Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

What is a vegetable hash?

Hash is traditionally a dish made of leftovers in which the vegetables are fried and served hot. Bubble and squeak, made from leftover potatoes re-fried with cooked cabbage, is a typical hash. Usually the mixture is stirred and turned in the frying pan to incorporate the crunchy browned bits but vegetables can also be formed into cakes and fried until the outside is crisp and brown.

Potatoes are good used in hashes as they help to bind the vegetables together, however, other carbohydrate foods such as rice or fresh breadcrumbs, perhaps with an egg too, can be used instead.

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13:00:25 on 12/30/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is salt necessary when boiling vegetables?

Starchy vegetables and roots such as potatoes, carrots and parsnip are best cooked in salted water to allow the salt to permeate the flesh during cooking, to add flavor. For green vegetables, where the cooking time is brief, it is more efficient to add salt after cooking, and you will probably find you use less, which is a healthy option.

There is no point in salting vegetables that are to be mashed or otherwise made into a puree, since it is much easier to judge the right amount by salting the mash later.

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12:32:10 on 12/29/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Should we cover the lid when cooking vegetables?

If you are cooking vegetables with minimal liquid, it is essential to keep them tightly covered to prevent them drying out and to allow the steam to build up in the pan and cook the vegetables. Green vegetables such as shredded cabbage or green beans can be cooked very quickly by plunging them into plenty of boiling water and leaving them uncovered so that the volatile acids which escape while they are cooking will not condense on the lid and fall back into the pan, as this can affect the flavor. This method conserves their color, flavor and texture.

Roots and tubers such as potatoes, which are submerged in water and cooked for a longer time, are best partially covered. Covering these vegetables uses less fuel and prevents a lowering of the water level, which could leave some of them above the water. To partially cover a saucepan, set the lid askew or place a wooden spoon across the pan and balance the lid on top.

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09:51:52 on 12/28/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to cook joints of veal?

It is true that joints of veal are lean and fine-textured and, if they are not roasted carefully, tend to dry out. If you would like to serve roast veal, cook it at 160C for 35-40 minutes per kg and baste the meat often during cooking. Another useful way to keep a joint of veal moist is to marinate the meat first in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice or white wine. Parsley, thyme and garlic can be added for extra flavor. The meat should be basted often with the marinade while cooking.

An easy alternative is to cook the veal joint gently in a heavy casserole dish by the moist, pot-roasting method. This will keep the joint tender and prevent the meat from drying out.

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15:32:20 on 12/22/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to use a vanilla pod?

The strongest flavor is in the tiny seeds and the pulp surrounding them, so the pod should be split open and the seeds scraped out for adding to custards or ice creams. Infusing a vanilla pod in hot liquid is an economical way to extract the flavor, as the pod can then be rinsed, dried and used again, usually as many as two or three times.

A good way to store vanilla pods after use, particularly when they have been recycled a few times, is in a jar of caster sugar. The sugar can then absorb the flavor of the pods and they will keep almost indefinitely. Top up the sugar as you use it, for example in desserts, sprinkled over fruit such as fresh berries. You can also store used vanilla pods in a bottle of brandy or dark rum. The alcohol can then be used as a flavoring agent in cooking, folded into whipped cream or simply splashed over fruit salads or ice cream. However, very fresh vanilla pods, which are moist and supple, are best kept wrapped in cellophane bags or foil; storing them in caster sugar will dry them out.

13:59:16 on 12/20/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What exactly is TVP?

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is made from soy beans ground into a flour after their oil has been extracted. The flour is mixed with water, then extruded to heat and expand the dough. Air is added, which helps to give a fibrous, spongy texture. TVP can be bought dried as mince in leading health food shops. When unflavored, it tastes very bland, but is good to add other flavorings to.

Ever since TVP was introduced in the 1960s, it has been used as a meat extender by large caterers. TVP is also a common ingredient in many ready-made dishes such as vegetarian sausages and burgers. The vegetable protein is a good source of fiber, is fortified with vitamin B12 and is very low in fat.

To cook TVP, soak it in water or vegetable stock according to the packet instructions. Use it in well-flavored casseroles, pies, sauces or stews. Although it is similar to tofu, TVP is more processed.

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03:32:32 on 12/18/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to identify a fresh trout?

As with all fish, look for firm flesh and shiny skin. The eyes should be clear and protruding, and the gills a bright red color. And it should smell fresh and not look muddy. Most experts agree that trout should not be washed but simply wipe with a cloth. Then remove the guts, gills and any weed from the mouth that might taste bitter.

14:50:26 on 12/16/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Difference between rainbow trout, brown trout, ocean trout and salmon trout

Rainbow trout is a fish with silvery and multicolored skin, with a red stripe running lengthways along the sides of the male fish. The delicate white flesh is sometimes tinged pink. Normally it will feed one, although farmed trout can be larger. Brown trout, with greenish brown spotted skin, white flesh and a stronger flavor, is the wild trout found in rivers, and also at fish farms.

Ocean trout is the same species as brown trout, but looks different as it goes out to sea and returns to rivers to spawn. Because it looks rather like a small salmon, with silvery skin and pink flesh, it is sometimes called salmon trout.

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03:59:03 on 12/15/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to choose a tomato with flavor?

Left to themselves, tomatoes are a seasonal vegetable (or more accurately, fruit), but they are now very widely grown all year round. Consumer demand has resulted in the production of vine-ripened tomatoes, and these have more flavor then those picked under-ripe for long transportation to the market.

It is best to keep recipes that are dependent on good, fresh tomatoes for summer, when they are in season locally, and ripened on the vine before picking, so have a better flavor. In winter, some smaller varieties such as Tom Thumb or cherry tomatoes have enough flavor to contribute to a sandwich; for cooked winter dishes it is often better and cheaper to use canned tomatoes, a paste or concentrate, or sun-dried tomatoes.

To serve whole with a stuffing, use the biggest ripe tomatoes you can find to get the best flavor.

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06:51:24 on 12/13/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is kaffir lime leaves?

These are the leaves of a lime tree native to tropical Asia. The leaves are shaped like a figure eight, with two leaves held together from the tip to the base. The small fruit of the kaffir lime can also be purchased from Asian food stores. Imparting their full, fresh, citric flavor, both the aromatic leaves and the bitter rind are used in Thai cooking, primarily in chicken and fish dishes. To use, slice the kaffir lime leaves finely, which will give a stronger flavor, or crush them as you would bay leaves.

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14:27:08 on 12/10/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is galangal?

Galangal looks very much like its relative the ginger root, but has a paler pinkish color. It cannot be eaten raw and is usually ground up with other ingredients to make a paste. There are two varieties of galangal, the greater and the lesser galangal. Both are used a lot in Thai cooking but it is the lesser galangal that is the most flavorsome. Galangal is sometimes available in fresh produce markets and you can buy it in most Asian stores.

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06:29:16 on 12/09/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is tamarind, popular in Indian cooking, used in Thai cooking?

The juice of the pulp around the seeds of the tamarind, sometimes called the Indian date, is used to give a fruity, sour flavor to many Asian curries and spicy dishes. Those that do not contain coconut milk tend to be cooked in tamarind juice. Generally, tamarind is used with seafood while coconut accompanies meat and poultry dishes.

Tamarind is available in several forms, the most common being brown or black blocks of concentrated pulp, which must be soaked in hot water before using. When the liquid has reached the desired acidity, like very strong lime juice, it is strained and used for cooking. In Thailand, a sweeter variety of tamarind is eaten fresh as a snack.

Some Asian food shops sell bottled tamarind concentrate in a thick liquid form that needs no further straining. The concentrate is very tart and should be diluted in the proportion of one part tamarind concentrate to two parts water. If you cannot find any tamarind, you can substitute fresh lime juice instead.

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12:29:52 on 12/08/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do tarts always stick to the bottom of the tin?

There are two possible explanations. First check the state of your flan or tartlet tins: the surface of cheaper ones, even those labeled nonstick, may become scratched or pitted after a time and this can cause sticking. Good quality tins are a worthwhile investment. Second, don't allow tarts to cool in their tins for too long after removing them from the oven: they may stick if the pastry contains any sugar or fruit juice. Just leave the pastry case in the tin for a few minutes and, when it is firm enough, slip it out carefully and leave it on a wire tray to finish cooling.

14:08:09 on 12/07/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is tapioca and what kind of dishes is it used in?

Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the tropical cassava plant, also known as manioc.The starch has to be detoxified before the tapioca can be sold commercially as some fresh manioc roots contain a toxic substance that is destroyed by a heat process. Tapioca is sold either as granules or flakes; both can be hard to find but most good health food stores and larger supermarkets stock either one or the other.

Tapioca is a useful, easily digestible starch. Flaked, it has similar thickening properties to cornflour and arrowroot, so is good for thickening sauces. The grains are best used like rice or barley to bulk out soups and stews.

Many people associate the grains with a rather bland milk pudding, but tapioca pudding is anything but land when the milk is flavored with cinnamon and enriched with cream or coconut milk.

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

Is it safe to use crystallized golden syrup?

Crystallization, where syrup develops gritty particles, is a natural process which sometimes occurs after long storage at cool temperatures or even because of air bubbles in the syrup, but it is quite harmless. If you discover that your syrup has developed crystals that you think would spoil a dish, simply warm the can gently in a pan of hot water to dissolve them and then use as specified in the recipe.

While it is not necessary to store opened cans of golden syrup in a cool place, as long as the container is sealed, it is best to keep black treacle where it will stay cool.

14:39:21 on 12/05/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is maple syrup and how to use it?

Maple syrup is produced from sap tapped from maple trees in early spring, when their sap is rising. The fresh sap is then boiled to reduce it to sugar or a reddish-brown, relatively thin and very sweet syrup with a positive flavor. Pure maple syrup is quite expensive; some brands are blended with cheaper corn or cane syrup, so check the ingredients on the label.

Most maple syrup is imported from Canada, whose national emblem is the maple leaf; in North America it is typically served with pancakes and waffles. It may also be poured over thick plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream, or over puddings.

00:55:55 on 12/04/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is corn syrup?

Corn syrup is a clear, thick, sweet syrup with little taste, derived from corn kernels. It is very useful in cooking, as its moisture-absorbing qualities help to keep cakes and other baked items very moist. There isn't really an exact substitute for corn syrup, which is widely used in the United States. There, it is available both in its clear form and with added coloring and flavoring to give it a flavor similar to molasses. In Australia, many of the larger supermarkets stock the clear version, but if you have difficulty finding it you could substitute golden syrup (although the flavor will be different) or glucose syrup.

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12:19:29 on 12/02/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are molasses, treacle and golden syrup the same thing?

No, they are not. Molasses is the syrup left over after sugar has been refined and crystallized from sugar cane. It is sold in several grades, from sweet and refined 'first' or light molasses, to thick, dark and slightly bitter blackstrap molasses. Treacle is a form of molasses, one that has been blended to produce a sweeter syrup which is less prone to becoming gritty. Golden syrup, which is sweeter than treacle, is made from refined white sugar.

Molasses has a dominating taste that gives a powerful flavor to sticky, moist cakes: gingerbread and fruit cakes are probably the best known. It is also used for making toffee and fudge, and its slightly bitter taste can enhance savory dishes such as pork and dried bean casseroles, gravies and American-style barbecue sauces. Golden syrup is used as a sweetener in baking, or as a topping for ice cream or steamed puddings.

00:36:45 on 12/01/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -