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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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Asian Soups & Soup Gifts
Posted: July 6, 2007
According to our friends at Wikipedia, Asian soups are generally categorized as savoury or sweet with the quality of a savoury soup being determined by its fragrance or umani. Umani (旨み、旨味、うまみ) is Japanese and is one of 5 basic senses of the tongue. Many soups in Asia are eaten or drunk for flavor, health benefits and revitalization effects.
Since many Asian soups are eaten as one of the main dishes particular attention is paid to the soups' stocks. In the case of some soups, the stock ingredients become part of the soup. Chinese use 3 basic kinds of stock: white (lightly blanched pork bones), shandong (ham) or chicken. Japanese use kelp, skipjack tuna, or a combination of both for their soup base.
GourmetStation has it’s version of Asian soups now in a soup gift that includes 6 portions of gourmet soup, 6 baguettes and 6 bake your own gourmet cookies. Essentially the soup gift is six light meals to be enjoyed throughout the week. The Asian Fusion soup gift includes 3 Spicy Thai Vegetable Soup portions, 3 Coconut Curried Chicken, baguettes and cookies. Although dairy products are not usually used in Asian soups, the coconut curried soup uses a small amount of skim milk giving the coconut enhanced texture akin to silk. Delicious. Try it yourself or give as a unique food gift.
Pork Char Sui - Prepared Meal Delivered
Posted: July 12, 2006
GourmetStation has a brand new Fusion gourmet meal for your summer delight – Pork Char Siu. Fusion is an exotic mixing and matching of traditional center of the plate proteins, like a lean pork chop for example, with Asian style sauces. This dish weds a closely trimmed, western style pork chop with char siu sauce, traditional Chinese barbecue sauce.
Now we can’t give away the GourmetStation recipe for char siu or the menu creators would not be happy with me. But I can tell you a little about char siu. This site gives you the basic ingredients in case you want to create your own: hoisin sauce, soy sauce, dry sherry & honey (both a must), and a tad of sugar. The great folks at About.com have an interesting recipe as well.
If you’re as busy as I am this summer, it might be best to let GourmetStation do the work for you. Check out their menu for Fusion gourmet meals delivered. If you don’t have a birthday or anniversary to celebrate, try celebrating “you”. Take a weekend & treat yourself. You deserve it!
Gourmet Soups & A Little Asian Soup Trivia
Posted: March 30, 2006
Our appetites and taste buds tell us when it’s time to transition from soup to ice cream. Right now the US is about ten degrees below normal – some areas are even experiencing below freezing temperatures at night. So I’d say we’re still in the soup season.
First - a little fun. SoupSong is a web site devoted to soup fans. You’ll find soup recipes galore for hot soup and cold soup. You may discover Shakespeare’s sentiments about soup and movies on soup. Heck, you might even want to check out the cabbage soup diet also called the Dolly Parton diet. There’s also a section on using soup as a complete gourmet meal.
My favorite section of SoupSong is Soup Etiquette. Did you know it is proper to tilt you soup spoon away in Britian but toward in France? The Chinese allow slurping soup, but the Europeans do not. This is an important point and we’ll find out later.
Alright, now back to the practical way to enjoy soup. You may enjoy it yourself, give it as a gourmet gift, or do both. We are approaching spring so I recommend lighter soups in the Asian category. Here is a soup recipe, Chinese Gingery Chicken Soup equipped with a story, easy enough if you want to make a batch yourself. But if you feel like making a special connection with a special person, consider a soup gift from GourmetStation. Our soup samplers cover the globe from France to Italy to the Land of the Cajuns. Today I recommend the Asian Fusion soup sampler with three servings of Spicy Thai Soup with Water Chestnuts, three servings of Coconut Chicken & Rice Soup, six mini baguettes, and six Macadamia Nut bake-your-own cookies. Want to know the real reason I’m recommending this Asian Fusion soup collection? Because it’s OK to slurp!
Yin & Yang At The Asian Dinner Table
Posted: January 21, 2006
Cultural behavior stems from philosophy and that includes how a culture chooses to feed itself. I’m fascinated with Asian culture, cuisine, and the uncluttered simplicity of Asian eating habits. Dishes are basic in ingredients and preparation, yet are filled with heavenly flavors.
Think about yin and yang for a moment. Yin & Yang can be looked at in western terms as opposite factors and the relationships that exist between these opposites. For example the Earth is divided into ocean & land masses, yin and yang. But the philosophy further holds that no opposite is pure or absolute as there is always some degree of the opposite contained in anything that exists. So opposites hold each other in balance, so to speak.
When I think of a typical Asian dinner table I think of fish, usually steamed and seasoned, served with fresh vegetables and rice….food from the sea, food from the earth, perfectly in balance. Hummm. Wonder if yin & yang at the dinner table contributes to the health, focus and efficiency of the Asian population?
Gourmet Gift - Consider Sake
Posted: October 18, 2005
I just discovered a sake expert. Spend a little time with me now and get to know John Gauntner, former author of a semi-monthly column on sake for The Japan Times, Japan's leading English newspaper. John currently publishes a free monthly Sake World email newsletter. Mr. Gauntner not only knows sake, he has a passion for Japanese culture.
Sake is fermented from rice, is not carbonated, and contains between 15% and 17% alcohol. For the most part sake is not aged and has a shelf life of six months if kept in a cool dark environment after purchase. There are some varieties, however, that are deliberately aged, but in the sake world, there are no vintage years. How interesting. How to serve sake…never hot, sometimes warm, mostly cool.
Mr. Gauntner’s top pick of “Super Sake Favorites” from about 1600 sake breweries in Japan is Yamagata, brand name Juyondai, described as elegant, fruity, and fragrant. For a sake enthusiast you might enjoy Mr. Gauntner’s books, The Sake Handbook or The Sake Companion.
Now for the practical application, sake with a Japanese dinner party. Here are a few recipes to wet your appetite: Cucumber Ribbon Salad, Roasted Salmon with Wasabi Cream and Japanese Style Cheesecake. If you’re like me, a little too busy to pull this dinner party together in the kitchen, remember GourmetStation'scollection of Fusion dinners and entrees. Bon appetit.
Bringing Home Thailand
Posted: September 18, 2005
What do your coming days look like? More of the same? A ditto of the previous week? Vacations take us out of the groove to a new place. But we can’t go on vacation every week. So I have an idea on how to bring some pizzazz into your life by bringing an exotic foreign culture right to you. Pick a region, research some of the traditions and build an evening around that culture. For an example we’re going to grab Thailand and bring it home. Let’s plan the evening around the language (learn a few phrases) the dress (nothing elaborate – maybe a scarf or different make-up) cultural habits and the food.
Language – I have chosen Panrit “Gor” Daoruang, the webmaster of an online Thai magazine. Gor has been writing about Thai culture on the web since he was twelve. He starts his home page by saying “Hello” in Thai – Sawatdee krub. Don’t worry about perfect pronunciation. Just have fun.
Dress – Jewel tones or pure white are the predominant colors for the region and fabrics are silky and flowing. The Thai flag is horizontal stripes of red, white and blue, so just for fun you could use jewel tone scarves, perhaps the flag colors, for personal accents or even table dressings.
Dining Tradition – No tables; get comfortable on the floor. Sit on a cushion if necessary. Use placemats or hold the food in your lap. Meals are eaten with a spoon, fork or chop sticks if noodles are served. All food is cut so there is no need for a knife. It is not polite to put all the food on your plate at one time, so take spoonfuls from your serving area and return as needed.
Thai Food – Thai food is prepared with basic ingredients such as garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander. Recently the National Culture Commission for Thailand announced the top ten dishes. #1 pick was Tom Yam Goong or Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup. If you click on the link you will even find a link to help you pronounce Tom Yam Goong. The soup has different variations for different regions, but generally always has fresh citrus overtones.
Second favorite Thai dish is Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai, or Green Chicken Curry with Thai Eggplant. The heat in this dish may be regulated with the number of green chilies. Fresh green peppercorns can also be added for more flavor. After dinner consider a little game on the history of the region. Did you know that “Thai” means free, so Thailand means the “land of the free.” You get the idea – you can take it from here. Turn your weekends into a wheel of revolving culture experiences. For more on Thai culture, visit Thai-blogs.
Don't forget GourmetStation's delicious collection of Euro-Asian Fusion cuisine for your next dinner party or gourmet food gift.
Posted: August 14, 2005
I often complain there are no new vegetables. Why can't we have new vegetables? In the absence of new vegetables, I've embraced Fusion cuisine. Fusion is quite fun because you may fuse anything by mixing and matching proteins and vegetables with various sauces. But my favorite fusing is that of region, style and concept.
A master of Fusion cuisine is Tokyo born Roy Yamaguchi. Based on his childhood memories of the feelings and flavors of Hawaii, Chef Roy invented what he calls Hawaiin Fusion cuisine. With restaurants in most major U.S. markets, you must seek Roys on your travels.
Another option is the EuroAsian Fusion cuisine from GourmetStation. Whether for yourself or a gourmet food gift for another, you'll find these delicacies a real treat. From the Peking Duck Breast to the Coconut Salmon to vegan soups, you and your gift recipient will be delighted.
Posted: April 6, 2005
Spring is filled with light…sunlight, light pastels, and light eats. Hundreds of years ago along the Silk Road in China travelers, farmers and laborers stopped at teahouses to relax, socialize, and enjoy small eats. Sounds like your friendly neighborhood pub wouldn’t you say?
My first experience with dim sum was initially not as expected. A buffet on wheels is a good description and I found the environment noisy and stressful. Then I settled into the rhythm of the experience, learning to be a bit more aggressive in picking my favorites from the food carts as they buzzed by tables filled with chatting diners.
If you live in a large city, visit Chinatown and ask where the best dim sum is served. If dim sum is not available in your area, then make your own. You can do it! Just remember that the goal is to enjoy a wide variety of small Asian style eats with your favorite tea.
If you’ve been to a tapas restaurant, you get the concept. My favorite dim sum appetizer is Crab Ragoon but then I’m partial to crab in anything – from eggs to ice cream. Consider Chinese Dumplings and how about Sponge Cake soaked in coconut milk. Go for it…the world is your oyster.
To view GourmetStation's collection of Euro-Asian food gifts, click here.