Friday, May 15, 2009

More Asian Cooking

Yesterday I posted a recipe for one of our favorite Asian dishes; Sesame Chicken and Noodle Bowls. Today, I thought I would talk a little bit more about Asian cooking and share some of my personal tips. I'm not an expert, nor am I Asian myself, but we love all sorts of Asian foods and I've been making Asian recipes almost as long as I've been cooking. Take-out is great, but it's nice to be able to make your favorite dishes at home.
  • Asian market - If you've got one nearby, stop by and take a look around. We don't have access to one now that we live in a rural area, but we did when we lived in the suburbs. I used to love going there and looking at all of the exotic ingredients. It was a great place to get high quality soy sauce and other Asian staples inexpensively. You may need some help, though, as many of the packages have no English writing on them.
  • Wok - I had one for years, but I rarely used it and finally got rid of it because it was taking up too much space. I know lots of people use their woks regularly, but I don't think you have to have one to make great Asian dishes. A large skillet, dutch oven or stock pot works well. I usually use my dutch oven because it reduces splatters on the cook top and is big enough to easily double most recipes.
  • Soy Sauce - I always go for the reduced sodium variety. Regular soy sauce is fine as a condiment, but may make your dishes too salty, especially sauces that need to be reduced. Also, make sure to read the ingredients on the bottle. Some don't actually contain soy and are made with a bunch of chemicals that taste like soy. You don't want those.
  • Vegetables - This goes against traditional Asian cooking, but I usually steam my vegetables and then add them to the dish along with the sauce before simmering. I know, it's blasphemy, but it saves time because you can steam your vegetables in one pot while you cook your meat in another. It also makes them a little softer than stir frying them. We're not big fans of crunchy vegetables in cooked dishes.
  • Rice - Again, I'm going to break from tradition. I don't cook rice in a pan on the stove. I either bake it in the oven (350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes in a covered casserole) or use the "Rice" setting on my microwave. Both methods produce perfect fluffy rice and free up an extra burner on my cook top.
  • Meat - I always cut meat into thin strips or slices instead of cubes. It cooks faster and looks more authentic to me. I've never had Asian food in a restaurant where the meat was cut into cubes. A super sharp knife and keeping your meat extremely cold or even partially frozen makes it much easier to achieve very thin cuts. Also, don't forget to cut all meat (including poultry) against the grain, so it is tender and not stringy.
Most of you are foodies and probably knew all of this information, but if you didn't, I hope you'll find some of these tips useful. I'll probably share some more of my favorite Asian recipes in the future.

I'll be back later to open the bar!!


Lissaloo said...

Great tips! I no idea that soy sauce might be made with no soy! And I can't wait to try making plain rice in my oven :) I would love a good egg drop soup, or sweet & sour sauce recipe if you have one :)

5thsister said...

Wonderful suggestions. I, too, often steam my veggies. Never knew you could bake rice from beginning to end to yield soft and fluffy...I'm going to have to try that!

Donna-FFW said...

I think these are fantastic tips and very helpful suggestions and your sesame chicken dish looks absolutely delicious, by the way!

Heidi said...

Thanks for the wonderful tips! I love Asian foods, but don't have a lot of experience cooking it.

Nan and =^..^= said...

It's always nice to find something new to add to our old standby meals!
Rice and veggies are a staple in our husband is very allergic to gluten and I am somewhat. The sesame chicken looks great and could be modified a bit. Thanks and am looking forward to more recipes!