Garlic Powder vs Fresh Garlic. Which is Best?

organic garlic powder

You may think that you know the answer to this question, and already firmly believe that fresh garlic beats garlic powder every time. But can you be sure? Maybe it’s time to (ahem) unpeel the truth.

Is Garlic Powder the Same as Garlic?

It’s a contentious kitchen debate that has caused many a kitchen quarrel: garlic powder or fresh garlic?

On one side, you have the fresh garlic enthusiasts who swear by the flavour of the real thing. They argue that nothing can replace the authentic taste of fresh garlic and its ability to elevate a dish. On the other side, supporters of garlic powder praise its convenience, long shelf-life, and the consistent flavour it offers. They argue that it’s a reliable and handy alternative when fresh garlic isn’t available or when a recipe calls for a more subtle garlic flavour.

Let’s take a closer look at these two forms of garlic, examining their qualities, their differences, and their unique culinary contributions.

Understanding Garlic

Even garlic itself, powder or otherwise, divides the crowd. One of the most widely used ingredients in the world, it can be used to pack a punch of flavour or suggest a subtle whisper of sweetness. In the wrong hands, it may be lethal, yet when used well it is nothing short of culinary magic.

Is there a difference between organic garlic and regular garlic?

Before we explore the wider world of garlic, let’s first get the organic question out of the way.

Yes, there is a difference between organic garlic and regular garlic. Organic garlic is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. This means it is often considered a healthier option, as it’s free from potentially harmful residues. It’s also suggested that organic garlic may have a more intense flavour due to the natural cultivation methods used.

On the other hand, conventionally grown garlic is typically grown using a range of synthetic chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, to optimize growth and protect against pests and diseases.

Overall, the choice between organic and regular garlic often comes down to personal preference, concerns about pesticides, and budget considerations. So there’s that.

Fresh garlic

Advantages of fresh garlic

Fresh garlic has many advantages that make it an indispensable ingredient in food the world over. Its robust, pungent flavour can elevate the taste profile of a dish, delivering a savoury edge that can’t be replicated by any other ingredient. Fresh garlic is also rich in essential nutrients and antioxidants and is well-regarded for its health benefits.

Another advantage lies in its versatility; it can be minced, crushed, sliced, or even used whole, allowing for a range of different culinary applications. Lastly, the act of peeling and cutting fresh garlic releases beneficial compounds like allicin, which are known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Disadvantages of fresh garlic

Despite the numerous benefits of fresh garlic, it also has a few drawbacks worth noting. One of the most apparent disadvantages is its potent smell that can linger on the breath and hands after consumption or preparation, which might be off-putting to some. Furthermore, peeling and chopping fresh garlic can be a time-consuming task, especially when a recipe calls for a large quantity. Fresh garlic also has a relatively short shelf-life and needs to be stored appropriately to prevent it from sprouting or becoming mouldy. Lastly, people with sensitive stomachs or those prone to heartburn may find that fresh garlic exacerbates these conditions.

Garlic powder

What is garlic powder?

Garlic powder is a spice that is made from dehydrated garlic cloves. This dehydration process involves slicing or crushing the cloves, and then drying them before grinding into a fine powder. The result is a convenient, long-lasting spice that can be used in a variety of ways.

Advantages of garlic powder

Garlic powder offers several advantages that make it a staple in many kitchens. For one, it’s incredibly convenient. With garlic powder, there’s no need to peel or chop anything – just sprinkle it into your dish as it cooks. This spice is also a long-lasting alternative to fresh garlic; because it’s dehydrated, it can be stored for an extended period without losing its flavour or nutritional value. Garlic powder also offers a milder, more evenly distributed flavour, making it an ideal choice for recipes that call for a subtle hint of garlic. Lastly, for those sensitive to the robust aroma of fresh garlic, garlic powder provides a slightly less pungent alternative.

Disadvantages of garlic powder

While garlic powder is undeniably convenient and versatile, it does come with a few drawbacks. First and foremost, it doesn’t quite match the potent flavour and aroma of fresh garlic, which can make a significant difference in certain dishes. Secondly, it tends to clump together in humid conditions, which can make accurate measurements a challenge. Additionally, inferior brands may contain additives, fillers, or anti-caking agents, so it’s important to check the label for pure, high-quality garlic powder.

Our garlic powder is made from nothing but 100% organic garlic

Finally, garlic powder does not contain as much allicin, the compound responsible for many of garlic’s health benefits, as its fresh counterpart. Therefore, if you’re cooking for health reasons, fresh garlic may be the better choice.

What is Garlic Powder used for in Cooking?

So, when to use garlic powder?

Garlic powder shines in recipes that require a smooth texture with a mild, yet pervasive, garlic flavour. It’s an excellent addition to dry rubs for meat or marinades where you want the garlic flavour, but not the texture of fresh garlic. It’s also the perfect seasoning for homemade snack foods like popcorn or roasted nuts. It can be used in virtually any dish where you want to add depth of flavour without the additional moisture of fresh garlic.

How much garlic powder equals fresh garlic?

As we have seen, garlic powder is not a direct substitute for fresh garlic but as a general rule of thumb, you would use around 1/8 teaspoon for every clove of fresh garlic. However, this can vary depending on the recipe and personal preference, so it’s always best to start with a smaller amount and adjust as needed.

Keep in mind that because the flavour is more concentrated, you’ll always want to use less garlic powder than you would fresh garlic.

Ideas for using garlic powder

  1. Garlic Bread: Take the work out of homemade garlic bread by adding a sprinkle  to your butter or oil mixture, instead of chopped fresh garlic.
  2. Marinades and Dressings: Garlic powder can add an instant flavour boost to marinades and dressings, without the need for mincing or crushing fresh cloves.
  3. Homemade Seasoning Mixes: Mix with other spices like onion powder, paprika, and dried herbs to create your own seasoning mixes.
  4. Roasted Vegetables: Sprinkle over vegetables before roasting them. This adds a delicious hint of garlic flavour without the risk of burning that can come with fresh garlic.
  5. Soups and Stews: Add to your soups and stews for an extra layer of flavour. Because it mixes so well into liquids, it’s a great way to infuse a mild garlic flavour throughout the dish.
  6. Gravy and Sauces: Stir in a little garlic powder while preparing gravies and sauces for a subtle burst of flavour.
  7. Pizza Toppings: Sprinkle some on your pizza before baking for a deliciously garlicky crust.
  8. Popcorn: Spice up your movie nights by adding a dash of to your popcorn.

Remember, garlic powder has a concentrated flavour, so always start with a small amount and adjust to your taste.

We have seen that garlic powder may have a use in your kitchen after all, as a handy addition rather than an outright alternative. Why not explore our other seasoning shortcuts and organic spices?

This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Spice Distributors”.
See original article:-
Garlic Powder vs Fresh Garlic. Which is Best?

Is Soy Sauce Gluten Free?

is soy sauce gluten free

Is soy sauce gluten free? If you love the savoury depth that soy sauce adds to dishes but are also mindful of gluten in your diet, then this may be something that you need to consider. In this article, we will take a look at how traditional soy sauce is made and why it may actually contain gluten. Then, we will examine tamari soy sauce and why it is an excellent substitute for traditional soy sauce in your gluten free diet.

What is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a condiment that originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. It’s traditionally made through a process of fermentation using soybeans, wheat, salt, and a specific type of mould called Aspergillus. This mixture is left to ferment for several months, which results in the rich, umami flavour that’s characteristic of soy sauce. This is then pressed to extract the liquid, which is pasteurized and bottled ready for use.

Is traditional soy sauce gluten free?

So no, traditional soy sauce is not gluten free. The inclusion of wheat as a primary ingredient in the fermentation process means that traditional soy sauce contains gluten. While the end product is often filtered, the gluten proteins from the wheat remain in the sauce. Therefore, individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid traditional soy sauce.

Does all soy sauce contain gluten?

Fortunately, not all soy sauce contains gluten. There are gluten free alternatives available, and one such option is Tamari. Tamari is a Japanese version of soy sauce, typically made without wheat, making it a suitable option for those following a gluten free diet. Another alternative is soy sauces labelled as gluten free. These products are made with rice instead of wheat, ensuring they are safe for individuals with gluten intolerance. Always remember to check labels carefully to ensure you’re choosing a gluten free soy sauce.

What is Tamari Sauce?

Tamari sauce originated in Japan during the 7th century and is a byproduct of the process of making miso paste. Historically, it was collected from the liquid that seeped out of the casks containing fermenting miso. Its name comes from the Japanese verb ‘tamaru’ which means ‘to accumulate’. While Tamari is commonly known as a type of soy sauce, it’s important to note that its flavour profile is slightly different. As it is typically made without wheat, it has also found popularity among the gluten free community.

How is tamari sauce made?

Tamari sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt, and sometimes a small amount of rice. The process begins with soaking the soybeans in water and then cooking until soft. Next, they’re mixed with a mold called Aspergillus oryzae and allowed to ferment for about three days. This creates a mixture called koji, which is then combined with salt and water to create what’s known as a moromi mixture. The moromi is left to ferment for several months, during which enzymes from the koji break down the soybeans’ proteins, fats, and starches into flavour components.

After fermentation, the mixture is pressed to separate the solids from the liquid, which results in Tamari sauce. The sauce is then pasteurized to kill any remaining bacteria and extend shelf life, after which it’s ready to be bottled and sold.

What’s the difference between tamari and soy sauce?

Despite their similar appearances, Tamari and soy sauce are actually quite distinct. The primary difference lies in their ingredients and production process. Traditional soy sauce is made with a nearly equal ratio of soybeans to wheat which results in a thinner, slightly saltier sauce. Tamari, on the other hand, is made mostly, if not entirely, from soybeans. This yields a sauce that is thicker, less salty, and richer in flavour. In addition, Tamari tends to have a darker colour and a more balanced, less harsh taste compared to soy sauce.

Is tamari gluten free?

Yes, as it is made without wheat, most tamari can be considered gluten free. It is however always wise to check the label.

Is tamari better for you than soy?

Tamari could be considered healthier than soy sauce for some individuals, particularly those who are sensitive to gluten. In terms of sodium, tamari and soy sauce are quite similar, although some might find tamari to be slightly less salty. Additionally, due to the higher concentration of soybeans, tamari may have a richer nutrient profile than soy sauce.

What does tamari soy sauce taste like?

Tamari is often described as smoother, richer, and less salty compared to traditional Chinese soy sauce.

Can I substitute soy sauce with tamari?

Yes, you can substitute soy sauce with tamari. Tamari, being less salty and smoother in taste, can be an excellent alternative to soy sauce. As we have seen, it is particularly useful for those looking to reduce their gluten intake, as it’s typically gluten free.

However, it’s important to remember that because of the differences in flavour profile, the end result of the dish might taste slightly different. In recipes where soy sauce is a minor ingredient, this change will likely be subtle. For dishes where soy sauce is a key component, you may notice a richer, less salty taste with tamari.

Our tamari soy sauce is 100% organic and gluten free

Using Tamari Soy Sauce to Enhance Your Cooking

We have already seen that tamari is an excellent gluten free alternative to soy sauce and that unless you are looking for a very specific flavour profile (such as in an authentic traditional dish) it can be used instead of soy sauce in most instances.

Tamari sauce can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Use it as a marinade for your proteins to infuse them with a deep, umami flavour, add a dash to your stir-fries for an instant flavour boost, or drizzle it on your sushi and sashimi just like you would with soy sauce. Tamari’s less salty, richer flavour profile also makes it an excellent dipping sauce, offering a smooth, savoury experience for your taste buds. Remember, a little goes a long way with tamari sauce, so use sparingly to start!

If you are just starting out on your gluten free diet you may find our guide to gluten free food useful.

Explore our range of gluten free groceries.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Gluten Free Grocery Suppliers”.
See original article:- Is Soy Sauce Gluten Free?

Coconut Cream: The Dairy-Free Alternative You’ll Love

coconut cream

Coconut cream is a great dairy-free alternative that has many uses beyond just Asian-style cuisine. Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or you just fancy trying something new in your cooking, it might just be the ingredient you’ve been missing.

What is Coconut Cream?

Coconut cream is a rich, thick, creamy product made from the flesh of ripe coconuts. Its luscious consistency and sweet, subtly nutty flavour are achieved by grating the white inner flesh of mature coconuts, soaking it in warm water, and then straining the mixture to extract a dense, creamy liquid.

Is Coconut Cream Dairy Free?

Sometimes we use coconut cream simply because the recipe calls for it. But we may also wish to use it as an alternative to dairy. So how does it compare to dairy products?

In terms of texture, it holds up well, offering a thickness that closely mirrors that of heavy cream. This makes it a fantastic alternative in recipes that require a creamy consistency.

Flavour-wise there is no getting away from the fact that it does have a distinctive coconutty taste.

The nutritional content differs as well. While dairy products contain lactose and casein, which can cause digestive issues for some people, coconut cream is naturally lactose-free and is also vegan-friendly. However, it’s worth noting that it is high in saturated fats, and unlike dairy, it doesn’t have a significant amount of protein.

Is Coconut Cream Healthy?

On the positive side, it is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, E, and B vitamins, as well as several important minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. It also contains lauric acid, a type of medium-chain fatty acid that’s linked to potential health benefits like improved immunity and heart health.

However, it is high in calories and saturated fats, which can be a concern for those watching their weight or managing certain health conditions. Additionally, unlike dairy, it has a low protein content. So, while it can be a part of a balanced diet when used in moderation, it may not be suitable for everyone, and it should not be regarded as a complete substitute for other nutrient-rich foods.

Cooking with Coconut Cream

So far, so good. But what can I actually do with it?

Coconut cream is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes across different cuisines. It’s a staple in many Asian recipes, providing a rich, creamy base for curries, soups, and sauces.

Its natural sweetness makes it excellent for desserts like panna cotta or coconut ice cream, while its thick consistency can be used as a dairy-free alternative in whipped cream or frosting recipes. You can even use it in drinks – anything from your morning smoothie to exotic cocktails.

But do remember to balance its rich flavour with other ingredients to prevent it from overpowering the dish.

Ideal for Savoury Dishes

It’s great in creamy soups and stews, where its rich flavour and texture can shine. For instance, a dollop of coconut cream in a pumpkin soup can really elevate its taste.

When it comes to curries, this ingredient is key to achieving that velvety, luxurious consistency we all love. Whether you’re making an Indian korma, a Thai green curry, or an Indonesian rendang, adding coconut cream will contribute to a deeper flavour profile and a smoother finish.

You can also use it in marinades, where it acts as a tenderizer for meats and infuses them with a hint of exotic sweetness. Try marinating chicken in a blend of coconut cream, lime, cilantro, and spices before grilling.

Great for Desserts  

Coconut cream is a secret weapon to make your desserts indulgently dairy-free and delicately sweet. In baking, it can be used as an alternative in recipes that call for milk or cream, and it also works wonders in custards and puddings, contributing to a velvety, smooth consistency.

You can make a fantastic dairy-free whipped cream by chilling coconut cream and then whipping it, perfect for topping off pies, tarts, or fresh fruit. And let’s not forget about ice cream – a base of coconut cream will give you a beautifully creamy and luxurious ice cream, all while keeping it vegan-friendly.

 Excellent Vegan Alternatives  

Coconut cream serves as a versatile ingredient in crafting delightful vegan alternatives to classic recipes. Its rich and creamy texture makes it ideal for replicating dairy in a variety of dishes.

Use it in place of heavy cream in pasta sauces or risotto to achieve a creamy consistency without the dairy.

It’s also perfect for creating vegan cheese, such as a delicious vegan mozzarella or cream cheese.

In sweets, coconut cream can be used to concoct fudgy vegan truffles or to make a luscious vegan ganache. The possibilities for creative vegan alternatives are endless, proving that plant-based eating can be just as indulgent and satisfying.

And of course, in Asian Cuisine

In Asian cuisine, this is a staple ingredient that adds depth and richness to a variety of dishes.

In Thai cuisine, it forms the creamy base for popular curries like green and red curry, bringing a balance of sweetness to the spicy chilli flavours.

Vietnamese desserts frequently use it for its silky texture and subtle sweetness.

Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines use coconut cream in many of their traditional dishes, such as “rendang” and “laksa”, infusing the dishes with a unique, creamy richness that is both satisfying and indulgent.

Our Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Coconut Cream

Store Properly: After opening, store any unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will last for several days.

Shake it Up: The cream and liquid may separate, so shake the can vigorously before opening.

Consistency is Key: If it is too thick for your recipe, you can thin it out with a little water.

Temperatures Matter: When adding to a hot dish, try to warm it slightly before adding it to avoid curdling.

Flavour Pairings:It pairs well with a wide variety of flavours. It works well with spicy, sweet, savoury, and tangy flavours.

 

To wrap it up, coconut cream is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can enhance dishes with its creamy texture and subtle sweetness. It is also an excellent dairy-free alternative to milk and cream.

Our organic coconut cream is made without emulsifiers; nothing but coconut and water!


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Grocery Suppliers”.
See original article:- Coconut Cream: The Dairy-Free Alternative You’ll Love

The Ultimate Guide to Making Sriracha Mayo

how to make sriracha mayo

If you’re a fan of spicy foods, then you must have tasted sriracha sauce at some point in your life. This iconic condiment is known for its unique blend of heat and tanginess, making it a favourite amongst foodies and chefs alike. But have you tried sriracha mayo yet? This spicy mayonnaise sauce is a super tasty addition to, well just about anything. In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about making homemade sriracha mayo.

What is Sriracha?

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce, originally from Thailand, made from chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. Its tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavour has gained it immense popularity worldwide, and it is now a staple condiment in many kitchens.

How hot is sriracha?

Sriracha is considered moderately spicy on the Scoville scale. It ranks at about 1,000-2,500 Scoville heat units (SHU). For comparison, Tabasco sauce ranks at about 2,500-5,000 SHU. So while it does provide a noticeable kick, it’s not as fiery as some other hot sauces on the market. Its heat is balanced by its tangy, garlicky flavour, which also makes it exceptionally moreish. Even if you aren’t a chilli head, you may find that sriracha keeps you going back for more.

Another excellent way of enjoying sriracha, and also turning down the heat, is to make your own sriracha mayonnaise. Which not only goes with absolutely everything but manages to elevate every single flavour too.

What is Sriracha Mayo Made of?

Sriracha mayo is a simple sauce made from two main ingredients – mayonnaise and sriracha sauce. Mayonnaise is made from oil, egg yolks, vinegar, salt and usually mustard. As we have seen, sriracha sauce is made from chilli peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. When these two ingredients are combined, they create a spicy and creamy sauce that is perfect for adding extra flavour and heat to your favourite dishes.

Super Easy Sriracha Mayo Recipe

Although you can buy ready-made sriracha mayo, we think it is far better to make it at home. That way you have complete control over the quality of your ingredients, and can also adjust the heat level to your liking. It couldn’t be easier, especially if you use store-bought mayo. We do recommend giving it a go from scratch though. Once you discover how easy it is to make really good mayo at home you won’t ever look back. Here’s our basic sriracha mayonnaise recipe. Feel free to tweak it to your liking. Some people like to add extra garlic but we don’t think it needs it. Keep it simple!

Sriracha Mayo Ingredients

So, what’s this spicy mayo made of? You’ll only need three ingredients to make it, and they are:

How to Make Homemade Sriracha Mayo

Making homemade Sriracha mayo is super easy, and only takes a few minutes.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and lime juice.
  2. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you want the sauce to be spicier, add more sriracha sauce.
  3. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.

How long will my homemade sriracha mayo keep?

Your homemade sriracha mayo can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The key is proper storage: ensure it’s kept in an airtight container and stored at a temperature less than 40°F (4°C). Always use a clean utensil when serving it, and never return unused sauce back to the jar.

But what if I want to make it from scratch? Can I make my own mayonnaise first?

How to Make Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade mayo is really not as scary as its reputation would have you believe. The best way is to use a stick blender and a tall container like the one the blender usually comes with. Using a whole egg makes it far more stable, helps it keep for longer, and the results are less eggy and closer to shop-bought mayo. Which is not always a bad thing, right?

Ingredients for homemade mayo

We use rice vinegar for its lovely mild sweet flavour.

  • 350ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 whole egg
  1. Pour the oil into the tall container (it often has measurements down the side).
  2. Add the salt and the vinegar.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl, without breaking the yolk.
  4. Pour the egg carefully down the side of the container, again so the yolk doesn’t break. It is no major catastrophe if it does break, but it seems to help if it stays intact.
  5. Place the head of the stick blender over the yolk, and begin to blitz continuously. You will see ribbons of mayonnaise beginning to form at the bottom.
  6. Slowly move the blender upwards, allowing the mayonnaise to form around it.
  7. Once you reach the top of the oil, the mayo will be pretty much formed. Keep blitzing, on and off, moving the blender up and down to ensure everything is combined.
  8. Transfer to a clean glass jar.
  9. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks; preferably use it within 1 week to be on the safe side.

How to Use Sriracha Mayo

Sriracha mayo is an incredibly versatile sauce that can be used in many ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Use it as a spread on burgers and sandwiches for an extra kick of heat and flavour.
  • Dip your fries, onion rings, or vegetables in this sauce for a zesty dip.
  • Drizzle it over grilled chicken, fish, or steak to add some depth of flavour to your dishes.
  • Mix it with your coleslaw or potato salad for a spicy twist on a classic side dish.

We hope you enjoyed this article and are ready to give our sriracha mayo recipe a go. If you’re a fan of sriracha sauce and mayonnaise, then you’re going to love it. This tasty spicy mayo is super easy to make at home, and it’s perfect for elevating all your favourite dishes. Remember that you can always adjust the spiciness level of the sauce to your liking by adding more sriracha sauce.

Explore our full range of authentic organic Asian sauces, spices and condiments.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Asian Grocery Online Wholesalers”.
See original article:- The Ultimate Guide to Making Sriracha Mayo

The Art of Flavour: An Introduction to Miso Paste

Miso Paste Ideal Ingredient

Miso paste is a cornerstone ingredient of traditional Japanese cuisine, yet its versatility goes way beyond just Japanese food. Now popular across the world, miso paste is known for its powerful umami punch, and a seemingly magical ability to add depth and complexity to your cooking.

But, exactly what is miso paste? Whether you are new to this must-have ingredient or are perhaps already familiar with it yet want to know more, read on to discover more about its unique flavour, nutritional benefits, and how to incorporate it into your cooking.

What is Miso Paste?

Miso paste is a fermented food made primarily from soybeans, grains (rice or barley), salt, and a type of fungus known as koji. Although it is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, it has its origins in Japan, where it has been used for over a thousand years.

The age-old process of making miso involves a slow fermentation process which can last for a few weeks up to several years, depending on the desired flavour and texture. The distinct umami taste, often described as savoury, meaty, rich, and full-bodied, comes from this fermentation process.

The different types of miso paste

Although there are several thousand different kinds of miso paste in Japan we can categorise them into a few basic types, each with its own distinct flavour profile. Most of these are made with grains (most often rice) but there are varieties made without.

White miso (known as genmai shiro) is the mildest type, with a sweet, subtly salty flavour ideal for dressings, marinades, and light soups.

Red miso is fermented for a longer period than white miso, resulting in a more potent, salty flavour that is more suited to robust soups and stews.

Mixed miso is a blend of red and white miso, that strikes a balance between the two in terms of flavour.

Lastly, there’s the less common barley miso, which is made by fermenting barley along with soybeans and koji for a particularly distinctive taste.

The Flavour Profile of Miso Paste

The flavour profile of miso paste is complex and multi-layered, lending a unique depth to any dish. It has a deep, savoury flavour that is at once salty, sweet, and slightly tangy. The taste can also range from the mildly earthy delicate sweetness of white miso to the bold and hearty pronounced saltiness of red miso. This wide spectrum of flavours is what gives makes miso paste such versatility; an ingredient capable of elevating a simple dish to an extraordinary one.

The unique umami taste

Using miso paste to its full potential in your cooking requires a certain understanding of the concept that is umami.

The umami taste of miso paste is one of its defining attributes. Umami is now known to be the fifth taste alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty; a sensation which is the result of the glutamate produced during the fermentation process. Interestingly, the term is actually Japanese and means “pleasant savoury taste”.

Umami is characterized by a deep, rich, satisfying flavour that lingers on the palate. It contributes to not just the depth of flavour of a dish but a richness in the mouth known as body. It’s this umami taste that gives miso paste its unique depth of flavour, adding complexity to dishes with its savoury, slightly sweet, and full-bodied character.

Sweetness in white miso

The sweetness of white miso sets it apart from the darker, more robust varieties of miso paste. Because of its shorter fermentation time, this type of miso is lighter in colour and has a milder flavour. Less salty, it allows for the natural sweetness from the fermented rice to shine through more prominently. This inherent sweetness, combined with a subtle umami undertone, gives it a well-rounded flavour profile that enhances dishes without overpowering them.

White miso imparts a gentle sweetness that harmoniously blends with other ingredients, creating a beautifully balanced dish.

Our white miso is made with only organic ingredients and is naturally fermented

The salty punch of red miso

Red miso has a bold, pronounced saltiness, that delivers a punch of flavour. A longer fermentation process gives it a darker colour and a robust taste. The salty punch of red miso doesn’t just add saltiness to a dish though, but a rich complexity and layers of flavour.

Made with rich, bold red miso, our authentic Japanese instant miso soup is a quick way to reach full umami flavour.

The balanced blend of mixed miso

Mixed miso strikes a perfect balance between the gentle sweetness of white miso and the bold depth of red miso. The perfect blend of these two varieties results in a complex, harmonious flavour profile that offers deeply satisfying flavour whilst retaining some sweetness and subtle nuances.

Blending miso is an art in itself, and can result in a multitude of different flavour profiles.

The distinctive taste of barley miso

Barley miso, unlike the more common varieties of miso that are made with rice, involves a unique fermentation process using barley. It undergoes a longer fermentation period, which gives it its characteristic strong, rich, and slightly sweet flavour with a hint of malted barley.

The Nutritional Benefits of Miso Paste

Miso paste is celebrated not only for its unique, umami-rich flavour but also for its impressive nutritional profile. It’s packed with essential nutrients that contribute to a well-rounded, balanced diet.

One of the essential benefits of miso is its rich protein content. As a soy-based product, miso is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a valuable ingredient for vegetarians and vegans. I

Furthermore, miso is a fermented food, which means it’s a source of probiotics – beneficial bacteria that support gut health. The fermentation process also assists in breaking down the nutrients in miso, making them more easily absorbed by the body.

All varieties of miso are rich in several vitamins and minerals. These include B vitamins, which are crucial for energy production and cognitive function, and minerals like zinc, manganese and copper, all of which play a role in maintaining overall health and well-being. Miso is also an excellent source of vitamin K.

However, it’s important to note that miso is high in sodium, so it should be used in moderation, especially for those monitoring their salt intake.

Using Miso Paste in Cooking

Miso paste can bring a little magic to any number of dishes. While it’s traditionally known for its role in Japanese miso soup, its umami richness can elevate many other recipes, infusing them with a deep, savoury character.

  1. Miso Roasted Vegetables: Toss your favourite veggies in a mixture of miso, a little olive oil, and herbs before roasting for a savoury side dish.
  2. Miso Glazed Salmon: Brush salmon fillets with a glaze of miso, soy sauce, and a touch of honey before baking or grilling.
  3. Miso Salad Dressing: Combine miso with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a bit of ginger to make a flavorful dressing for salads.
  4. Miso Ramen: Use miso paste as the base for a comforting bowl of ramen, adding noodles, veggies, and your protein of choice.
  5. Miso Stir-fry: Add a spoonful of miso to your stir-fry sauce for an umami-rich depth of flavour.
  6. Miso Marinade: Use miso, sake, and mirin to marinate tofu, chicken, or beef before grilling.
  7. Miso Butter Pasta: Melt miso into butter to make a rich, savoury sauce for pasta.
  8. Miso Soup: Of course, miso is a key ingredient in the traditional Japanese soup, often served with seaweed and tofu.
  9. Miso Baked Eggs: Swirl a bit of miso into a tomato sauce, crack in some eggs, and bake for a unique breakfast dish.
  10. Miso Hummus: Blend miso into your standard hummus recipe for an unexpected twist on the classic.

As you experiment with miso in your cooking, remember that its flavour is potent, so a little goes a long way. Also, due to its high sodium content, you may need to adjust the amount of additional salt used in your recipes. A great way to experiment with miso is to use it in place of salt so why not give it a go and see what you can come up with?

How to Store Your Miso Paste

Once opened, miso paste should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep its quality for up to a year. Remember, the paste tends to darken over time, but this doesn’t indicate spoilage. As long as it’s kept cool and tightly sealed, miso paste can be a long-lasting and versatile ingredient in your kitchen.

So, are you ready to explore the endless possibilities of miso paste?

As we have seen, the exceptional versatility and rich flavour profile of miso paste make it a really useful ingredient in any kitchen. From soups and stews to sauces and dressings, miso paste gives your food a unique depth of flavour that belies its simplicity. Way more than just a cornerstone of Japanese cuisine, this remarkable ingredient can transform your cooking. With its impressive shelf-life and endless possibilities, it could just become your go-to ingredient.

Enjoyed this article? Read more about the health benefits of fermented foods.

Have you tried our organic kombucha yet?


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Your Asian Organics Grocery Suppliers”.
See original article:- The Art of Flavour: An Introduction to Miso Paste

How to Make Honey Soy Sauce

honey soy chicken wings

Honey soy sauce is having a bit of a moment. Used to make deliciously sticky honey soy chicken, yet it also has many other uses. Here’s how to make honey soy sauce, and some ideas on what to do with it.

What is honey soy sauce?

More Western than authentically Asian, honey soy sauce is a sweet savoury sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce, as a marinade, or as a cooking sauce. Reduced down a little it makes an excellent glaze for brushing and it can also be thickened up to make a serving sauce.

Ways to use honey soy sauce

Honey soy sauce goes especially well with chicken thighs or wings and salmon fillets, but can also be used with pork. Think ribs, or sticky belly pork. Enhance the inherent sweetness of vegetables by using as a stir fry sauce, a dipping sauce for simple vegetable tempura or spring rolls, or as a glaze for grilling.

How to make honey soy sauce.

Essentially it begins life as a marinade. A simple, non-thickened blend of soy, honey and garlic. Apart from the addition of honey, it  is a lot like teriyaki sauce.

(btw, if teriyaki is more your style, check out our guide to making great teriyaki chicken.)

You could use this very simple sauce as a dipping sauce, but it is through cooking and the alchemy of honey, soy, and garlic, that it really comes into its own.

The point of the sauce is the honey. Yes, its sweetness and powers of caramelisation, but also its flavour. So use the best honey that you can. Also this is not honey added to soy; it is soy added to honey. The honey is the greater part.

Garlic seems to be non-negotiable. But you do need to be careful with garlic. In the oven it will cook down to a beautiful sweetness. On the grill it can burn and leave an unmistakeably acrid taste. So we add a greater quantity of whole cloves and let those infuse, rather than chopped garlic.

Although the quintessential trio of soy, honey and garlic works well, you can boost it a bit from there according to taste. We added…

  1. Rice vinegar for a little acidity.
  2. Sesame oil for toasted warmth.
  3. Chili (flakes or fresh) for a back end bite.
  4. Shaoxing wine for a more rounded depth.
  5. Slices of fresh ginger for more complexity.

Basic recipe for honey soy sauce

Use this as a marinade for grilling or as a bake in sauce. For a dipping sauce, let the flavours infuse for several hours before serving.

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup shaoxing wine or water

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

4 whole cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed

2 slices fresh ginger

Sliced fresh chili (as desired)

  1. Peel the whole garlic cloves. To lightly smash, use the flat of a knife and smash down with the heel of your hand. The clove should remain whole, yet split to release its flavour.
  2. Stir all of the ingredients together and add the ginger, garlic, chilli. The longer you leave this before using, the more intense the flavours will become.

To create a glaze, add the above sauce into a small pan and simmer gently to reduce by about one third.

To create a thicker serving sauce, add the above sauce into a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Whisk in a heaped teaspoon of cornflour, mixed with a little water to form a paste. Whisk for a few minutes until thickened.

Recipe for baked honey soy chicken thighs

1 quantity of honey soy sauce (see above)

8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in

6 spring onions, in 1 inch pieces

To garnish

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 spring onions, chopped

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in an ovenproof dish or roasting tin and add the spring onion pieces.
  3. Pour over the sauce.
  4. Bake in the oven for about an hour, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is sticky.
  5. Scatter with the chopped spring onion and sesame seeds before serving with some plain rice or noodles.

Why not try using the sauce as a simple marinade for chicken wings before grilling. Or if you thicken the sauce slightly to create a glaze, you can brush it over salmon fillets or vegetables whilst they cook.

Our guide on the food and ingredients of South East Asia is an excellent overview of this massive topic. Or why not explore our range of authentic Asian sauces.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Asian Organic Foods Suppliers”.
See original article:- How to Make Honey Soy Sauce

All About Thai Curry Pastes

thai-curry-paste

Thai curry pastes form the basis of all Thai curries. But what exactly is a curry paste, and how do you use it? In this article we look at why curry pastes are an essential ingredient of so many curries, before taking a more detailed look at some classic Thai curries.

Introduction to curry pastes

Curry pastes vary from cuisine to cuisine and not just in flavour but in the way that they are used. A curry paste is simply an aromatic paste made up of wet spices, possibly with the addition of herbs and dried spices. Wet spices are fresh spices such as ginger, galangal, garlic, chili, lemongrass, tamarind, and shallots. They lend fresh, sharp, aromatic flavours to the curry, and also add body to a sauce.

How curry paste is made.

Curry paste is made by blending together a combination of wet and dry spices, possibly with the addition of fresh herbs, and helped along with a little oil and salt. The traditional way is in a large coarse bowl with a coarse stick (known as a mortar and pestle) but a processor or blender could also be used.

Can you curry paste instead of curry powder?

The quick answer here is no. Yes, there are ways around everything; if you only had dry spices available, for example, then you could certainly recreate some of the flavours. But wet spices and dry spices are two very different things, that serve completely different purposes.

The difference also lies within the cuisines themselves. In Indian curries, the wet spices are cooked first to form the base and then dry spices are added at various stages to layer the flavours throughout the dish. Commercial spice pastes may be used by the home cook for convenience, yet these differ from curry pastes in that they are mostly dry spices mixed with oil. In Thai curries, the curry paste contains all of the aromatic ingredients, wet and dry, and is cooked into the liquid. Usually coconut milk.

Does curry paste need to be cooked?

Curry paste needs to be cooked to release the aromatic flavours, and allow all of the flavours of the dish come together. The fibres within the wet spices also need time and heat in order to soften.

When to use curry paste.

Curry paste is used at the beginning of the dish. Added first to the hot pan, with a little extra oil, it is cooked out for several minutes before adding subsequent ingredients.

How much curry paste to use.

Whereas a spice paste is a highly concentrated blend of dry spices and oil that is used maybe a tablespoon at a time, curry paste is not so concentrated and is designed to form the entire base of the dish.

Recipes, and individual tastes, vary wildly but as a general rule of thumb use 5 to 6 tablespoons (around 120g) of paste to each 400ml tin of coconut milk.

Thai curry pastes

Thai curries have become immensely popular for their super fragrant heat. For the home cook, they are are also quick and easy to make. There are three basic Thai curry pastes; red, green and yellow. There is another Thai curry that has become immensely popular so worth a mention, and that is Massaman curry.

Massaman curry paste.

Massaman curry is closer in flavour to Indian curries than your usual fragrant Thai curry profile, due to its Indian and Malay roots. Made most often with beef, alongside potatoes in a rich spicy peanut sauce, it has a signature smoky feel that comes from toasting all the ingredients from which the curry paste is made.

Massaman curry paste is made with galangal, garlic, shallots, and dried red chillies as well as toasted cumin, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and coriander. Black cardamom has a lovely smoky richness all of its own.

Red curry paste.

Red Thai curry, contrary to popular belief, is milder than Thai green curry. It is the ‘medium’ of the three major coconut curry styles. It is made with red chillies as well as shallots, galangal, garlic and lemongrass. From there, depending on the (often secret) recipe other spices may be added.

Try our organic Thai red curry paste

Thai green curry paste.

Thai green curry is the hottest of the Thai standard curries. Alongside the usual shallots, ginger/galangal, lemongrass and garlic combo, it uses green chillies, plenty of Thai basil, and also kaffir lime leaf, to create a fiery yet fragrant curry.

Thai yellow curry paste.

Thai yellow curry is considered to be the mildest of the Thai curries. The yellow colour comes from plenty of turmeric, which is a grounding earthy spice that rounds out flavour. It usually features a little cumin too, as well as the ubiquitous fragrant wet spices.

Try our organic Thai yellow curry paste

Explore more exciting flavours in our in-depth guide to Southeast Asian cuisines and ingredients.

Our authentic range of organic Asian sauces and spices is sourced from small-scale producers throughout Australasia.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Asian Grocery wholesaler”.
See original article:- All About Thai Curry Pastes

Our guide to Korean fried chicken (with recipe)

korean fried chicken

Korean fried chicken is essentially crispy fried chicken in a sweet chilli sauce. There are actually several variations of this popular snack yet outside of Korea we tend to focus on the sticky sweet/spicy version.

What is the difference between Korean fried chicken and regular fried chicken?

Korean fried chicken is known for its light and crunchy crust with soft tender meat and moreish seasoning. It is the polar opposite of the thick (often greasy) crust and heavy handed approach of its southern counterpart. Everything about Korean fried chicken has a lighter touch, right down to its side serving of pickled radish and cold frosted beer.

So, what makes Korean fried chicken so different?

Korean fried chicken is best made with small chickens, for soft tender meat. The whole bird is used, cut into small pieces that are left on the bone. The best place to get chicken like this is actually your local halal butcher; ask for whole baby chicken, skin on, in pieces.

Any marinade is kept to a minimum, and the chicken is dipped in a thin batter then double fried at a relatively low temperature. Any bits of batter and bubbles in the crust are shaken off, for a smooth crackly crust.

Although it can be served plain, there are sauced varieties. The sauce is brushed, like a thin glaze, onto the hot crust. Think subtle seasoning as opposed to soaking.

Considered a snack, rather than a meal (karaoke and chicken lounge, anyone?) Korean fried chicken is a thing of glorious contrasts. Served with cold beer and crisp cubes of pickled radish, it is both hot and cold, sharp and sweet, crunchy yet soft. Salty and spicy, it really is finger licking good.

How Korean fried chicken is made

Outside of Korean communities, when we talk about Korean fried chicken we generally mean the sticky sweet chilli version known as ‘yangnyeom’. We’ve tried dozens of the best recipes (each one of them different) and come up with what we feel is the definitive Korean fried chicken recipe.

The chicken

The best and most authentic way of cooking, as we saw earlier, is with a small chicken cut into pieces of no bigger than a few inches. This is not however the most accessible route so most people stick with wings. Skin is non-negotiable, and breast is pretty much a no-no unless it part of the whole bird approach that remains on the bone. Wings work well because they have the bone inside that helps them cook, and a complete covering of skin. If only wings had a slightly larger ratio of meat. You could also use chicken thigh with the skin intact but the bone removed.

The marinade

Simple is the way forward here. Subtle enhancement if you will. You don’t want the whole buttermilk/entire spice rack combo that southern fried chicken demands. Some recipes go for a dry seasoning, whilst others prefer a wet marinade. In Korea, they may brine the whole chicken for a couple of days first. The common denominator is ginger. Salt and pepper. Possibly a touch of rice wine, or a little vinegar.

Our favourite was a dry (ish) rub of fresh ginger, salt and pepper. However, rubbing the grated ginger from the chicken after the marinade time was up was a bit of a chore to say the least. We decided to use our organic ginger powder instead. You don’t get the sharp citrus bite of fresh ginger, yet it plays its part in the recipe well.

The crust

Then there’s the coating. Many recipes use a wet marinade followed by a dry coat of seasoned flour. In Korea they use a wet batter, which needs a very fine dry coat first in order to stick. This approach naturally lends itself to a dry seasoning. The sweet spot for the batter seems to be a mix of cornflour and plain wheat flour, with a touch of baking powder. Some like to add a touch of garlic powder, but we prefer to leave this out.

The fry

It goes without saying that deep frying requires several inches of oil in a large sturdy pan. A good quality wok is ideal. Groundnut oil is ideal for deep frying, or corn oil works well. Vegetable oil is fine.

The general consensus is an initial fry, then a final fry, with the latter at a slightly higher temperature. Feel free to ‘wing’ it but a thermometer or guage for accuracy is preferable. Temperatures varied widely, but a 15C difference between the two was standard. We think that 170C for the initial fry, increased to 185C for the second fry is ideal.

In between cook A and cook B, put the wings in a sieve or fryer basket and give them a vigorous shake. This gets rid of unwanted gnarly bits and gives that all important smooth glass-like shatter on the crust.

The sauce

Again, variation abounds. Chilli paste is the defining factor. Gochujang is a Korean fermented chilli paste but you can use an alternative. Ketchup featured heavily in many of the recipes, largely for its sharp sweet flavour profile that we feel can be best achieved in other ways. Soy sauce is a must. As are sugar and honey (brown sugar for its caramel, almost bitter, depth and honey for its nuances). Garlic also appears in every recipe we tried. The aim is a balance of sweet, sour, hot and savoury. A touch of sesame oil seems like an excellent addition.

For our sauce we use a few simple ingredients from our Asian organics range.

Recipe for Korean fried chicken

Serves 4

1 small chicken (as described) or 1kg of wings

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tsp organic dried ginger

For the batter (and dredge)

1/2 cup cornflour

1 cup plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

For the sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp organic chilli paste

3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

  1. Rub the chicken with the salt, pepper and ginger powder. Leave to marinade overnight.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients for the batter together and set aside half. Mix the remaining half with the water to make a thin batter.
  3. Pat the chicken dry and toss in the dry mix, shaking well to remove any excess.
  4. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a small pan and heat gently to combine.
  5. Heat the oil to 170C.
  6. Working in small batches, dip the chicken in the batter and fry for 6 mins. Remove from the oil, transfer to a wire sieve, and shake vigorously to smooth away any lumps and bumps. Place on a wire rack. Make sure the oil reaches 170C before moving on to the next batch.
  7. Once all of the chicken is fried, increase the temperature to 185C and fry again for 5 mins. Again, work in small batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
  8. Place all of the chicken on a wire rack to cool slightly, brushing lightly with the sauce to serve.

Explore our range of Asian groceries, available to buy in bulk at wholesale prices…

 


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Asian Sauces suppliers”.
See original article:- Our guide to Korean fried chicken (with recipe)

 

 

Guide to the ingredients of Southeast Asian cuisine

Generally, when we talk about Asian cuisine we are referring to the cooking of Southeast Asia. The foods here are vastly different, yet share many similarities that come from shared ingredients and a cultural crossover. India, whilst a huge part of Asia (and just next door), has its own unique differences and tends to be grouped into a different category of foods altogether.

The foods and flavours of this corner of the world have had a huge influence on the food of Australia and in this article we explore some of the ingredients that the foods of Southeast Asia share.

Asian cuisine

Map of Asia

The food of Southeast Asia is made up of a vast range of regional cuisines. The area stretches from Korea and Japan, through China, and down to Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Nestled in the Pacific Ocean are the islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The palette of ingredients changes according to geography, so that the foods of mainland China give way to the fish and fruit of the island nations. Cultural influences change the way that ingredients are prepared, giving rise to a complex tapestry of foods and flavours.

Rice – an Asian food staple

Rice is central to all Asian cuisine. A hugely important crop, it is deeply embedded in all aspects of culture. Rice is not only the staple grain at most meals, but is central to the production of two other very important ingredients. Vinegar, and noodles.

Rice in Asian cuisine

Rice noodles

Rice noodles come in all shapes and sizes, from the thin vermicelli style to wide flat ribbons. Somewhere in the middle sits rice stick noodles which are a long flat version that look a bit like linguine. Rice noodles are more popular than wheat noodles in Southern China, as well as Thailand and Vietnam. The Japanese also eat noodles made from rice.

Rice noodles are exceptionally quick and easy to make, as even the thicker ones require no cooking. They are made from already cooked rice so need only soaking to rehydrate and heat.

Try our organic rice noodles

Find out more about rice stick noodles in this article…

Rice vinegar

Rice vinegar is a joy to use and once you discover its subtle sweetness and gentle acidity you may want to use it anywhere that you would use vinegar. Used extensively in both Japanese and Chinese cooking, rice vinegar is fermented slowly so it has great depth of flavour alongside the acidity. Thai cookery also uses rice vinegar.

Try our organic rice vinegar

Read our article ‘what is rice vinegar’.

Soy – an ancient ingredient

Soybeans originated in Southeast Asia and are another hugely important crop to the region. Soy has been around for thousands of years, and as such plays a central role in all of the regional cuisines. Soybeans are used in cooking as whole beans, and are used to make tofu, but their major contribution has to be soy sauce.

Soy sauce

soy sauce

Soy sauce is one of the world’s greatest condiments and is now used in cooking all over the world. Used in cooking to impart flavour and after cooking in the form of a dressing or a dip, soy sauce adds sweetness, saltiness and savouriness. There is nothing quite like it for depth of flavour and its ability to bring other ingredients to life.

There are many forms of soy sauce. China and Japan both produce soy sauce, with different flavour profiles, and Indonesia also makes their own version ‘kecap manis’ which is thicker and sweeter than both Chinese and Japanese soy sauce.

Choose lighter varieties for dressing and dipping, sometimes cooking, and keep the dark stuff for adding to slow cook stews, and braises. Pair lighter sauces with chicken, fish and seafood, or vegetables. Dark soy will stand up to and accentuate red meats. Apart from slow braised meat dishes, add soy sauce right at the end of cooking.

Japanese soy sauce

Japanese soy sauce tends to be more subtle than Chinese soy sauce. Known as shoyu, it is brewed for several months at least and is lighter, less salty, and more complex. Like soy sauce in China, it also comes as light and dark soy, but the darker version is more similar to the Chinese light variety.

Try our organic Japanese style soy sauce

Chinese soy sauce

Chinese light soy sauce is the first extraction and has a lighter feel and more delicate fragrance. Dark soy sauce in China is matured for longer, and has caramel added that gives it the characteristic dark colour and rich sweet depth. There is also a regular Chinese soy sauce that comes somewhere in between.

Try our organic Chinese style soy sauce

Low sodium soy sauce

Low sodium soy sauce is simply standard soy sauce (usually, but not always, Chinese) that has had up to half of its salt content removed.

Try our organic low sodium soy sauce

Find out why soy sauce might just be the greatest seasoning ever…

Asian spices and aromatics – bringing food to life

Aromatics

Also known as ‘wet spices’, there are many ingredients that are used fresh as the aromatic base to food across the region. Many are also found in powder form which, when the quality is exceptional, can be used as an adequate substitute. Some, like ginger, have different uses for the dried form.

Garlic, ginger and chilies

galangal vs ginger

Garlic, ginger, and chillies are the holy trinity of Southeast Asian cooking. Together, or separately, they find their way into practically every dish, in every region. Some use the heat of chilies more sparingly than others. In Thailand, for example, heat is part of the flavour profile that defines the cuisine. Chinese food, on the other hand, is not something we associate with chili, yet many Chinese dishes come with a blast of chili heat. Japanese food often has a tendency towards the milder side, yet chilies are used. Japanese seven spice (shichimi) includes chili, and Sichuan pepper (known as sancho in Japan).

Garlic can be pungent and garlic can be sweet. The longer it is cooked, the sweeter it becomes. It also burns easily, and then it becomes bitter. In Chinese cooking, garlic forms a base with ginger and spring onion. Korean cooking, heavily influenced by China, uses more garlic than Japanese food. Garlic is used a lot in the food of Vietnam, and is also found in Thai food; particularly in Thai curries. Use raw garlic to add pungent heat to a cool cucumber salad, alongside ginger in the base for a stir-fry, or add an uncrushed clove to the cooking oil for a few minutes to add just a hint of flavour.

Ginger is pungent, sharp and citrussy. It is used widely in Chinese cooking. Used raw, it is hot and sharp. During cooking, it mellows, losing the citrus top notes and its sharp corners. Cooks in Thailand and Vietnam prefer galangal, the less robust cousin of ginger. In Japan they use young ginger, which is tender and mild. Japanese pickled ginger is used to refresh the palate. Of all the wet spices, fresh ginger is the hardest to replicate using dried powder. However good grade dried ginger does retain a lot of those pungent top notes provided by fresh ginger.

Try our organic ginger powder

Try our organic galangal powder

Turmeric

Turmeric is a grounding spice. Like coriander it forms the base of many spice blends, tying all the other flavours together with its earthy depth. Cooks in the West are only just becoming familiar with the fresh form of turmeric, which is a root like ginger or galangal. Dried turmeric finds its way into most curry powders across the region. Fresh turmeric is used as a base in curry pastes.

Try our organic turmeric powder

Read our article about using galangal, ginger and turmeric in Asian cooking…

Lime leaves and lemongrass

Thai food and Vietnamese food are well known for their love of lemongrass, yet it also finds its way into Chinese food too. Lemongrass provides a hit of clean citrus flavour but without the acidity of lemon. It also has a slight pungency similar to ginger. Lemongrass powder is widely used as a perfectly acceptable substitute for fresh.

Kaffir lime leaves are pretty much the taste of Thailand, and found in Vietnamese cooking too. The leaves are deeply aromatic, with the sharp scent of spicy lime but with none of the acidity. Kaffir lime leaf powder is also a perfectly acceptable substitute for fresh. A good quality powder will retain more of the flavour than a low quality and badly stored dried leaf.

Try our organic lime leaf powder

Try our organic lemongrass powder

Make our super easy Southeast Asian spice blend…

Tamarind

Tamarind is a souring agent, used to enliven a dish by bringing acidity to the palette. Popular in Chinese and Thai cooking, it often comes in block form and looks a little like dates. Sour and tangy, it is also fruity. Tamarind is a really complex and interesting alternative to the more common ways of bring acidity to a dish.

Fresh herbs

The foods of Thailand and Vietnam are notably packed with fresh fragrant herbs such as mint, basil and coriander. You might occasionally come across basil in Japanese cooking, but are more likely to find shiso, wasabi leaf, or mizuna. Chinese cooks may use coriander leaf sometimes.

Mint is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. Fresh mint is sweet and cooling, and also finds its way into Thai food.

Basil comes in many forms, and Asian basil is different to European basil. Although Japanese cooks may use basil occasionally, it is found mostly in Thai cooking. Vietnamese food also features basil. They use a form of sweet basil, which is closest to the standard flavour we know as basil yet slightly more anise. Thai basil, and holy basil, are more pungent and peppery, and Thai cooks also favour a lemony variety of basil.

Coriander is used widely in Thai cooking, where they use the leaf and the root as well as the seeds. A divisive herb, that you either love or hate, fresh coriander is almost invariably added at the end of cooking.

Curry leaves are associated with Indian food, yet are also used in Thailand. Dried curry leaves have a savoury, toasted aroma. Fresh, they are sweetly citrus with a herbal, peppery edge.

Shiso is found in Japanese food and Korean food. It has a pungent flavour, similar to mint.

Spices

Unlike the food of India, Southeast Asian cuisines keep their spice palette relatively simple preferring to rely on fresh herbs and aromatics. There is of course always an exception to the rule. Chinese cooks use spices more regularly than Thai cooks, but even some Thai curries come with complex blends of dry spices. Chinese five spice is a blend of star anise, fennel, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon.

Some of the fresh aromatics come in dried powder form, and these we have mentioned above. Turmeric powder, for example, is used as often, if not more, than its fresh form. Lemongrass powder is more of a convenience, and would be used fresh wherever available.

Coriander seed is a mild, earthy spice with lemony top notes. Often used alongside cumin, it is a base spice that lends a subtle depth to food.

Cumin has a far more pungent flavour than coriander and is more associated with Indian and Middle Eastern food. It is however used, sparingly, by Chinese, Japanese and Thai cooks.

Star anise is a familiar flavour in Chinese food yet is also used by Thai cooks. It has an unmistakeable licorice taste and used wisely (ie sparingly) can bring life to your dish.

Cloves are found in the foods of Japan and Thailand, as well as China. They are used to add a savoury warmth, and like star anise must be used sparingly to avoid tasting medicinal.

Cinnamon and cassia have similar flavours, but cassia is more pungent and less sweet than cinnamon. Chinese cooks favour cassia, whilst cinnamon is found in Thai food.

Green Cardamom is sweet and aromatic, adding warmth and citrus notes to a dish. You might find cardamom in some Japanese food, and Thai spice blends.

Fennel seed also has a licorice flavour but is more green and herbal than the woody star anise. It is used widely in Chinese cooking.

Peppercorns are widely used for their abilities to awaken the palette and enhance the other flavours in a dish. It is used as a spice, and as a seasoning, by cooks across the world. Chinese food favours white and black peppercorns, whilst in Thai food you might find fresh green peppercorns.

Spice pastes and Asian sauces – shortcuts to success

Asian sauces and spice pastes are more than just shortcuts. They form the basis of many dishes, and are great examples of the alchemy of cooking. Sauces and spice pastes become more than just the sum of their parts. All sorts of reactions occur between the ingredients themselves and the aroma molecules on the tongue to create a complex experience of flavours.

Many of the classic dishes of Asian cuisine begin with a spice blend, paste or sauce. Savvy cooks understand that simply adding the ingredients one by one will not have the same result. A homemade spice paste made from scratch is a beautiful thing, but even a native cook will reach for a jar as often as not.

Chili paste and curry paste

Pastes are mixtures of wet spices (aromatics such as garlic, ginger, or lemongrass, as well as onion, and chilies) and sometimes dry spices added in. They generally form the base of the dish and require frying (cooking out) at the beginning of the cooking process. More often than not, unless the dish is a dry dish, you will need to add some form of liquid for the final simmer such as stock or coconut milk.

Chili paste

Chili paste is a handy form of chilies that can be added to pretty much anything, and can also be used as a condiment in much the same way as, say, mustard. The ingredients in chili paste vary, yet they often introduce more depth of flavour than simply chilies, by way of additional aromatics such as onions, garlic or sugar. Tamarind is often added to add a sour edge to the flavour profile.

Try our organic chili paste

Red curry paste

Red curry paste is the base of Thai red curry, which is the hotter of the Thai curries. Thai red curry is sharper than its yellow curry cousin, with the inclusion of lime leaf in the paste and a squeeze of fresh lime to finish the dish. Red curry is bold and robust, so as well as chicken it makes the perfect salmon curry. Finish with a flourish of fresh coriander leaf.

Try our organic red curry paste

Yellow curry paste

Yellow curry paste is the base of Thai yellow curry, which is the medium spiced one between the three Thai curries of red, yellow and green. Slightly sweet, without the sharp edge of lime, yellow curry is full of earthy turmeric that ties all the other flavours together as one aromatic whole. Made with most of the same ingredients as red curry paste, yet in different quantities, it is a blend of shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal and ginger, coriander seed, chili, cumin, and turmeric.

Makes a great chicken or vegetable curry, or try adding a smaller amount to infuse a fish stew.

Try our organic yellow curry paste

Tom yum paste

Tom yum paste is the base for a Thai hot and sour soup of the same name. An aromatic blend of chilies, lemongrass, galangal, sugar, and shallots, the paste is simmered in stock with mushrooms (straw or oyster) and prawns. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime and a handful of chopped fresh coriander leaf. you could add a touch of fish sauce if you like. There is also a creamy version that has coconut milk added.

Try our organic tom yum paste

Asian sauces

Sauces can be grouped into condiments and cooking sauces. Condiments are used as they are, either to add a dimension of flavour when cooking or as an extra element added before or during eating. Most ready made cooking sauces are already cooked and are added towards the end of cooking.

Sriracha

Sriracha is a hot sauce that is now popular across the world and has become the essential source of heat for everything from chicken wings to popcorn. It is made from chilies, sugar, garlic and vinegar. Commercial sriracha is thicker than the thinner, sharper, Thai condiment.

Try our organic sriracha sauce

Read our article – what is sriracha and is it hot? 

Japanese soy dressing

Used widely in Japanese cuisine, Japanese soy dressing is the equivalent of the western vinaigrette dressing. Used to enliven simple dishes such as noodles and vegetable salads (hot and cold) it is a deeply savoury dressing of soy sauce, sesame, vinegar, mirin and ginger. The presiding flavour is the umami of soy, with added sharpness from vinegar that is tempered by the sweetness of mirin. Ginger forms a warm aromatic background to many Japanese flavour profiles and sesame adds a nutty toasted depth.

Japanese soy dressing is great tossed into an Asian style slaw or simple steamed greens.

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Chili sauce

Chili sauce appears all over Southeast Asia as a bottled condiment. It varies in strength and thickness. The general flavour profile may also differ, yet generally it is a hot thick blend of chillies, sugar, vinegar and garlic. It can be used anywhere you would use fresh chilli, or require a bit of heat with an additional dimension of flavour.

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Sweet chili sauce

Sweet chili sauce is a popular Thai dipping sauce, used as a condiment rather than a cooking sauce. Made from chilies, sugar, garlic, and vinegar, it is more sweet than sour.

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Stir fry sauces

Black pepper sauce

A Chinese restaurant favourite, black pepper sauce is the base of a popular chicken or beef stir fry. We like it with beef, as the meat stands up so well to the bold black pepper which seems to deepen the flavour of the meat. The sauce is made with soy, sugar or honey, and plenty of black pepper. The main aromatic is garlic and a touch of sesame adds an extra savoury edge. Stir fry chunky onions and pepper, with lean beef, and add the sauce near the end.

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Holy basil sauce

Holy basil grows across Southeast Asia but is often used medicinally rather than in food. It is however used widely in Thai food, and is a main ingredient in one of the most popular street food stir-fry dishes known as pad kra pao. The star of the dish is of course the holy basil. Not sweet Italian basil, or even aniseed-y Thai basil, but the distinct citrus pepper notes of holy basil.

The aim is something sweet, hot and salty. Hot with chilies; aromatic with garlic, and of course the holy basil that underlines it all. Stir fry with minced chicken or pork, and serve with rice and perhaps a fried egg on top.

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Sweet and sour sauce

Sweet and sour sauce has long been part of the Chinese repertoire, with many regional variations of the sauce itself and also what to do with it. Essentially, sweet and sour sauce is a slightly syrupy, somewhat glutinous blend of sugar and vinegar with a spicy note such as ginger.

The sweet and sour that we are most familiar with has its roots in Cantonese cuisine, in the much loved sweet and sour pork stir-fry dish. The battered style of sweet and sour is a popular Korean crossover dish, and sweet and sauce is actually the secret to the best Korean fried chicken.

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Teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki is a Japanese dish of grilled meat or fish with a glossy sauce. Teriyaki sauce is a blend of soy sauce and mirin (or sugar) with a hint of ginger. The ingredients are grilled without marinade and the sauce is added at the end.

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Find out how to make teriyaki chicken like a Japanese restaurant…

Pad thai sauce

Pad thai is a classic stir-fried Thai noodle dish. Variations abound but the essential ingredients are rice noodles, beaten egg, beansprouts, and a protein such as prawns or chicken. Crushed peanuts to garnish are also non-negotiable. The flavour profile is sweet, salty and sour. A squeeze of lime juice to serve adds fresh sour notes.

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This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Online Asian Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article:- Guide to Southeast Asian cuisine and ingredients

Simple Japanese kani salad recipe

kani salad

The latest Japanese dish to dominate our Insta-feeds is kani salad.

Super quick and easy to make, it is the ideal starter or side dish. Sandwiched within a crisp baguette, in a sort of banh-mi fusion mash up stylie, it will transport you to lunchtime heaven.

What is kani salad?

Kani salad is a Japanese shredded crab salad. You can use fresh crab meat (kani in Japanese) but there are times when imitation crab sticks (kanikama) are way better than the real deal. Surimi may not have the flavour of fresh crab meat but its ability to shred into strips is a textural joy.

At its simplest, and we think possibly best, kani salad has just three ingredients. Shredded cucumber, shredded crabsticks, and Japanese style mayonnaise. But you can add other crisp shredded vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, or radish. Asian slaw anyone? Mango is not unheard of, and many restaurants like to add a little flourish with fish roe or even panko breadcrumbs.

Kani salad dressing

Japanese mayonnaise is more similar to homemade mayonnaise. It is made with egg yolks, mustard, rice vinegar and oil. Rice vinegar is ideal for making mayonnaise, with its subtle sweetness and lack of harsh acidity. If you can’t get Japanese mayo, use the best shop bought you can find.

A few drops of sriracha sauce added to the mayonnaise excites the palate with a little moreish heat. You can find out more about sriracha sauce in this article. Other subtle flavour additions such as lime juice and soy sauce enhance the flavour of the dish without overpowering its innate simplicity.

How to cut cucumber for kani salad

Cucumber is the star of the show in kani salad. Cool and refreshing, it is the perfect pairing for those shredded strips of surimi. Yet for such a simple ingredient, cucumber can be deceptively hard to work with. The high water content means it soon loses that crisp texture and it can leak out into a soggy mess. The skin is often bitter and indigestible. To combat this, peel the cucumber using a speed peeler. Then, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the centre bit with the seeds.

Chop into lengths the size of the crabsticks. Slice lengthwise into 3mm slices, then slice the slices into 3mm strips.

Here are a few tips for getting the best from your kani salad.

  1. Use cold cucumber and shred as close to serving as possible. It won’t sit well.
  2. Same with the crabsticks.
  3. Mix your dressing ahead of time so the flavours combine.
  4. Toss the ingredients and dress the salad immediately before serving.

Japanese kani salad recipe

Serves 2, as a side or sandwich filling

6 crabsticks, shredded

1/2 large cucumber, shredded

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tbsp rice vinegar

A squeeze of fresh lime

1 tsp Japanese soy sauce

1 tsp sriracha

  1. Shred the ingredients and toss together.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients.
  3. Mix together and serve immediately.

Try a kani crab salad sandwich

Try adding kani crab salad to a warm crisp baguette with shredded cabbage, carrot, and radish, plus fresh coriander, mint and parsley.

Explore our range of organic Asian groceries or head straight to our selection of Asian sauces.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Online Asian Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article:- Super Simple Japanese kani salad recipe