Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Does a gas outdoor grill impart more flavor than an oven broiler?

Gas (and charcoal) outdoor grills impart a special grilled flavor to foods that oven-broiling cannot. This happens because the dripping juices from the food come in contact with the hot metal grill and the metal surfaces directly below the gas outdoor grill. The liquid evaporates, rises, and flavors the bottom and sides of the food. In contrast to the grill, the oven broiler has a heat source that resides above the food. This means that the juices evaporate mainly on the food's top surface. These flavorful vapors do not effectively infuse the cooking food because they rise above it.

** Free Asian Recipes **

11:47:21 on 07/31/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

If heat travels upward, how can an overhead broiling element cook foods with such intense heat?

Although some conduction and convection cooking occurs within the broiler, it's mainly radiant heat that cooks the food. This heat emanates from the broiling element and, to a lesser extent, from the metal walls, which have absorbed some of the heat. While convection heat by nature rises, radiant heat travels in any direction. It moves in a straight line until it is absorbed by an object or is reflected. In the latter case, it begins another linear journey, this time prescribed by the laws of angular reflection.

** Free Asian Recipes **

12:18:24 on 07/30/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What happens when you deep-fry a food at too low a temperature? Or at too high a temperature?

A too-low temperature will make the food greasy. A too-high temperature will overcook the food's exterior by the time its interior is properly cooked. Take the case of breaded or batter-coated chicken. When it is submerged in sufficiently hot cooking oil, the coated surface quickly forms a protective shield. This wrapping prevents the oil from penetrating to the chicken and therefore helps keep it from becoming greasy. If the oil is not hot enough, unwanted oil will reach the chicken before the outer protective layer can form. If the oil is too hot, the breaded or batter-coated wrapping will be burned by direct heat from the oil before the chicken has had time to cook by conduction. The proper temperature varies by the kind of oil and the type and thickness of the food. As a general rule of thumb, the magic number for cooking breaded or batter-coated foods in vegetable oil is about 375 degrees F. You can use a cooking thermometer to measure that.

** Asian Recipes **

11:22:34 on 07/29/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between oven-roasting and baking?

From the standpoint of method, there is no difference, since both techniques cook foods by dry heat in an oven. To a lexicographer or recipe writer, distinctions exists - and dish names such as "baked leg of lamb" or "roasted cake" would definitely raise culinary eyebrows. If the food you are cooking is a whole bird or a piece of meat that will later be divided for serving, then - in virtually all cases - you are roasting. With all other foods - hams, fish, single-serving portions of meat, casseroles, baked goods, including breads and cakes - you are, in popular terminology, baking.

Be prepared for a few established exceptions to the roasting versus nomenclature rule. For example, "baking" is not used to describe the fish dish "pan-roasted cod" because cod is browned in a skillet on a range before being finished in the oven.

** Asian Recipes **

09:26:00 on 07/28/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is the surface temperature of a roasting meat lower than the temperature of the oven?

One of the most obvious explanations is that the air molecules are hotter because they come in direct contact with the oven's heat source or scorching interior walls. Another significant reason is that the meat's colder interior absorbs heat from, and cools, the warmer surface. As the meat's internal temperature increases during cooking, this cooling influence diminishes in importance.

A third major factor, evaporation, is less apparent. As the meat cooks by dry heat, some of its internal juices flow to the surface and evaporate. This ongoing process produces a cooling effect. (When water evaporates, it cools the surrounding area because the change from liquid to gas requires heat calories). For this reason - and because animal flesh is a less efficient conductor than metal - you can briefly touch a roasting meat but not the pan in which it sits.

** Asian Recipes **

11:54:33 on 07/27/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why should roasting meat be set on a rack instead of on the pan's flat surface?

As a meat roasts, it releases juices that collect at the bottom of the roasting pan. If the meat rests on the pan, its underside will cook in the liquid and therefore will be cooked by moist, rather than dry heat. The result is unsatisfactory. The meat's underside overcooks before the rest is done because moist heat cooks faster than dry, and conduction from the pan's surface intensifies the problem. Another disappointing outcome of the non-rack roasting method is a mushy, rather than crispy bottom.

** Asian Recipes **

07:17:23 on 07/26/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How does the Maillard reaction work?

As dry heat cooks a roast, some of the internal meat juices flow to the surface and evaporate, leaving behind an exposed coating of natural sugars, amino acids, and other solid substances. The Maillard (also called browning) reaction combines the sugar and amino acids on the meat's surface into new compounds that enhance the flavor, texture, and color.

Most of the new compounds created by the Maillard reaction remain on or just below the meat's surface. Some fall off the meat and coagulate on the pan's bottom, providing the flavor foundation of the esteemed pan drippings. You can promote browning by basting the surface of the meat with butter. Not only does butter contribute extra sugar and amino acids for the Maillard reaction, its fat content helps prevent the meat's surface from drying out while its surface molecules dutifully brown. Basting with the pan juices has the same effect.

** Asian Recipes **

05:57:44 on 07/25/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is it better to cook a roast in an uncovered pan?

If covered, the meat will be cooked, in part, by the moist heat generated by the steam trapped inside the covered pan. The meat's surface will tend to be mushy and pale brown. If cooked uncovered, the meat will be cooked by dry heat. An important chemical change called the Maillard reaction will occur. The Maillard reaction gives a meat's surface an appetizingly intense flavor, crusty texture, and dark brown pigmentation.

** Asian Recipes **

00:28:38 on 07/24/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does alcohol lower the boiling point of water?

Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water (about 175 degrees ). If you dilute water with alcohol, the mixture will have a lower boiling point up until the alcohol completely evaporates. Should you decide to alter an existing recipe by substituting a fair portion of wine for some of the water, remember to extend the cooking time by 5 to 10 percent, depending on the alcohol's strength and the heaviness of your touch.

** Asian Recipes **

07:21:28 on 07/23/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does salt raise the boiling point of water?

Indeed. Salt, sugar, and practically any other substance elevate the boiling point and therefore shorten cooking time. The difference in temperature between unsalted and salted water (1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water) is about 1 to 2 degrees F, a difference that is critical only in cooking situations that demand exactness.

** Asian Recipes **

01:43:51 on 07/22/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does a higher temperature cook foods faster than a lower one?

When you increase the heat, you increase the velocity of the molecules in a food. The greater the speed, the more the molecules collide. These microscopic crashes can alter the molecular structures, creating new molecules and changing the color, flavor, and texture of the cooking food. Chemical reactivity more or less doubles for each rise in temperature of 20 degrees F within the normal cooking range.

** Asian Recipes **

08:54:43 on 07/21/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is radiation cooking?

Radiant heat is transferred in the form of electromagnetic waves or particles from a hot object, such as the heating element of your broiler or toaster, to food. This transmission does not need the help of a medium like water or air. The food is heated when it absorbs this radiant energy, which travels at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

The sun, too, emits radiant energy. On a subzero January day, it is possible to heat a glass hothouse filled with growing spring vegetables by means of solar rays that have journeyed through a frigid void of 93 million miles.

** Asian Recipes **

08:31:48 on 07/20/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can kitchen appliances be operated during a brownout?

A 5 percent or so voltage reduction may cause your television or computer tube to flicker, but it shouldn't cause a serious problem for your kitchen equipment. Your worst setback will probably involve heating appliances like toaster ovens. They will generate a little less heat than they do normally.

A 10 percent or greater reduction, however, could cause some motor-driven appliances, like an electric mixer, to struggle and overheat. Since overheating harms the equipment, and you probably have no way to measure accurately the drop in voltage, caution is in order. When you see the lights dim, don't use your motor-driven kitchen appliances unless absolute necessary.

** Asian Recipes **

08:10:30 on 07/19/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are the pros and cons of microwave cooking?

Speed is the name of the game in microwave cookery. Most foods cook in one-quarter to one-half the time that other basic cooking methods require because the food cooks from within. Microwave cooking costs less because it requires about one-quarter the power that a traditional oven uses. A microwave oven also causes less splatter and hardly heats up the kitchen.

Baked goods rise higher in a microwave oven. On the other hand, bread, rolls, and other baked goods do not brown as well as they do in a traditional oven. Neither does meat, which means it won't develop the desirably flavorful crust caused by the Maillard (browning) reaction. Some microwave producers deal with this problem by adding convection fans and electrical heating elements. These devices do work, but their results pale compared to those of dedicated conventional and convection ovens.

Cooks face other problems as well. Microwave cooking tends to give meats a dry, mushy texture. It's also harder to predict the proper cooking time, especially for a large cut of meat. Consequently, microwaved food is more likely to come out of the oven undercooked or overcooked.

Frozen foods can take a long time to cook in a microwave oven. Since the water molecules are frozen solid, the electromagnetic waves cannot agitate them. Until enough water molecules liquefy and then become hot enough to thaw the adjacent frozen water molecules, the cooking process proceeds at glacial speed.

Another inconvenience is that of not being able to use your metal pots and pans or aluminum foil containers in a microwave oven. Oven manufacturers warn against the use of metal because of the possibility of arcing - an electric spark jumping between the metal pot and microwave oven wall when the pot is placed too close to the wall. Arcing can damage the unit's magnetron tube. Although the chance of arcing is relatively low in quality oven models, there is another strong reason not to cook in metal. It reflects electromagnetic waves and therefore causes uneven cooking. Finally, there is always a chance of radiation leakage, though, unless the unit is old or damaged, the possibility of a radiation leak with today's equipment is remote.

** Asian Recipes **

11:35:18 on 07/18/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is an electric deep-fat-fryer unsuitable?

When deep-frying, you sometimes have to adjust the temperature quickly. The conventional pan-on-a-flame method gives you reasonable flexibility, but with an electric deep-fat-fryer there is too long a lag between the time you reset the thermostat and the time the oil reaches the desired temperature. Deep-frying with a pan on an electric range causes almost as much trouble as the electric pan method.

** Asian Recipes **

00:09:56 on 07/17/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it wise to keep a refrigerator as long as it keeps working?

A refrigerator - even a new one - is one of the biggest users of electricity in your home. As it ages, it gradually becomes less efficient and has to work harder, which mean more electric consumption. It usually pays to replace a refrigerator when it's 12 to 15 years old. The money you invest in a new refrigerator will be repaid in about 5-6 years by the money you save on electricity (not to mention the cost of repair bills to fix an aging appliance).

** Asian Recipes **

05:36:59 on 07/16/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the most underrated section of a refrigerator?

Many cooks look upon the crisper as a feature, not as a basic function like the appliance's freezer and main section. The crisper is designed to retain moisture. Without one, you would have to store fruits and vegetables that need refrigeration in the appliance's main section. That would be unfortunately, because the main section is notorious for dehydrating foods, particularly fruits and vegetables with high water content. The resulting cellular water loss shrinks the produce and severely shortens its storage life.

To extend the storage life even more, insert and seal a fruit or vegetable in a plastic bag before placing it in the crisper. Be sure to pierce the bag in a number of areas to allow air to circulate between the bag and the crisper. Otherwise, excess surface moisture could form on the produce, hastening bacterial activity.

A crisper serves another important function. It prevents the assertive odors of some fruits and vegetables from scenting lightly wrapped foods stored in the refrigerator's main section.

** Asian Recipes **

07:47:26 on 07/15/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can I have the best of both worlds - a gas range and an electric oven broiler?

Although virtually all single-unit range-oven-broiler systems made for home use are either the all-gas or all-electric variety, you can buy a gas range and electric oven-broiler unit separately. The first snugly fits into a hole cut into your counter. The second is installed in a wall cabinet or under a counter (but not directly under the separately installed range because of space limitations). Go for the dual system the next time you remodel your kitchen.

** Asian Recipes **

15:17:51 on 07/14/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are the electric range options?

The two basic electric range categories are coil and cook-top. The electric coil variety uses a spiral heating element that sits exposed on top of the range. This device heats and responds to temperature adjustments very slowly. It is difficult to clean. It is more likely to malfunction than other range types. Avoid electric-coil ranges, even though they are the least expensive range.

An electric cook-top is a flat, smooth-surfaced range. The heating units lie hidden under the glass-ceramic panel. There are several electric cook-top subcategories: radiant, halogen, and induction.

** Asian Recipes **

01:03:46 on 07/13/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which gas is better for range cooking, propane or natural gas?

Natural gas is superior. Propane generates 10 to 20 percent fewer BTUs than natural gas. This means, for instance, that propane will take longer to boil a pot of water. And it more readily blackens the bottoms of pots and pans because it does not burn as cleanly as natural gas. Propane has its place. It fuels nearly all outdoor gas grills. If you live in a country home that is not connected to a natural gas pipeline - and you do not like the alternative of cooking on an electric range, then propane is the answer. You will need an outside propane tank and a range that can be converted to use propane.

** Asian Recipes **

09:39:05 on 07/12/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is a soft-shell crab?

It is not an individual species, as some believe. In order to grow, a crab (or lobster) must periodically shed its shell and grow a new, larger one. Immediately after undergoing this process (called "molting"), the crab has a soft exterior. It takes days, or longer, for the crab's exposed surface area to ossify. Until it does, the crab is highly vulnerable to predators (including two-legged diners) and is known as a soft-shell crab. The nonpareil soft-shell crab, from a seafood buff's perspective, is a young blue crab that has molted within the hour.

** Asian Recipes **

06:10:43 on 07/11/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can a crab (or lobster) regenerate a claw?

Yes, in Florida, a mini-industry that was once threatened by depletion has revived by taking advantage of a crab's regenerative capability. Formerly, gatherers of stone crabs killed the crustacean to obtain its two claws, its only marketable body parts. To save the diminishing crab population, and hence their own enterprises, the crab hunters adopted the practice of breaking off only one of the stone crab's two claws and tossing the creature back into the sea. With one claw left to defend itself and forage for food, the crab survives, grows a new appendage, and - if unlucky - suffers through the ordeal again.

** Asian Recipes **

05:59:46 on 07/10/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How does a scallop differ from a clam, oyster, or mussel?

Unlike the other popular mollusks, which do not travel through the water during their adulthood, a mature scallop jet-propels itself through its brainy environment by rapidly snapping together its twin shells. To perform this feat, the scallop has a comparatively sizable and powerful abductor muscle, the only part of this mollusk that we normally buy and eat. In contrast, one consumes everything inside the shell of a clam, oyster, or mussel, intestines and all.

** Asian Recipes **

10:49:36 on 07/09/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why never eat a cooked clam whose shells don't part upon cooking?

When a healthy clam, mussel, or oyster expires, so does the holding power of the muscle that keeps the two shells tightly closed. If the shells do not open after the bivalve is cooked (and hence killed), it wasn't alive in the first place. Something other than the abductor muscle - perhaps an oily mass of mud - was keeping the shells closed.

** Asian Recipes **

01:52:20 on 07/08/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why never cook a clam that refuses to close its shell before it is cooked?

It is quite natural for a healthy clam (or mussel or oyster) to open its shell if it feels relaxed as it rests on a bed of ice or in a bucket of cold water. However, it is unnatural for one of these bivalves not to clamp its twin shells tightly shut if you frighten it - say, by giving it a firm flick with your finger. Closing its shell in response to such an external stimulus is the shellfish's only meaningful defense. Should your threat not evoke the safety mechanisms designed by nature, the bivalve is dead or dying and may therefore be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms or toxins.

** Asian Recipes **

10:23:47 on 07/07/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which lobster tastes better, a right or left hand one?

Both are equal in this area, despite what some lobster snobs aver. Which claw tastes better? The flesh from the smaller claw is sweeter and more tender and is therefore superior, but the large claw contains more meat and provides a taste contrast - so we are lucky that Mother Nature designed lobsters with one of each.

** Asian Recipes **

13:35:43 on 07/06/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does a lobster turn red when cooked?

Heat liberates a yellowish-red carotenelike pigment in the shell. This chemical reaction changes the color of the lobster's carapace from (typically) bluish seaweed-green to ruddy red. Cooked shrimp shells also turn red. Even the surface of crustacean meat acquires a pinkish-red hue, though not as pervasive or intense as that of the shell.

** Asian Recipes **

11:21:32 on 07/05/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to kill a lobster?

Plunging a lobster (or crab) headlong into a pot of boiling water is not one of the best options because it is not exactly a humane method. Witnessing the doomed lobster's one or two second long spasm should prove this point to any doubting Thomas. The shock of this convulsive death does more than inflict pain on the lobster. It toughens its muscles and therefore your meal.

A more compassionate alternative to the plunging method is to sever the lobster's spinal cord before putting the lobster in the boiling water. This deadens its sense of pain. To sever the spinal cord, place the lobster right side up on a flat surface. Then, trust the tip of a knife downward into the natural breach where the head and front abdomen shells converge.

If you want to sever the spinal cord but are apprehensive about the thought of scuffling with an energetic lobster, you can use a method by placing the live lobster in a dish washing tub in a sink. Turn on both the hot and cold taps (be sure overflow water can pass through the sink's drain). When the tub is filled, turn off the cold water while increasing the flow of hot water until the water in the tub is very hot. Soon you'll see the lobster "go into sleep mode". Lift it out (it will be insensate and unaware of your presence). Now is the time to perform your culinary surgery before you boil the lobster. This hot tap water method can also be used to tame feisty live crabs.

Some cooks submerge the lobster (or crab) in a container of beer or wine. The crustacean becomes inebriated, relaxes its muscles, and reacts less spasmodically when dumped live into the seething cauldron of water. This method has validity, but today's wine and beer prices place it beyond the budget of most people. A lobster costs enough as it is.

** Asian Recipes **

04:35:55 on 07/04/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there left-handed lobsters?

Yes, and there are right-handed lobsters as well. Unlike humans and most other creatures, the "Maine" lobster (or more properly, the Northern or American lobster, Homarus americanus) is not symmetrical - that is, its left and right sides are not mirror images of each other. A close examination of any whole Maine lobster will reveal that its two claws are different in both size and function. The larger claw has coarse teeth for the heavy-duty crushing jobs, whereas the small claw has fine teeth for lighter ripping and tearing tasks. A lobster is left-handed or right-handed depending on which side has the larger claw.

** Asian Recipes **

07:45:15 on 07/03/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is salted butter a bane to cooks?

The salt content of salted butter can vary from brand to brand, and from region to region. One batch of butter may have 1.5 percent salt and another twice as much. Even if you stick with one brand and know its exact salt content, it is a headache to calculate the amount of salt you must subtract from a recipe that calls for a given quantity of sweet (unsalted) butter. Since the recipes from virtually all serious cookbooks are based on the use of sweet butter, people who cook with salted butter create an extra complication for themselves (unless, of course, one's religious code dictates its use).

** Asian Recipes **

10:21:13 on 07/02/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why should sherry not be added to a soup until just before serving it?

Soup is lightly laced with sherry for the elegant fragrance that it adds. Since much of the sought-after subtle aroma of sherry dissipates into the air within minutes after the fortified wine comes in contact with the hot soup, it is essential not to add it too soon. An even greater cooking transgression than adding the sherry too early is to compensate for the expected fragrance loss by using more than a teaspoon of sherry per cup of soup. Although the delicate fragrance of the sherry will escape into the air, the soup will be overpowered by the not-so-delicate sherry taste, which does not dissipate into the air so readily.

** Asian Recipes **

12:41:38 on 07/01/07 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -