Malaysian Roti Canai with Curry Chicken

Malaysian Canai

Last weekend we had a special treat at a new Malaysian restaurant in Flushing, New York. PapaRich Malasian Delights is a beautiful, modern restaurant on the top floor of One Fulton square on Prince Street.  We had two traditional Malaysian dishes that were so authentic I felt like we had actually traveled to Malaysia.  As an appetizer we had Satay Chicken which we dipped in a wonderful peanut flavored sauce.  This was followed by a very traditional Malaysian dish Roti Canai with Curry Chicken.  For desert we had shaved ice with cendol red beans.  At the end of the meal we were greeted by the restaurant’s owner Daniel Tiew, who suggested we also try their signature desert “Cendol”.  This is also shaved ice with cendol but has brown sugar for added flavor.  I normally don’t eat two desserts but what a great way to end a meal on a hot summer day.

I have to say that eating roti canai for the first time was an amazingly positive experience for me. I realize that this is a famous Malaysian dish that is available everywhere in Malaysia but I have never had the opportunity to try it.  It is made by taking out a piece of dough that has been slightly oiled and contains eggs, butter, flour and water.  It is then kneaded and flattened into a thin layer.  The thin layer of dough is then folded into a square and placed on a hot griddle to fry.  Oil is sprinkled over the dough to give it a crispy outer layer.  The dough is finally loosened by the cooks slamming it between their hands to make it crunchy.  Ours was served with a curry sauce and curry chicken.  I liked it so much that we went to an Asian supermarket afterwards and purchased some frozen pre-made roti canai to take home.

Photo by Zu Zu the Pig

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Keep Kimchi Smell Out of Fridge Electronically

Kimchi 3

Generations of Koreans have fought with the problem of dealing with the smell of kimchi during storage. In the past many Koreans simply kept kimchi outside of the house. Today, in modern America, many Korean Americans still keep kimchi outside of the house (in the garage) in a separate refrigerator.  They often call this a “kimchi refrigerator”. The kimchi is typically put large glass jars before putting it into the refrigerator to contain the smell.  Even then the smell gets into the soda cans and water bottles. Thanks to modern technology there is now an electronic solution to this problem.  It is called FridgeFresh® by BerryBreeze.

Fridge Fresh, which is slightly larger than a baking soda box, is simply placed on the top shelf of the refrigerator. It uses a patented timing sequence that releases a consistent level of activated oxygen throughout the refrigerator to eliminate odors and purify the air within the refrigerator. It sanitizes the air in the refrigerator with this activated oxygen, which is a powerful natural cleansing agent. Fridge Fresh is a lightweight, battery operated O3 generator.  The battery life is estimated to last 4-6 months.  You can learn more about FridgeFresh by visiting www.zodiacals.com and clicking on “FridgeFresh® for Asian Refrigerators”.

Photo by John Ong – http://tinyurl.com/hvpr6yo 

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Cook Chinese Shumai on a Steam Grill

Shumai

I guess I am pretty lucky because I live fairly close to a Chinese community where I can enjoy dim sum quite often. No matter what we order during the meal there is always room on the table for some Chinese shumai, those small steamed pork and shrimp dumplings.  You don’t, however, have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy shumai because they are one of the easiest Chinese meat dumplings to make at home.  They are normally prepared in a bamboo steamer but they are even more delicious when prepared on a steam grill.

If you want to make shumai from scratch there are many recipes on the Internet. If you live near a Chinese food store, however, there are also many excellent brands of frozen shumai available in these stores.  Simply arrange the shumai on cabbage or lettuce in the steam grill, add some water and steam on low-medium heat for 7 minutes.  You will love the taste.  From preparing shumai to steaming and grilling meat, fish and vegetables there are so many things you can do with a steam grill. To learn more about cooking on a steam grill go to www.zodiacals.com and click on the Asian Steam Grill collection.

Photo by Jeremy Keith – http://tinyurl.com/gwx8l2k

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Asian Americans Lose Money on Food Spoilage

Asians Buying Fruit

There are many differences between the typical Asian diet and the western diet and many believe these differences contribute to a healthier lifestyle. The populations in many Asian countries enjoy long lifespans.  Japan, for example, currently has the world’s oldest population and China has the most rapidly graying population in world history. Women from many of the countries in Asia enjoy beautiful skin illustrating their healthy lifestyle. One of the key differences between the typical Asian diet and the western diet is Asians typically eat more of fruits and vegetables.

One of the problems with buying a lot of fruits and vegetables is spoilage, especially in the United States. In Asia many people buy fruits and vegetables daily. In the United States, however, Asian Americans typically go grocery shopping once a week. Too often Asian Americans bring produce home, put it in the refrigerator and after a few days the uneaten produce is wasted through spoilage.  They often notice mold growing on the fruit and see that the vegetables are turning rancid.  This problem is not unique to Asian Americans as the average American wastes around 40% of all edible food.  Because Asian Americans typically buy more produce they lose a lot of money on spoiled fruit and spoiled vegetables.

There is a new product that releases activated oxygen into the refrigerator to neutralize mold, yeast, fungus and other microbes so that produce stays fresh 2-3 times longer than normal. Many Asian Americans and others save up to $2,200 per year in wasted food by placing this device, which is slightly larger than a baking soda box, in their refrigerator. The device is FridgeFresh® by BerryBreeze. It sanitizes the air in the refrigerator with activated oxygen, a powerful natural cleansing agent that reacts with surface molecules on mold, yeast, and fungus. It also neutralizes ethylene, a gas that speeds up the ripening and rotting of foods.

Berry Breeze 3

I recently put one of these devices on the top shelf of my refrigerator. It has been there for several weeks and I hardly know it’s there because it is so small.  The first thing I noticed after using FridgeFresh was that my refrigerator smelled really fresh and clean. Importantly, I also noticed that the lettuce and blueberries I put the refrigerator over a week ago are still as fresh as they were when I bought them.  Because I was unable to eat these right away I normally would have thrown them out by now.  You can learn more about FridgeFresh by visiting www.zodiacals.com and clicking on “FridgeFresh® for Asian Refrigerators”.

Photo by John Walker – http://tinyurl.com/zxj6gua

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Indoor Grilling Asian Steamed Vegetables on a Steam Grill

Steam Grill Vegeies

One of the secrets of a long healthy life in many Asian countries is a diet which includes a lot of vegetables. It is not enough, however, just to eat vegetables.  You should cook them in a way to take maximum advantage of their nutritional value.  Grilling is one way to cook delicious vegetables but this has a couple of serious drawbacks.  First grilling can strip off some of the nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the vegetables. Second, indoor grilling tends to fill the kitchen with smoke.  Steaming is one of the best ways to cook vegetables because it preserves the nutrients to ensure they get to your body. Steaming, however, has to be done just right to make sure the vegetables are not overcooked or undercooked.

Now thanks to the steam grill you can have the best of both worlds. The UchiCook Asian steam grill from Japan, for example, steams and grills vegetables simultaneously.  By adding water to the ridge surrounding the grill this device keeps the vegetables enveloped in steam while simultaneously grilling.  This makes then so flavorful you and your family will want to keep munching on these vegetables which are a good source of nutrients. Cooking vegetables in a steam grill does not require the use of oil.  This means you can enjoy low or non-fat vegetables.  This can help lower the high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels that are associated with heart diseases. To learn more about the UchiCook Asian steam grill go to www.zodiacals.com and click on the Asian Steam Grill collection.  The grill is on sale this week with a $15 discount.

Photo by UchiCook 

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Zongzi Is A Special Food for The Dragon Boat Festival

Zongzi

Many Chinese families are eating Zongzi (Sticky Rice Dumplings) this week in honor of the Dragon Boat Festival which in China is celebrated from June 9 to June 11 this year. This festival is of great significance because has been held annually for more than 2,000 years.  Zongzi is a special food related to this festival.  The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan who was exiled by the King and then wrote many poems to show his love for his country.  After finishing his last masterpiece he drowned himself in the river rather than see his country occupied by the State of Qin.  On hearing of his death many people threw Zongzi into the river to keep the fish from destroying his body.

Zongzi is made with sticky rice typically wrapped in bamboo leaves. It has different shapes and fillings depending on the customs of different parts of China.  In the North, for example, people tend to flavor the fillings with jujube whereas in the South the filling is sweetened with bean paste, fresh meat or egg yolk.  These tasty rice dumplings are cooked by steaming or boiling.  Although Zongzi was originally a seasonal food often reserved for the Dragon Boat Festival it is now available year round in most major cities with a significant Chinese population.

Photo by Tolbxela – http://tinyurl.com/gpry4tt 

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Are Asian Eating Habits Healthier?

Healthy Asian

In most Asian families, as in many cultures, food is very much central to their lives. Many special occasions, for example, use food as the centerpiece of the occasion.  Even everyday cooking gives great comfort to the typical Asian family.  There are several differences, however, between the typical Asian diet and the western diet and these differences may contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

One of the differences between the typical Asian diet and the western diet is the lack of processed food and cheap calories. I am sure this contributes to better diet control.  Another key to the Asian diet is balance.  Asians tend to eat a variety of foods to maintain health and do not try to exist on a single type of food.  One of the ways they do this is by choosing foods of different colors.  Red tomatoes, purple eggplant, green spinach and white garlic are examples.

Some Asians will maintain a proper body temperature with food. If they are cold they will eat warm foods and spices such as chili peppers, ginger and green onions.  If they are warm they will eat foods to cool down such as a mint beverage, citrus, cucumber and tomato. You may notice that there are not a lot of Western-style salads in the traditional Chinese diet.  This may be because traditional Chinese medicine teaches that cold raw food such as a salad is hard on the digestion and should be eaten in moderation.

Moderation is recommended in the Asian culture regarding the types of food that should be eaten as well as the amount of food that should be consumed. Eating in moderation is felt to lead to a longer life.  My Chinese father-in-law always told me he would only eat until he is 70 percent full.  The last time he told me that he was 90 years old.  As with my father-in-law, many Asians believe eating too much food will unnecessarily stress the body.

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Proper Asian Cooking Tools

Asian Cooking

There is currently a great deal of interest among Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans in preparing Asian cuisine. For some people it is a way to maintain their culture. For others it is part of a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For many, however, preparing and serving Asian cuisine is simply a way to add interesting variety to the dining table. Regardless of your reason for preparing Asian cuisine you will do a better job of this if you use the proper Asian cooking tools. Asian cooking can be made much simpler with a proper set of utensils.

Naturally the wok is a central tool for a lot of Asian cooking. All woks, however, are not the same. Some heat quickly and evenly and others develop hot spots. A carbon steel wok with a flat bottom is a good choice for most applications. If you are planning to do cooking that requires a lot of tossing the food you might want to consider a wok with a wood handle. In addition to a good spatula, there are a number of other tools I would suggest to properly equip your kitchen for Asian cooking. These include a stainless steel wok ladle with a wooden handle, a bamboo-handled coarse skimmer, a large perforated ladle and a plastic, bamboo or stainless steel rice paddle. You may also want a stainless steel serving spoon and a hammered shovel. There are a number of good knives specifically designed for Asian cooking such as the Usuba vegetable knife often used to cut vegetables for Japanese cuisine.

As rice is a basic ingredient for a lot of Asian cooking a good rice cooker is a good addition to your Asian cooking tools. I would also suggest a bamboo steamer because it allows you to make multiple dishes at once by stacking layers of bamboo racks. For the non-purest there are also metal steamers that are easier to clean than a bamboo steamer. A clay pot is great for stews, soups and bubbling dishes. You may want to use a wok lid for things that need a longer cooking time. A wok ring is also useful to keep your wok from sliding around. A fine mesh strainer can be used during deep frying to remove fine food bits. Many Asian cooks use a metal steam rack to go in the bottom of a deep pot to use for steamed fish, buns or shumai. They also typically use a good set of togs or long bamboo chopsticks for lifting a hot plate or other items from the steamer.

Photo by Matthlas Rip – http://tinyurl.com/zrqbqmy

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Beef Chow Fun Noodles – A Hard To Find Delight

Beef Chow Fun

Although beef chow fun is a favorite among many Chinese food lovers, it is not widely available. In most cases you will have to prepare it at home if you have a craving for this wonderful dish.  Yesterday, however, to my delight I finally found a restaurant in Connecticut that serves beef chow fun noodles.  The restaurant, Kampei II in the Newfield Shopping Center in Stamford, has a chef that really knows how to prepare this Cantonese dish.  You may also be able to find beef chow fun in a Cantonese restaurant near you if you look for one that serves dim sum.  Basically beef chow fun is made from stir-frying beef, wide rice noodles, scallions, ginger, bean sprouts and dark soy.

The key to making beef chow fun is a cooking technique that uses very high heat to create a wok sear to create its own unique flavor. This is not always easy to do in the average home range but it is possible. The other key to making great beef chow fun is tossing the food in the wok without using a spatula. Make sure you use a wok with a wooden handle. You want a continuous movement of the noodles in the hot wok without using a spatula because this keeps the rice noodles whole. Make sure you get fresh rice noodles at your local Asian market. I found a good recipe for beef chow fun on the website The Woks of Life. See: http://tinyurl.com/nts6jfe

Photo by Penny – http://tinyurl.com/zb6k3sd

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Alishan Gourmet Tea from Taiwan

Alishan Tea

A few years ago a friend of mine, on returning from a trip from Taiwan, brought me a package of Alishan tea. I have to say that gift changed my life.  From that day forward every morning I get out of bed and fix myself a hot cup of this most delicious tea before I do anything else.  This is an amazing green oolong tea grown only in the mountains of Taiwan where the altitude slows the plant growth concentrating the flavor in the tea leaves.  As soon as the tea is in your mouth you feel surrounded by a flowery sweet flavor with a hint of spice. The tea has an intoxicating aroma that is reminiscent of lilacs.

Alishan tea is mostly grown in the mountains north of Taipei. It is harvested up to six times a year, although the tea in the highest mountains may only be harvested twice a year.  It is mainly produced for tea lovers in Taiwan and is extremely difficult to find in the United States. I have been lucky to have friends that go to Taiwan and are kind enough to occasionally bring me gifts of Alishan tea.  I have seen Alishan tea in tea shops in Chinese communities like Flushing, New York.  If you are lucky enough to find this incredible tea I recommend you give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Photo by Sonse – http://tinyurl.com/zadraxf

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