All About Asian Food

October 2010 Archives

A Ginger Thanksgiving

Asian Food Grocer ThanksgivingIt's that time of the year again! Whether you love the food, the visiting family members, or just the football, Thanksgiving is always a time to get excited. And there's so much to be excited about! This year Asian Food Grocer is offering you a Ginger Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right, ginger. You know the stuff that comes on the side of your dish when you eat out at Sushi restaurants. Well that's ginger, and there are a million great uses for it. And not only that, but it's good for you! Read our Gingerly Blog for more information about this root. This year we're going to show you how to apply this wonderful stuff to your entire meal. Everything from the appetizers, to the side dishes, to the main course, and of course, a little post meal beverage surprise ;) Each Friday we'll be updating this blog with new recipes and tips for our Ginger Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy a delicious Turkey Day with an Asian-Food-Grocer twist.

Yuzu Ginger Thanksgiving TurkeyThe Main Course
Turkey is the cornerstone of Thanksgiving dinners, so it's important that it be done right. Listen to this "Tender Yuzu and Honey Turkey with a hint of Ginger". If that doesn't perk up your taste buds interest I don't know what will. This turkey is prepared with a variety of Asian Food Grocer's favorites: Delicious Yuzu Juice, Original Ramune Soda, of course Ginger; everything to make a unique, tender, moist holiday favorite. This recipe prepares quickly, about 15 minutes, and cooks in 2.5 hours.

Ginger Chicken DrumstickNow, if you're one of those few people who prefer not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving (like myself), then we've got you covered. You can make Chicken Ginger Drumsticks with our simple recipe. The end result will be a golden brown drumstick with subtle combinations of the sweet, tangy, and naturally juicy flavor of the chicken. Our recipe will make 12, but you can double or triple the ingredients to have 24 or 36. These are sure to satisfy, and they taste so good you may just forget the appetizers. But don't limit yourself, serve both Ginger Turkey and delicious Ginger Drumsticks alongside each other, and really amaze your guests!

Now if ginger isn't your cup of tea, you can check out our recipe section for some other great dinner options, like our proven Teriyaki Turkey or our traditional Sesame Chicken.

Birds & Flowers Dish SetBut who wants to have an Asian themed Thanksgiving meal without proper dinnerware to put it on? Just in time for Turkey Day, we have two brand new dish sets in stock. Both the Peony Dishware, as well as the Birds and Flowers Dishware. The Peony dishware is an elegant dish set made of extremely durable melamine, so you can drop it all you want, it won't shatter. The Birds and Flowers dishware is a colorful and stylish set, also made of melamine. Of all the dish sets Asian Food Grocer sells, the Birds and Flowers set has the most vivid and unique coloring. Perfect for a lavish Thanksgiving dinner!

Lastly, for this week, if you're looking for some great deals this year, come see our Clearance Section. You'll find everything from snacks and desserts to ingredients, even soy sauce, crackers and coffee. Everything for a great meal on a budget.

Come check back each Friday to see our updated recipes. Next week we'll be going over your side dishes. So take notes!

Side Dishes

We went over the main course last week and this week it's time to go over the side dishes. Different sides complement various meals, and everyone's got their own favorite foods, so we'll give you a couple options.

Thanksgiving side dishesNow, for those of you following along with our Ginger Thanksgiving we have Asparagus Salad with Pickled Ginger. This is a fairly simple side dish that's not too difficult to make, but will impress with its good looks and its delicious taste. The other side dish we have with our Ginger Thanksgiving is our Sweet Potato Tempura, which we've paired with our Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce. Because who wants tempura without something to dip it in? The sauce is sweet but tart, Thanksgiving side dishes with hues of onion, soy sauce, and of course ginger. You'll find the Sweet Potato Tempura is a perfect blend of the traditional Thanksgiving and some exceptional Asian cooking. If you're looking for a way to make your feast a little more unique give this a try. It's sure to intrigue and satisfy.

But if you're in a pinch and you don't have the time to make these side dishes, we offer you the perfect solution. Sunbird Seasonings. These seasoning packets do the work for you by adding great flavor to basic dishes like plain rice or chicken. Thanksgiving side dishesThey're also extremely versatile, meaning you can complement your main course any way you see fit. We recommend the Sun Bird Fried Rice, Sun Bird Stir Fry, or the Sun Bird Chinese Chicken Salad. All three are easy to make, and won't distract too much from the main course because they're delicious but fairly simple, as a side dish should be.


Of course, if you do plan on making all your meals without the aid of seasonings, you will need some good cutlery to slice and dice all your meat, herbs and vegetables. Thanksgiving side dishesTake a look at our Chinese and Japanese Knives to find some great deals and get just what you need to cook up a storm this Thanksgiving. We recommend that people, at the very least, have a good Santoku, Pairing Knife, and Chef's Knife. You can consult our Knife Blog if you need help with that.


Next week we'll be going over what every Thanksgiving meal would be incomplete without. The Dessert!

Ginger Desserts

Thanksgiving Dessert Everyone knows that dinner is just the thing between you and dessert, right? Of course it is! So let's get into it what you're really here for- the sweet stuff. For those of you who are following our Ginger Thanksgiving we have some really great desserts. Some of them are more traditional, and some of them you may have never heard of before, but it's all good stuff, and it'll be a perfect way to end any Turkey Day feast.

Pumpkin Pocky Cheesecake BarsHere's one that is going to be absolutely impossible to miss, and I plan on cooking it for my family this year: Pumpkin Pocky Cheesecake Bars!!! This recipe takes three of my most favorite things and puts them together; Pocky, Cheesecake, and Whip Cream. Crunchy-creamy and full of flavor; these bars are festive in color and ingredients, and are pretty easy to make. In my case, practice makes perfect, so make a couple batches for work or school too!

Thanksgiving Dessert Next up is the inevitable. What else could be dessert for a Ginger Thanksgiving, but a fresh baked tray of Gingerbread Men?! This treat isn't quite ancient, but gingerbread men do date back to 16th century England. So enjoy a dessert that predates Thanksgiving itself, with this super delicious and easy to make recipe.

Now if you're one of those people who opted not to follow along with our Ginger Thanksgiving, then that's ok. We still like you, a little bit... But we urge you to check out our Dessert Recipe Page to find a whole long list of ideas to make your Thanksgiving perfect. Some of the recipes you'll find there that you may want to consider are the Hello Kitty Green Tea Cupcakes, and the Yuzu Panna Cotta.

Thanksgiving Dessert

If you're looking for some unique dessert plates on which to serve your treats we recommend you check out our Bowls and Plates Page. Here you'll find all kinds of dinnerware and dessertware to serve your family and friends all the tasty treats you can make. Thanks for checking in with us and come back next week to get recipes for our appetizers and alcoholic beverages. We don't want to give anything away, but it may involve a Ramune-tini.

So far this blog has gone over the main course, the side dishes, and the ever important dessert. That seems pretty thorough, but doesn't it feel like it might be missing something? Of course it does! This week we're going over appetizers and alcoholic beverages. You can serve these before your Thanksgiving meal, or during the football games, and either way they're sure to intrigue and delight.

Ginger Appetizers

california rollsAppetizers should be simple. They should taste great, and they should be used more as a snack for socializing than anything really filling. After all, you don't want to fill up before the turkey arrives, but it is nice to have something to snack on while visiting with guests.

We have two recommendations for appetizers this Thanksgiving - the instant, and the easy. For an easy appetizer we recommend the California Roll, which is fairly simple to make, and quick to eat. It's not heavy enough to fill anyone's stomach, and can be put in a variety of dipping sauces. If you're feeling creative, you can even put out the ingredients and have your guests come together to make their own rolls. And since it's a Ginger Thanksgiving, we definitely recommend Soy Sauce with a little Pickled Ginger on the side.

honey rice crackerFor the instant appetizer, we recommend a variety of crackers. These can be put into Bowls and set out so that arriving guests can snack until everyone is there. Some crackers that we recommend are the Honey Rice Crackers (my personal favorite) as well as Spicy Wasabi Peas, Thai Rice Crackers, White Sugar Karintos, and Seaweed Rice Crackers. All of these treats are delicious and very light, so none of them will be particularly filling. And since these are really unique treats, especially in the USA, your guests are sure to be interested.

Next we'll go over something that may not have a place at every Thanksgiving table, but we think it's a fun and distinctive way to try something new, and if you're over 21 we encourage you to check them out. Of course, we're talking about our recipes for tasty, alcoholic drinks.

Green My TiniFirst up we have an AFG original, Ginger Vitis; because after all, this is a Ginger Thanksgiving. And don't let the name fool you, it's delicious!

We also encourage you to try our other AFG original creations, Green My Tini, which is styled after a martini, but with green tea as a main ingredient. Yellow Snow is a unique take on the margarita, except instead of dipping the glass rim in granulated sugar, you'll be dipping it in crushed Sugar Candy. And lastly our Thanksgiving Sweet and Spice, which is a sweet whiskey with pepper! These are just a few of the drinks we've prepared and you'll find more in our Appetizers section. Enjoy them, and please drink responsibly.

And lastly, Asian Food Grocer would like to wish you, as well as your family and friends, a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope that our recipes make your holidays a little more unique, and a lot more fun. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Sharp Thinking

Japanese Knives

The knife is one of mankind's oldest and simplest tools. But as old as the concept is, it's still one of the most important items in your kitchen. And as cooking has advanced, many different knives have been developed, with many different purposes. The vast number of knives and knife-types can be overwhelming, and it can be easy to get lost in all the choices. But that's what we're here for! We'll walk you through what some of these unique knives are, and what they can do. Let's start with the basics: Different types of knives.

Santoku: A santoku is generally a medium sized blade, somewhere between 5 and 8 inches in length. The santoku is meant to be a general, multi-purpose kind of knife. The blade is fairly flat and meant to slice or cut just about anything, except for bone. It's not really meant for piercing, as its point is somewhat dull, and the curve toward the end makes piercing difficult. But the knife is a little bit taller, so you can press down on whatever you are cutting through, making it a great knife for slicing, dicing, or mincing.

Chef's Knife: The Chef's knife is the other multi-purpose knife. This is the cliche knife you'll see in most slasherflicks, and it is usually between 6 and 9 inches in length. The point is sharper than a santoku, allowing for better piercing, and the blade is curved a little bit more, which will let you "rock" the blade back and forth across whatever you are cutting. The length allows it to be dragged across what you're cutting, which makes for nice, clean slices.

Paring Knife: A paring blade is short, somewhere between 3 and 5 inches in length. These knives are very sharp, and are designed small to do very careful and precise work. These aren't so much for dicing and chopping as they are for odd jobs that bulky chef's knives can't do, like preparing small pieces of meat, or peeling fruits, or cutting items into a particular shape.

Cleaver: A cleaver is meant to make broad, clean cuts through large items, such as chunks of meat, or oversized vegetables. The blade is heavy, very tall, and somewhat thin, so it shouldn't be used on bones. There is also a curve in the blade, which will let you rock it across your food.

Chopper: A chopper is the cleaver's big brother. It has a thicker, heavier blade, which allows it to chop through heavier materials, including some animal bones. Most choppers also have a point on the tip, to allow for some piercing, though not nearly as much as a Chef's blade. These are the heavy duty knives that get the call when other knives simply can't cut it.

Boning Knife: A boning knife is designed to be long and thin, generally between 5 and 7 inches in length. It's made to pick out and remove the animal bones from meat. Having the thin blade makes for easier bone removal, especially when bones are difficult to reach, or within deep cuts.

Japanese Knives

Nakiri & Usui Knife: These knives look like little stylized cleavers, except they have a rounded tip, and are about half as tall. They have a medium weight, somewhere between a cleaver and a santoku, and are designed to chop vegetables. The style originated near Tokyo, and they are popular all over Japan. They're usually medium to long blades, with lengths that stay between 6 and 8 inches long.

Bread Knife: the bread knife is pretty self-explanatory, it's meant to cut bread. But what enables the bread knife to be uniquely suited for this job is its extra long, thin blade, and its serrated cutting edge. Some types of bread have very thick crusts, or have exteriors that are glazed in a way that a santoku or a chef's knife couldn't slice through.

Yanagi: The yanagi blade is designed to be very long, usually about 7 to 10 inches in length. They have a super sharp tip meant for deep piercing, and are extremely thin. These knives are designed for cutting and filleting various size fish, as well as for making sushi. They have long blades because some fish are too thick for most knives to fillet them in one clean cut. Its length also enables it to be dragged back across the fish, which is the Japanese style of slicing fish.

Japanese Knives

Stainless Steel Blades: Stainless steel is designed to resist rust and general corrosion. Most can be put in the dishwasher, however some people would recommend not doing this as being tossed around in the dishwasher may cause some damage to come to the blade. And even though stainless still resists rust, it is recommended not to leave them in water or detergent for extended periods of time. Stainless steel will need sharpening after several uses, just to keep the edge fine. The majority of modern knives today are made of stainless steel, as they're fairly light, resist decay, and are very easy to care for.

Iron Blades: Iron is stronger and more durable than steel. Because of this, the blade will resist damage more than steel knives, and the blade will keep its sharp edge longer. However, iron is more susceptible to rust and corrosion than stainless steel, which means that the blades cannot be washed in the dishwasher, and that the blades must be hand washed and dried after use. Iron is generally heavier, and if you plan on cutting through very thick surfaces, an iron blade will be recommended as it will resist damage better than steel.

Now that you know the basics of knives, you're ready to test out those skills. Experiment with different blades, both steel and iron to see which you prefer, and soon you'll be ready to show off your own collection of Asian Cooking Knives.

Ladies, May we have your attention please?

 

Thanksgiving side dishes

 

 

As we ladies know the search for superior makeup and beauty products is long and difficult, and seems like it will go on forever. We at Asianfoodgrocer.com would like to help make that search just a little bit easier for you, because we now carry the Japonesque beauty line. This distinct line includes blotting paper (to remove any excess oil), touch up brush sets (that seem professional grade), travel kits , and so much more.

What is Japonesque?

Japonesque is a high quality beauty and make up brand. It's a small, 26 year old company that has garnished a reputation among professional stylists and makeup artists for having the absolute best products. Under new ownership in recent years, the new Thanksgiving side dishesowners have added a new angle to the already high quality line- making beauty tools that work not only in the salon, but in the real world. Eye lash curlers that fit easily in the tiniest purses, eye brow pencil sharpeners that sharpen more than one size pencil, touch up brushes that don't just do excellent work, but have a sleek and professional feel about them- so you won't be embarrassed to fix your makeup in public.
This is a company for the active woman, on the go, who demands quality from her beauty tools.

Built to Move

One of their products that we sell is the travel eyelash curler . It's travel size, so it's small, and will fit in almost any purse- but just because it's designed to travel doesn't mean that it can't be relied upon for quality. Due to its size, it will be able to reach the base of your eyelashes without pinching the skin or eyelashes. Its small size and build quality enables it to curl the shorter lashes that other brands might have trouble with. We have the latest in lash options for the woman who is anything but ordinary. We also have the heated lash curlers that will curl even the straightest of lashes. So ladies, you wanted it and we are listening.

Thanksgiving side dishes

But Why Japonesque?

These products are built in Europe and Asia, in various countries including Italy and Japan. While similar top quality products would have higher prices, Japonesque keeps its prices low. So you can get an excellent product line, with a price lower than competing products.

So give it a shot. Take a break from your weary search for new makeup products and give our Japonesque line a try. Experience the latest styles and choices without sacrificing quality.

 

 

A Gingerly Blog

Sushi Ginger

Ginger? A Miracle Medicine!?

That's right boys and girls, ginger is not only good for you, but it is the original medicine, used by everyone from ancient Romans, to the Chinese and Indians thousands of years ago. Even Marco Polo was fond of the stuff. It's recognized by the FDA as being safe, and is always good to have around the house, either for dealing with a stomach ache or just for adding a little flavor to your next meal.

What is ginger?

Ginger is a plant originally found in Southern Asia. It appears as a long tube, with leafy extensions, and a large root. Different people use different parts of the plant for various reasons. The root portion is more commonly used then that of the other sections though.

What's it good for?

Ginger has been used for various purposes over the years. In ancient China ginger was put in tea, and used to treat coughing, illnesses, and body pains. In India it was applied to the sides of one's head to treat headaches. Indonesians used it to cure fatigue.

Today it is commonly used to prevent nausea, dizziness, or sea sickness. Sucking on some ginger, or even some Ginger Candy may help keep you from losing your lunch. Studies have also shown that ginger may help lower cholesterol and relieve stomach problems such as pain, bloating, or gas.

Ginger also has properties that make it ideal for helping stop diarrhea. It's been suggested that ginger helps treat Ovarian cancer, as well as headaches, body aches, and arthritis pains.

Sushi Ginger

But can you eat it?

Of course! Ginger is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes and teas. The Japanese use it as a sushi accessory to be eaten in between meals to cleanse the mouth of taste. It commonly comes in the form of Minced Ginger, Pickled Ginger, thinly cut strips for Sushi Ginger, or even Ginger Candy. You can even get it as a Cocktail Mixer to enhance the flavor of your favorite mixed drink, or simply as a Topping for your crackers and sandwiches.

Experiment with ginger on all your foods that you want to add some spice to, and don't forget to have some lying around the house in case of a stomach ache!

Japanese Etiquette Blog

Sushi Ginger

Chopsticks

Chopsticks are an integral part of Japan's history and culture, and have been for a thousand years. Because of this they are seen as so much more than mere utensils. There are approximately 40 basic rules concerning chopsticks and proper etiquette, but we picked out a few of the more important ones.

  • Do NOT stab your chopsticks into the rice so that they are standing straight up. This action is reserved for funerals only, and doing so at a typical meal is considered extraordinarily offensive. (Of all the rules you learn, this first one may be the most important)
  • Do not spear your food with chopsticks.
  • Don't rub your chopsticks together. If you must rub them together to get rid of any splinters in the wood, do it under the table, as doing so in plain view suggests the restaurant owner is cheap.
  • Do not use your chopsticks to get food from a serving plate, as there should be serving chopsticks.
  • Do not point with your chopsticks.
  • Chopsticks should be placed right-left direction; the tips should be on the left. Placing diagonal, vertical or crossing each stick are not acceptable. Using a Chopstick Rest is also perfectly acceptable.
  • Never pass food from your chopsticks to someone else's chopsticks.

Sushi

Sushi as it is known today is relatively young in terms of Japan's history, only about 200 years old. Sushi is considered a type of edible art, and is meant to be appreciated as a beautiful dish as well as a tasty one. That being said, don't treat it like fries at a fast food place, eat them one piece at a time, taking time to enjoy the full flavor of the food.

  • It helps to know a little about what you're ordering or eating. Nigiri is fish over a ball of sticky rice; Maki is fish and rice and other ingredients in a roll of seaweed; Temaki is a hand roll of sushi, often made to look like a cone shape; Sashimi is raw fish with no rice.
  • Sushi is meant to be eaten all in one bite. The portions in Japan are generally smaller, as Americans have added a bit of girth to the food. But nonetheless, the food is meant to be eaten one piece at a time, all at once, so don't ask for a knife to cut it, as it will make you look bad.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a chef's recommendation. Fish stocks change by day and by season. It will show that you respect the food, and want only the freshest when you ask what his or her recommendation is.
  • Sushi is designed to be finger food. Traditionally, Japanese food was eaten with the thumb, index and middle finger, but not the pinky or ring finger. So don't be afraid to ignore those chopsticks.
  • It has become western tradition to lather your food in condiments, whether it's gravy, ketchup, or even Soy Sauce. However with sushi, the idea is to add a subtle and accentuating flavor, not an overpowering taste. Dip lightly, do not douse.
  • The ginger is not to be eaten as a meal, it's a way of getting the taste out of your mouth, so that you don't mix flavors and can enjoy one item at a time. It has a strong taste, so beware.
Would you like to make your own sushi? Asian Food Grocer makes it easy with all of our Sushi Ingredients.
Sushi Ginger

 

Alcohol

The history of alcohol in Japan is ancient, and because of that there is a long list of rules to consider. However, since we've been rambling on long enough we'll keep this one short.

  • In Japan people say "Kanpai" when they drink. This is their version of "cheers."
  • It is considered rude to pour sake for yourself. You should pour it for others, and they will do so for you.
  • Don't smoke at a sushi bar. The smoke will overpower the taste and natural aromas of the food and drink being consumed.

 

Miscellaneous

There are too many rules and traditions in Japanese cuisine to break it all down into tight little groups, but here are a few last minute quick tips.

  • Tipping in Japan is considered unnecessary and is unexpected. American sushi restaurants, however, expect it just as any other restaurant would.
  • If your waiter/waitress brings you a hot towel, that is for washing your hands, and not so much for the food. This is also common on Japanese airlines.
  • It's ok to drink from your soup bowl. It's also ok to use your chopsticks to push the solids within the soup toward your mouth.
  • Slurping is ok when you are eating noodle dishes. It is even considered polite on occasion, though you should be polite to your neighbor too and not slurp so that you distract anyone.
  • If someone sneezes it is considered polite to ignore it, instead of saying "bless you," as is common in the west.
  • Don't blow your nose at the table. This is considered very offensive, and something to be done in private.

These general tips should leave you prepared to walk into any Japanese restaurant and hold your own. Enjoy!