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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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 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.

** Healthy Recipes **

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 -

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 -