Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Does an animal's state of mind during its final hours affect the storage life of meat?

Yes, if a mammal (or fish) is agitated, afraid, startled, or otherwise psychologically disturbed, its body automatically starts to convert the carbohydrate glycogen stored in its tissues into sugar for quick energy. This natural biological reaction gives the animal greater strength to fight or take flight, thus increasing its chances for survival. However, should the animal die, any conversion that occurred will shorten the meat's storage life. After death, the glycogen remaining in the muscles converts into lactic acid, a substance that retards bacterial growth. It follows that the lower the glycogen level, the less lactic acid is produced, and therefore the shorter the amount of time the meat will stay fresh.

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08:20:37 on 02/29/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are certain foods natural storage enemies?

Yes, onions, for example, should never be stored with potatoes - they emit gases that negatively alter the flavor of the potatoes. However, some storage relationship are symbiotic, as is the case with oranges and bananas. Oranges give off ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening of the bananas.

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05:14:25 on 02/28/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does chocolate sometimes develop a white discoloration?

The bloom (as this discoloration is called) is almost always caused by improper storage and is usually one of two substances. It could be cocoa fat that rose to the surface of a solid chocolate mixture that was stored too long at room temperature. Or it could be sugar that was drawn to the surface by the condensation of a loosely wrapped, refrigerated chocolate mixture; the moisture extracts sugar from the mixture's interior. In either case, the bloom is unaesthetic but harmless.

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05:06:15 on 02/27/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why salty or acidic foods should not be wrapped in aluminum foil?

Salt and acids react chemically with aluminum, forming a powdery white substance on the surface of the foil and food. Though harmless in small doses, this coating is undesirable in terms of flavor and cosmetic appeal. If you want to take advantage of the storage virtues of aluminum foil, first cover the exposed food with plastic wrap before storing it with aluminum foil.

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08:52:57 on 02/26/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is coffee drinking addictive?

Caffeine is addictive, though its downside is negligible compared to those of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. Light and moderate coffee drinking can lift one's mood, sharpen thinking, and decrease fatigue. Excessive coffee drinking can induce nervousness and produce withdrawal symptoms, including lethargy and depression.

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10:34:01 on 02/25/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why should ice cubes be rinsed?

As ice cubes rest in their container in your freezer compartment, they pick up freezer odor, which can debase an iced drink. Every refrigerator has freezer odor. Fortunately, unless your ice cubes are over a couple of weeks old, most of the damage is only surface-deep because few of the foul-smelling molecules have had enough time to penetrate the ice. A quick rinse of the cubes under cold running water just before you use them dispatches the malodorous molecules down your drain rather than your gullet.

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09:39:40 on 02/24/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is air the greatest enemy of leftover wine?

Yes, as soon as you pull the cork or unscrew the cap of a fresh bottle of wine, the bacteria-laden air in the room starts souring the wine. Let us say you have just finished a delightful dinner and there, sitting on your table, is a half-empty, standard-sized wine bottle. Don't just cork the bottle for tomorrow's meal, even if you put it in the refrigerator. Use the popular wine vacuum pump, an inexpensive handheld device that sucks air out of a partially filled wine bottle. Alternatively, pour the liquid into a clean, empty half-sized bottle (saved for this purpose), then cork and store. This will decrease the ullage, the amount of air space lying between the wine and the cork.

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13:40:34 on 02/23/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do champagne and soda pop fizzle when opened?

Before the cap is opened, the pressure inside the bottle is sufficiently high to keep the carbon dioxide gas that is dissolved in the liquid within the liquid. When the cap is removed, the pressure drops to the room-temperature pressure level, which is insufficiently high. The carbon dioxide in the liquid begins to escape in the form of small, rising bubbles. Eventually, the exposed liquid will go flat.

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07:54:28 on 02/22/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What prevents baked goods from collapsing back to their original size once their leavening gas escapes or cools?

Baked goods acquire a firm structure principally because the heat of the oven or griddle coagulates the protein and gelatinizes the starch in the batter or dough. If it were not for this firming action, the weight of the food's mass would cause many of the air pockets that were formerly supported by the pressure of the carbon dioxide, steam, or hot air to cave in.

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10:57:06 on 02/21/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does being nervous alter the cook's taste perceptions?

The folk wisdom "an unpleasant experience leaves a sour taste in the mouth" is physiologically valid because tension increases acidity in the mouth. A cook who is sampling a dish to adjust the seasonings should keep that in mind if, for example, he is anxious about the meal's success or he just had a stressful argument. Foods will taste tarter than they really are.

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11:55:58 on 02/18/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How does temperature affect our taste on food?

The perceived intensity of salty, sweet, and bitter taste qualities is greatest in the 60o to 120oF temperature zone. Consequently, when seasoning a 180oF preparation that is to be served later at room temperature (72oF), such as potato salad, use less salt than your taste buds suggest during the hot test sampling. Do the reverse when you salt-test a room temperature food like a leftover soup that you plan to reheat.

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10:07:41 on 02/17/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What causes a "hollow heart" to form inside some baking potatoes?

The empty space in the center of a baking potato is usually the result of a potato growing too fast. The cells in the center of the potato move outward, leaving a hollow. Not to be confused with hollow heart is internal blackish rot or fungus growth, which should be completely removed.

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11:47:13 on 02/10/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why are new potatoes better than Idaho and other mature potatoes for making potato salad?

Because new potatoes have more moisture and a lower starch content, they will absorb less of the cooking water, as well as less of the mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing. Therefore, new potatoes will be less likely to break when the salad is mixed and served. Just as important, because it is not so thoroughly absorbed, the sauce has not as much opportunity to overpower the more delicate flavor of the potatoes. When less of the sauce is absorbed, we consume less calories.

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07:42:43 on 02/09/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does fast food chain's French fried potatoes thinner than the norm?

More than consumer preference is involved. Since the raw, precut potatoes are shipped and stored frozen, much of the starch in the vegetables converts to sugar. That extra sugar means that the French fries brown faster when cooked. If fast-food establishments served the 50 percent thicker, normal-sized American French fries, their product would be either too brown on the outside or under-cooked on the inside.

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12:18:27 on 02/08/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Should green-tinged potatoes be left in the supermarket's produce?

Yes, the green surface blemishes are caused by overexposure to light. The tainted areas will taste bitter and contain at least some level of toxic solanine - not enough to kill you, but enough to make you think twice about eating one of these tainted taters. Potato sprouts contain this same chemical, so avoid them as well.

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21:52:14 on 02/07/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why is the onion family so widely used in cooking?

Onions, scallions, shallots, and other clan members do more than add flavor of their own. Just as their volatile oils can irritate your eyes, they can irritate your taste buds and olfactoreceptors - a plus if kept within bounds because when slightly teased, these organs tend to be more sensitive to flavors and scents of foods.

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09:27:26 on 02/06/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How important is cellulose content in determining how long to cook a vegetable?

Cellulose, a complex carbohydrate, is the chief constituent of the cell walls of vegetables (and fruits). The higher its proportion in the cells, the firmer the raw vegetable will likely be. To tenderize the cellulose, and, therefore the vegetable, the cook generally uses a combination of heat and moisture.

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08:58:06 on 02/05/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

From the botanist's point of view, a fruit is the ovary of the plant - that is, the section of the plant that houses the seeds. By that definition, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and pumpkins are fruits. Except for seeds and spices, the other edible parts of the plant are classified as vegetables.

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06:56:22 on 02/04/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What makes a fried egg rubbery?

Frying an egg at too high a temperature or for too long causes the protein in egg whites to coagulate excessively and lose internal moisture. If you want a perfect fried egg, we advise cooking it as slowly as possible over low heat - and removing it from the pan as soon as it is done. As a bonus, your egg will absorb less fat.

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06:58:19 on 02/03/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What's wrong with the popular begin-in-cold-water method for boiling eggs?

Timing is iffy, at best. You cannot get consistent results even if you time the cooking process with split-second accuracy - several influential variables exist. The tap water temperature usually varies according to the outdoor temperature and time of day by as much as 15F. Even if you use the same pan, the quantity of water you put in it will vary daily unless you measure the volume carefully. Finally your range probably doesn't have the precision controls that would allow you to set the same exact cooking temperature each day.

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11:38:58 on 02/02/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do simmered or boiled eggs sometimes crack?

Once an egg is laid, its yolk and albumen (egg white) cool and, as a result, contract. This shrinkage creates an air pocket at the egg's larger (nontapered) end. The air in the pocket can cause the shell to crack when you place the egg in simmering water (or, if the cook insists, in boiling water). The reason is that the heat of the water expands the trapped gas (air) in the pocket, creating an atmospheric pressure many times greater than exists in either the water or your kitchen. This built-up pressure easily cracks the fragile shell, releasing the trapped gas and, unfortunately, allowing some of the albumen to ooze into the water.

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08:07:28 on 02/01/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -