Asian Recipes

Asian Recipes Blog

The Unrivaled Practical Guide for Asian Cooking

Should all rice be washed before cooking?

The reason for washing rice is to remove any excess starch from the grains; it is the starch in the grain that gives the rice a sticky quality, so whether or not you need to wash it will depend on the type of rice you use and the recipe. Basmati rice needs to be washed before cooking in plenty of water. Stir the rice well then drain off the cloudy water. Repeat until the water that runs off the rice is clear. Risotto, on the other hand, needs starch to give a creamy texture to the finished dish so risotto rice should never be washed. All-purpose long-grain rice is processed and does not generally need washing, though it may need to be soaked if the cooking method in the recipe requires it.

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00:37:13 on 08/31/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which is the best rice to serve with an Indian curry?

In India two main types of rice are used to accompany curries. The rice chosen will depend on the region, the dish and the occasion. Basmati rice, the most superior, is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and Pakistan. It is served on special occasions because of its lovely aromatic flavor.

All-purpose long-grain rice, usually the patna variety, is used in many Indian dishes where herbs, spices and other flavorings may be added to the rice for extra flavor. Whenever possible, spend a little more and use basmati rice, which is available in both brown and white varieties.

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13:41:29 on 08/30/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is easy-cook rice really easy to cook?

Easy-cook rice, which is sometimes called parboiled or converted rice, is steamed before it is milled. The whole grain is steamed under pressure, which hardens it so that it will not break down during cooking. Easy-cook rice cannot be over-cooked and the grains will always remain separate. But, in general, this rice is considered inferior in taste to ordinary long-grain rice varieties because some people find the texture unpleasantly chewy.

There are, however, some nutritional benefits to this process: all the mineral and vitamin content of the outer layers of the grain that are normally removed in the milling process are pushed into the center of the grains.

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04:00:24 on 08/29/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there a fail-safe method for cooking light, fluffy rice?

There are many different types of rice grown all over the world and each of them requires a slightly different method of cooking. If you use more than one type of rice in the kitchen, you may have to experiment to find the exact proportion of rice, water and cooking time that works for each variety as they all have different absorption qualities. The most widely available variety of rice is white long-grain. White rice has been polished to remove the outer husk. Brown rice is considerably more nutritious as the outer layer of bran is left on the grain, adding valuable fiber and more vitamins and protein to the diet than white rice.

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11:54:39 on 08/28/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why does rhubarb pie always leak all over the oven?

Rhubarb has a high water content and exudes considerable juice as it cooks. To help prevent the juice overflowing, toss the cut rhubarb in a little flour before putting it into the pie dish: the flour will thicken the juice as the pie cooks and help to keep it contained. Use a level tablespoon of plain flour to each 500 g of prepared fruit, and mix it with the sugar before tossing with the rhubarb.

Also, when making the pie, ensure that the pastry edges are well sealed. Make a small hole in the top of the pie to let the steam escape as this will prevent the steam forcing the sealed edges apart and will allow some of the juice to evaporate. As a final precaution, always stand the pie dish on a baking tray to catch any juice that could overflow and burn on the bottom of the oven.

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00:16:28 on 08/27/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Difference between pink rhubarb and the darker rhubarb

Bright pink, early rhubarb is tender and considered to be superior in quality and flavor to the later maincrop rhubarb, which is reddish-green in color, is far tougher and has a stronger flavor. As the stems are so tender, early rhubarb does not require stringing: simply cut off the leaves and the root end of each stalk, then wash them and cut into pieces ready for cooking. Maincrop rhubarb often has a stringy covering that is best peeled and discarded.

Rhubarb is a cool weather crop available in the winter months, and is produced using horticultural techniques that have hardly changed since Victorian times. Harvesting is done by hand.

When buying rhubarb at any time look for firm, bright stems and avoid those that are clearly limp, bruised or split. The part of the plant that is edible is the leaf stem (rhubarb is actually a vegetable and not a fruit) and when it is limp, it can be refreshed by standing the stems, root end down, in a jug of cold water.

It is imperative that you always remove and discard the leaves from rhubarb. They must not be eaten as they contain oxalic acid and are extremely poisonous.

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11:51:35 on 08/26/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to chill cooked food safely?

Food cools more quickly when fresh air can circulate around it, so do not leave it to cool in its hot cooking vessel covered with a tightly fitting lid. Transfer the food to a cold dish and cover it loosely with a clean tea towel until cold, or put a large upturned bowl over it. If you want to stop it drying out or prevent a skin from forming, put wet greaseproof paper, which is thin enough not to hinder cooling, flat on the surface of the food. Do not wrap hot food in plastic wrap, as this can leave spaces between the food and the plastic which create pockets of hot air where the climate is ideal for bacteria to breed.

Cool casseroles and large pans of food fast by standing the container in a bowl of ice or cold water or stand it in the sink with the cold tap running to keep it cool. Place cooled food into the refrigerator as soon as possible.

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09:16:56 on 08/25/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to choose and use a new refrigerator?

Buy the largest model that you can afford and that will fit into your kitchen; you can never have enough refrigerator space. Models that defrost automatically are a tremendous bonus, as are frost-free ones where cold air is constantly circulated so frost is never deposited. The ideal internal temperature of a refrigerator is 4oC. Some models have different temperature zones to store different foods. For example, the fruit and vegetable section has a higher temperature than the area for meat.

Most kitchens have only one refrigerator, so it is important that you observe some basic rules of elementary hygiene. Always store raw meat and fish in the special meat and/or fish container, or place it on the bottom shelf so that if there are any drips or leaks they will not contaminate food stored below. Cover all food, to avoid cross-contamination. This will also stop strong-smelling food from tainting any other foods stored nearby. Also remember to cool hot food briefly before putting into the refrigerator.

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12:05:16 on 08/24/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is daikon and how to use it?

Daikon is a variety of radish and tastes similar to the red varieties. Also called mooli, white or winter radish, in size and appearance it is more like a parsnip. Peel and grate or shave it into very thin slices to eat raw in salads. Pickled daikon is popular with Japanese food. Serve daikon as a hot vegetable by cutting it into slices, sprinkling with salt and draining for 30 minutes to remove some of the harshness. Then steam or simmer it until tender and serve hot, tossed with butter or olive oil.

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05:45:20 on 08/20/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which are the best radishes?

Radishes are at their best during their natural season, summer. They can be red and round, or elongated and white-tipped. The latter are widely preferred for their peppery crunchiness. Solid red radishes can be good if they are not too bloated. Choose bunched radishes with their leaves attached, as the leaves are a good indicator of freshness. Radishes can be sliced thinly for a green salad. They also go well with cold cooked or processed meats.

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14:02:34 on 08/19/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Quail are so tiny, are they really worth preparing and eating?

The flesh of quail is pale and delicate, and is certainly worth trying. The birds, which are tender and juicy, weigh 125-185g each. They look small but, like pigeon, have a lot of meat on the breast. Some people find eating whole quail very fiddly, and some butchers and supermarkets are selling part-boned quail, ready for stuffing or already stuffed, which makes them a bigger mouthful. These part-boned quails have the breast bone and rib cage removed but have the legs intact so that when stuffed they will retain the original shape of the bird.

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04:47:16 on 08/18/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What are potted fish and meats?

Potting is a technique in which cooked meat, fish and shellfish are preserved in fat in small earthernware pots for a wintertime treat. The meat of fish is spiced and then pureed or finely chopped before potting. It is then encased in clarified butter or fat to exclude air and moisture, which would encourage the growth of bacteria. Unopened jars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a fortnight depending on the meat or fish used. Once the fatty seal has been broken, the contents should be consumed within one or two days.

Although most potted meat or fish is pureed, baby shrimps are often left whole. If you cannot get tiny shrimps, use the larger ones and chop them roughly.

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13:11:32 on 08/17/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Is it better to buy large shrimps for Asian Recipes?

It depends on the recipe. If visual impact is important, the large sea-water shrimps, usually called jumbo shrimps or king prawns, look spectacular and are impressive grilled. However, smaller river, bay and estuary shrimps or prawns have a finer flavor. Use them in fish stews and curries where size is less of an issue, such as Thai Shrimp Curry. Here the shrimp shells are also used to contribute to the flavor of the stock.

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05:23:30 on 08/15/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Why do boiled sweet potatoes sometimes go mushy?

Sweet potatoes are less firm than ordinary white potatoes and lose much of their flavor into the cooking water when boiled. They also have a tendency to absorb a lot of water when cooked this way, making them heavy and soggy. They are much better when they are baked like ordinary baked potatoes, although sweet potatoes will cook more quickly. Split them and serve oozing with butter, salt and plenty of black pepper or paprika. Baked sweet potatoes also tend to benefit from the addition of a little cinnamon and brown sugar. Try baking then mashing them to make a topping for pies.

Sweet potatoes make very good chips, either deep-fried or oven-baked, and can be sliced thickly, brushed with butter and grilled, a treatment which is very good with venison steaks or duck breasts.

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04:31:06 on 08/14/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is the best way to boil potatoes?

It is always best to boil potatoes in their skins, even if they are to be mashed. Not only does this help to prevent the flesh from absorbing too much cooking water, it also conserves vitamins which are concentrated in or just below the skin. Serve the potatoes whole in their skins or, for mashing, peel them as soon as the cooked potatoes are cool enough to handle.

An alternative, particularly at the end of the season when they tend to absorb more moisture, is to oven-bake the potatoes in their skins and then mash them. This is a common practice commercially. It is always worth making extra mashed potatoes as the leftovers are very good for thickening soups, making potato scones, fish cakes, bubble and squeak or hashes, or for topping fish pies. Alternatively, blend leftover mashed potato into small, hot, and savory cheese puffs.

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04:27:31 on 08/11/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Are there any low-fat fillings for jacket potatoes that sink into the flesh instead of just sit on top?

Sadly, no. It is fat that sinks into the flesh, softening it and giving flavor. Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese are just not as effective or as delicious as butter. However, there are some good fillings that turn a jacket potato into a meal.

1) A poached or soft-boiled egg slipped inside a split baked potato makes a satisfying supper, as the yolk spills nicely into the flesh. For a more elaborate treatment, spoon out the cooked potato flesh, then season and mash it. Separate a raw egg, beat the yolk into the mashed potato (with some cheese, too, if you like), then whisk the egg white firmly and fold in. Spoon back into the potato shells and return to a hot oven to rise souffle-style.

2) For vegetarians, baked potatoes can be topped with cucumber and celery in sour cream or yogurt and sprinkled with chopped nuts.

3) Smoked cod in white sauce is good in baked potatoes, as is tara-masalata with diced cucumber.

4) Scoop out the flesh from split baked potatoes, then mash diced grilled bacon into it plus chopped red onion. Spoon back into the shells, top with grated cheese and return to the oven to heat through and melt the cheese. Serve with hot beetroot or green vegetables.

5) Baked jacket potatoes to accompany a stew can be split and served with a spoonful of the meat juices or gravy to moisten and flavor them.

6) Olive oil and mashed anchovy makes a pungent filling, or try sour cream with some chopped onion in it and a topping of caviar.

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

What is the difference between roasting and pot-roasting?

Pot-roasting is not really roasting at all, but an old, economical way of baking food in a pot, either over a low heat or in the oven. Roasting proper is a faster, dry method, used for cooking choice, tender cuts of meat, poultry and sometimes game. Pot-roasting is used for cheaper cuts that are cooked in their own juices and it could be considered a simpler version of braising. The meat is first browned in oil or butter to give a 'roasted' appearance and then cooked with little or no extra liquid in a casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Moisture from the meat provides the liquid during cooking, though with poultry a few spoons of liquid are usually added after browning.

A traditional technique in pot-roasting is to cook the browned meat on a piece of pork rind. This adds flavor and richness, and prevents the meat scorching on the bottom of the pot. Coarsely cut root vegetables are sometimes put under the meat for the same purpose. They can be raw, or browned in the same fat as the meat, though the meat should be removed while you are browning the vegetables. When cooked, the vegetables are served alongside the meat.

For more tender and subtly flavored meats, try this variation on pot-roasting that could be called 'gentle roasting'. Small cuts, such as best ends of lamb or even whole small birds, are seasoned, rubbed with butter and set on a bed of root vegetables in a deep pot with a lid. The lid is removed in the later stages of cooking to brown the meat lightly, and a sauce is made by pouring off the fat and adding a good stock and some wine or spirit to the meat juices. The sauce is then simmered and thickened with arrowroot if necessary.

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13:15:20 on 08/06/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How to get a perfect crackling?

Make sure the skin is completely dry and, if necessary, remove any remaining hairs by singeing the rind with a flame or shaving it with a disposable razor. Just before roasting the joint, score the rind. Carefully scoring the skin and fat of the pork joint at regular intervals before roasting it will help to give delicious, crispy pieces of golden crackling.

Rub the rind generously with salt. Cook the meat on a rack in a shallow baking dish and refrain from basting it during cooking. For crackling that is particularly crisp, remove the whole rind about 30-45 minutes before the end of roasting and continue cooking it beside the joint.

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10:33:07 on 08/05/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

How long should a pork chop be grilled or fried to make sure it is cooked through?

It depends on the chop's thickness, shape and size, the temperature of the grill or the hot plate, and the temperature of the chop. For best results, meat should always be cooked from room temperature rather than straight from the refrigerator, so take it out 5-10 minutes before you need it.

Allow 4-5 minutes a side for a chop that is 2.5 cm thick and at room temperature before cooking. To test whether the pork is cooked, pierce the thickest part with the point of a thin knife or a fine skewer - when the juices run clear the meat is done. Another way to cook pork chops that takes a little longer, but is a reliable way of making sure they are well cooked, is to bake them.

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06:17:36 on 08/04/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Does pork spoil quicker than other types of meat?

In the past pork was particularly susceptible to contamination by trichinella cysts, rather than the usual food poisoning bacteria. But today modern husbandry and stringent inspection ensure that pork is unlikely to be infected. The only pork that might go off slightly quicker than other types of meat is very fatty pork, but most pork nowadays is so lean that there is no risk of the fat becoming rancid.

As with all meat, pork should be stored loosely wrapped in the coldest part of the refrigerator, where the temperature should be 0-5C. If it is placed in a rigid plastic container with a sealed top, this should not be opened until required. Otherwise, discard the original wrapping from the meat, re-wrap it loosely in greaseproof paper or foil, and put it on a plate to catch any blood that comes out of the meat. You can then keep the pork for up to two days. Always store raw meat well away from cooked foods in the refrigerator.

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10:35:34 on 08/03/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Difference between poaching and boiling

Poached chicken or fish has a juicy tenderness not found in boiled food. For food to be poached it must be submerged, or partly submerged, in a flavored liquid (such as syrup or stock), and cooked so that the liquid barely moves. It is an excellent way to cook delicate fruit.

Foods can be cooled in their poaching liquid, which stops them drying out, but the poaching pan should be stood in cold water so that the contents cool quickly. This is to prevent the food going bad, as it might if kept too long in a warm, steamy atmosphere.

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09:27:47 on 08/02/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Which are the best plums to eat fresh and which need cooking?

Most plums can be eaten fresh; only a few are too tart to be eaten raw and are best used for cooking. Dessert plums are at their best when they have a bloom on their skin and are plump and firm to the touch. Disregard any that are damaged, shriveled or poor in color. Varieties to look out for include President, Black Amber, Donsworth Lewis, Mariposa (blood plum), Narrabeen, Tegan Blue and Santa Rosa. Dessert varieties of plum, such as the greengage, can also be used for cooking if they are bought slightly underripe.

Of the cooking plums, damsons are the best known, especially for making jam. Angelina is another cooking variety available. These are excellent for French-style fruit tarts or flans.

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13:36:08 on 08/01/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -