Vegetables in Asian Cuisine
The vegetable cookery of Asia is of great virtue that only in recent decades has been widely acknowledged in the West. There’s a finely tuned sense of timing in the cooking, so that vegetables come out tender, crisp, and crunchy in texture, while retaining all their oriignal flavor and color.
The vegetarian tradition of Asia is at least as old as Hinduism, which developed in India during the millennium preceding the birth of Christ. Buddhism, itself over a thousand years old, also has a long
vegetarian tradition. It is hardly surprising that the preparation of vegetables, which are plentiful in Asia, should have become the culinary art form that it has.
Asians use vegetables in every manner imaginable — as main dishes, in soups, as appetizers and snacks. Vegetables provide not only vital nutrients but also interesting tastes, colors, and an expression of folk artistry. Various preparation techniques such as uniform slicing or carving are observed, and greens are often added just before a dish is removed from the heat. Vegetables are used raw in salads, or preserved to be used as side dishes to accompany meat, fish, and poultry.
Among the great delicacies of Asian cuisine are the many varieties of mushroom. When dried, the mushroom becomes a most versatile and long-lasting ingredient in hundreds of different preparations. The Japanese shitake is the most popular and one of the most delicious of dried mushrooms.
The radish, which is native to Asia, is by far the most versatile vegetable. It is used in salads, as a garnish, in main dishes; the seeds are dried, treated, and pressed to yield an oil which is highly valued
Picking vegetables at dawn and using them at once is the secret by Chinese gourmets.
of Asia’s superior vegetable cookery.
The food markets of Asia burgeon with fresh vegetables grown in home gardens or on small farms, for Asians are born gardeners.