A whole continent of flavors
Asian cuisine in America has spread far beyond the Panda Express, and for good reason: Asia has incredibly diverse and insanely delicious culinary traditions that have only grown in dynamism since expanding onto tables. around the world over the past century. There are still many diners in the United States who cannot distinguish shumai from green shrimp curry with this in mind. To that end, we’ve put together a quick intro on different types of Asian food, as well as the things that make each country’s cuisine unique.
It should be noted that this list is by no means exhaustive. Just as many of these dishes have been adapted to accommodate American taste buds and ingredients, international cuisine is constantly being adapted across Asia to bring new flavors and presentations to diners. For example, Japan has an artisanal pastry scene that easily rivals that of France itself.
See for yourself!
That aside, this list also doesn’t have the word count required to explore all the regional dishes and special presentations of these different food cultures. After reading this article, however, you can confidently walk away with the vocabulary you need to impress your friends the next time you chat about where to eat.
Let’s get started!
Japanese cuisine: tasty classics, beautiful plating
Let’s eliminate the obvious: sushi.
Beyond sushi, many Japanese dishes have become staples for Asian dining, and there is a reason: few other types of cuisine. worldwide have the same attention to detail and the same obsession with the quality of the ingredients. Much of this food is characterized by the use of fish, a relatively concentrated vegetable palate of carrots and potatoes, with pickled and super sticky red ginger. natto Beans. Needless to say, rice (and rice noodles) often plays a central role in these meals.
Commonly ordered Japanese dishes in America (beyond sushi) include rice bowls, fried noodles, and bento boxes, which are those 5 food lunch boxes that seem tailor-made for Instagram food photography. In fact, if you ever need to know whether a dish is traditionally Japanese or not, just take a few pictures of the dishes and upload them to Instagram. A sudden influx of foodie followers will confirm this.
Chinese cuisine: a billion different flavors
To define Chinese food can be a bit tricky because it’s a cooking world that dates back thousands of years and spans dozens of different provinces, each with its own rich history and pool of local ingredients. That said, several dishes are considered the epitome of Chinese cuisine, and you won’t be surprised to learn that few of them are found on a Panda Express menu.
Highlights include dim sum, a catch-all term for dishes like wontons and dumplings. China’s spice palate is incredibly diverse. Aside from seeing soy sauce in many dishes, you can also expect to find hoisin sauces, plum extracts, oyster sauces, pepper mixes, and lots of ginger. If you only eat one Chinese dish in your life, be sure to try Peking Duck – a whole duck marinated in a rich blend of five spices before being slowly cooked for days to dry the skin out. crispy perfection.
Much of Chinese cuisine is informed by unique regional dishes. As China presents an incredibly diverse landscape, each major city has a style of cooking that centers around the use of region-specific ingredients. This includes lotus roots, some edible black mushrooms, boiled silkworms, and even donkey meat.
We won’t be playing the joke here.
Korean cuisine: barbecue, kimchi and lots of Gochujang
Most people know at least a little about Korean barbecue, and there’s a good reason for that: Korean barbecue is awesome. With high-quality cuts of meat and an impressive amount of side dishes, Korean barbecue is often characterized by cooking food. sitting around a fire at your table. Once you’ve gotten past the more dangerous parts of Korean cuisine, there are plenty of other awesome things to find.
Korean dishes are known to incorporate a lot of kimchi, a spicy mixture of fermented cabbage, often made with other vegetables like grated carrots, green onions, and radishes. As well as being served on its own, kimchi is also fried, incorporated into stews, or used as a garnish for countless other dishes. It was even sent to Korean astronauts on the ISS!
Beyond kimchi, a lot of korean food contains gochujang, a mixture of fermented red peppers. This paste adds a characteristic reddish color and slightly spicy sweetness to dishes, which means you’ve probably had it if you’ve eaten at a Korean restaurant more than once.
Fun fact: Korea is serious about fried chicken, too. Like, incredibly serious. Serious world class. It is so good.
Thai cuisine: be spicy!
A lot of Asian dishes are spicy, but no other food in the world is spicy like Thai cuisine. That’s not to say it’s a food defined entirely by its heat levels, but rather Thai cuisine finds ways to use heat to support countless other rich flavors.
Diners can expect complex harmonies of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy flavor profiles, sometimes in just one bite. Many of these dishes start with a base of thick pepper before making up for some of the heat with fish sauce, coconut milk, or lemongrass. One of the most intentionally recognized Thai dishes is Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish that mixes rice noodles, meat, peanuts, and bean sprouts.
In addition to Pad Thai, Thai cuisine also offers intense coconut milk curries and seafood stews. Both of these dishes make extensive use of Thailand’s rich seafood traditions, with a lot of characteristic heat.
Instead of saying, “How are you?” in Thailand, it is not uncommon to greet someone by saying: “Have you already eaten?” This should give you a pretty good idea of what the food looks like.
Vietnamese food: fresh vegetables, noodles and lots of pho
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of Vietnamese food, you’ve probably enjoyed a bunch of it before as an appetizer in other Asian restaurants. Many Vietnamese classics like spring rolls are used to support menus across the spectrum of Asian cuisine, and it’s not hard to see why – Vietnamese cuisine is delicious.
With an emphasis on bold flavors and fresh ingredients, good Vietnamese cuisine is unlike anything else. These flavors are accomplished through a series of basic ingredients, which include nuoc mam (a fermented fish sauce), tamarind (an incredibly tasty type of sour citrus), and fresh bell peppers (which are exactly what. They look like).
The most popular form of Vietnamese cuisine in the world is Pho, a type of slowly cooked beef broth noodle soup. Authentic pho is cooked so slowly that it’s not uncommon for restaurants in Vietnam to simmer theirs for days on end to really bring out the rich flavors in the ingredients. Beyond pho, Vietnam is also famous for its mastery of banh mi, a baguette sandwich loaded with greens and a choice of meat toppings, which can include pate, pork, or liver.
What is your favorite type of Asian cuisine? Sound off in the comments.