Do you go crazy for Asian food and crave mouth-watering sushi and the delicious salty flavor of teriyaki salmon? Or are the herbs found in oriental cooking, like wasabi mustard, pak choi and shiso leaf, a bit strange and unfamiliar? Whatever your position, read this short guide to the recipes and herbs of Asian cuisine, and master the platter of Asian spices.
Herbs of Asian cuisine
Coriander is a familiar friend found in stores the world over, and utilized in the cuisines of many different cultures. In Asia, coriander is a staple of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian cooking. For any home cook, coriander is an easy herb to use as the whole plant is edible, from the leaves to the stems and seeds. Try tearing some of the aromatic leaves on top of any dish for color and freshness, use the delicious stalks to make coriander pesto, and add the crushed nutty seeds into spice mixes.
With a hint of sweet licorice, Thai basil is less common than its more familiar cousin, but in Southeast Asia no kitchen is found without it. For a variety of Vietnamese delicacies, such as steaming hot, spicy noodle soup, Thai basil’s sweet cinnamon aroma is simply essential. The durable leaves of Thai basil mean the herb is an ideal match for warm soups and sauces, but also to bring an amazing flavor to fresh salads.
Wasabi is well known to many as a mint-green paste accompanying sushi, but have you come across a serving of fresh wasabi mustard leaves? Wasabi mustard resembles its horseradish cousin, used to make the paste familiar in a sushi buffet, but is more mustard-like in taste than a mouth-burning sourness. It is suitable both fresh in salads or when fried in a pan, and will provide a healthy kick of vitamins A, B and C to any vegetable wok.
For an explosion of vitamins in Chinese cuisine, reach for the pak choi. This vegetable is at its best when fried quickly in a pan, however the young leaves are also suitable in salads or smoothies. Crisp and crunchy in texture, the taste of pak choi is juicy, radish-like and mild, with a peppery hint. Pak choi is perfect when paired with stronger flavors, such as when frying with garlic, soy and honey.
Shiso leaf is a cornerstone of Asian food and has a major role in Japanese cuisine. The multicolored green and violet leaves are strong and spicy, characterized as slightly minty with a crisp fruitiness, whilst also having a deep peppery taste. The pungent flavor means shiso is great in small quantities and suitable for many Asian recipes, such as for seasoning drinks, salad beds or fried meat.
These speciality indiginuous Asian herbs can be easily grown at home, when conditions are correct. For users of the Plantui indoor garden, conditions are optimized for both the plant and each phase of growth, so cultivation is easy. Also, don’t miss the Asian Lover selection package, a great combination which includes a variety of herbs and salads for Asian cooking, suitable for about nine months of growth.