Fruits – citruses are very common in Asian cuisine. The presence of such fruits like: pineapple (i.e. in the sweet and sour sauce), durian (either eaten raw or used as dessert ingredient), papaya, lychee, mango, pitaya (or dragon fruit with a beautiful look and kiwi-like taste) and rambutan are characteristic for Asian cuisine in general.
Vegetables – fresh and dried, wide range of varieties.
Herbs and spices - the presence of coriander (also as seeds) is characteristics for Asian cuisine. It is a component of many dishes and goes well with seafood and soups (especially in China). The basic vegetables are ginger and galangal (ginger-like look, different taste, known in especially in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos for its spicy taste and is used fresh or dried). Lemongrass can also be included to the base; the lemon flavor enhances many dishes, even desserts. Also different kinds of chilli with different degrees of spiciness (especially in Thailand is a common spice and base for oils and pastes. Basil (slightly different from the Mediterranean version) or star anise are also worth mentioning.
Meat – except multi-cultural India, Asian cuisine is mostly based on meat: pork, beef, mutton, poultry (especially ducks) – there isn’t special objection to its consumption. More interestingly, even snakes, frogs or snails are eaten in China and Vietnam and ants, grasshoppers, locusts and others are consumed in Thailand. Anyway, meat can be fried in a small amount of fat with rapid stirring (so called stir fry), boiled, stewed dried – everyone will find something for themselves.
Fish and seafood – any fish, shrimps, octopus, squids, mussels, crabs - all of them you can find on Asian table, prepared in many ways. Also raw seafood is popular in Japan.
Coconut milk – in Vietnam and China, it is primarily a component of desserts, while in India and Thailand it is used for regular meals often to appease their spiciness.
Rice vinegar – a product from fermented rice. There are 3 types: white (the most alcohol-like, used to enhance sour flavor and pickle vegetables (very popular in Vietnam)), red (slightly acidic component sauces, pasta, and fish) and black (no bitterness, with a strong flavor, good for fried dishes and sauces). Japanese has a mild and less sour taste from its Chinese counterpart. Plays an important role in the preparation of sushi.
Shrimp paste – paste from fermented shrimps. During cooking, it leaves a fish-like aroma. Vietnamese version’s consistency is more liquid and bright.
Oyster sauce – a thick, dark brown, condensed sauce, prepared on the basis of oyster extract. It intensively highlights the taste of dishes. It is often used as a marinade, sauce for frying, or sometimes as a base for soups.
Soy sauce – a popular sauce, which enhance flavor of dishes, made from fermented soya bean. It is used everywhere. However soy sauce is the most common in China, where several varieties are distinguished: dark (thick, perfect for red meat, also as a marinade), bright (for delicate meat), mushroom soy sauce (made with dried mushrooms, the aroma is “heavy” therefore the sauce is suitable only for red meats) and a few other varieties (including with chili).
Fish sauce – it is made from fermented fish, salt and water. It adds aroma and salty taste and serve as marinade. In Vietnam is used more often than soy sauce. The best fish sauce is being made on Vietnamese Phu Quoc island.
Mushrooms – the most common mushrooms are cloud ear fungus (spice-like taste, crispy), po-ku (also called shiitake, salty taste especially when dried), straw mushrooms (sweet) and enoki mushrooms (tiny and crispy – suitable for salads and soups)
Eggs – often added to many dishes, even desserts, especially in Chinese cuisine. The most commonly used are duck’s eggs, but those from chicken or quail can also be found.
Noodle – besides rice, noodle is the most common basic ingredient used in Asian cuisine. It is formed from water and any kind of starch. In Japan, it is the most popular ingredient in soups. The best known are: soba (brown-grey noodles made from buckwheat flour) and udon (thick wheat noodles). In Thailand or Vietnam, noodle is served in a number of versions: rice noodles, arrowroot and manioc noodles, tapioca noodles and many others. The Chinese, however, do not applyrice noodles on that scale. More popular are noodles made from eggs or soybeans. Moreover, Koreans like noodle formed from sweet potatoes (yams). Even in India, although not as popular, noodle with chick peas and corn starch are sometimes used.
Rice – the basic of most cuisine in Asia. There are many variations of rice and ways to prepare it. Rice can be cooked (also steamed), fried and seasoned in any way. In India, basmati rice , one of the noblest variety, is characterized with slightly nutty flavor and a long and narrow grains, also with added saffron or turmeric. Thai people, in the other hand, prefer jasmine rice and glutinous rice (both white and black). The Japanese also eat rice with a high tackiness (it is easy eaten with chopsticks). Wine, vinegar and flour can be made from rice. Moreover, the rice paper are also very common (sometimes with the addition of black or white sesame) as it is primarily used to wrap spring rolls, a popular dish in Thailand and Vietnam. Rice paper cut into strips can be used as pasta.
tofu – made from fermented soybeans, tofu has become an alternative to meat for vegetarians (popular due to Buddhists and Hindus believes). Chinese consider it as a good source of protein as they do not use milk in their diet. The Japanese version is oilier.
Fruits – ingredients of many sauces and desserts. Citrus fruits such as tangerines, oranges and limes are common in India. Also characteristically for India is the presence of mango, especially in the sweet lassi drink, and tamarind, whose flesh enhance the taste juices and jams.
Legumes - varieties of lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, beans and peas are commonly used by Indians (among which is approx. 40% of vegetarians) for cooking a numerous of dishes.
Vegetables – there are many of them in Indian cuisine, both fresh and dried. Besides the very exotic one, Indians also consumed vegetables known in Europe such as: cauliflower, peppers, carrots, beetroot, gourd, pumpkin, asparagus, peas, kohlrabi, zucchini, and many, many others.
Masala – a highly aromatic blend of spices, the composition of which varies depending on the region of origin. Masala is often added in the end of cooking as this action allows it to penetrate the entire dish giving it an interesting spicy flavor. The most famous is the curry masala.
other – the most often used spices are: star anise, anise, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, galangal, cardamom, and cumin, coriander (seeds or leaves), turmeric, pepper (black and white), saffron and others. Other additives are: ghee (clarified butter), mint, coconut, nuts (cashews and peanuts), chili (fresh and dried), sesame (seeds and oil), lemongrass and rose water – as an addition to desserts.
Biriani– a dish where mix of meat and rice are layered often with a variety of spices. The type of biryani depends on the region.
Curry – both a mix of spices and aromatic dishes are called curry. Those dishes are full of spices and sauces prepared in many ways.
Dal or dhal – a dish prepared from leguminous seeds with spices characteristic for Indian. There are thousands of types and methods of preparation. The most popular is masoor (red lentils), chana dal (chickpeas) and mung dal (from mung beans).
Korma – a type of curry dish (either with meat or without) based on yoghurt and spices.
Samosa – triangular dumplings made from wheat flour fried in deep oil. The filling of this popular snack might be vegetarian (so called aloo samosa) or with meat (so called kheema samosa).
Bread – In India, it is often served with a meal. Indians as they do not use any cutlery but only hands (right hand to be specific), they can help themselves by using bread. The most common version of bread is Naan (flat, yeast breads). Capatis (wheat pancakes) and roti (capatis-like with corn flour or chickpeas flour) are also very often found in Indian cuisine.
Meat – only 30% of inhabitants in India eats meat regularly. The main reason for that is their religion. Hindu do not eat beef (as cattle have significant religious meaning), Muslims and Jews avoid pork and some Buddhist do not eat meat at all. Therefore, in India meats like mutton, lamb, poultry and goat meat can be found prepared in many ways.
Milk – the presence of milk in Indian cuisine is atypical for other Asian countries. It is a perfect base for drinks which help people to overcome a heat. Moreover, due to high temperature milk ferments quite fast, Indian often add yoghurt (known as dahi) to their recipes. Besides that, cheese called panir can also be produced from milk.
Lassi - traditional drink based on yogurt, water and various additives. It is served sweet (with rosewater and fruits) to cool down or dry (with spices) to alleviate spiciness of dishes.
Masala chai – type of tea with spices added in various proportions. A strong brew of black tea, milk and sweetener (e.g. sugar or honey) are the base.
Ginger – ginger is often added to various dishes by Japanese. In marinated form it is often served with sushi to clear taste buds. That allows to taste the sushi as separate single pieces.
Kombu – long leave version of edible seaweeds, a component of dashi.
Nori – dried seaweed, mostly used for rolling sushi Wakame - characteristic for Japanese cuisine algae. It is often served daily as an addition to miso –shiru soup and many other dishes
Vegetables - soy sprouts, peppers, mushrooms, cabbage and pak choi, eggplant, zucchini, sugar snap peas, onions, leeks, chives, carrots, and more are present in Japanese cuisine. Moreover, vegetables such as daikon radish (especially in the marinated version), as well as Kanpyō (fiber dried gourd) are important components of sushi.
Amazake - easy to digest drink formed after mixing the cooked rice with special Koji mildew fungi (the equivalent of our yeast). Its sweet taste and creamy consistency makes it very popular in Japan, both among children and adults.
Green tea – Japanese version is fairly different from the other Asian ones. The most popular variety is sencha which has a hint of floral aroma and is rich in vitamin C. Other popular types are bancha, which is being drunk every day i.e. with meals, and Genmaicha with the addition of roasted or puffed rice.
Sake – the most popular alcohol of Japan made from fermented rice.
Umeshu - a Japanese liqueur made from steeping ume fruits (while still unripe and green) in alcohol and sugar.
Agemono – fried dishes, such as tempura
Gohanmono – rice dishes
Namasumono – raw foods, e.i. sashimi
Nimono - simmered dishes (meat, fish, vegetables, soups, steamed dishes)
Sunomono – salads
Sushi – the most popular japanese dish in the world made from rice, nori and many species of fish.
Teppanyak – grilled dishes on a special table or plate
Tsukemono – preserved vegatables, also fragrant (konomono, oshinko, okoko)
Yakimono – grilled and pan-fried dishes
Dashi – a very common broth for Japanese soups. It is made from aromatic dried fish bonito and kombu, an edible seaweed.
Hon mirin – sweet, liquid soup and sauce seasoning, which have alcohol content from1 to 20 %.
Miso paste – thick paste from fermented soybeans, base for a popular soup and an addition to sauces.
Sukiyaki sauce – a sauce based on sake, vinegar and Teriyaki sauce – popular marinade made from soysauce, sugar and mix of spices.
Wasabi – very spicy Japanese horseradish. Wasabi is spicier than European equivalent and is a key additive to sushi. It often takes form of paste or powder.
Sushi – the most popular dish of Japan, it is made from rice (rice vinegar, salt and sugar is added), seafood, fish (especially raw fish), nori seaweed, vegetables and eggs. Sushi is often eaten with wasabi and soy sauce. After every bite, a slice of ginger is eaten to clear taste buds.
Tempura – mainly seafood, fish and vegetables in batter, fried in deep oil for a short time. It is often served with sauces and sometimes with rice.
Ramen – soup with a wheat noodle meat- or fish-based broth flavored with soy sauce and miso. Sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko or/and green onions can be added. Ramen has been an inspiration for creation of instant noodles.
Sukiyaki – a japanese dish in form of a soup or stew. Sukiyaki is prepared and served in hot pot style mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar (how about sake?). Usually the ingredients include beef slices, tofu, shallots, bok choy, and shiitake. Meat and vegetables, before being eaten, are dipped in a raw beaten eggs.
Korokke – Japanese version of French croquette. The filling includes mixed of cooked chopped meat, seafood or vegetables with mashed potato or white sauce. All that is then rolled in wheat flour, eggs and breadcrumbs and fried deeply until it gets brown.
Seafood and fish – due to the access to the sea, Vietnamese have developed many dishes with fishes, shrimps, octopuses, squids, mussels and crabs as the main ingredients.
Meat – Vietnamese diet is based on majority of meat dishes. Vietnamese like pork, beef and poultry (especially ducks). However, there is no special objection to other kind of meat. There are even dishes made from snakes, frogs and snails. They are often fried in a small amount of fat with rapid stirring (i.e. Stir fry), cooked or stewed.
Coffee – Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world (after Brasil). Vietnamese coffee is very strong and thick. It is prepared in a special vessel with a small filter. Most common are the classic black with the addition of milk (and ice).
Tea – served hot or with ice before and after the meal. There are few types of tea in Vietnam, the most popular are bitter green, jasmine and lotus.
Nước miá – refreshing, sweet-sour drink made from sugarcane. It is common to add pineapple or lime.
Lúa Mói – 45% alcohol Vietnamese vodka.
Phở - the most popular Vietnamese dish in general. It is a soup with a rice noodle with chicken or beef (or both). The base of this soup is beef bone broth with special pho spices – anise, cinnamon and cardamom. Besides mentioned ingredients it is also often filled with soy sprouts, coriander and basil. It should always be served with pieces of lime or lemon and chili (or chili sauce) to season the soup. Vietnamese sometimes add an egg or two.
Spring rolls – the fillings made from meat or seafood, vegetables and mushrooms are rolled in rice papers. This dish is usually eaten with sauces. There are types like fried, cooked, or served immediately after being made.
Bún chả - a dish originated in capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. It has 3 main ingredients: rice noodles (bún), grilled beef in sauce and a number of green vegetables. Chè – the most common Vietnamese dessert with pudding-like consistency. It is often made from mung bean, tapioca, fruits (like banana, longan, mango, durian, lychee or jackfruit) and coco crème, however not necessarily, due to its freedom in choice of ingredients.
Bánh xèo – pancakes made from rice flour with meat and vegetable filling: beef, shallots, sprouts, mint, basil and other herbs. Ingredients may differ due to the region. The cake is wrapped in mustard leaves or lettuce and deepen in sweet and sour sauce or soy sauce.
Palm sugar – it is often used to sweeten the desserts or as an addition to curry and some sauces.
kaffir lime leaves – their lemon flavor enriches curry. Chopped kaffir lime leaves are suitable as an addition to salads.
chilies - Thailand boasts the extraordinary diversity and spiciness. Thai chilies add colors to both fresh and dried dishes.
Tamarind juice – the pulp of tamarind after squeezing serves either as a base for paste or seasoning for soups and curries.
Fresh herbs – Thai cuisine uses a lot of fresh herbs, such as parsley cilantro, lemongrass and basil.
Cashew nuts – often roasted, it also diversifies flavor of many dishes.
Fruits – in Thailand there is a huge number of genres and tastes of fruits. Mango, pomelo, papaya, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, lychee, coconut or bananas are not eaten only raw, but also as additions to many dishes, not necessarily sweet. Apart from listed above, there are also fruits less known in Europe such as: durian, pitaya (so-called dragon fruit which tastes like a sweet kiwi), lychee-like rambutan, tamarind and many others.
Curry pastes – basic mixes of spices in Thailand. They are made mainly from lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, shallots, shrimp paste, ginger, coriander seeds and few others. There are 3 most popular curries: yellow curry, which is softer (milk soothes and coconut cream mitigate the spiciness of this paste), spicier red curry (with coconut milk), and the spiciest green curry (with fresh green chilies).
cha yen – (cold tea in Thai) black tea served with ice, milk (condensed sweet milk and coconut milk), anise and cardamom. A similar version, with lime juice and sugar instead of milk is called cha manao.
Juices – Thailand has a huge variety of juices thanks to numerous fresh fruits
Coconut water – coconut water is one of the basic drinks in Thailand. It is often served in a coconut fruit with a straw.
Seafood – Thai cuisine, in contrast with others, focuses more on seafood rather than fish. They mainly eat shellfish, especially shrimps (in dried form shrimps are used either as a spice for dishes or as an ingredient for salads). Besides them, crabs and lobsters are also popular especially for soups and dishes.
Curry – basic Thai dish with selected curry paste, fresh herbs and vegetables served with jasmine rice or rice noodles.
Pad Thai – fried rice noodles with egg. The dish is commonly served often with meat (poultry) or seafood (fresh shrimp, crab on the streets and in the ordinary bars in Thailand. Thai also often add tofu, tamarind, dried shrimp, fish sauce, garlic, scallions, red chilies, palm sugar, lime juice and cashew nuts, and various sprouts, coriander and pickled radish.
Tom Yum – a spicy soup based on broth or water. There are many varieties of this soup and the most popular contains shrimps (tom yum kung), chicken (tom yum kai) or mix seafood (tom yum thale). Another ingredients of Tom Yum are also mushrooms, lemongrass, chili, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.
Massaman curry – a Thai interpretation of Muslim dish from Malaysia considered as the best dish in the world. It is a mix of coconut milk, potatoes, roasted peanuts, bay leaves, palm sugar, and cinnamon and tamarind sauce. Massaman curry is often eaten with beef or chicken, but many non-Muslims choose for the version with pork.
Perilla seed oil – an oil similar in taste to the commonly used sesame. It is often used as a substitute for people with allergies. Perilla seed oil is often added to vegetables (e.g., in salads).
Chilies - Korean love spicy dishes. Therefore, it is not surprising that chilies are present in the composition of many dishes. The most common form of chilies are given as dried petals, less common as powder or fresh.
Doenjang paste - salty fermented soy paste. This paste can be a dip for raw vegetables, spice for soups or eaten alone.
Gochujang paste – spicy paprika paste, which is ideal as an ingredient for sauces, marinated meats, and stewing.
Jjajang paste - a salty paste rich in dietary fiber. It is made from fermented black beans. Jjajang pasta is also an important part of both vegetarian and meat dishes. However, the paste is most commonly used as a base of traditional dishes with pork and noodles - jjajangmyeon.
Ssamjang paste - is a combination of past and Gochujang doenjang, with the addition of sesame oil, garlic, onions, shallots. It works as a dip, a component of an addition to sauces and meats and sandwiches Korean characteristic, where the bread substitute for cabbage leaves or perilla.
Bamboo salt - a characteristic of Korean cuisine is the use of salt, including the kimchi. The specialty of this country is called bamboo salt or broiled in clogged with clay bamboo sea salt. With this method, the preparation of salt gains on the health.
Rice syrup – corn-like healthy, sweet syrup. It is a component marinades for meats and rice cakes.
Makkeolli – this traditional rice vine (7% ABV) has a milky color and fruity taste.
Soyu – the most popular alcohol in the world. The ABV range from 17% to 45%. It is made from rice, wheat and barley. However, some producers also use potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca. Soyu is similar to vodka with its color and consistency but it is sweeter.
Yuyacha – a Korean hot tea with jam (called yuzu: fruit which looks like something between mandarin and lemon) and honey or sugar. The tea is perfect for the treatment of the common cold.
Vegetables – in Korean cuisine, besides shallot, garlic and ginger, there also can be find vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and radish moo (often mistaken with daikon, however they have different shape and taste).
Tteok rice cakes – cakes made from glutinous rice flour served them both sweet (e.g. with pumpkin) and savory (in a red bean sauce).
Bibimbap - the name of this dish literally means "mixed rice" and the dish is a combination of rice with meat (usually ground beef), eggs and a variety of vegetables, seasoned paste Gochujang.
Bulgogi - the most popular meat in Korea is beef, and the most famous dish with it in the lead role is bulgogi. It is a marinated in soy sauce (with garlic, onion, salt, sugar and sesame) beef, cut into thin strips and then grilled.
Jjigae - a general term of a soup with numerous of ingredients. One of the most popular is the kimchi jjigae created on the basis of kimchi.
Mandu - dumplings stuffed (with tofu, ginger, pumpkin, minced meat, spring onions and other ingredients). Mandu can be steamed or fried and served warm often with kimchi.
Kimchi - absolutely essential dish in Korean cuisine. Kim chi are pickled or fermented vegetables (usually cabbage), often with the addition of chili. Kimchi can be eaten alone as a side dish, or used as an ingredient (e.g. A spicy soup kimchi jjigae).
Chilli paste – the chili-based addition to dishes (dried or fresh), oils and rice vinegars.
Sichuan pepper – sharp spice with a slight citrus flavor is often used for poultry.
Five-spice powder– it is commonly used spice mix that includes flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. The most popular version consists of ground Sichuan pepper, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and fenugreek.
Hoisin sauce – a thick soy-plum sweet-spicy sauce, usually used as a dip for meat.
Char siu sauce– a sweet and spicy sauce based on fermented honey and soy, for frying and marinating grilled pork.
Plum sauce – sweet sauce used as a dip for fried foods, pancakes (spring rolls), pasta or dim sum.
Dried shrimp – an intensive in taste addition to soups, dishes and sprinkle salads. The Chinese call them sea rice.
Five-spice chicken – a popular dish which can be prepared in many ways. A chicken marinated in spice five flavors is later fried in batter and served with a variety of vegetables.
Dim sum – a traditional snack, usually in the form of steamed dumplings in bamboo containers. Often made from minced meat, rice, lotus leaves, turnip, rice porridge and fried green vegetables.
Peking duck – the duck meat first is boiled in water, later dried and dipped in maltose syrup. Roasted duck meat with skin is sliced and served with pancakes and dark sweet sauce and scallions. The remaining bones and other parts of the duck are cooked for a soup or fried. The full set can be described as Peking duck.
Wonton – dumplings made from wheat flour and eggs. It has various fillings, usually minced pork, sesame oil and soy sauce with the addition of coriander, spring onions or chives.
Gong bao chicken – this spicy stir fried dish is a specialty of Sichuan cuisine. Its main ingredients are chicken, peanuts, chilies, Sichuan pepper and various vegetables.
Vegetables – Chinese cuisine is rich in variety of forms of vegetables, such as sprouts, seeds, tubers and stems. The most popular ones are: bean sprouts, cabbages (many types), lotus seeds, bamboo tubes shoots, taro (starchy tubers), water spinach, shallots, spring onions, bitter melon (curry-like taste), and many, many others.
Fruits – in China, desserts are not very popular and instead of sweet snacks, Chinese prefer fruits in fresh or marinated in liquor forms. They are served in the end of the meal. The favorite fruits are watermelon, lychee, pomelo and rambutan.
Tea – an essential for Chinese day-to-day drink thousands of years. There are many variations which depend on the region. In some places, they drink black tea, healthy green tea and delicate in flavor white tea, pu-erh with slimming properties (known as red tea) and oolong (oxidized to a small extent, something between black and green tea).
Rice wine – a popular alcoholic drink low ABV and an intense flavor, which is primarily used to season dishes.