Do you love Asia food? I do! All kinds, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, you name it, I like it. My husband went on a mission trip last spring to Cambodia, not only did he fall in love with the people, but he fell for the food also. He bought us a Cambodian cookbook so I could try the delicious foods he had over there. We have become very close with some of the Cambodians and American missionaries over there through the wonder of the internet. In fact one of them just visited us last week, it was her first time in NY. I was able to go over my cookbook with her and get some tips on the methods that they use to make their incredible dishes. Of course there are things I just can't find over here, certain fruits especially. For the most part you can get some pretty authentic results if you have access to an Asian market (if not try online). Not only is this type of food super tasty, but it is quite healthy. Lots of veggies, fruits and fresh herbs. At the Asian stores I can pick up all kinds of noodles, spices, nori, teas, and condiments. Compared to what it would cost eating this kind of food in a restaurant, it is for a pittance.
Here's my version of the Korean dish Bi Bim Bap. Pickled veggies, fresh and sauteed veg, tofu (instead of the traditional ground beef) and egg all sitting on top of a bed of rice. It is so good! We eat this with Korean garlic chili paste and kim chee. Small amounts of each thing makes this a great dish for a crowd.
A favorite of mine, Vietnamese spring rolls. They are also called summer rolls and sometimes they are all I feel like eating in the summer heat. Veggies and herbs wrapped up in soft rice paper. I like a lot of basil and maybe a little mint, any raw vegs,with lime and garlic in my dipping sauce. This time I rolled it up with some cold shrimp.
OK, this is pretty extravegant. Not my usual dinner at home. We got together with a few friends for a sushi party. All the fancy rolls were done by the host, but we all tried our hand at the simpler ones. I don't know how much this would have cost in a restaurant. We all chipped in for a really great time, it's an activity and a meal!
If you have never tried to make foods that you love because they are from different cultures you should. We have so much at our fingertips, even in "regular" grocery stores. We have every recipe available online. I found my perfect chai on YouTube. I watched an elderly man from India make his chai, I tweaked it a bit and now it is my own.
Sometimes you just can't find something that you need in a store. I have japanese cook books and they often call for shisho. Shiso is an herb in the mint family. I can find the green version in my local Asian market, but many of the recipes call for the red. It is used not only for flavor, but to color the food. I ordered a seedling and grew it myself. That was a few years ago, now it is everywhere! It is quite invasive, being like mint. In the fall it turns from bronzy red to this brilliant burgundy when it goes to seed so I bring it inside to enjoy another facet of it's beauty.