increases. In a way, they are an inexpensive substitute for porcini mushrooms. They have a deep, meaty flavor and texture. The stems are tough and woody, often removed and added to soups and stock for flavor, but you can also slice and saute them. The large caps are the real draw in portobellos. They are wonderful for grilling or broiling whole. They can also become "burgers" or a mushroom "pizza" crust when topped with tomato and cheese, then baked. When thinly sliced, the caps make a pretty arrangement over traditional pizza. If using in light sauces, scrape out the dark gills from the undersides of the caps to avoid darkening the sauce.

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06:52:58 on 07/24/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Porcini Mushrooms (Boletus edulis)

Porcini Mushrooms (Boletus edulis)

This mushroom is also known as Bolete, King Bolete, porcino, cepe, or Steinpilze. Large and precious, perhaps the greatest amongst all mushrooms, porcini defy cultivation. Great celebrations follow porcini seasons throughout Europe. The caps can grow up to a foot across! The stems of porcini can be quite bulbous but are delicious and should not be discarded. Although some wild porcini come to market from the West Coast, most are imported. They are very expensive, both fresh and dried. But the reward is a deep, meaty, woodsy flavor and tender, beefy texture. The caps, or even whole fresh porcini cut into thick slices, are ideal for grilling. just brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simple is best when it comes to cooking these treasures of the forest. Dried porcini are also sensational. They have such a deep, robust taste that half ounce or less is enough to flavor an entire pot of pasta sauce.

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09:36:00 on 07/23/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus)

Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus)

This mushroom is also known as pleurotte. A rainbow of color will greet you in the oyster mushroom section of the food markets. They grow in hues ranging from silver, cream, white and buff, to golden, yellow, pale blue, lavender, pink, gray, and black. Cream is the most common color, and don't worry about trying every color variety. Most of the color fades during cooking, and the flavors of each variety are similar. Oyster mushrooms have a delicate earthy flavor, not bold at all, and will taste best when cooked simply and quickly. A very short saute in butter or olive oil until just wilted and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper are all that is needed. They can also be quickly grilled or broiled, then dressed with a vinaigrette. Or try them scattered over seafood. Delicate oyster mushrooms begin to decay quickly, so buy them fresh and dry, and use them as soon as you can.

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08:54:44 on 07/22/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Morel Mushrooms (Morchella angusticeps or Morchella elata)

Morel Mushrooms (Morchella angusticeps or Morchella elata)

An elegant and expensive mushroom that come to mind whenever the words morels are mentioned. Perhaps the most easily recognized mushroom as morels have an unusual shape. It has a rounded, hollow elongated cone with a honeycomb-link, spongy cap and a hollow stem. They have a rich flavor that suggests nuts or spice. Morel mushrooms take especially well to creamy sauces, flavoring and soaking up the sauce in a delicious way. Wonderful with elegant seafood, poultry, and veal, morels also make a great addition to vegetable dishes. Dried morels are quite good and some of them are lightly smoked during the drying process, boosting their flavor even more.

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01:57:02 on 07/22/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom

Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom (Grifola Frondosa)

This mushrooms is also known with numerous names like maitake, sheep's head, or dancing butterfly mushrooms. With hen-of-the-woods mushroom, you can see a cluster of ruffled-looking caps and stems attached at the base. These clumps can be enormous, sometimes growing several feet wide. Both the stems and caps can be eaten, but many people prefer the stem over the cap because the stem has a firmer texture. The whole clump is generally firm in texture compared with other mushrooms, yet tender and a bit crumbly, with a nutty, woodsy flavor and a hit of garlic smell. Pull apart the cluster to make smaller portions. Hen-of-the-Woods stands up well to simmering and braising. Great with chicken or veal in cream sauce or with beef stroganoff.

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14:03:15 on 07/21/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Enoki Mushrooms

Enoki (Flammulina velutipes, formerly Collybia velutipes)
This Enoki mushroom is also known as enokitake, enokidake, and golden mushrooms depending on who you talk to. These waifs of the mushrooms world are easily identified by their long, skinny stems and tiny caps, which are usually the size of a pencil erasers. They grow in clusters and are sold in vacuum-packed pouches to extend their shelf life. Trim off about 1 inch from the stems at the bottom, where the fused stems begin to separate. The taste of these mushrooms is fairly bland, but the texture of the caps is firm and bouncy. Because they are so exotically beautiful, enoki are often added to salad and open-faced sandwiches, dropped into a stir-fry or hot soup at the last moment, or used as a garnish. They are best when eaten raw or just slightly cooked.

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06:01:03 on 07/20/11 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -