At this point you may have a few questions. “What is Asian cuisine?” “What do I mean when I say ‘Asia’?” “What am I going to cook?” Perhaps the most important in order to determine my learning, “What do you already know about Asian cuisine and cooking?” I will answer all of these questions, and hopefully give enough information to establish what my knowledge and experience with this style of cooking is.
I recently took a Religious Studies course and learned that Asia to one person does not always refer to the same place for everyone else. I want to clarify what I mean when I say Asia. “Asia” actually refers to a long list of countries, so it’s time to work out the specifics. The class taught me that even Northern parts of Africa could be called “Asia” to some people. It could also refer to China or Japan. Even Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Iraq, and also South Asian countries such as India can be classified under the broad term “Asia.” I would like to focus on the East Asian countries of China, Japan, North and South Korea and Mongolia. Hereafter when I say “Asia” I will referring to East Asia, unless otherwise indicated.
I want to try my hand at cooking different types of food within these countries cuisines. I will attempt from each of the following courses: appetizers, sides, soups and salads, entrées and dessert. I’m going to try (and I say “try” because I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I’m hoping for the best) making things like stir-frys, chow mein, chicken balls, ginger beef, egg rolls, spring rolls, and sushi. I intend to make a variety of dishes, both traditional to these East Asian countries, and also as they are served here in North America. I’ve already done some research into this topic and noticed that most of the food that is typically served in East Asian restaurants are dishes like stir-frys and deep fried foods like chicken balls or egg rolls; however, in their own countries, the dishes are more fresh and light. My goal for the end of this learning experience is to feel confident enough in cooking a variety of East Asian items that I can prepare a meal for dinner guests.
Let’s move on to my existing knowledge and experience with East Asian food. I am a decent cook. I can make a wide variety of meals for my family and friends. I can follow instructions well, and I usually change what I’m doing by adding different spices depending on the taste to make my own preferences fit the recipe. When it comes to East Asian food, I have no experience cooking it, although I have eaten many of the things I listed above. My version of cooking Asian food is tossing a pre-packaged dinner in the microwave or making fried rice, but even that is not really Asian. I do it in the way that my mother and grandmother make fried rice. I quite like Asian food, especially the items at the buffet in Chinese or Japanese restaurants, so I know what it should taste like. Last year for the first time I tried eating sushi and found that I enjoy a variety of it. I don’t really like shrimp, and I do have a few food allergies, so this may cause me to slightly alter the recipes I find. To kick off my learning experience, I will try making easier recipes like stir-frys and sides, consult blogs and online videos, and even invite some family members and friends who have some experience in making these dishes to assist me.
Now that I’ve established my knowledge and experience with East Asian cooking, as well as specified my intentions and goals for this journey, it’s time to begin! Check back often to watch my progress and even see pictures and videos of my newly acquired skills!