8 Asian Essentials In The Kitchen

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Want to whip up an authentic Japanese dish? Washoku (Japanese cuisine) is all about traditional practices, precise skill and perfect ingredients.

Dashi

Without dashi, a lot of your dishes simply won't be right. Made using kombu seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms, (both of which contain high levels of amino acids) it's an umami party in your mouth. A rich liquid used in sauces, dressings and as a broth to cook your veg in. You can get non-vegetarian varities so make sure you check the label.

Kombu dashi

Ginger

The Japanese love pickled ginger and we can see why. When marinated in a solution of sugar and vinegar it goes beautifully with veggie sushi. You'll also find it on top of a pyramid of daikon (white radishes) too. During the colder months it’s eaten more often due to the warming effects.

Rice vinegar

Unlike vinegars made from wheat or corn, rice-based vinegar is mild in comparison. Sushi rice would have none of its distinctive bite without it, and cool dinners such as tofu and seaweed salad in a vinegar dressing are beautiful in the summer.

Sushi rice

While most rice loses its excess starch with a quick rinse under cold water, sushi rice will always remain sticky. Don’t worry, this is what you want! To cook it the Japanese way, put on a high heat at first, stir every minute or two, until the water boils. Then, lower the heat to minimum and cover. Stop stirring, the rice will handle itself from now.

Description: It’s easy to cook sushi rice

It’s easy to cook sushi rice

Sesame seeds

These tiny seeds have a toasted, nutty flavour and satisfying crunch, which can add interest to lots of Asian dishes. In Japan, sesame sits on most tables and is used as a seasoning much as salt and pepper are over here.

Udon noodles

Chewy and soft, these thick wheat noodles are deliciously dense and chewy; don't be afraid to slurp! The flavour is fairly neutral so you can pair them with strongly-flavoured dishes. They can be eaten cold with a chilled dashi sauce, topped with ginger and spring onion.

Description: Udon noodles can be eaten whether hot or cold

Udon noodles can be eaten whether hot or cold

Soy sauce

How could we miss this one? The ubiquitous condiment is made from a fermented paste of soy beans. There are many varieties that vary in texture and strength of flavour; light soy sauce is quite thin and has a saltier flavour than dark soy sauce, which is thicker and richer.

Tofu

Tofu is one of the most popular ingredients used in Japanese cooking. It's made of curdled soy milk, pressed into blocks in a process similar to making cheese. Making good tofu is a craft of heaven.

Description: Making good tofu is an art

Making good tofu is an art

 
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