Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Frying with Fats and Oils

Cooking food by completely immersing it in hot fat is a technique used all around the world. Deep-fat frying produces wonderfully crisp, flavorful foods and is perfect for preparing foods that don't have a dense or fibrous structure, such as fish, shellfish, and vegetables. While there is no arguing that fried foods can taste greasy, if you actually measure the oil after frying, you will find that you typically lose no more than a few tablespoons of fat for about a pint of oil used.

Choosing frying oil
Look for an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, soybean, or safflower oil. Safflower tends to have the lightest taste.

To choose a frying pan or pot
Choose a pot that's larger than the burner you'll be cooking on, and never fill it more than half-full of oil. Oil catches fire easily, and a large pot helps avoids spills. Make sure that you have at least 3" between the surface of the oil and the top of the pot. If oil should drip or spill, turn off the heat and clean the spill before proceeding.

To keep the oil at proper frying temperature
Use a candy thermometer. This tool makes frying a cinch. Add the food the instant that the oil reaches the correct temperature (usually, 365F to 375F), and maintain that temperature throughout the frying. Also, bring the oil back to the proper temperature before adding more batches of food. If you fry often, invest in an electric deep fryer and follow the manufacturer's directions; this is a foolproof way to maintain temperature control. Or try this trick if you have neither a candy thermometer nor an electric fryer: Throw a cube of bread into the oil. If it browns all over in less than a minute's time, your oil has gotten too hot.

To ensure even cooking
Avoid crowding the pot. The oil should bubble up freely around each piece, and the pieces should never touch each other while they're frying. Crowding the pot may cause the temperature of the oil to drop too low. Also, be sure to remove food in the exact order it was added.

To drain fried foods
Drain well by holding each piece over the pot as you remove it, letting any oil drip back into the pot. Then, set the fried food on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet that is lined with paper towels. As fried foods drain, keep them warm by putting them, the draining rack, and the baking sheet in a 200F oven while you continue frying.

Handling oil that has begun to smoke
Discard it and start over. Smoke indicates burned oil, which will give fried foods an unpleasant flavor.

Discarding used oil
Allow hot oil to cool before moving the pot and disposing of the oil.

To hold batter-dipped ingredients before frying
Set on a cooling rack placed on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Clean the rack and pan so that they can be used again to drain fried foods.

To recycle fat after deep-frying
Cool it, then clarify it by straining it through a paper coffee filter. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Empty peanut cans or coffee cans are good containers. Frying fat can be recycled 2 or 3 times before it becomes unusable.

To deep-fry at high altitudes
In general, reduce the oil temperature by 25F.

To avoid burning your hands
Use a pair of tongs to place foods into hot fat.

To avoid splatters
Invest in an inexpensive splatter screen, available in most stores' cookware sections, or cover the food with a large mesh sieve. Make sure that the food does not have water on it before adding it to the hot fat. It also helps to gently submerge and remove the food individually with a long-handled skimmer.

To douse a fat fire in a pan
Place a lid over it. Baking soda will also put out a fat fire.

To avoid a fishy flavor
When frying a variety of foods that include seafood, fry the fish or seafood last. Otherwise, once the oil has absorbed the fish aroma, it will flavor the other foods that are cooked in it.

To prevent oil from blackening when deep-frying
Add a wedge of carrot, which will act as a magnet for black flecks that can accumulate when deep-frying.

To avoid deep-fried foods
Oven-fry them instead. The technique of frying food in hot fat can be simulated by using a hot oven and coating the surface of the food with a film of fat. Coat the food with batter, if using. Then, coat the food generously with cooking spray. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 475F until brown and crisp. Oven-frying makes delicious french fries and breaded chicken.

11:10:29 on 03/28/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Rules of Food Safety

Perhaps the most important foundation of cooking, food safety helps ensure great-tasting food, a clean environment, and avoidance of illness. Most food borne illness is caused by mishandling of food. Here are five steps to ensure that your food is safe to eat.

Five Rules of Food Safety

Shop Smart
In the store, buy perishable items last, and avoid buying items that you won't use before the expiration date. Don't buy cans or glass jars with dents, cracks or bulging lids. At home, follow this cardinal rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

Keep Foods Chilled
Set your refrigerator to no higher than 40F and your freezer to 0F. As soon as you return home from shopping, refrigerate or freeze perishables. If you won't use meat, poultry, or fish within a few days, freeze it. When refrigerating raw meats, poultry, or fish, leave them in the store's packaging (when possible) and place in a shallow pan so that the food's juices are contained. When defrosting and marinating, do so in the refrigerator rather than on countertops. For more even cooking, remove marinated foods from the fridge during the last 20 minutes to bring to room temperature.

Clean Often
Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food, and especially after using the restroom, changing diapers, and playing with pets. Use hot, soapy water on all dishes, utensils, and work surfaces as well. Soak cutting boards in a mild chlorine bleach solution and replace cutting boards with deep cuts, which could harbor bacteria. Kitchen towels should be washed in the hot cycle of your washing machine, and sponges should be washed in hot water or put in the dishwasher daily to kill bacteria.

Avoid Cross-Contamination
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. When preparing food, cut vegetables and salads ingredients first, then raw meats and poultry. After preparing raw meat, wash all cutting boards, utensils, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water. Be careful to avoid placing cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood (unless the plate has been cleaned). When soaking up meat and poultry juices, use disposable towels instead of sponges. Discard all unused marinades or, if using, bring to a boil first to kill bacteria.

Use a Thermometer
To be certain that food has cooked to a safe temperature, use an instant-read thermometer and check the doneness. Avoid eating uncooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. When reheating leftovers, make sure that they reach a temperature of at least 165F.

13:06:34 on 03/26/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Food Processors

Introduced to home kitchens in the 1970s, food processors have become one of the most important kitchen tools for quicker cooking. They can be used to chop, slice, shred, grind, blend, and puree a variety of foods. They can also knead bread, cut butter into flour for baking, and grate large quantities of cheese.

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03:06:49 on 03/25/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Edible Flowers

Though they may seem like a surprise ingredient to some, fresh flowers have a range of delightful flavors from spicy to sweet. They can be used in a variety of dishes, or use them as edible garnishes. When choosing edible flowers, make sure that the flowers you use are indeed edible. Some flowers are poisonous, and others can cause allergic reactions. It's also important that the flowers are grown without pesticides. Your safest bet: Buy fresh flowers from a food store, or grow edible varieties at home without pesticides. Generally, flower shops are not good sources because the flowers are usually treated with pesticides.

Edible flowers are best eaten the same day they are picked. To store for brief periods, rinse fresh flowers thoroughly but gently under a slow steam of cool water. Drain, place between layers of paper towels, and refrigerate until ready to use.

04:52:09 on 03/24/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Flour, the edible grains

Though the term refers to the ground meal of various edible grains, flour is most commonly made from wheat. There are several styles of wheat flour, which vary mainly in the nature of the gluten-forming proteins in each particular style. When water is mixed with flour, these proteins join to make strong elastic sheets of gluten. High-protein flour makes for dense, sturdy breads and pasta. Low-protein flour makes tender cakes, quick breads, and pastries.

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10:24:42 on 03/21/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Whole Grain and Alternative Flours

Ground from a wide range of grains, grasses, and starches, whole grain and alternative flours cover a broad spectrum of tastes and textures.

Amaranth Flour: High in protein, this flour has an assertive, nutty taste and blends well with other grains such as rye and whole wheat flours. Use it in quick breads, particularly pancakes, waffles, and muffins.

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13:58:56 on 03/20/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

The Foundations of Flavor

There is more to flavor than what your tastebuds tell you. What we call flavor is a complex combination of aroma, taste, and texture. To enjoy the fullest flavor of food, all three of these sensations work in harmony. Here's a little Q&A to answer some of the more interesting questions about flavor.

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14:49:01 on 03/19/09 by Webmaster - Articles -

About Flaxseed

One of the oldest sources of textile fiber, flax has long been used to make linen. And its seed oil, known as linseed oil, is a key component in paints and varnishes. Whole flaxseed is also highly nutritious, containing protein, soluble fiber, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lignans, which have powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties.

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11:52:25 on 03/18/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Evaporated Milk or Sweetened Condensed Milk

The silky texture of evaporated milk is created by removing 60 percent of the water from canned milk. This process imparts a slight caramel flavor to the milk, making it ideal for cooking. Evaporated milk is available in whole, low-fat, and fat-free varieties.

To replace milk
Mix equal parts evaporated milk and water. However, to replace whipped cream, remove evaporated milk from the can and freeze it briefly to chill. Then whip it with a wire whisk or mixer until it holds soft peaks.

To add rich flavor to mashed potatoes
Use evaporated milk in place of 1/2 cup of the milk called for in the recipe. To make butterscotch flavor, when making vanilla pudding or pie filling, replace sugar with brown sugar and replace milk with evaporated milk (or replace at least half of the milk). Cool as usual.

To use in place of cream or milk
Evaporated low-fat or fat-free milk makes rich-tasting, low-fat soups and sauces. For soups, use 1 cup evaporated milk for 4 servings. For sauces, use about 1/4 cup for 4 servings. Or use evaporated milk for hot cocoa in place of milk or cream. You can also stir it into hot cereals with dried raisins or fruits. And you can use it in sherbet and ice cream recipes for a smooth texture.

13:17:21 on 03/17/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Cooking with Egg Whites

Egg whites have the amazing ability to hold voluminous amounts of air when whipped. This makes them a key ingredient for leavening baked goods and essential for making meringues. Egg whites (known as the egg's albumen) also help bind ingredients together. And they can clarify cloudy stocks, broths, or coffee when added to the hot liquid by attracting minute particles like a magnet. An egg white contains no fat and is composed of mostly protein, water, and water-soluble vitamins such as riboflavin.

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07:37:13 on 03/16/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Egg Substitutes

Found in both the refrigerated and the frozen sections of the supermarket, packaged egg substitutes usually contain egg whites, fat-free milk, food coloring, vegetable oil, and vitamins. Most substitutes contain no cholesterol and 1 to 4 grams of fat per serving. They can be used sparingly in baking (for yeast breads, muffins, cakes and cookies) and in cooking (for egg-based casseroles, sauces, puddings,and custards). Avoid using egg substitutes in popovers and other delicate pastries, where they do not perform as well.

To thaw egg substitutes when frozen, refrigerate them until liquid. Do not leave them on the outside.

Egg substitutes can also be used in place of uncooked eggs. Since egg substitutes are pasteurized, they make a safe alternative to the uncooked, slightly cooked, or coddled eggs called for in recipes such as eggnog, homemade mayonnaise, and Caesar salad dressing. Using egg substitute in these recipes will also lower the cholesterol and saturated fat content instantly.

If you do not eat eggs, there are a also a number of choices. Powdered egg replacer is one choice. Available in health food stores, it is made from potato starch and other leaveners. It has good binding and leavening properties for baking; it even whips up and will hold soft peaks. Whipped tofu is another option; it works well in recipes that call for a lot of eggs, such as quiches. It also works well in creamy puddings and pie fillings. Ground flaxseed is a third option. When simmered with water to form a thick mixture, it mimics the binding properties of eggs for baking, but it doesn't have nearly the leavening power of eggs. There is a bonus, however: Flaxseeds are a concentrated source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

To replace 1 egg with tofu, whip 1/4 cup silken tofu in a blender. To use in baked goods, add 1 to 2 teaspoons water to thin the whipped tofu.

To replace 1 egg with ground flaxseed, simmer 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed in 3 tablespoons water until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature before using. (If you buy flaxseed while, grind it in a clean coffee grinder.)

15:20:33 on 03/14/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Figs, Classic Fruit of the Mediterranean

Truly a classic fruit of the Mediterranean, figs date back to 3,000 B.C. and were used by the Assyrians as sweeteners. They were also Cleopatra's favorite fruit.

Figs are best when eaten slowly and savored, from the soft pink flesh to the tiniest edible seeds. The peels are perfectly edible too. Look for fresh figs in markets from June through October. There are hundreds of varieties, ranging in color from pale green to golden yellow to deep purple, and in shape from round to oval to teardrop. Mission fig, one of the more popular types, migrated to North America with Spanish missionaries.

When choosing figs, hold the fig in your hand. It should be firm and unblemished, yielding slightly to very gentle pressure. Figs are highly perishable, so enjoy them as soon as you can. If you must store, refrigerate for up to 3 days. Figs are also quite sticky. If you need to cut them, refrigerate the fruit for 1 hour to reduce stickiness. Use scissors to snip the figs into bits. If using a knife, periodically dip the blade in hot water or coat the blade with cooking spray.

09:50:10 on 03/13/09 by Webmaster - General -

What is zest and how to use it?

Zest is the outermost part of the rind of oranges, lemons, limes and other citrus fruit. This part of the rind is full of tiny capsules containing a very highly flavored volatile oil, and it is this oil that gives an intense flavor to many savory dishes, sauces, cakes, desserts and preserves.

For the purest flavor, the zest must be removed from the fruit without even the smallest trace of the bitter white pith underneath it. The easiest way to do this is to use a zester or a stainless-steel potato peeler, or you can rub it carefully against the finest cutter on a grater.

Fruit that has been waxed should be washed first, very gently with a soft brush and in warm, not hot, water. Scrubbing the fruit hard can damage the skin which will then release the oil, and it will be washed away with the water.

15:04:38 on 03/12/09 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Fat Skimming

When cooking meats in liquids such as stocks, soups, sauces, and braises, the fat will rise to the surface, where it can be easily skimmed off if necessary.

To remove fat from hot liquids where the amount of fat is small on the surface like a stock, soup, stew, or sauce, fold a sheet of paper towel in half and pull it across the top of the liquid to absorb the fat. (When using a two-ply towel, peel it apart to get a single sheet.) Repeat until no more fat is visible, using new towels as needed. Or use a ladle and tip it slightly to skim off the surface fat. If necessary, place the skimmed liquid in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes to recapture any liquid that you may have skimmed off with the fat.

You can also pour the liquid into a fat separator, a type of measuring cup with a spout that pours from the base of the cup so that the fat rests on the surface and stays in the cup. These inexpensive gadgets work especially well for defatting gravy

To remove fat from hot liquids using ice, place a few ice cubes in a slotted spoon and drag it across the surface of the liquid. The ice will attract fat like a magnet. Discard the ice cubes before they fully melt.

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15:26:02 on 03/11/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Fennel or Anise Bulb

Licorice-flavored fennel, also known as anise bulb, is composed of three parts that have very different culinary uses. The most useful part is the bulb end, which looks like a cross between a peeled onion and the butt end of a bunch of celery. It can be served raw, shredded in a salad or sliced for crudites; or it can be thickly sliced and braised to tenderness in wine or broth. The stems, which ascend from the bulb, are darker and more fibrous. They don't have much use except as an addition to stocks or broth. The fronds or leaves are feathery and very delicate in flavor. They make a fanciful garnish for salad, seafood, or poultry.

When choosing fennel, look for clean, firm fennel bulbs with no signs of browning. If the tops are attached, they should look bright green and fresh. To store fennel, refrigerate in a zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 6 days.

If required to be trimmed and sliced, chop off the stems and fronds just where the pale bulb turns darker green. Save the stems and fronds for another use, or discard them. Then, prepare the bulb like an onion, cutting it in half lengthwise (through the bottom and stem ends). Trim and discard the bottom end. Place cut side down and slice cross-wise into crescent-shaped slices.

06:36:52 on 03/10/09 by Webmaster - Cooking Guide -

Entertaining guest for dinner

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when an evening of gracious entertaining becomes a sentence of dinner with no parole, but there are a few simple ways to make sure that the cook enjoys the party too.

When planning the menu, include a variety of different types of foods. Be sure to include different textures (crispy, creamy, crunchy, tender) and flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, pungent, cooling). Serve some cold items (crudites, chilled soups, ice cream or sorbet), some at room temperature (antipasto or other appetizers, cookies or cakes), and some hot (stew, hot entrees, warm brownies or pies). Variety is key, but above all, rely mostly on tried-and-true dishes that are quick and easy. If you want to make a grand impression, go for it once in the meal, rather than trying for a climax at every course.

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04:55:00 on 03/09/09 by Webmaster - Articles -

American Invention of Cookie

The term cookie was first used in the United States when early Dutch settlers brought their koekje (little cakes) to New York. At about the same time, wood-burning and coal-fired ovens were introduced, which made baking more reliable and the popularity of cookies and cookie-making soon spread.

Eastern European, Scandinavian and British immigrants who settled in the United States all made great contributions to the cookie-making tradition. For example, refrigerator cookies originated from German Heidesand cookies, which are made by shaping the dough into long, sausage-shaped rolls, cutting them into thin, round slices and then baking them.

In other parts of the world, the word for (and meaning of) cookie varies. In Scotland, a cookie is a sweetened bread bun that is either filled with whipped cream or thickly iced. In Britain and France, cookies are known as biscuits, while in the United States, the term biscuit is used to describe a large, soft scone.

13:53:13 on 03/08/09 by Webmaster - Articles -

Salting zucchini before cooking

Salt draws out water from moist vegetables, a process known as disgorging. Left to grow, zucchinis would become marrows, and therefore be very wet indeed, but picked young they are merely juicy.

The best zucchini are those up to 10 cm long, which do not need disgorging. There is no point in salting zucchini if you are then going to cook them using a moist method such as steaming, poaching, braising or stir-frying. Rather than salting larger zucchini, you can help to reduce the moisture content by choosing a dry cooking method.

14:13:23 on 03/07/09 by Webmaster - Quick Cooking Tips -