my tips to asian cooking. I am no expert but in all my years of cooking these are things i have learnt along the way.
Korean has base flavours in most recipes such as soy, sugar, garlic, ginger and green shallots, sesame seeds, sesame oil. For spicy they add gochujang chili paste or kimchi which is fermented wombok cabbage in chili or gochujang and lots of salt left for months in a brine to flavour the cabbage and break it down. Korean meats are marinated then cooked over hot coals in a habachi grill at the table. Egg dishes are also used as a side dish. Steamboats are same as chinese hotpot soups made at table with hot stock selection of meat seafood and vegetables you add to the stock. They have dumplings to add to soups. Korean have bibimbap bowl which has rice or noodles, various vegetables, pickled vegetables, kimchi, grilled meat and fried egg on top. A dolsot clay bowl with lid keeps soups hot. Noodles are buckwheat, soba, udon or rice noodles
Chinese has a 3 or 4 way marriage of flavours or holy trinity as they call them are garlic, ginger, chili, green shallots. The cuisine does flavour by adding sweet using sweet kepjap manis which is indonesian soy, or lite or dark soy with vinegars such as mushroom or black vinegar. Onion, carrot, celery, broccoli, baby corn and mushrooms feature along with bok choi or gai larn. They make a master stock which is reused every day and flavours are added to it. Sweet also comes from adding pineapple. Long grain or short grain rice is usually used or black rice. Chinese 5 spice powder is used to flavour neat or rice. hot pots are chinese soups that come with selection of meats and vegetables cooked in prepared stocks at the table. Stir fry meat and vegetables are accompanied with rice. Some restaurants give free green or jasmine tea to sip between courses as a palate cleanser. Chinese have yum cha which have dim sims, spring rolls, money bags, wontons, prawn toasts and satay skewers or san choi bau as entrees. Chinese use sauces such as soy, oyster, plumb, hoisin, char su, lemon, honey, mongolian. Chinese often eat with chopsticks or soup spoon.
Thai flavours have lemongrass, kaffir lime, birds eye chili, garlic, ginger and herbs like thai basil, mint, coriander. For creamy they use coconut milk or coconut cream, for sweet palm sugar or brown sugar is used. Bone broths feature in the soup then things are added. Birds eye chili are short red chili and have lots of heat so if you like it mild cut the seeds and membrane out or use long red chili which is milder. Rice wine vinegar and fish sauce make most dipping sauces along with palm sugar or chili added. Thai food love using thick noodles to bulk up the meal. Thai rice is jasmine rice. Coriander features in many dishes with roots as well as the leaves. Thai have fish cakes, spring rolls for entrees or skewered meat with peanut sauce their equivalent to satay. Thai oyster sauce is not same as chinese. It has less salt. Thai sauces are usually made with thai oyster, thai fish sauce, garlic, ginger, kaffir lime, chili, lemongrass. bean sprouts and vermicelli, cardamon, coconut milk or cream, limes, black dried chinese mushrooms dehydrated, straw mushrooms, champignons, tamarind, dried prawns and dried shallots, peanuts, spring roll wrappers for fresh rice paper rolls or deep fried , wonton wrappers for fried or steamed wontons. Meals start with 2 or 3 entree with lemongrass, lime leaves or aromatic spices to tantalise the palate. Soups are a combination of taste, texture, colour. Salads often have lime juice and fish sauce with or without chili. Coconut cream splits if you boil it so gentle heat when cooking with it. Fish and seafood feature in most thai cuisine. Thai cuisine is eaten with fork and spoon. Meals are eaten with small nibbles then soup or main dish with meat or chicken, finish meal with a sweet dish or platter of fruits intricately carved. Coconut milk and rice give puddings their sweet balance.
Vietnamese i like to call the cleaner cuisine as they use a lot of fresh ingredients and herbs such as Vietnamese mint or thai basil. Very similar thai, wide or rice thin noodles, soups, stir fry or salads feature in Vietnamese dishes with nuts usually peanut or cashew nuts. Vietnamese soup stock have lots of flavours and take all day to simmer for pho pronounced ‘fur’. Noodles are often vermicelli.
Indonesian love sate or curry style dishes and don’t use a lot of chili. Its more sweet. Candlenuts feature in sauces and macadamias are a good substitute if you cant get them. shrimp paste and tamarind also feature in the marinades which are all pounded in mortar and pestle along with galangal similar to ginger, garlic. Brown sugar or palm sugar is used as is kecap manis. Sambal olek is chili paste they use. Spices can be nutmeg, mace, cloves, cardamom, cumin, chili, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, wombok the chinese cabbage, coconut cream or milk, coriander, cumin, curry leaves, eggplant, egg noodles, ginger, lemongrass, palm sugar, peanut oil, rice flour, sesame oil, shrimp paste, snow peas, kecap manis, spring onion, tofu, tumeric, vermicelli. Rice is a staple food. Goat, chicken, beef or pork, prawns, fish
Japanese use raw fish in dishes such as cerviche or sushi. Rice features in japanese cuisine as does miso soup and pickled ginger. Seaweed, nori, bonito flakes often feature along with mirin or sake, and rice wine vinegar with tamari is their soy, dishes also are flavoured with ginger, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Daikon is their white radish often pickled with carrots. Dashi is stock of dried kelp and bonito (dried fish). Tempura flour to batter and deep fry meat and vegetables in hot oil. Tofu is also used as a protein substitute. Wasabi is horseradish paste and is very hot. sansho., a 7 spice powder to flavor dishes. Crumbed meat or poultry is done with panko crumb as it crisps up when fried but maintains the crunch. Gyoza is the japanese equivalent of dim sim or dumpling. Sushi comes in various types. Something pickled, fried, grilled, fruit, rice and miso soup are usually in bento box.
Indian isn’t necessarily classed as asian but it has curries, marinated meat dishes. Basmati rice is their rice. Tumeric , Garam masala is the combined spices like a chinese 5 spice blend, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, cardamom, coriander, almond meal, atta flour, besan chickpea flour, chickpeas, lentils, coconut, chillies include hot kashmire chili, ghee, ginger, mustard seeds, pappadums, pomegranate seeds, rosewater, saffron, spring roll wrappers, tamarind, tandoori paste, tumeric, vindaloo paste, yogurt. A typical meal starts with something to stimulate the palate, small, crisp and spicy samosa, pakoras or rich flavourful soup. The sides accompany the meal such as chutney, pickles, relishes such as raita, mint chutney, naan, chapati, mango chutney, cucumber or tomato,. Chicken is served at special occassions, they have seafood dishes, goat or lamb. Beef is not eaten for religious reasons. Vegetables are featured in many dishes such as spinach for palak paneer. Desserts are sweet, creamy or nutty and high in calories. Each region has own style of cooking and flavours. It is customary to eat with sitting on left hand and eating with the right without knife fork spoon.