By Leigh O’Connor.
The appeal of Asian food goes well beyond exotic flavours; it is considered by many as a lighter, healthier option full of fresh vegetables, seafood, meat and chicken.
Different regions offer different taste perceptions – each with their own distinct cooking style – from Thai to Malaysian and everything in between. Spices, sauces and herbs are integral parts of Asian cooking, added to enhance taste, texture, aroma and colour and send the senses into overload, as steaming plates arrive at the table.
Australians love Asia - from its amazingly diverse cultures to the delicious food - but did you know these four fun facts about one of our favourite destinations (when we CAN travel)?
•Monkeys have their own special feast day in the town of Lopburi in Thailand, complete with personal invites, mountains of fresh fruit and huge bowls of ice cream – just imagine the food fight at the end.
•Vietnam exports more than a third of the world’s cashew nuts…thanks Vietnam!
•Thailand is the only country in South-east Asia that has not been colonised by Europeans, a fact they are very proud of.
•In Vietnam, drinking snake wine is believed to improve your health – whole snakes, seeped in rice wine. I think I feel just fine, seriously...
Now we have your attention, here’s four recipes to dish up an Asian Persuasion feast to your family and friends.
The best way to start an Asian dinner party is with these spanner crab and prawn dumplings with spice caramel from Embassy XO restaurant in Sunshine Beach. Overlooking the picturesque surf beach and quaint village from a prime seaside location, exotic décor makes this restaurant a local favourite; with majestic red and orange lights, a Winter fireplace, dark timber and stylish Asian furnishings.
Executive Chef James Wu brings us his dumpling recipe, a favourite on the ever-changing six-course set menu, created from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, such as seafood from the pristine waters off Noosa Heads.
Tucked into Marrickville’s bustling streets is Hello Auntie restaurant, dishing up a trendy take on Asian cuisine from surrounds of steel pipes, exposed brick walls and moody lighting; well suited to Sydneysiders looking to unwind with after-work drinks.
Chef Cuong Nguyen shares his street food recipe for Bun thit nuong – char siu pork skewers with vermicelli noodles. With more of a Chinese-Malay flavour profile, these skewers will become a firm family favourite; served with a vermicelli salad of noodles, mint, cucumber, fermented carrot and roasted peanuts.
Try these pork and prawn shumai from the menu at Campbelltown’s Kyubi Modern Asian Dining, as a tasty starter, or snack for your next Asian feast. It’s well worth the drive south-west from Sydney’s CBD to find this ultra-modern venue, styled with intimate plush booths, a mosaic bar and sultry downlighting.
Chef Peter Sheppard uses egg wonton wrappers for these dumplings, filled with prawn meat and pork mince, a hit of ginger and oyster sauce; top the steamed delights with salmon roe and coriander to make them as pleasing on the eye as the palate.
Even if you are not a big fan of lamb, you may change your mind after tasting Chef Andly’s recipe for Uyghur-style lamb chops. This dish is easy to prepare at home and also one of the customers’ favourites at Andly Private Kitchen on Oxford Close in West Leederville; where original ingredients, healthy eating and the art of plating await discerning diners.
The marinade flavours of fresh ginger, red onion, chilli, cumin and soy are best left to infuse into the lamb chops for at least 2-3 hours, or if you have the time overnight. Serve with your favourite rice and steamed green vegetables.
For more Asian recipes to try at home, click here.