Thai Cuisine

Hot, Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter
Variety in Flavor, Ingredients, Color

“Food is eaten not just for nourishment. For a Thai, it is an art, a topic of conversation, a source of pleasure.” — Kreesnee Ruangkritya [1]

Deva sculpture, Thailand 15th century

Deva, Thailand, 15th cent.

The core concepts of Thai cooking are hot, sweet, salty, sour and bitter.  A well-designed meal offers a variety in flavors, preparation methods, ingredients, and color.

So if a Red Curry is the main dish, the cook woul 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

Chinese Cuisine

A Fanfare of Chopsticks
The World’s Best Cooks

“There would have been universal insistence, with a fanfare of chopsticks, upon irresistible Chinese food.” — Richard Hughes [1]

“It would not be an overstatement to maintain that the Chinese are the best cooks in the world.” — V. R. Burkhardt [2]

Jade Chopsticks

Jade Chopsticks
Collected by Berthold Laufer

Chinese food is everyone’s favorite cuisine, it seems.  This holds true whether you are chef, foodie, food writer, or ordinary eater.

It is true not only in China, but Chinese food is hugely enjoyed in Japan, Australia, North and South America, and Europe.  These days, excellent Chinese food is increasingly available in the Middle East and Africa, as restaurants open to serve expatriate Chinese workers in those regions. Continue reading

Lumpia – The Best Party Snack – Part II

Memories of Old Manila. Somehow Lumpia Shanghai has associations of Old Manila, the Spanish walled city of Intramuros and Binondo, the ancient Chinatown of Manila, where I first ate the dish. visiting our attorney in Manila, whose office was in the old Spanish walled city.

Our talk was a long one, and as lunch hour approached, he suggested we continue over lunch.  “We Filipinos like to cement relationships over meals,” he said.  “Let’s go to my favorite Chinese restaurant near here.”

The restaurant was in the old Chinese quarter of Binondo, near Intramuros. The streets in Intramuros and Binondo are so narrow, we went, not by care, but by horse carriage, the Filipino kalesa. The mid day sun was sweltering, as so often in Manila, and the humidity was off the scale. Continue reading