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The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Are there different types of garlic?

Are there different types of garlic, as some bulbs seem to be much more pungent than others?

There are several types of garlic and most is pearly white, but other varieties are streaked with pink and mauve. However, the color does not noticably affect the flavor.

The more important distinction is seasonal. The most familiar garlic is sold from late summer, sometimes plaited into skeins to hang in a cool place for winter. It has been dried in the sun, which has firmed up the heads and transformed the skin into a tissue-like wrapping, and the garlic is good if it is firm. It will get stronger in taste as green shoots begin to germinate and sprout in the individual cloves.

As well as locally grown garlic, there is a lot of imported garlic on the market. Also becoming more commonly available are garlic shoots, which are seen from midwinter to spring. The cloves are immature and the stem is thick and fleshy. This green garlic is sweet and mild enough to be treated as a vegetable, and is very good roasted whole with fresh herbs such as thyme.

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00:34:00 on 12/16/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it true that removing the green shoot from an old clove of garlic prevents a garlic breath?

Not necessary true, but the green tip is strong and bitter and should be removed anyway, if possible. Some people who eat a lot of garlic claim their digestive system adapts and the smell of garlic no longer lingers, but this is not proven. The theory that only raw garlic smells, not cooked garlic, is also folklore.

Scientists do agree, however, that garlic, a traditional folk remedy to 'cleanse the blood' of impurities, does have anti-clogging properties. They recommend eating it often for a healthy heart.

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00:25:00 on 12/15/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best utensil to use when frying fragile type of food?

When using tongs to turn fish cakes or meat patties, they tend to crack and split open. What is the best utensil to use when frying this type of food?

Tongs are a handy utensil for turning some fried foods, such as bacon rashers, chops or cutlets which have a firm texture. However, the best utensil to use when frying soft-textured food, such as fish fillets, or coated food such as fish cakes or meat rissoles, is ideally a combination of two egg slices (also called fish slices). These are good for loosening, lifting, moving and turning over the frying food without damaging its shape or breaking the coating. Alternatively, you can use two palette knives or use one egg slice in conjunction with a palette knife.

Never use a fork when frying food as this breaks the seal and allows the fat to penetrate the food.

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01:15:00 on 12/11/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is there any advantage in using a nonstick frying pan instead of regular pan?

It is a very good practice to use a nonstick pan for a healthy low-fat diet. The fat content in most traditional recipes, which start with frying the ingredients - such as onions or meat for a saute or casserole - may be at least halved if you use a nonstick pan. For some recipes, all you need to do is brush the base of the pan with a little oil or spray the base with some olive oil or canola oil spray.

It is important to take care of nonstick pans by always cooking over a medium heat and by never overheating the pan when it is empty. Use non-metal tools when turning food and stirring, so that the surface is not scratched.

Clean the nonstick interior with a sponge, hot water and liquid detergent and never use wire wool, scouring pads or scouring powder as these materials can cause damage to the nonstick coating.

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02:30:00 on 12/10/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What exactly is dry-frying?

What exactly is dry-frying? Surely food will stick if there is no fat in the pan to keep it loose.

In these health-conscious times, dry-frying has become a popular way of cooking fish and meat, especially bacon rashers. First heat a frying pan with a heavy bottom on a high flame until it is hot. Meanwhile, prepare the meat or fish. If it has little fat of its own, drizzle a small amount of oil over the surface and rub it in. However, if the meat has natural fat or the fish is oily, simply season with freshly ground black pepper.

When the pan is hot, add the meat or fish and then leave it. Do not be tempted to move the food around in the pan until a crust has formed. You will then be able to slide an egg slice or palette knife underneath and turn to cook on the other side.

Dry-frying is also used to extract and bring out the flavor of whole spices, seeds or nuts. Fry them without fat in a heavy-bottomed pan over a high heat, shaking the pan from time to time. Continue cooking, watching carefully to avoid burning, until they give off a distinct aroma, and then tip them onto a cold plate.

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01:15:00 on 12/09/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When a recipe mentions the term deglazing, what does it mean?

Deglazing is a term for loosening the browned juices stuck on the bottom of a pan after frying meat. Tip off the fat, add a few tablespoons of liquid such as cream, stock, water or wine, and bring to the boil, stirring and scraping to dissolve the sediment. The liquid will be full of flavor and can be poured over meat, added to a sauce or stirred into a casserole.

01:25:00 on 12/08/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to season a new frying pan?

Seasoning, or proving a pan gives a relatively nonstick surface to pans that do not have a nonstick coating. The easiest method is to wash and dry the pan thoroughly and then put it on a high heat with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat it until the oil is smoking, then wipe the pan clean with a large wad of crumpled kitchen paper towels, using any remaining salt as an abrasive. When the pan is clean, it is seasoned.

A wok is greatly improved by this treatment and may need to be seasoned again if food begins to stick. If possible, use an omelette pan only for omelettes, a crepe pan only for crepes and pancakes, and you should season the pans everytime you use them.

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01:15:00 on 12/07/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What can be done to prevent food from becoming soggy?

Use a wide, uncovered pan because a lid traps the steam so that the food stews or steams instead of frying crisply. Preheat the fat so that the food forms a crisp seal immediately and does not absorb the fat and become greasy. Fry only a little food at a time, and cook meat quickly so that the outside browns all over. Then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking. Some food with a soft texture, such as fish cakes and croquettes, is coated with egg and breadcrumbs to stop it becoming soggy. To keep fried food crisp, drain well on kitchen paper towels and always serve as soon as you possibly can after it has been cooked.

01:15:00 on 12/06/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between shallow frying and sauteing?

They are both ways of frying food in a little oil over a medium-high heat. In shallow frying, the food is turned with a palette knife or egg slice; in sauteing, the pan - which is sometimes covered - is shaken so the food 'jumps' (the French verb sauter means to leap). Both are quick cooking methods suitable for small, tender pieces of meat and other foods.

Bacon and eggs, steak, sausages and veal and chicken schnitzel are all shallow fried, for example. However, a mixture of diced vegetables is sauteed in a covered pan to develop flavor in the first stage of making a vegetable soup, while chicken breast can be sauteed with onions in a special saute pan, then wine, stock and cream are added and simmered to produce chicken saute.

The fat you use for frying or sauteing food is important, as its flavor will affect the taste. Olive oil, butter, lard and beef or bacon dripping all add their particular flavor to fried foods; canola, corn, peanut, safflower and most other vegetable oils have relatively little flavor. When choosing a fat, remember that some of them can be heated to much higher temperatures than others before they start to break down and burn. For example, dripping and lard can withstand more heat than butter or margarine, while clarified butter can be heated to a higher temperature than untreated butter. Copha, which is solidified coconut oil, must be melted very slowly on a low heat to avoid breaking down and burning.

All fats tend to break down if they are heated too long, causing them to smoke and give an unpleasant flavor to any food that is fried in them.

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06:17:28 on 12/05/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Could we make fruit mince without suet for a vegetarian dish?

It is possible to make fruit mince by omitting the traditional shredded suet and replacing it with cool melted butter. It must, however, be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for up to four weeks. There are also vegetarian fruit mince recipes that contain no suet or sugar and simply combine dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit or vegetables. Sugar-less fruit mince will not keep well unless it has a little spirit added. It should then be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week. It makes a good topping for ice cream or yogurt.

15:58:24 on 12/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it worth buying fresh fruit and juicing them at home?

Fresh fruit juices are not difficult to make with the help of an electric juicer, blender or food processor. They are superior to those you can buy, both in flavor and nutritionally, because you need not add any sugar and can avoid artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.

The flesh of mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, and strawberries in different combinations make good drinks pureed in the blender, either alone or with added crushed ice. Dilute the juice to taste with mineral, soda or tonic water; use it for milkshakes; or add it to sparkling white wine or champagne.

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13:47:09 on 12/04/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does adding brandy to a fruit cake help it to keep longer?

Adding brandy or other spirits to a rich fruit cake does help it to keep, and gives it a moist texture and mellow flavor. When the cake is cool, skewer the top in several places and spoon or brush the spirit over. Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil, then store at a dry, even temperature. If you can, make the cake at least three months ahead, adding more spirit every month.

14:30:51 on 12/03/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does the fruit sometimes sink to the bottom of a fruit cake?

Dried fruits are heavy and will sink if a cake mixture is too soft and wet. If the fruit has been washed, spread it out to dry well on a cloth before adding it to the cake mixture. Glace cherries are particularly heavy and covered in sticky syrup, so always wash, dry and quarter the cherries to make them lighter.

If you find the fruit still goes to the bottom of the tin, toss it first in a little flour or ground almonds. This technique should help to spread the fruit evenly throughout the cake.

01:41:40 on 12/02/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -