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Asian Seafood - October 2012 Newsletter

The Asian continent bound on the east by the Pacific Ocean, in the south by the Indian Ocean and in the north by the Arctic Ocean, is rich and bountiful in sea produce. When talking about Asian seafood, one is reaching into a wide culinary chapter. In line with a topic suggestion by one of our valued customers, this month our newsletter will look into Asian seafood, the wide and delicious variety of seafood dishes that the Asian continent offers.


Japanese Seafood

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Sea of Okhotsk, and the East China Sea, Japan is a country rich with natural resources from the sea and the people of Japan showcase a deep love and appreciation for seafood. the cuisine, and the focus is on freshness and delicateness of taste. Typically, Japanese seafood consists of fish, shellfish, octopus, squid, crab, lobster, shrimp, seaweed, as well as fish and shrimp roes. More contentious seafood also consists of puffer fish, as well as whale meat.

Because of the coastal topography of Japan, the many regions of Japan each developed unique ways of preparing seafood, most notably however, are: sashimi and yakizakana.



Sashimi

With the literally meaning of "pierced body" sashimi is one of the well known delicacies in Japan. Originating in the Muromachi period, (between 1337 to 1573 A.D), the origin for the name sashimi is believed to be derived from the way the fish was harvested. Fine grade fish fit for sashimi preparation are caught on individual hand lines and as soon as the fish is caught, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike and the meat is placed immediately inside slurry ice.

Today, sashimi dishes usually comprise of fresh raw meat and fish are sliced very thinly and served uncooked and fresh. Traditionally, sashimi is believed to be one of the finest delicacies in Japan. Quality sashimi should be fresh yet subtle in taste. It is generally believed that sashimi should be enjoyed before other strong flavored dishes.

Served with rice and miso soup, sashimi dishes are also typically served with the following garnishes: Daikon (white Asian radish, generally shredded) accompanied by a shiso, or perilla leaf (a herb in the family of mint with a light fragrant herbal touch) and are eaten with soy sauce and wasabi.

Because sashimi pieces are meant to be subtle delicacies, drowning one's sashimi in soy sauce and wasabi is generally frowned upon. Soy sauce should only enhance the fresh flavors of the fresh sashimi and not rob it of its flavors.

In the West, sashimi is sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably with sushi, but the two are different dishes. Sushi refers to dishes made with vinegared rice and can consist of sashimi as one of its ingredients. But sushi does not necessarily contain fresh raw slices of sashimi. Sashimi, on the other hand, refers to the fresh slices of fish uniquely prepared to be enjoyed uncooked. Be sure to differentiate between the two, or you may find that yourself ordering something other than what you had in mind.




Yakizakana

Yakizakana refers to grilled fish, which is a traditional dish in Japan, typically served with rice and miso soup. Many different kinds of fish are prepared this way in Japan. In contrast to the subtle taste of sashimi, yakizakana usually feature charcoal grills in their preparation and are commonly salted with sea salt.

In yakizakana, the entire fish is grilled in its entirety, and the result of yakizakana is moist tender meat surrounding by tasty crispy fish skin. Mackerels are typically used, but salmon, horse mackerel, needlefish, as well as cod are also commonly used.

Chopsticks are used to pick out the small bones from yakizakana. Sometimes, yakizakana are also enjoyed on bamboo sticks, typically at MatsurióJapanese festivals, where stalls are set up and street food items can be purchased and enjoyed.




Chinese Seafood

With the East China Sea, the Yellow sea and the South China Sea in the East, China also boasts of its fair share of seafood specialty dishes. Because much of China remains inland other than its eastern coasts, seafood is seen as a luxury item in China and are not as common an ingredient in Chinese cuisine, as it is in Japanese cuisine.

Reliant on freshness, Chinese seafood uses minimal flavoring, typically with only a few sauces to enhance the sweetness of seafood dishes, most commonly among flavorings are: garlic, ginger, and chili. Cantonese style of Chinese seafood, in particular, employs steaming as a method of cooking. It is believed that by steaming seafood, the sweetness and flavor of fresh seafood can be retained, as well as the succulence and moisture.

Chinese Crustacean dishes

One of the most famous and well loved of Chinese seafood dishes is the drunken prawns dish. There are several variations to the way this dish is prepared. Perhaps, the most well known method of preparation is to marinate prawns while they are still alive in strong Chinese liquor , the white liquor (bai jiu) or the red Hua Diao jiu, or Shao Xing jiu. It is believed that through this method, prawns will ingest some of the liquor so that the flavor of the alcohol would come from within the prawns. In some versions of this dish, prawns are eaten alive. But often, prawns are boiled after marination. In other versions of the drunken prawns dish, the prawns are first boiled before being marinated in liquor. The taste of drunken prawns is said to be delicate, fresh and sweet with a note of alcohol to bring out the sweetness of fresh shrimps.

A more recent invention, the salted egg yolk crab dish employs traditional salted egg yolks, tapioca and deep fried crab to create a delicious dish that is crispy, buttery and gold brown on the exterior, yet juicy and tender on the interior. Other popular ways of preparing crab dishes include steaming with ginger, garlic and spring onion, as well as frying with black pepper. These crab dishes are often found in Chinese restaurants and are commonly enjoyed with a refreshing glass of beer.

Southeast Asian Seafood Varieties

Southeast Asia, made up of many sea bound tropical countries and small islands, also features several unique seafood dishes.

Famous in Singapore and Malaysia, chili crab is a well-known and well-loved seafood dish that some have even claimed as the "national dish" of Singapore. Using ginger, turmeric, eggs, chili oil, tomato and galangal (an Asian plant in the ginger family), chili crab is a spicy and flavorful version of Asian seafood perfect for those with a love for spicy dishes. Another well-known and unique seafood dish from Singapore is fish head curry, which is just as its name suggests, a seafood dish, featuring fish head as an ingredient. This dish is commonly enjoyed with rice. Like the chili crab dish, curry fish head is a spicy dish, and depending on the chef, it can, in some cases, exceed the chili crab in its spiciness. So if you have the ability to stomach spiciness and want to take a walk on the wild side for your next seafood crave, these two dishes are great new seafood ideas that can be found in Southeast Asian restaurants, or you can even find the recipes online to prepare these two dishes in your very own kitchen.




Travel the World in your own Kitchen

Whilst it is true that in order to enjoy the best of Asian seafood in their best authentic taste, you will have to visit each of the above countries for a genuine taste of their seafood dishes, however, with the power of internet available now at your fingertips, it is possible to try all these unique and delicious Asian seafood dishes in the comfort of your own home. Often recipes for creating Asian seafood dishes can be easily accessed online. The trick is simply to equip your kitchen with the necessary Asian kitchen tools and ingredients.

At Mrs. Lin's Kitchen, we have a wide array of Asian kitchen ware that may be the answer to whipping up your very own version of tasty Asian seafood, be it sashimi, yarizakana, drunken prawn, black pepper crab, chili crab, or fish head curry that you love. Be a world traveler while never leaving your dining table. You can take your loved ones and guests on an exotic food journey the next time you hold a dinner party.



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OUR 2012 NEWSLETTERS

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Japanese Wedding Traditions: Shinto Style Wedding

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Chinese Funerals: The Chinese concept of Death and Rebirth

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Chinese Soups: The Way to Health and Vitality

Mrs. Lin's Kitchen's celebrate Hinamatsuri "Girl's Day"

Ikebana: The Spiritual Art of Living Flowers

Mrs. Lin's Kitchen's Guide to Celebrating the Lunar New Year

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