Cooking food from different cuisine and trying out recipes from around the world is the passion of billions. You cannot really learn about and understand a culture until you become more familiar about the food the people eat. Food is crucial to the survival, happiness, and well-being of us as humans and it is natural to want to explore it as much as possible.
Throughout history, whenever there was a new part of the world explore people would bring fruits and vegetables to their motherland. Wars were fought over trading routes and spice trade transformed the ancient world for the better. Regions managed to blossom and become what they are today thanks to the mere presence of certain vegetation and animals that are the integral part of the society’s cuisine.
Perhaps the most famous as well as the most widespread type of food comes from the Orient, traditionally the name for the countries from the Middle East and East Asia. From the European point of view that was the food that was new when we think back to the ancient world. Although it is historically inaccurate to think of Europe as the center of society simply, the past is past and enough events took place that everything coming from the East and the West was new, special, unfamiliar, and sought after.
Once the civilizations started to mix due to the conquering and exploration, it was evident that all people were missing a lot during their lifetimes which resulted in the need to try new food. Peoples not originally from Asia and those very far away began preparing Oriental food with varying success, and in the 21st century it can be said that some of the world’s most delicious and popular meals are from the Orient. In the article beforehand we explore the basic tips of cooking proper Oriental Food.
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Although basic in nature and simple to carry out and master, the upcoming tips will elevate your home cooked meals and make you a master of the Oriental flavors. Your friends and family will love your cooking even more after you have learnt the tricks and secrets of the old masters and chefs.
A Wok is not a Must
It is a common misconception that you have to own a wok in order to properly make Chinese and other Asian meals. While useful and with its own set of benefits, this type of pan is only recommended and preferred. You do not actually need it for most of the recipes since a regular frying pan will do just fine. Work with what you have as long as you are using the right temperature, ingredients, and techniques.
The golden rule of all cooking is to never cook, fry, bake, or boil your food for too long. This is crucial in Oriental dishes as well since most foods takes literal minutes to be thermally treated for the recipe. It should never burn or stick to the pan despite the increased heat needed for some recipes. You will have to learn to cook on higher temperature for shorter periods if you want to master the traditional classics. Stir frying is an art and it takes time to develop the skill, but knowing the basics does help.
Wash Rice Before Using It
It is common practice to wash long grain rice before you boil it or stir it at least twice, or until the water runs clear while washing them. This is the traditional and right way of doing things since you do not want dirt and other outside particles in your food. The rice will also soften a bit from the water it soaks and need even less time to cook. Another pro tip is to know is that you should have twice the amount of water when compared to the rice in a pan.
Nothing but the Fresh
For the real taste of tradition and the true mix of mouthwatering flavors, you should always opt to use the freshest ingredients available to you. Go out of your way to buy fresh produce and meat, as well as seafood like shrimp and other fruits of the sea. Old and frozen meat will ruin the experience and make you never want to prepare the dish again.
General Seasoning and Preparing Tips
When it comes to seasoning your food the right way and using the best combinations of sauces for the meals, there is a set of rules to follow. Fresh ginger is better than powdered in everything, and sugar should always be used instead of monosodium glutamate. Mix cornstarch and water either in a 1 to 2 or 1 to 4 formula.
Always add the oil down the sides of the wok and not directly to the bottom. Fresh meat should be marinated before cooking and add the cornstarch to it last. Beef should be cut across the grain since it will help with the tenderness. Moreover, pieces of meat should be roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. The pan and the oil in it should always be very hot before you put the meat or poultry inside. Meat stir fries first and is then put to the side, only to be returned to the dish once the vegetables are cooked.
Ingredients to Regularly Use
If you are unsure what is considered a staple Oriental ingredient other than rice, noodles, fish, and meat, know that you can use most vegetables. Most recipes contain carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, ad bok choy. Peas and beans are stars of numerous dishes but they require longer cooking than the ones mentioned prior. Bell peppers, chili peppers, onions, and garlic should also be readily available for you to mix in regularly.
Apart from firm food and stir fry mixes, Oriental cuisines also feature a ton of different noodle and rice soups with meats, veggies, and eggs inside them. These are healthy meals that are good for you and can be as hearty as the firmer food you are used to. What is more, since you cannot actually prepare small amounts, you will have enough for multiple days from just cooking it once.