Broken into a wide variety of styles across an even wider variety of regions, food in Asia has been developed exponentially throughout the ages as techniques have been refined and cuisine diversified further and further over time. Asia is home to some of the most unique cuisine from across the world and sees cooks use ingredients from all food groups as well as some unique ingredients not usually used in regular foodstuffs.
These variants can be broken down into six main categories; these include Eastern Asian Cuisine, Western Asian Cuisine, South Asian Cuisine, Northern Asian Cuisine, Central Asian Cuisine and Oceanic Asian Cuisine.
Eastern Asian Cuisine is some of the best known and mainly incorporates the cuisine styles of China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia, among others. These countries, as a result of the climate, have a heavy reliance on rice and noodles as a staple food source with vegetables such as soybeans, cabbage, carrots and spinach as a mix. Popular dishes may include Dim Sum (small mixed dishes allowing for participants to try lots of different types of food), Sushi (rice balls wrapped in seaweed, usually with a fish, meat or vegetable center), Tteokguk (soup made with rice cake) and Khuushuur (cooked mutton deep fried in mutton fat).
Western Asian Cuisine incorporates the tastes and techniques of the Middle East with dishes from, among others, Israel, Oman, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Due to the typically hot and arid climate of this region, seafood is utilized more heavily than in many other parts of Asia as well as other ingredients such as grain and fruits, especially chickpeas, fava beans and dates. Dishes may include: Falafel (deep-fried balls made from chickpeas and fava beans), Harees (boiled wheat with meat, typically chicken), Kafta (baked or grilled & skewered cake made out of minced meat and spices) and Kabsa (a basmati rice dish with meat, vegetables and many spices).
Southern Asia sees a much greater variety of, but still consistent reliance on, rice as a staple food source. Due to many of the customs of the region, vegetables are widely preferred over meat and spice use is widespread in the food sources with large cuisine styles originating in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Iran. Dishes may include: Sarson da Saag (vegetables with mustard leaves and spices), Sel Roti (rice flour dough sweetened and cooked into a doughnut, often customized with bits of spices or fruits), Kiribath (a rice dish cooked in coconut milk, often mixed with sesame seeds and cashew) and Kabab Barg (barbequed lamb, chicken or beef on skewers, marinated in olive oil, garlic, saffron and onions, then seasoned with sumac and black peppers, usually served with tomatoes).
Northern Asian Cuisine is almost exclusively centred on the Asian segment of Russia and sees dishes imported widely from other European cultures; these dishes heavily use meat, tomatoes, potatoes and other similar fruits and vegetables. Dishes often include: Borscht (soup made from beetroot, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages and sometimes spinach), Aspic (jellied fish, vegetables, eggs or meat, usually made out of meat stock), Pirozhki (baked or fried buns filled with beef, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, egg, cabbage, salmon or oatmeal) and Vatrushka (a bowl made out of pastry with a cottage cheese in the middle, often with raisins or fruit).
Central Asia sees the cuisine styles of countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan and sees a greater dependence on meat, especially sheep and horse, as well as vegetables like chickpeas, fruits such as grapes and a heavy use of rice in many dishes. Popular dishes include: Besbarmak (boiled horse or mutton in a broth and served with a boiled pasta sheet), Yakhni (sliced beef and chicken served with brother and boiled vegetables), Plov (a rice dish with meat, carrots and onions, sometimes with chickpeas, raisins, barberries and fruit) and Manty (steamed dumplings filled with ground meat and onions).
Lastly, Oceanic Asian Cuisine sees a great emphasis on rice and noodle dishes, much like Eastern Asia, and sees the dishes of countries such as Indonesia, the Phillipines, Malaysia and Thailand. Popular dishes often include: Ikan Bakar (roasted fish), Lechon (whole roasted pig), Murtabak (pan-fried bread resembling a pancake, stuffed with minced mutton, garlic, egg and onion) and Kaeng Phet pet Yang (roast duck in red curry with vegetables).
Of course, this is only a brief overview of the many tastes and delights that Asia has to offer to spirits adventurous enough to step foot into this great and ancient continent. Have you ever considered working there? Perhaps you’d like to check out the SeekTeachers jobs page for more information.