Archive for the ASIAN COOKING 101 Category

Tip of the Day: How to cut a Pineapple!

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Fruit & Veggie Selections, Peeling on May 7, 2010 by Meals of Asia

  • Start with a ripe pineapple. When purchasing, look for nice color both in the leaves and the skin. Check for ripeness by lifting the pineapple by a single leaf (choose a leaf toward the top). If the leaf comes out, it’s ripe.
  • Try this test several times on the same pineapple. Avoid buying pineapples whose skin is easily indented, which may mean they are overripe. Also, the pineapple should have only a very light scent. A heavy scent is also a sign of overripeness.
  • Now lay your pineapple on a counter or table. If you are planning to carve the pineapple into a “boat”, turn it to find the most attractive and stable way for it to lay (will it lays flat, without tumbling over?). Also, choose the side with the best looking leaves.
  • Rotate the pineapple slightly. Using a serrated knife, begin to make a slice (no more than 1/4 of the pineapple) down along the side to remove the skin. Note: Do not cut the leaves.

Thank for sharing, Darlene!

How to Pick & Peel Mangoes!

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, PA NHIA'S COOKING DICTIONARY on May 5, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Step 1: Mangoes certainly come in a lot of shapes and varieties, but one thing I always look for when picking out a mango is that it should be oblong shaped, like a football, and should be firm and not mushy to the touch. The color should be similar to that of a ripe peach, rather than a light green.

Step 2: Smell your mango! It should not have an alcohol scent to it, or it may have already gone bad. Mangos have a lot of sugar in them, so they tend to start smelling fermented if they are on their way out.

Step 3: Most mangoes that you will buy in the store require some time to ripen before eating. Leave your mango out in a cool area of your kitchen for a few days to ripen it. When the mango is ripe, it will have a lovely fruity aroma and be slightly soft to the touch. The stem should also be round and firm, not dried out. A few small brown specks on the skin are also an indication that the fruit is ripe. You can refrigerate a mango for about 3-4 days after you have ripened it.

Step 4: Peeling: Remove a thin piece of the fruit from one end, so that you can stand the mango upright on a cutting board. Hold the mango, cut side down, and with a paring knife, remove the skin in thin strips working from top to bottom.

Step 5: Pitting: Once the skin is removed, cut off the top and the bottom of the mango, leaving a pit surrounded by fruit. Slice lengthwise down the fruit, and remove the flesh from the pit in a circular motion. One the flesh is removed, discard the pit and slice the fruit as needed.

For more tips & tricks, watch these video tutorials on how to cut and peel your mangoes perfect!

Thank you, eHow!

Tip of the Day: Sesame Seeds

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Cooking on April 23, 2010 by Meals of Asia

White sesame seeds have a sweet, nutty flavor. Black sesame seeds are a bit more bitter. Toasting intensifies their taste and aroma.

Dry deep-frying

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101 on April 23, 2010 by Meals of Asia

In dry deep-frying, foods are given a thick coating of cornstarch (corn flour) before being fried. They come out very crisp outside and tender inside.

Tip of the Day: Sesame Oil

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101, Cooking on April 22, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Sesame oil is pressed from toasted white sesame seeds. Use in small amounts to add a nutty flavor accent to marinades, dressings and stir-fries.

Yeo’s sesame oil, one of my favorites, can be purchased online at veryasia.com!

How to Cook Dried Mushrooms

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101 on April 20, 2010 by Meals of Asia

Many mushrooms come in dried forms and some exotic mushrooms only come in dried forms in stores. Trumpet, lobster, maitake, morrels, chantrelles, porcini, miscellaneous “field” mushrooms, and truffles all come dried. When you see them in their packages, you might be thinking, “Hmmm…That sounds cool, but how can I use them?”

First off, dried mushrooms are great additions to creamy dishes, sauces, pastas, stuffing, soups and egg dishes too. However, you must rinse them under cool water to be sure to get rid of any dirt that’s still on them from being picked. Then, you’ll want to submerge them in very warm or hot water for about 30 minutes, ideally.

You can use these soaked mushrooms for wonderful, earthy flavor in your favorite dishes.

Thank you for sharing, Kimberly!

A Must Have…The Chinese Wok!

Posted in ASIAN COOKING 101 on April 11, 2010 by Meals of Asia

The Chinese Wok
Thousands of years ago, Chinese cooks figured out how to prepare healthy food quickly using a simple, versatile piece of equipment – the Chinese wok. You can use any large skillet for stir-frying, but inexpensive woks are readily available and ideally suited to the job. And with a wok, you can boil and steam, too.

How The Wok Works
One of the secrets to Asian cooking is heat. The wok’s round-bottomed shape is designed to heat up quickly.

Tips & Techniques to Using a Wok

Stir-fry Cooking Tips

  • Prepare ahead by cutting, measuring and marinating before you start the wok.
  • Cut ingredients into uniform, bite-size pieces to cook quickly and evenly.
  • When stir-frying, always heat any wok for one or two minutes before you add any ingredients, including oil.
  • Swirl the oil around to coat the entire cooking surface.
  • Work in order adding the aromatic seasonings first, then the protein, then the denser vegetables and finally the softer, leafier vegetables.
  • Keep it moving with long chop sticks or spatula to prevent burning.
  • Too much food will cool off the heat and prevent foods from browning or cooking evenly; avoid this by cooking meat first, removing it from the wok, cooking the vegetables and then returning the meat to the wok.
  • If your recipe calls for a cornstarch and water thickener, dissolve 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in 2 teaspoons of cold water before adding it to the wok; then stir constantly until the liquid boils and thickens.

Steaming Cooking Tips

  • Place a steam rack in the wok one inch above the water and bring to a boil.
  • Line the steamer with clean damp cloth (a dish towel works well), parchment paper or fresh greens such as napa cabbage or lettuce to prevent foods from sticking.
  • Cover the steamer and put the lid on your wok.
  • Check water level periodically and add boiling water as needed.
  • Steam can burn; be careful to lift the lid away from you to let steam escape before adding water or removing food.