Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

What features to look for in a new oven?

After deciding on the fuel to use, the choice is between a traditional, free-standing stove or a separate hotplate and oven. An all-in-one stove is often cheapest. The advantage of separate units is that you can install them in different parts of the kitchen; the oven can be positioned higher than it is in a free-standing stove to eliminate stooping; and you also have the option of using different fuels, possibly gas for the hotplates and electricity for the oven.

With a separate oven, the grill may be placed either above the hotplate at eye-level, below it or inside the oven itself. Decide how much grilling you do and how inconvenient it would be if the grill were inside the oven. If you have only one oven, it cannot be used for any other cooking, such as baking, while you are using the grill.

There are useful extras which are worth considering. You might want a self-cleaning or stay-clean oven, a motorized rotisserie or an integral charcoal-style grill. There are also built-in wok stands, or deep-fryers connected to extraction units to eliminate smells. Some ovens have optional bread or pizza stones which fit exactly into the oven, heat up with it and provide an ideal surface on which to bake breads and pizza.

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10:44:59 on 06/30/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are some kinds of onion better suited to certain methods of cooking than others?

Yes, Red onions and big, sweet golden Spanish onions have the mildest taste and can be sliced raw into salads or gently fried. Spring bulb or salad onions, are also excellent raw, or cooked quickly in stir-fries so that they do not collapse. Medium-sized brown onions, which have a stronger flavor, are delicious peeled and roasted whole, and basted as they cook. This will transform their flavor into a mellow sweetness. Shallots are usually fried briefly and then finished in wine or stock.

For braising, choose pickling or small, evenly sized white onions no larger than a golf ball, so that they all cook at the same rate, as they do in some of the recipes.

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09:28:55 on 06/28/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Secret of a good omelet

Is the secret of a good omelet is in the cooking or in the pan? Answer is both. Omelets, to be soft and runny in the center while smooth on the surface, should be cooked very quickly over a heat that is brisk but not too fierce. If cooked slowly, they become flat and tough and similar to scrambled eggs. To ensure even cooking, use a small, heavy-based nonstick frying pan. Better still, invest in an omelet pan, in which the base meets the side in a gentle curve to make it easier to fold the omelet and slide it out. After use, do not wash an omelet pan but simply wipe it clean with kitchen paper.

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14:28:27 on 06/27/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Storing Olives

Fresh olives are very bitter and must be 'cured' or pickled in brine to render them edible, so they are naturally long-keeping. However, when removed from their brine they will begin to go soft and deteriorate in flavor. Once the jar or can has been opened, or if bought loose in their brine, olives should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a few days. Those stored in olive or some other cooking oil will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator, as long as they are completely submerged in the oil. The oil will take on some flavor from the olives and this delicately flavored oil is very pleasant for cooking.

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12:52:00 on 06/26/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Is okra the same as the ladies fingers?

'Ladies fingers' does refer to the tapering shape of okra's seed pods. Inside the pods, the seeds are set in sticky juices and this is what thickens the soups and stews that are part of southern American cuisine. In the Cajun dishes of Louisiana okra is usually sliced up so the sticky juices are released, and it is often smothered in a peppery tomato sauce. Lard would probably be used instead of olive oil. Choose okra that is bright green and velvety, with no brown tinge along the outside ridges. Serve this dish as a hot accompaniment to grilled meat or oily fish. Or, for a vegetarian meal, offer it with bean dishes and cornbread or corn muffins made with green chilies.

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13:22:33 on 06/25/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Difference between black and green olives

They are essentially the same fruit, picked at different stages of ripeness: unripe olives are green, black are fully ripe, and those with a violet tinge are picked sometime in-between. Black olives have a fruitier taste than the green and are more often used in cooking. Olives are one of the oldest processed foods known to man, and there are many regional varieties and preferences. In Spain, there are smooth, green table varieties, from large queen olives to the refined manzanilla often sold stoned and stuffed with red pepper, anchovy, orange rind or almonds. Purple-black Kalamata olives from Greece have an intense flavor, especially those allowed to ripen on the tree. The shiny Nicoise olives from Provence are small, black and wrinkled with an almost creamy taste and are often sold in jars. Kalamata and Nicoise olives are the ones most often used in cooking.

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05:57:24 on 06/24/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Difference between ordinary and virgin olive oil

Olive oils are classified according to their level of acidity. The first cold pressing of a high grade of olives produces the finest olive oil, with a maximum acidity level of only 1 percent and this is called extra-virgin olive oil. Further processing by heat produces more oil, which decreases in quality and flavor. Fine virgin olive oil contains a maximum acidity level of 1.5 percent; ordinary virgin olive oil of 3 percent. Plain olive oil, sometimes called pure olive oil, is made from a blend of refined oil and one of the grades of virgin oil.

Olive oil is healthy and versatile, and it is worth buying the best quality that you can afford. It is important to use virgin olive oil in sauces.

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13:38:23 on 06/23/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

How long can we reheat frying oil?

Oil that is frequently reheated in a deep-fryer is likely to become rancid in time. Its vitamin content also reduces, the flavor may become unpleasant, and it is possible for harmful substances to be produced if the oil is overheated. Discard any frying oil that smells unpleasant, produces too much foam when heated, creates smoke easily and has become dark in color.

In general, you should reheat oil two or three times only before discarding it. Each time it is used, the oil should be allowed to cool completely, then be filtered through a fine sieve. Once you have cooked a specific type of food in a batch of oil, re-use the oil for that food only.

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01:51:43 on 06/22/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Best oil for cooking

There are more than 20 different culinary oils available, including avocado and pumpkin seed oils; in addition, there are many varieties of olive and flavored oils. Oils which are fairly neutral in flavor and can withstand high temperatures, such as those made from corn, grapeseed, peanut, rapeseed (canola) and sunflower, are best for cooking. Others, such as almond, hazelnut, sesame and walnut oils, are more suitable for flavoring foods. Some oils, such as olive, may be used for both.

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10:19:03 on 06/21/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

What does the term offal include and can we freeze offal?

It covers all edible, internal parts of animals, such as kidneys and liver, also brains, cheeks, ears, stomachs, sweetbreads, tripe and tongue. Offal must be absolutely fresh before freezing. Look for moist, shiny meat, and avoid buying any that has a greenish color, slimy surface or an unpleasant smell.

Liver can be frozen either in large pieces or sliced. Calf's kidneys should be chopped up, but lamb's kidneys can be frozen either whole or halved. Sweetbreads are best frozen whole, after blanching.

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13:09:05 on 06/20/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

The difference between oatmeal and oatflakes

Both are processed from the oat cereal, but oatmeal is ground from the whole kernel while oatflakes are made from steamed and rolled oats. Oatmeal is graded according to how finely it is ground; the largest is pinhead oatmeal, followed by coarse, medium and fine. Both oatmeal and oatflakes can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Because oatflakes (also known as rolled oats or porridge oats) have been lightly steamed, they cooked faster than oatmeal. Oatmeal is used in stuffings and coatings instead of breadcrumbs; it is also added to breads, although it cannot be used on its own for this purpose as the gluten content of oats is too low. Traditionally, rolled oats are used in biscuits.

14:07:25 on 06/19/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -

Are oats good for the heart?

Generally speaking, oat grains are a highly nutritious food: they contain carbohydrates, protein and fat as well as iron, potassium and most B-group vitamins. Oats also contain soluble fibers that turn into a jelly-like consistency when cooked; these have been connected in various studies to cholesterol-lowering activity in the body. Though there is not enough firm evidence to confirm this, oats are regarded as very beneficial in the diet.

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12:52:36 on 06/18/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to overcome bitter walnuts?

The flavor of walnuts can vary depending on their freshness and country of origin. If you have bought some which you find bitter, their flavor can be mellowed by blanching them. Crack open the nuts and put the kernels in a small saucepan of boiling water. Boil gently for a minute, then drain and dry before using.

For the best flavor, make sure that walnuts are absolutely fresh. To test the freshness of shell-on nuts, weigh them in your hand individually - each one should feel heavy and not rattle when shaken. If the nut rattles, the kernel inside will have dried and shriveled. If, after blanching, you still find the flavor too bitter, you could use mellower pecan nuts instead, which are from the same family.

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15:26:31 on 06/17/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Some say nuts are very healthy, while others say they are high in fat: who is right?

Both statements are correct. All nuts, but particularly peanuts and almonds, are a good source of protein, and play an important part in a vegetarian diet. They are also a good source of B-group vitamins. However, all nuts except chestnuts are high in fat and therefore high in kilojoules, so anyone on a low-kilojoule diet should avoid them. Macademias, pine nuts and walnuts are highest in fat; pine nuts and walnuts are highest in fat; pine nuts and hazelnuts contain less saturated fat then other nuts.

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13:10:56 on 06/16/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -

Best way to keep nuts fresh and full of flavor

Because of their high fat content, nuts turn rancid quite quickly in warm or damp conditions and they are best bought only when you intend to use them, and in small quantities. They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, providing they are kept very dry, or in airtight plastic containers.

Nuts sold in vacuum-sealed packs showing a 'use-by' date are the best to buy, as they will keep in a cool, dry cupboard until you are ready to use them. Once the packet has been opened, however, the nuts should be kept in an airtight container and eaten quite quickly.

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02:11:59 on 06/15/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -

Why salt is bad for our health?

There is some concern about the amount of salt used in Western diets because of the links between sodium and high blood pressure (hypertension), a condition which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

We need sodium (salt is sodium chloride) for proper cell, nerve and muscle function, but the danger of consuming too much comes partly from the hidden salt in processed foods and the habit of oversalting food at the table. While many of us consume about 3,000-4,600 mg of sodium daily, the recommended intake is no more than 2,300 mg.

There are two ways of reducing your salt intake. Limit your intake of foods, such as smoked and cured meats or fish, cheese, salty snacks, packet soups and stock cubes. Secondly, reduce the amount of salt you add to food, both when cooking and at the table.

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14:18:41 on 06/14/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -

Is irradiated food harmful?

Irradiation involves exposing food to a source of radioactivity that inhibits the continued growth or ripening of the food. This makes it an effective preservation process, but it does cause chemical changes in the food, and some destruction of vitamins may occur. The irradiation process can form new compounds called 'radiolytic products' in the food. Even though these may be present in very small amounts (only one or two parts per million), questions have still been raised about the possible harmful effects.

The flavor and texture of foods can also be adversely affected by irradiation; for instance, vegetables may become soft and spongy, and irradiated meats have often been described as having an unpleasant 'goaty' or 'wet dog' flavor.

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06:53:06 on 06/13/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Can drinking tea with food, or shortly before eating, inhibits our absorption of iron?

Yes. Only a small amount of the iron in the foods we eat is absorbed and it varies according to the type of food, and whether other factors help or hinder its absorption. For example, about 20-40 percent of the iron in red meat is absorbed, compared with only 5 percent from some vegetable sources.

Vitamin C improves the body's absorption of iron while the tannins in tea and, to a lesser extent, coffee interfere with this process. So to boost iron absorption, a glass or orange juice is a better accompaniment to a meal than tea or coffee.

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11:41:50 on 06/12/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids?

Omega-3 and omega-6 are generally known as essential fatty acids and are found in some foods such as oily fish, seeds and seed oils. Believed to be essential for brain and eye development, omega-3 is also useful to the body for reducing inflammation and lowering the tendency for blood to clot.

Omega-6 appears to help regulate blood pressure and the body's water balance. It also improves our nerve and immune functions. There is some evidence to suggest that people who eat oily fish, such as mullet, mackerel and sardines, twice a week may have lower rates of heart disease. Certainly, it is an easy and inexpensive way of increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds of pumpkin, sesame and sunflower are good, tasty sources of omega-6.

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15:08:34 on 06/11/08 by Webmaster - Food, Health and Fitness -

What are trans fatty acids?

Trans fatty acids have been linked to heart disease because, like saturated fats, they raise blood cholesterol levels. They are created when polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils are hydrogenated, either naturally or industrially. Trans fatty acids occur in butter (5 percent) and in some margarines and spreads (0-10 percent). However, about half the margarines and spreads on the market are now virtually free of trans fatty acids. If you are concerned about heart disease and your blood cholesterol level, choose food products that are low in trans fatty acids.

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13:25:03 on 06/10/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are the pros and cons of butter and margarine?

Butter and traditional margarine contain the same number of kilojoules. However, many vegetable oil-based spreads now contain less far than previously. Butter naturally contains vitamins A and D and, by law, these vitamins are added to margarines and spreads. But they differ in other ways. Butter contains more saturates (54 percent) and less polyunsaturates (5 percent) than soft margarines and spreads (which contain 16-26 percent saturates and more than 40 percent polyunsaturates). As most people need to limit their consumption of saturated fats while increasing their intake of polyunsaturates, margarine is the healthier choice.

However, cooking margarines can contain up to 35 percent saturated fat and only a small amount of polyunsaturates. The differing cholesterol contents of butter and margarine may also be important to people concerned about heart disease. Most spreads made form vegetable oils are almost cholesterol-free.

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12:48:46 on 06/09/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Would it be harmful to cut fat from my family's diet completely?

Although we need to avoid eating too much fat, cutting all the fat from the diet is not very wise. We need fat because it gives us energy, provides the essential fatty acids which enable the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, and makes foods more palatable.

Fats are particularly important for children under the age of five, who need to have sufficient energy and nutrients for rapid growth. If very young children are given the bulky, low-fat diets recommended for adults, their small stomachs are quickly filled without providing them with the amount of energy and nutrients they need.

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12:25:48 on 06/08/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there any simple rules on healthy eating?

Yes, eat a variety of different types of food and try to regulate your intake to keep your weight within the healthy range for your height. Most of our food should come from the groups that include vegetables, fruit, cereals, legumes and bread; we should eat least of the sugar, salt, butter and oil. Make the most of poultry and fish, choose lean cuts of meat and limit fried foods, snacks containing hidden fat, pastries and biscuits. Take advantage of lower-fat alternatives, use salt sparingly and drink alcohol only in moderation.

The Balance of Good Health

  • Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.

  • Eat plenty of breads and cereal (preferably wholegrain, vegetables (including legumes) and fruits.

  • Eat a diet that is low in fat, and in particular, low in saturated fat.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight by balancing physical activity and food intake.

  • If you drink alcohol, limit your intake.

  • Eat only a moderate amount of sugars and foods containing added sugars.

  • Choose low-salt foods and use salt sparingly.

  • Encourage and support breast-feeding.

  • Eat foods that contain calcium; this is particularly important for girls and women.

  • Eat foods containing iron; this is particularly important for girls and women, and for vegetarians and athletes.

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09:40:14 on 06/07/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to cook fresh fruit and vegetables with the least possible loss of vitamins?

The cooking of fruit and vegetables always results in some loss of vitamins: water-soluble vitamins may be leached into the cooking water and some vitamins are destroyed when exposed to air. The loss of water-soluble vitamins can be very large if the vegetables are completely covered in water while being cooked - they may lose up to 80 percent of their vitamin C.

Steaming reduces this loss, but the destruction of vitamin C may be increased. Microwaving and pressure cooking both help to reduce the loss of essential vitamins, as less water is used and the cooking time is shorter.

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12:42:42 on 06/06/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are Chinese noodles?

There are two basic types of Chinese noodles, wheat flour noodles which are yellow, and rice flour noodles which are white. Many shapes are available and their texture varies, with the addition of egg for instance. The translucent vermicelli or cellophane noodles are made from mung bean flour.

Throughout the Asian world, noodle dishes take on myriad guises. There are curried noodles (such as Malaysia's laksa), plus Indonesian spicy fried noodles (bahmi goreng), Vietnamese beef noodles (pho), complex recipes cooked with choice ingredients, and humble vegetarian dishes. There are also dozens of varieties of instant noodles available.

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15:26:11 on 06/05/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Types of noodles used in chicken noodle soup

The traditional noodle for chicken noodle soup is a narrow, square tube rather than a rounded noodle, but any small, narrow egg pasta would be an acceptable substitute. The word "noodle" is confusing because although it was used in the past to describe hollow, macaroni-type pasta, today it is used when referring to long, flat Italian pasta such as fettuccine, pappardelle, tagliarini, tagliatelle or tagliolini. To complicate matters further, Chinese noodles are generally thin and round, like spaghetti.

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04:27:15 on 06/04/08 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Why is English mustard so much hotter than other mustards?

Largely because this is what the English desire of it. English mustard is made with equal quantities of white and brown mustard seeds; while the white give heat on the tongue, the brown give a volatile heat in the back of the throat. It is usually sold dry and then simply mixed with cold water, which adds to its strength of flavor.

French Dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds only, diluted with white wine and spices to make it less hot than English mustard. The sweeter, smoother German and American mustards are made with white mustard seeds, their flavor softened by additions such as sugar or herbs.

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11:45:16 on 06/03/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is mustard made of?

Mustard is made from the crushed seeds of a family of plants. Some mustard plants are grown for their leaves, which are widely eaten as a vegetable in the East; others for their seedlings, often eaten with cress as a salad or sandwich garnish. Three sorts of seed - black, brown and white - were once used in the manufacture of mustard powder but black seeds are no longer grown commercially. Mustard powder has been used in Britain for centuries, but French-style wholegrain mustard, Dijon, German, American, Australian and flavored mustards have all become popular in recent years.

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09:28:46 on 06/02/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Preparing mussels to be cooked

Traditionally mussels were eaten during the colder winter months because they were at their cheapest and best in the cool weather. However, fish farming, refrigerated transport and air transportation have made them available virtually throughout the year, and refrigeration keeps them safe.

Mussels are sold while still alive, and although they are now sold much cleaner than they used to be, it is important to follow careful preparation procedures, and particularly to ensure you discard uncooked mussels that gape open or have chipped shells.

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09:19:52 on 06/01/08 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -