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The ABC of the Asian cuisine.

Here we introduce typical ingredients of Asian cuisine.

Cooking in a wok-pan

Steaming

Yum Cha - Dim Sum Lunch

Typical ingredients of Asian spices

Yum Cha - Dim Sum Lunch

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Every life tells its story, as it does for Olaf Niemeier. Here you’ll find out more about the person Olaf Niemeier.

Be curious about an interesting story with many stops all over the world, but especially at cuisines of Asian countries.               More

All Dim Sums have one thing in common, they are small, so that a great variety of Dim Sums can be tasted at one meeting, tea is served with Dim Sum. You are able to choose from a wide assortment of classic Chinese teas as well as Japanese teas. In these days Dim Sum can be taken just as well with beer or other beverages. A Cantonese term for a light meal, which according to custom is taken together with family or friends from morning until late afternoon.

The variety of ingredients, including chicken, pork, beef, gambas as well vegetarian. Steamed vegetable, fried congee and other soups are offered in many Dim Sum restaurants. Tea is always served. An alternative name of Dim Sums ( which is mainly used in Australia and Hong – Kong ) originates from this custom, namely Yum Cha – tea drinker.
In some countries for example Great-Britain and Australia the name “Dim Sum” is used to be wrongly called as samosa in a Chinese style.

Dim Sum can be prepared by deep frying or steaming. They are small and are mostly piecemeal – three or four on a plate – served. Small portions give the opportunity to taste a variety of Dim Sums.

According to some sources Dim Sum appeared in the eleventh century long before their equivalent of the Western Hemisphere for example Europe, France had appeared.

Hors d´oeuvres, the Spanish tapas, in Anglosaxon areas appetizers or finger/nibble food. However given the timely measures of Chinese history, Dim Sums can be viewed as a modern use of food and institution.

It is reported that travelers on the SEIDENSTRASSE were looking for a place, to find recreation, which was the reason that teahouses were built along the route. On the countryside after a hard day of work on their fields, exhausted farmers went to teahouses to relax with a cup of tea. At first it wasn’t appropriate to have tea with the food, because it was believed that this led to overweight.  Later it was discovered that tea helped with the digestion. As teahouse owners widened their assortment, the tradition of Dim Sum evolved over time.

In Hong-Kong as well in most towns of the province Guanngdon ( Kanton ) many Chinese restaurants open their doors already at 6 o´clock in the morning. It’s a custom, that older people meet at Dim Sum after their morning gym, but also often to brows in their newspaper. For many Chinese in the south Yum Cha is considered as a family day at the weekend and many Cantonese dishes are served in the evening.

Steaming

Previously it was mostly believed of steamed vegetables relating to steaming. But the times have changed. Today one tends to light and healthy type of preparations, which the food retains its characteristic taste.  Taste and structure of food are remained, mild flavors, spices and sauces shall help to intensify, which do not dominated. Flavorings of herbs, spices and other ingredients penetrate softly into cooked product. It was already steamed on stones of hot springs long time ago. One of the earliest cooking utensils is the ???, a two section damper of bronze, that probably first used by Chinese in the 11th and 12th century. Steam cooking spread rapidly from China to Southeast Asia, arrived then via Japan and India to Europe. Each country contributed the taste characteristics of its own

 cuisine and additionally modified techniques and cooking times accordingly its own needs. In Southeast Asia Countries was cooked in Bamboo steamer and Woks, in Europe was used sieve insert and fish kettle and reduced juice that escapes together with steam into a sauce.  In England plum pudding was steamed in a flour powdered cloth, in Scotland “haggis” was prepared in a sheep´s stomach. Steam cooking is and remains a popular method of cooking.

With this mild process almost all foods can be cooked. Steamed dishes are refined, juicy and aromatic. At a constant heat ingredients are gently cooked in sieve insert over low boiling water. Foods retain their juice, flavor, colour, vitamins and minerals, which would thus lost in cooking water. You cook without fat and steamed dishes are light and healthy.

Cooking in the Wok

Probably the best – known Asian kitchen appliance is the Wok. This kind of kitchen pot is unique. It has got a timeless design, is made from resistant material and is a real energy saver. This last point was of particular importance, when cookware was created more than 3000 years ago, by quick cooking of all ingredients on only one fireplace, because firewood was in short supply

To be able to cook ingredients in short time, they have to be cut into small pieces, which bring us to the next kitchen appliance, the kitchen hatchet. It was cut on a hard wooden disc. Appliance number three, the chopping board. Ingredients are stirred by a spatula or a lifter.

Keep your hands off apparently harmless kitchen hatchets during a visit in an Asian kitchen and decline any invitation to try out.
The cutting edge is very sharp and for fine cutting western fingers are too long and too thick.

After this short and humorous intermezzo we would like to get on seriously. As perfect as the art of cuisine, as also well thought through are the kitchen appliances.

We start with the Wok, the large pan with convex bottom, capable of replacing all the other cooking vessels if needed. You can use it for all these things: From cooking to stewing and roasting to steaming and baking. Since the Asian kitchen has been in trend in the Western World, Woks are available in different sizes, shapes and materials. However, these are not to be compared with the traditional simple Wok of iron with a robust wooden handle.

Would you like to have a Wok, you should try out before buying, how it fits in the hand. Woks with two handles are not so easy to handle such as with a long handle. However the acquirement makes only sense, when the device is often used. A large deep pan can be also used.

The main focus of the Asian kitchen is the preservation of colour, structure, smell and taste of dishes. The single ingredients need to be composed harmonious and balance. These extensive preparations take more time than cooking itself.

Cutting into small pieces of ingredients is a way to keep the cooking times short. A particular taste is achieved by marinating. Ingredients with different cooking times are blanched or precooked, to ensure that everything is cooked. Different herbs and spices are fried to aromatize the oil for the next ingredients. Dried ingredients are soaked. The soaking water is not poured away, but used as a seasoning.

The Asian people, with the exception of some fresh fruits and some specialities in Japanese cuisine, eat less raw food. Everything is prepared, be it only in seconds or also in many hours.

Enjoy your creative improvisations. And you will also find yourself in the very best company. Even Asian master chefs experiment and improvise all their lives.

Typical ingredients of Asian spices

Goldenseal Tumeric – Haldi

Goldenseal white Tumeric     Amb Haldi

Indian green pepper     Kali Mirch

Japanese Chili spice    Shichimi Tougarashi

Green cardamom      Elaichi

Coriander seeds     Dhania

Onion seeds       Nigella Kolonji

Cumin Jeera

Mustard seeds black      Raj

Chinese Szechuan pepper

Pakistani cane sugar   Shakkar

Indian cinnamon     Cassia

White lenses    Urid Dal

Saffron     Kesar

Carnations Laung

Fennel seed Saunf

Steranis     Anasphal

Mango powder Amchoor

Poppy seeds – Khus Khus

Vilayati Saunf

Pomegranate seeds – Anardana

Sesame Til

Lovage Ajowan

Fenugreek – Methi

Indian spice mixture  Panch Phoron

Here we would like to present some typical ingredients of the Asian cuisine

Miso

A mixture of fermented soya beans.

Dashi

Broth made of dried seaweed and dried bonito flakes, the basis of many Japanese soups.

Mirin

A kind of sweet rice wine, cooking wine of rice, yeast and liquor with 13% alcohol and 25% - 38% sugar give many foods a mild taste.

Rice vinegar

This vinegar is not as sour as the European vinegar and has a pleasant mild smell.

Tofu

Low-fat, protein-rich and inexpensive quar with beans, that is produced by soya beans.

Bonito flakes

Of smoked, dried bonito (similar to tuna fishing) are planed into fine flakes.

Thai chives

Can be cultivated from seeds (garlic-chives) and it smells lightly of garlic, its blossoms smells softly of roses.

Ginger

Fresh ginger roots has a strong aroma and a typical spicines.

Hoisin sauce

A viscous Chinese seasoning sauce made from soya beans as well pumpking, garlic and many spices. Hot with a slightly sweet flavor.

Pak Choi

An Asian type of cabbage, does not form a head. The leaves are dark-green, reminding a bit of Mangold. The flavour is smooth of slightly hot.

Sake (Rice wine)

Is made of rice and is also called Japanese wine, has 15 - 17% alcohol.

Sesame oil

Made of roasted sesame seeds. Fine smoky aroma.

Wasabi

Japanese green horseradish which is very spicy.

Lemon grass

It is a reed-like plant with intensive lemon flavouring.

Sichuan Peppercorns

They are known in China under the name of blossom pepper, because they open up like flower buds. They are red-brown and have an intense smell. By the way these are not pepper, but dried berries of a bush, which is related to the citrus fruit family.

Tamarinde

Large brown pod with several seeds. Has an intense sour taste and is a popular acidifying agent.

Sojasauce (Shoyu)

The best known liquid spice of the Japanese cuisine. It mainly consists of fermented soya beans, wheat and salt.

Tandoor

Dishes, which are prepared in a traditional clay oven, have a particularly aroma.

Garam Masala

In every region of the subcontinent other receipts are known for this tradition seasonings mixture. The classic combination of cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom and some bay leaves, is sometimes provided by cumin, coriander seeds, black pepper, nutmeg and other spices. All of them are dry roasted and are processed into powder.

Ghee

Clarified butter is the most used fat in the Indian kitchens since the beginning.

Wilde Baby Limonen

Australian limes come from different types of native orange fruits, where they exist in drying coastal rainforest or in dry regions. The most popular lime is the 10-15 mm small, yellow-green and fruity dessert lime of the central Queensland.

Shichimi

It is a mixture of 7 various spices: Chili, sesame, Shiso, Sansho (Szechuanpepper) Nori leaves, Poppy seeds and grated orange zest.

Wattle seed

Wattle seed tastes irresistible delicious and is an ultimate Australian creation. The seeds are the base of some Australian native kinds of acacia.