Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Can we cook cucumber and serve it as a vegetable with other dishes?

Hot cucumber makes a light, crisp vegetable dish to go with fish, but it shrinks during salting and cooking so you should allow a whole one to serve two people, or three at the most. You may have to use two pans if you are cooking for a larger number. Choose young cucumbers, which are smaller and have a thinner skin than older cucumbers and are likely to have fewer seeds and softer, more edible flesh.

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11:35:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do some recipes tell us to salt cucumbers before using?

Salt draws out the moisture which softens the crisp cucumber, resulting in a denser texture and a more concentrated flavor. This method is used for the tangy Greek salad or dip called tzatziki, in which the cucumber is coarsely grated and salted for 30 minutes; it is then rinsed, squeezed dry and mixed into yoghurt with plenty of garlic and a splash of olive oil.

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10:28:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can we crystallize ginger in the same way as fruit?

Commercial preserved or stem ginger in syrup is made from the very youngest shoots of the ginger plant, and these contain very little fiber. The fresh root ginger we can buy is too fibrous to be used for home-made crystallized ginger. To give a subtle flavor of ginger to your own crystallized fruit, add a peeled piece of fresh ginger to the sugar syrup. Steep it with the fruit and discard it when done.

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09:30:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can all fruits be crystallized?

Strongly flavored fruits such as apricots, cherries, mangoes, paw-paw, peaches, pineapple, plums and slightly under-ripe pears are the best choice for crystallizing. You can also treat orange, lemon and grapefruit peel, and chestnuts, in the same way. Soft fruits such as berries, kiwifruit and melon are not suitable because they contain too much water and will break up and become mushy. Equally, the large amount of juice in whole oranges and lemons causes them to collapse easily, which makes them difficult to crystallize at home, but tiny kumquat can be preserved by this method.

You can use either canned or fresh fruit but canned fruit is easier to handle, with the exception of canned plums, which soften and disintegrate during the process.

Fresh fruit must be in perfect condition. The first step is to poach it lightly in sugar syrup until just tender. The second stage is to make a crystallizing syrup from the cooking water and then the process is the same as for canned fruit. It needs to be steeped for two to three days longer than canned fruit. Because fresh fruit can break up during the process, it is harder to see when enough sugar has been absorbed so the soaking may be stopped too soon, in which case the fruit could go mouldy.

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08:17:44 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to make crystallized fruits as Christmas presents at home?

Crystallized fruits, though expensive to buy, can be made quite cheaply at home and make lovely presents. The fruit is simply saturated in a sugar syrup then left to dry, and although the process takes more than a week, it requires only a small amount of time each day. Don't be tempted to hurry the process or the fruit will shrivel and become tough. To finish off the fruit, give it a sparkling crystallized finish or a smoother, shiny glace coating.

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01:15:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there an easier way to make decorative sugar flowers?

There are two methods. In the simplest, known as sugar-frosting, the flowers are brushed with egg white and then dusted with caster sugar, and this will preserve them for up to two days.

If you want them to last longer you need to use gum arabic (available from cake decorating shops and some chemists) dissolved in rose or orange-flower water. To use gum arabic as a covering, melt 15 g of gum arabic in 2 tablespoons of flower water. The gum must be thoroughly dissolved, so follow the packet instructions.

Using an artist's paintbrush, coat the flowers, petals or leaves on all sides with the gum arabic mixture, then dust them all over with caster sugar. Place the flowers on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper and leave them in a warm place for one to two days until they are dry and hard. Stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, they will keep for up to a year.

As this method takes quite some time and the flowers tend to lose their shape, it is best-suited for petals and flowers that are strongly scented and flavored and have a good color, such as gardenia, rose petals or violets. They can be used whole as decorations, or can be crushed and stirred into meringues or whipped cream for a delicate flavoring. Frosted flowers are a pretty touch on a cake or mousse.

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00:30:00 on 10/27/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -