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

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

Philippine Cuisine

Crossroads of Asia
Lingering Vinegar and Garlic

“There’s a trick if you want to know that it’s a Filipino an apartment belongs to; the garlic and vinegar can linger around a good long while.” — N.V.M. Golnzalez, The Bamboo Dancers [1]

There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines. And its people speak some 87 languages.[2, 3]

Lumpia Shanghai
Fusion Food and the Greatest Appetizer

Can there be any common factors in the cuisine of such a far-flung and diverse people? There may be some common elements, but we have to look for them in the past.

The ancestors of today’s Filipinos spoke languages of the Malayo-Polynesian language family.  This far-flung language group stretches from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east, with Hawaii in the middle.

These people were sea-farers, expert seamen and navigators.  Fish were an essential part of their diet, and seafood remains a key element of Philippine cuisine today. Continue reading

Ginger I

Tamil Time-Traveler
As Fundamental as Onions

“Fresh ginger is as fundamental to the Asian kitchen as onion is to European cuisine.” — Molly O’Neill

Ginger Flower

Ginger, like Rice, was an ancient Tamil time traveler around the Pacific Rim.  Ginger, which grows underground and has beautiful red and yellow flowers above ground, is one of the most important foods in Asian kitchens.  And it is healthy, too!

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

Ginger

Tamil Time-Traveler
As Fundamental as Onions

“Fresh ginger is as fundamental to the Asian kitchen as onion is to European cuisine.” — Molly O’Neill

Ginger Flower

Ginger I – Ginger Basics: Ginger, like Rice, was an ancient Tamil time traveler around the Pacific Rim.  Ginger, which grows underground and has beautiful red and yellow flowers above ground, is one of the most important foods in Asian kitchens.  And Ginger is healthy, too!

Natives of South India: Linguistic detectives have found out that the names for Ginger in the Indo-European languages all come from ancient South Indian languages 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

Pacific Rim Cusines – Overview

Cooking – The Oldest Art

Chinese Tang Dynasty art from Silk Road

Chinese Men in Foreign Dress
Tang Dynasty Figures from the Gobi Desert

Our focus is the food and cooking of the Pacific Rim, but it is also a story of human history. As Brillat-Savarin said, “Cooking is the most ancient of the arts, for Adam was born hungry.”

With such a wealth of culinary styles, ingredients, cooking methods and national ways, how can we make some kind of order out of this ocean of recipes? It’s a good idea to create a kind of grid or structure to group the major national cuisines that we will feature in this Site. Continue reading