Asian Recipes

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The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

When buying food labelled organic, does it always mean the product will be free of additives and pesticides?

When we buy organic vegetables and fruit, we are expecting them to be grown using only organic fertilizers like compost or animal manure and free from the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. We are also expecting that there will be no synthetic additives been used.

Organic meat is taken to mean that the animal has been raised without using any antibiotics or growth-hormone substances, and that it has been allowed to roam in a free-range or pasture conditions free from chemical fertilizers, eat only natural food, not concentrates. The animal must be slaughtered in an abattoir or butcher's facility that is organic certified.

However, in many cases, food advertised as organic has not lived up to the customers' expectations. Unscrupulous traders are tempted to pass off non-organic produce as the real thing due to the higher prices that people are willing to pay for organic foods. Consumers should look for the 'certified organic' label which will identifies the food as meeting a specific standard that is regularly inspected.

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12:30:47 on 07/31/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

For a strong red coloring in food, what is the alternative besides red cochineal?

Although genuine cochineal may still be available, however due to its high cost of production, it is rarely used. This coloring is extracted from the female cochineal insect and to produce just 500g of this red coloring, it requires more than 70,000 insects. But then, true cochineal does provide a strong color that is hard to match by those artificial coloring. Anthocyanins which is derived from vegetables, fruit and berries is another group of red food colorings. However, this coloring tends to have a bluish tinge.

Usually azorubine which is a synthetic dye is used as artificial cochineal too. And people who suffer from eczema and ashma will find it to be sensitive and may cause wheezing or rashes. However, this dyes are still listed as safe because they are safe for most people, and it is believed that the benefits for the majority outweigh the risks for the few. In foods, there is no absolute guarantee of safety. Some people are allergic to particular additives, just as some people are allergic to shellfish or berries.

So if you suffer from eczema and ashma, be extra careful on the type of foods that are with strong red coloring.

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11:34:29 on 07/30/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Sometimes the names of additives and the numbers listed on foods could be very confusing. How do we explain them?

During the processing of food, a wide variety of substances are added which includes preservatives, antioxidants, stabilizers and emulsifiers, coloring and sweeteners. While some will improve and enhance the taste of food, others will assist in keeping the quality or increase the nutritional value.

These natural and synthetic substances have been approved as safe for use in food before they are added. The list of the approved additives includes naturally occuring substances like pectin which is obtained from apples and used as a gelling agent. Lecithin obtained primarily from soya beans and frequently used as an emulsifier or stabilizer. Other permitted additives of natural substances are like ascorbic acid, the chemical name for vitamin C.

Besides these natural or nature-identical compounds, there are a substantial number of synthetic additives too. All of these additives, both natural, nature-identical and synthetic, have been recognized as a safe additions to food.

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00:15:00 on 07/29/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Abalone is commonly seen and eaten in Chinese restaurants but never seen to be on sale. What is it actually?

Sometimes abalone is also known as paua and it is a large shellfish commonly found in the South Pacific and on both the North and South American coasts. In around Tasmania and along the south coasts of Australia, the blacklip and greenlip abalone could be found. The edible part of the shellfish is the muscle with which it clings to the rocks, concealed beneath its single pearly shell. To tenderize it, it has to be beaten. It has a delicate flavor that is much prized in the Asian cooking and can be eaten raw or very quickly seared in butter or oil once it has been tenderized.

It is difficult to find fresh abalone, but you can buy canned abalone in the Asian stores. The abalone should be sliced thinly and then poached briefly in chicken stock, stir-fried or simply served with a squeeze of lemon. Sometimes, scallops are used as substitute in many Chinese recipes that call for abalone.

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17:01:17 on 07/28/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -