Are you a big fan of Asian food wanting to impress your friends with the same dishes you can get in restaurants?
Celebrating Chinese New Year?
Before you do anything, have a look around an Asian delicatessen. There are a number of ingredients that you’ll struggle to find in the bigger supermarkets.
For most Asian recipes, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve stocked up on soy sauce, nuoc mam (a type of fish sauce), ginger, salt, pepper, and sugar. For everything else, you’ll also probably need a few special spices.
Only know how to cook a stir fry or make instant chicken noodle soup?
Need a recipe to impress your friends?
Look no further!
Let’s start with a Chinese recipe from the Canton region (the home of dim sum, wonton noodles, steamed oysters, and both chow mein and lo mein). There are many different recipes for Cantonese rice but this is one of the most traditional ways of frying rice.
The difference between Cantonese rice and other fried rice recipes is the way you cook the eggs. For Cantonese rice, the beaten eggs need to be poured directly onto the rice and mixed so that each grain of rice is covered in egg.
To serve four people, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 300g of cooked rice
- 70g of peas
- 50g of Chinese or Cantonese sausage (or sweet Chorizo if you can’t find it)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 a carrot
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 2 slim stem of spring onion
- Salt and pepper
Preparation using a wok:
- Peel and dice the carrot. Dice the Chinese sausage. Cut the spring onion into rings. Beat the eggs.
- Cook the sausage in the wok without any oil for 5 minutes. Remove the sausages from the wok but leave the oil from the sausages.
- Add the diced carrot and the soy sauce and cook for a minute before adding the peas. Cook for a further two minutes. Empty the wok and keep everything to one side.
- Add the oil to the wok and the cooked rice making sure you separate the grains. Add the beaten eggs and stir constantly so that the egg doesn’t scramble but rather coats the grains of rice.
- Finally, add the other ingredients to the wok and season with salt and pepper before mixing thoroughly. Ready to eat!
After having cooked your own Cantonese rice, you’ll never want to pick up the frozen stuff again.
You can find more recipes on Asian cooking blogs.
Nowadays, Cantonese rice can be found all over the world. As you can see, Chinese recipes don't always need to be complicated!
Char Siu Pork
Here’s a recipe that pops up on almost every Asian cooking blog. Chinese food uses a lot of different flavours and varies wildly from one province to another. Thus, while you can get Peking duck in Beijing, you’re more likely to find spicy dishes in the Sichuan (Szechuan) and Yunnan regions.
For our next recipe, we’ve decided to stay closer to Canton and show you something that’ll go great with your Cantonese rice or just plain boiled rice, Char Siu pork. This is pork that’s been marinated in a sweet and sour sauce and roasted in the oven. This is great for those who love roast pork and barbecued food, which is quite rare in Asia.
Ingredients for serving four people:
- 400g of pork tenderloin
For the marinade:
- 4 teaspoons of Hoisin sauce (a type of Chinese barbecue sauce you can buy in most Asian supermarkets)
- 4 teaspoons of Char Siu sauce (another ingredient you’ll probably need to visit the Asian supermarket for)
- 1 piece of red or white fermented bean curd (about the size of a sweet)
- 1 teaspoon of Mei Kuei Lu/Mei Kwei Lu (a Chinese rose cooking wine)
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
- A pinch of pepper
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl.
- Pour the marinade over the tenderloin on a plate.
- Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge overnight (or at least four hours).
- Preheat your fan-assisted oven to 200°C. Place a dish filled with hot water in the middle of your oven. During this time, get the meat out and let it drip.
- Place the tenderloin in the middle of your own atop a grill covered in greaseproof paper for 20 minutes while leaving the dish of water in the oven (this stops the meat from drying out).
- After 20 minutes, take the pork out and add another layer of sauce. Take the water out of the oven so that the sauce can caramelise.
- Since every oven works a little differently, keep an eye on the meat while it cooks. You want it to be golden but not burnt!
There are more detailed recipes for this dish on Chinese cooking blogs. There's even a chicken version on The Wok's of Life.
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Thai food tends to have more spice than Chinese food and there are plenty of dishes that almost everyone loves. Here’s one of the most popular dishes and a great one for people who love seafood, pad Thai with prawn or shrimp.
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To feed 4 people, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 200g of raw pink prawns
- 300g of rice noodles (which are often available in the world foods sections of bigger supermarkets)
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 spring onions
- 1 egg
- 60g of soybean sprout
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons of nuoc mam
- 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
- The juice of one lime
- A few strands of fresh coriander
- Cook the rice noodles in boiling water according to the instruction on the packet. Strain the noodles.
- Shell the prawns. Peel and mince the spring onions.
- For the sauce, mix a the nuoc mam, soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar in a bowl.
- Heat the oil in a wok and brown the garlic, onion, and prawns. Once the prawns become less translucent, add the noodles and the sauce before breaking an egg into the mix. Stir well.
- Finally, add the soybean sprouts and the chopped coriander.
- Serve hot!
There you have it! In less than 30 minutes, you can take your tastebuds on a trip to Thailand.
Again, Thai cooking blogs have plenty of variations on this recipe as well as instructions on how to make sticky rice, satay skewers with peanut sauce, and plenty of other delicious Southeast Asian dishes.
Of all the different Asian dishes, you’re probably more like to think of caramelised pork before you think of Vietnamese fondue! Fondue is probably more likely to make you think of France or Switzerland. However, it does exist and it's delicious!
For Vietnamese fondue, you’ll need to put the fondue in the middle of the table by a bowl of warm water to keep the rice cakes from drying out. You’ll also need a little bowl of nuoc mam.
You can fill the rice cakes with noodles, salad, mint, mushrooms, soybean sprouts, and meat cooked in broth. Then you can roll up the rice cake (taking care not to rip it) and eat it with a bit of nuoc nam. The broth is often kept and eaten with noodles.
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To serve 8 people, you’ll need:
For the broth:
- 200ml of water
- 200ml of rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 200ml of coconut milk
- 1 onion
- For the cake and the garnish:
- 1 packet of rice cakes
- 1 packet of rice vermicelli (for the spring rolls)
- Mint leaves
- Soybean sprouts
Any or several of the following:
- 500g of chicken breast
- 800g raw prawns
- 800g of tender beef
- 400g of cuttlefish
- Get several bowls for each ingredient.
- Soak the noodles in warm water in a large bowl for 15 minutes before straining them.
- Wash and strain the salad, mint, and soybean sprouts during this time.
- Cut the meat and cuttlefish into slices and put them onto plates with a bit of oil. Shell the prawns and similarly put them on a plate with oil.
- Place strips of onion onto the meat, cuttlefish, and prawns to flavour them.
- Cook the noodles according to the instruction on the packaging and strain them before putting them onto a plate.
For the broth:
- Mix water, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and onion in the fondue.
- The broth should be a bit sour and salty at the same time. If it’s too sour, you can add water to taste.
- Now you just have to taste it. This is a great recipe for anyone having friends round who doesn't want to resort to ordering takeout.
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Got a vegetarian coming round?
When people think of Asian food, they tend to think of Chinese and Japanese food. However, there’s another country with a rich culinary tradition and a history of spicy food with lots of vegetables, India. A lentil dhal can be much tastier than a basic chicken curry and is also a great option for vegetarians. No need for tofu here!
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To serve 2 to 4 people, you’ll need:
- 140g of yellow lentils
- 2 tomatoes (during the summer, or 70g of tomato concentrate out of season)
- 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala (a mix of spices you can find in most larger supermarkets)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon of fresh sliced coriander
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 piece of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 onion
- 1 dried chilli (or one pinch of chilli)
- 450ml of water
- Rinse the lentils
- Peel the garlic clove and crush it with a garlic press. Peel the ginger and grate it. Peel and dice the onion. Wash and dry the thyme. Peel the tomatoes (you can make this easier by putting them in boiling water for a few seconds) and coarsely dice them.
- Brown the garlic, ginger, onion, and thyme for 5 minutes while mixing them. Add the tomato, chilli, and garam masala. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the lentils and water. Stew for 10-15 minutes.
- You can either mix it in a food processor or leave it as it is. Season with salt and coriander and you’re ready to go.
You should also check out these Chinese vegetarian recipes.
- Not all Asian cuisine is complicated. If you get the right ingredients, anyone can cook tasty and authentic Asian food.
- There are plenty of different recipes from around China. Cantonese rice or Char Siu pork are just two of the more popular dishes and can be very easy to make and taste a lot better than the processed options available in the supermarkets frozen foods aisle.
- Thai food is some of the most popular around. You can prepare pad Thai for you and your friends in just half an hour.
- You could even host an out-of-the-ordinary fondue party with Vietnamese fondue.
- For vegetarians, you can make a tasty dhal with just a few veggies and lentils.
- Get your apron on and fire up the wok!
Find out more about Asian food: