Asian Food: Spices, Curry, and other flavoring agents
Five-spices, curry, and other flavoring agents: A very popular spices in Chinese cookery. It is a ground mixture of anise, pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel.
Turmeric is a plant root, that has been dried and powdered. Turmeric gives a mild flavor but is prized for the color it gives to food, particularly rice. It is included in curry powder mixes for that purpose.
An essential ingredient in prepared curry powder mixes. It has a delightful fragrance and goes well with beef and lamb.
Dried coriander seed or ground coriander:
The dried seeds of the fresh coriander plant. It gives a delightful fragrance to food.
Tamarind liquid is an important flavoring agent in Indian, Indonesian, and Malayan cooking. The long fibers of the tamarind pod are soaked in water to extract the flavor, the pulp is discarded and the liquid is used.
Dried tamarind pulp is sold in packets. There is also a bottled tamarind liquid available, perhaps not, as good as soaking the pulp to make the liquid. For more spices, Asian spices must post comments. I will post more new Asian spices for you.
Curry is the word that refers to the sauce around braised meat, and chicken. The spices mixes used to make curry in India and the Southeast.
Asia is individually blended according to the fragrance and strength of the heart, desired. For convenience curry powder (a ready mix blend of spices for the sauce) became commercially available a long time ago. The blends now cater to a wider range of tastes.
Curry pastes, which are spices blends roasted in oil, represent particular spices blends, eg, Thai red or green curry paste and rending curry paste.
In your pantry, stock a mild and fragrant, curry powder or paste. If a hotter taste is required, add a little chili powder. Store dry powders on the pantry shelf and curry paste in the refrigerator after opening.
A little dried shrimp is used to give a delightful flavor to food. Soak as directed and store in a tightly closed jar on a pantry shelf.
Important, in Japanese cuisine, White Miso is used to flavor stocks and soups. White Miso is made from yellow soya beans, boiled and crushed, then allowed to ferment. It should be stored in the refrigerator.
A wine made from rice. Mirin, a sweet, rice wine, is also used.
Dry and sweet Sherry:
If you are fond of Chinese cooking, a bottle of either is useful in your pantry.
Rice Vinegar is clear to pale gold, with a mildly sweet flavor. It’s used in dipping sauces and salad dressings. A little sweet sherry may be substituted.
Palm sugar is obtained from the sap of the coconut and palmyra palm trees. It has a strong sweet flavor. Dark brown sugar is a good substitute.
Rice and dried Noodles:
Rice and dried noodles are the staples of Asian cuisine and you should always have a cache readily available in your pantry.
Short-grain or medium-grain rice:
These varieties are used mainly in Chinese cooking.
Jasmine and basmati Rice:
Jasmine and Basmati both are long-grain rice and are preferred with Indian and Malaysian dishes.
Also known as sticky rice, this rice is used mainly in sweet dishes. It clings together when cooked and blends well with sugar and coconut milk.
Dried Rice Noodles:
Also known as rice sticks or rice vermicelli, soak dried rice noodles in hot water until soft, drain well, and use in stir-fries or soups. When deep-fried in their dried state they puff up to a crunchy texture to use in salads or to top a stir-fry.
Bean thread Noodles:
Made from mung bean starch, bean thread noodles are also known as cellophane noodles. Soak in hot water before use, drain, and use in stir-fries, soups, or salads.
Available in various widths and either plain or enriched with egg, wheat noodles need to be boiled and drained well before inclusion in a dish.
Supermarkets stock a large range of instant noodles or quick-cooking noodles. Some include a flavor sachet. They can be added to a quick stir-fry after cooking as directed on the pack.
Fresh Asian ingredients:
Fresh flavoring ingredients are important in Asian cooking.
For a mild flavor, fry slices of garlic in the oil then remove them before the addition of other ingredients. A more defined flavor is achieved if garlic is minced and included with the other ingredients. Use fresh garlic. Garlic cloves are best stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
Ginger is an essential flavoring ingredient. Cut a 1-2 cm piece from the ginger root. Peel thinly and slice very finely or grate. Any remaining ginger root may be wrapped in damp paper, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator crisper for 2-3 weeks.
This imparts a characteristic sour flavor to Asian dishes. Trim away the outer blades and cut the white bulbous part into thin slices or chop finely. Lemongrass will keep in the refrigerator crisper for up to 2 months.
Small, red, hot chilies must be handled with care. If an intense hot flavor is needed, chop the chili with the seeds and vein. If a milder heat is desired, split the chili and remove the seeds and thick vein.
The hot part of the chili is concentrated in the seeds and vein and will remain on your fingers. If lips or eyes, severe irritation will result. Wash your hands immediately after handling chilies or wear rubber gloves.
Coconut Milk and Cream:
Coconut milk and cream are made from fresh, grated coconut milk.’ Canned coconut milk is available as either thin or thick. Thin coconut milk is used for long-simmering with other ingredients.
Thick coconut milk or cream is added at the end of the recipe to give flavor and smooth consistency. Store leftover coconut milk or cream in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It may also be frozen for longer storage but loses some of its smooth texture.
A wide variety may be found in refrigerator cabinets at supermarkets as well as in Asian food stores. Varieties include Hokkien noodles and the thinner Singapore noodles, both made from wheat flour. Rice noodles include Japanese udon and flat pad thai, which are gluten-free.
Many Asian recipes call for thinly sliced meat, particularly for a stir-fry. Always cut the meat across the grain for a tender result. Purchase the meat in a thick piece or ‘nut.’ Not a slice, to be able to cut across the grain.
For thinly sliced meat, freeze the meat for 2 hours to keep it firmly under the blade of the knife. Trays of stir-fry strips or small cubed meats are available in butcher shops and supermarkets.
These are squares of noodle dough used to wrap food in to make spring rolls and wontons. Both rice and wheat-based wrappers are available. They can be found in the refrigerator cabinets at supermarkets like Publix Supermarket and Asian food stores.