A Guide to Asian Cuisine



Summary: Asian cuisine is as diverse as the countries that make up the continent. The cuisines can be roughly divided up into East Asian – Japan, China and Korea, Southeast Asian comprising of Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Philippines and Singapore. South Asia would include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma.

Given the number of countries that comprise Asia, the variety of foods to choose from is pretty vast as well. What makes Asian food so interesting is that one can enjoy seafood, all kinds of meats, dairy products, fresh fruit and a mind boggling array of vegetables prepared in every conceivable combination – with different herbs and spices. Rice is a staple in every diet – noodles feature in most diets too. Here is a small list of foods by country.

Traditional Foods from Asian Countries:

  • Japan: Traditional Japanese food consists of miso soup, fish, rice, pickled vegetables and different kinds of noodles such as udon or soba. Japanese beef and steaks are very famous around the world and command a very high price. Sushi is very popular in most western countries as well – Japanese food is distinguished by subtle flavors.
  • China: This vast country has so many different regional cuisines to offer – most often, it is a meat eater’s delight as there is so much variety to choose from. Szechuan cuisine is perhaps best known to represent Chinese food in other countries as it is spicy and most requested.
  • Indonesia: This little island nation and its 6000+ islands have brought the world dishes such as nasi goreng, sate, gado-gado, bakso and lumpia to name a few. Satay and sambal are famous as well – truly a gourmand’s delight. The staple dish is either rice or noodles which accompany all their wonderful dishes.
  • Thailand: Well, the very name conjures up curries and lemongrass flavored dishes. Thai cuisine is popular around the world for its piquant flavors and use of fresh vegetables. There are so many wonderful dishes to choose from – seafood, chicken, beef – the list is endless.
  • Vietnam: The French influence has left an indelible impression on the culinary legacy of this East Asian country. Conjure up images of Pho and many other exquisitely prepared dishes. Check out all their noodle dishes along with the dumplings – one won’t be disappointed.
  • India: Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi food have a few things in common – a lot of the cooking styles are common across the countries – quite a few of the ingredients are the same as well. Religious beliefs call for cooking halal meats and one is sure to enjoy a wide variety of lentil and vegetable dishes. The staples are rice and wheat.

Tomes can be written about the cuisines of all the countries in Asia – not enough time to do justice to each. The only way to go about it is to try out different foods and savor all the flavors.