The world is fascinated with Asian cuisines. There is not a country in this world where one wouldn't find happy restaurant-goers lapping up Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai foods. There is an increasing number of Chinese, Indian, Korean, and Thai restaurants in leading cities of the world, such as New York and Paris, testifying the ever-growing popularity of oriental food in the world.
Asian cuisine can be exciting and delicious.
Asian foods taste different from western foods as they use entirely different spices and ingredients. The cooking method also varies making these foods delicious. The basic reason for the popularity of Asian foods is their simplicity. Read on to know more about Asian food, how it is different in various parts of the continent and how the local culture has contributed to it.
The Uniqueness that is Asian Cooking
Pan-Asian food is much more than a burst of flavors and colors to diners. Asian cuisine represents the cultural story of Asia. To understand Pan-Asian cuisine, it is important to understand the cultural divisions that make up the largest and the most populous continent on the planet. Each of the 5 distinct regions of Asia is further divided across cultural and religious lines, thereby further distinctions in the food practices of the local people.
Different Asian Cuisines
- South Asian Cuisine: India and Pakistan are the flagbearers of south Asian cuisine, with their spicy foods, rice, lamb, vegetables, yogurt-based sauces, and curry dominating the food landscape of the region.
- East Asian Cuisine: Chinese, Korean, and Japanese foods comprise east Asian foods. Rice is a staple for each of these regional cuisines, with variations in spices, meats, and cooking methods, based on the locales.
- Southeast Asian Cuisine: Vietnam (Vietnamese cuisine), Thailand (the popular Thai), and Cambodia (Cambodian delicacies) are the countries whose foods make up southeast Asian cuisine. Rice and fresh vegetables are the staple ingredients in these countries.
- Central Asian Cuisine: Kazakhstan and Tajikistan mostly represent central Asian cuisine with its distinct cultural originality. Mutton and dairy are the primary staples in Kazakhstan, while in Tajikistan, it is pilaf and Kabuli Pulao.
- West Asian Cuisine: Turkish and Syrian foods dominate the landscape of West Asian cuisine, with their most common ingredients being lamb, yogurt, and rice.
- North Asian Cuisine: North Asian cuisine can be closely related to Russian cuisine, along with unique Siberian cultural influences, such as the Yakuts and yamai cuisine. Peimeni, a dish of permic or Ugric origin, is a popular Russian dish.
Easy-to-Make Asian Recipes
A team of international researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute believes that the Asian plant-based diet, including locally grown staple grains (rice), starchy roots, such as potatoes, legumes, beans, and other vegetables and fruits, offers healthy protection against many chronic diseases. Try your hand at these simple Asian recipes and lead a healthy life!
Thai Rice Porridge with Pork Meatballs (Jok Moo)
- Tip the rice and stock into a large pan and simmer gently, stirring regularly, for 45 minutes or until the rice has started to collapse.
- Stir in the ginger and soy sauce.
- Combine all the meatball ingredients in a bowl with some seasoning and form 24 meatballs.
- Add to the porridge with 300 ml of water and simmer gently, stirring carefully every now and again, for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Spoon into bowls and top with the spring onions and chili oil, if you like.
Yellow Moong Dal
- Wash the dal 3–4 times and keep it aside.
- In a pressure cooker, add the washed dal, salt, turmeric powder, and 2 cups of water.
- Cook the dal for 2 whistles.
- Wait till the pressure releases naturally.
- Dish out the dal to a serving bowl.
- Take a tadka pan, heat the ghee in it.
- Add jeera seeds and chopped garlic.
- Cook till the garlic gets dark brown in color.
- Add red chili powder and immediately pour this tadka over the cooked dal.
- Garnish with chopped green coriander.
- Serve your peeli (yellow) dal!
Spicy Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchichigae)
- Sauté the beef in 1/2 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a soup pot for a few minutes.
- Add kimchi to the pot and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
- Add remaining oil, onion, garlic, gochujang, gochugaru, and soy sauce, mixing to combine. Pour the water into the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook for 20 to 30 minutes to concentrate the flavors, adding the tofu after the first 10 minutes.
- Add the scallions at the very end.
- Serve this stew immediately after cooking, accompanied by steamed white rice.
Basic Chinese Fried Rice
- Gather the ingredients.
- Wash and finely chop the green onions. Lightly beat the eggs with pepper and salt.
- Heat a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and clean out the pan.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cooked and cooled leftover rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes, using chopsticks or a wooden spoon to break it apart. Stir in the soy sauce or oyster sauce as desired.
- When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled egg back into the pan. Mix thoroughly, then stir in the green onions. Serve hot.
Asian Cooking with a Wok
A thin-walled cooking pan, the wok is the most widely-used cooking utensil for Asian dishes. Its unique design enables the wok to distribute heat better than other cooking utensils, helping to cook food quickly with relatively little oil.
Easy Recipes in a Wok
With these easy-to-follow recipes from Superprof, learn how to make optimum use of the wok in the kitchen and make tasty and light dishes at the same time.
Wok-Fired Okra Sambal (follow the link above for the full recipe)
Chicken in a Wok Indian Style (Kadhai Chicken) (follow the link above for the full recipe)
Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry (follow the link above for the full recipe)
Differences Between Asian and Western Foods
Asian cuisine encompasses a wide range of flavors. Common ingredients of Asian cooking include seafood, rice, garlic, sesame seeds, onions, soy, and chilies are cooked. They are cooked using various cooking techniques such as stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying, depending on the specific cultural preference. Western cuisine includes mostly North American and Western European foods. It is characterized by the prominence of meat and poultry products.
The Fundamental Differences
There are five main categories of differences between Asian foods and Western cuisines.
- Portions: Traditionally, the serving size of Western dishes is bigger than most Asian dishes.
- Focus on Meat: Western meals mostly have meat as their focal point. On the other hand, Asian meals usually have rice or noodles as their staple.
- Flavors: Western cuisine tends to be on the sweeter side, as compared to most Asian cuisines, which often contain bold and aromatic flavors.
- Condiments: Western dishes are mostly paired with such condiments as ketchup, mustard, salt, and vinegar. Asian dishes are likelier to be accompanied with soy sauce or chili sauce or wasabi.
- Dessert: While ice cream is usually the go-to dessert at the end of a Western meal, popular Asian desserts include sweet sticky rice pudding, peanut soup, egg tarts, and lotus seed paste balls.
Easy Chinese Recipes
Indo-Chinese cuisine is a popular variation of authentic Chinese food tempered with typically Indian flavors. The cuisine combines deep-fried, spicy flavors with Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and vinegar. Try these easy Indo-Chinese recipes at home and you will forget about your favorite takeaway joint!
- Manchurian Gravy (Veg or Non-Veg) (follow the link above for the full recipe)
- Vegetable Hakka Noodles (follow the link above for the full recipe)
- Egg Drop Soup (follow the link above for the full recipe)
- Chicken and Egg Fried Rice (follow the link above for the full recipe)
Best Asian Food Blogs
Nowadays, food purchase decisions are influenced by food blogging, which has become an online social media platform unto itself. Many restaurants are leveraging the online social media presence of food bloggers and welcoming them to review their restaurants.
Marc Matsumoto is the author of the No Recipes food blog. He is also a private chef, TV host, and food consultant, whose self-professed love for cooking started since before [he] could see over the kitchen counter! He founded No Recipes to elevate everyday meals by making the preparation of delicious wholesome food accessible and interesting to people of all skill levels.
No Recipes has an online library of over 1,000 easy-to-follow step-by-step recipes. Each recipe is accompanied by the dish’s background and photos for readers to learn the reasons behind basic cooking techniques. The blog aims to encourage readers to have fun in the kitchen.