Winter Melon 冬瓜

The Biggest Melon
A Cold Food for Slimmers

cropped-Winter-Melon.jpegThe Winter Melon (Dong Gua in Mandarin) may be the biggest melon, even bigger than Watermelon.  It can grow as big as 45 kilograms, though the ones found in shops are usually much smaller.

A native of the area around Thailand, Malaya and Java, Winter Melon has been known in China for a long time, since Continue reading

Burmese (Myanmar) Cuisine

Where China Meets India
Crossroads of Asia

“The staple food is plain boiled rice, piled up in a heap on a large platter.” — Shway Yoe [1]

Classical Burma/Myanmar sculpture

Kneeling Buddha, Burma/Myanmar,
19th century

Burma, or Myanmar, lies in a critical space between China and India.  This ancient land, home of many nationalities, seems destined to play a pivotal role in trade and investment between her two big neighbors,.

Burmese author, Thant Myint-U, grandson of diplomat U Thant, predicts that with current governmental changes now occurring, the country can emerge as the new crossroads of Asia. [2]

Burmese cuisine is rich and varied, shows influences from Continue reading

Cambodian Cuisine

Rice, Fish and Edible Flowers
An Ancient Civilization, a Noble Cuisine

Angkor Wat

“The Cambodians have some two hundred different ways of describing rice of various kinds.” — Christopher Pym [1]

Cambodian cuisine, descended from the ancient Khmer society, is one of the world’s oldest cuisines. [2]

It is now in a period of revival and Continue reading

Vietnamese Cuisine

Fish Sauce, Nuoc Mam and Sea Ghost  Fingers
The National Dish Is a Soup — Even at Breakfast

“Only the French imposed their own cuisine upon their Asiatic possessions.” — David Dodge [1]

“He was not yet Ho Chi Minh. It was 1917 and he was Nguyen Ai Quoc and he was a pastry cook under the great Escoffier.” — Robert Olen Butler [2]

Cooking with Vietnamese Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce

Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce

Vietnamese cooking is light and delicate, healthy, and remarkably varied. Its famous dishes can be very unusual and even have poetic names, like one for Crab Claws called Sea Ghost Fingers. Continue reading

Hawaiian Cuisine

Multi-Layered Cuisine
Luau’s, Poi, Poke, Tikis and Spam

“Mangoes of golden flesh, with turpentine

Coconut Palms

“Peel and odor. Plums of inky stain
“And the pucker of persimmons….” — Genevieve Taggard, “The Luau” [1]

“Shrimps, sea-urchins, lobsters, crabs and various kinds of shell-fish, as well as sea weed….” — Henry M. Whitney, Hawaiian Guide Book, 1875 [2]

The Paradise of the Pacific is truly Continue reading

Ginger II

The Ultimate De-Fisher
As Fundamental as Onions

“Ginger is forever.” —  Molly O’Neill

“Half the secret of good cooking lies in de-fishing the fish, or anything in which you wish to soften down the animal flavor.  Ginger is of course a de-fisher.”– Buwei Yang Chao

Ginger in Asian Kitchens:Ginger appears in Continue reading

Reishi Mushrooms 靈芝

Daoist Elixir of Immortality
Performance-Enhancing Substance

How to use reishi mushrooms

Japanese reishi mushrooms

Chinese athletes are said to get a competitive edge from — perfectly legal — mushroom extracts to win more Olympic golds.  A leading Japanese politician takes three different kinds of Asian healing mushrooms for breakfast every day.

One of the most important of these mushrooms is Reishi. You see them in Chinese paintings of Daoist sages and also ancient Chinese emperors.

These are the gnarly, strange-looking fungi, often purple, sometimes shown as green, brown, black or red. Continue reading

Edward Schafer and Berthold Laufer

The Golden Peaches of Samarkand
Chronicles of the Silk Road — Tang Dynasty

Crystallized Ginger

“Without coriander, saffron, mint, ginger and oregano, the foods of the Middle East and China wold be bland indeed.” — Kathie Webber [1]

Kathie Webber is right.  Who could imagine Sichuan cooking without hot red peppers?  And yet they are a fairly recent addition to the Sichuan kitchen. Continue reading

Chopsticks

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Elegant Replacement for Fingers
The Most Refined Eating Utensils

What They Are: Chopsticks are the principal eating tools of a large part of East Asia, centering on what Toynbee calls the Sinic culture sphere.

They are about 10 to 12 inches long, with longer ones used for cooking and serving. Children’s chopsticks are about 5 inches long. In Japan, chopsticks for use by women tend run smaller than men’s chopsticks.

Chinese chopsticks tend to be longer than Japanese, and have more rounded ends, while Japanese ones tend to have pointed ends. Continue reading

Lotus Root

A Crunchy Vegetable
Nourishes the Blood and Clears the Lungs

How to use Lotus Root in cooking Asian dishes

Lotus Root

Symbol of Purity: The lotus flower has an exalted status in many of the Buddhist societies of Asia, because of its symbolism of purity.  The lotus has also given its name to one of the most important scriptures of Buddhism.

So it is not surprising Continue reading