Asian Food and Cookery

Asian Food and Cookery

 

China

Introduction

Amazon ImageWhen I first ate Chinese food in the UK in the 1970s, it was really quite unappealing. Everything came in a gloopy sauce and seemed to taste the same, due to the overuse of monosodium glutamate, supposedly a flavour enhancer but in reality, nothing of the kind. Then in the 1980s a new breed of Chinese restaurant arrived (at least it took that long to reach the provinces) which provided lighter, tastier Chinese cooking demonstrating regional differences. There was one drawback, however, which was that this new type of restaurant was much more expensive than the original cheap ‘n tasteless ones. Consequently, I thought how nice it would be to cook Chinese food at home but I had no idea where to start until BBC TV came to my rescue in the shape of Ken Hom, the USA-born chef of Cantonese parents.… Continue reading

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Amazon ImageThis recipe for stir-fried vegetables comes from Ching-He Huang’s wonderful book, Chinese Food Made EasyChinese Food Made Easy so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it along with any of her other recipes that you try.  If you can’t get some of the mushrooms, substitute any wild mushrooms or other vegetables.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 dried Chinese mushrooms, pre-soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, drained and sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 handful of mangetout
1 small handful of deep-fried dofu (bean curd)
1 small handful of dried wood ear mushrooms, pre-soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
1 small handful of baby corn, sliced
1 small handful of bean sprouts
100ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 large spring onion, sliced
1 tsp cornflour blended with 1 tbsp cold water
1 small handful of raw enoki mushrooms
Steamed jasmine rice to serve

  1. Heat a wok over a high heat, add the groundnut oil and stir-fry the Chinese mushrooms until the fragrance is released.
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Amazon ImageThe cuisines of China (particularly the Cantonese) are dominating Hong Kong’s culinary scene, and that is no surprise, as most Hong Kongers are of Cantonese origin.  Alongside the Chinese cuisines, you will find many restaurants specializing in other Far East cuisines, such as Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and others… European and British influence can also be found, as Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years.

Moreover, it can be said that during the years Hong Kong developed its own unique cuisine that combines Cantonese cooking with other elements…

Yum cha (“drinking tea”) is an integral part of Hong Kong’s culinary culture.

This Cantonese term refers to the custom of eating small servings of different foods, mainly dim sum, while sipping Chinese tea.… Continue reading

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Amazon ImageCantonese cuisine is diverse and sophisticated. Characterised by light spices, fresh ingredients and slow, measured preparation it may not appear to be the most effective option for a restaurant. Nonetheless, Cantonese cuisine keeps its position as a favorite of millions. Originating from the Guangdong province of China, this mode of cooking results in a menu that has something for everybody, no matter what their taste.

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Amazon ImageSome consider that Chinese food is has magical properties when it comes to health. They cite the lower instances of heart disease and some types of cancer among the Chinese. Others argue that the average Chinese meal is a nutritional catastrophe, mentioning high levels of salt, fat, additives and calories. Not surprisingly, both these extreme views neglect to mention a number of pertinent facts. As with any other cuisine, the nutritional benefits or otherwise are completely dependent on exactly what the meal contains.

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Amazon ImageIn China, food and its preparation has been developed so highly that it has reached the status of an art form. Rich and poor, the Chinese people consider that delicious and nutritious food is a basic necessity. There is an old Chinese saying “Food is the first necessity of the people”.

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Amazon ImageMany non-Chinese think that dim sum is just a steamed dumpling with maybe a dipping sauce to accompany it. However, although that is one type of dim sum, the term “dim sum” does not refer to a single recipe but to a style of serving a vast selection of different snack type items. Usually, these will be provided on a trolley which trundles between tables for diners to make their choices.

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Amazon ImageThe lowly dumpling. In Western-style cooking it is a simple staple, a source of carbohydrates and a great comfort food. However, Chinese dumplings are an artistic creation from the kitchen. Chinese Dumplings (Jiao Zi or Gow Gee, in the Mandarin dialect) are a mixture made of dough filled with meat, chicken and/or vegetables. It is frequently dished up as part of dim sum. The correct preparation calls for plenty of time, patience and effort but the end result, when done properly, are definitely worth it.

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Amazon ImageAlthough rice is thought to be the staple carbohydrate of Chinese cuisine, noodles are often served as well, whether Cantonese or Mandarin, Hunan or Szechuan. In fact noodles have formed a part of Chinese cookery since at least two thousand years ago when the Han Dynasty ruled China.

Both the Arabs and the Italians claim to have invented the noodle but an archaeological find at Lajia in Qinghai of four thousand year old noodles, seems to prove conclusively that it was indeed the Chinese who discovered them.

There are two different types of Chinese noodles; those made from wheat flour and those made from rice flour. Wheat flour noodles are usually used in northern Chinese cuisine, whereas rice flour noodles generally are found in the south.… Continue reading

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History of Chopsticks:

Chinese use chopsticks and Westerners use knives and fork- for main dishes. That is the difference between the two cultures when it comes to eating. This inevitably means that large piece of meat like steak, fish and poultry are not possible at the Chinese table since using chopsticks to pick up massive amounts of food is not feasible. Most dishes are therefore made up of mouth sized pieces which are taken up by chopsticks and transferred to the mouth.

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