Back to Basics: Asian Cuisine
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Bee Yinn Low is the author of RasaMalaysia.com, a food blog dedicated to all things Asian cuisine, with more than 400 recipes. Like the country it represents in its name, it features a diverse set of cuisines, from Chinese to Japanese, Indian to Thai, and of course, Malaysian. Low is also the author of Easy Chinese Recipes, currently the number one Chinese cookbook on Amazon. Low recently had the chance to take time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us; here's what she had to say.
What inspired you to create a blog about Asian cuisine?
I love Asian cuisine, from Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian to Japanese and Thai. Every country is so different and its cuisine and taste structure is iconic and distinct only to that country. I wanted to share my passion and love for Asian cuisines with my readers.
My favorite dish to cook at the moment is shrimp fried rice. It’s so easy to make, delicious, and filling. I make it for lunch during busy weekdays.
How do you see Asian cuisine affecting mainstream American home cooking in the next 10 years?
Asian cuisine is going to affect mainstream American home cooking in a big way, as more and more Americans discover delicious and colorful Asian cuisine through media, traveling, or just by dining out. Celebrity chefs are embracing Asian cooking techniques and ingredients more than ever, grocery stores are eagerly stocking up their Asian ingredient aisles, major food companies are now rolling out Asian product lines — some clear indications that this country is going through an Asian cooking boom. I am personally very excited about it as more and more Americans will learn Asian cooking.
For someone who is trying out Asian cooking for the first time, what are some pantry staples that you would recommend having on hand?
Soy sauce is a must. It’s used in all major Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, as well as southeast Asian cuisines such as Malaysian, Thai, and Indonesian. You can’t go wrong with a good soy sauce. It’s so versatile. Rice is another must-have; you can’t have an Asian meal without rice. I would also have a good chile sauce in the pantry — favorites such as Sriracha or for extra zest, Malaysian Lingham hot sauce. (Photo courtesy of Veer/Kia Cheng Boon)
For cooks who might be intimidated to cook with Asian ingredients, what advice would you give them or where would you tell them to begin?
I know that many cooks are intimidated by Asian cooking and ingredients, mostly because they feel like they don’t understand the ingredients, don’t know what they look like, or where to find them. That’s the reason why I spent a lot of effort writing the "Ingredients" chapter of my first cookbook, Easy Chinese Recipes. I have pictures of every single ingredient and sauce that you will need to make Chinese food at home. It’s a good place to start, since other Asian cuisines use similar ingredients, so there is a good overlap. Also, it’s always easier to concentrate on mastering one Asian cuisine at a time.
What was the intention behind your cookbook? What are you trying to offer readers?
Chinese cuisine is the most popular Asian cuisine in the United States. Many people love Chinese food, but their idea of Chinese food is limited to the takeout items from fast-food establishments or their neighborhood Chinese takeout restaurants. Through my cookbook, I hope to encourage people to discover better, healthier, and authentic Chinese food which they can make easily at home. I offer my readers practical cooking tips and techniques that deliver remarkable results, with more than 80 easy recipes that they can attempt at home. It’s intended to demystify Chinese cuisines for the readers. (Photo courtesy of Stock.XCHNG/manjides)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers of The Daily Meal?
Pick up a copy of Easy Chinese Recipes online or a bookstore near you. It’s packed with mouthwatering recipes, hundreds of color photographs (all styled and photographed by me), and secret tips and techniques that deliver restaurant-quality Chinese food at home. The book is only $15 and makes a perfect gift!
Check out some more of Bee Yinn Low's easy Chinese recipes:
The egg drop soup served at Jesse, a little restaurant frequented by Chinese food connoisseurs in Shanghai, China, is mild and refreshing, with the sweet tang of fresh tomatoes...
Broccoli beef — it’s the ultimate Chinese beef stir-fry dish, with broccoli, slathered in the all too familiar rich brown sauce...
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