Keep Calm and Keep Cooking with Joyful Asian Cooking Projects

Keep Calm and Keep Cooking with Joyful Asian Cooking Projects

Dull days? Make the essentials of an Asian meal, then master a complex kimchi, punchy belacan and a crackling tempura coat. Let's get started!

With all routines out the window these days, come back to the kitchen and cook the food that makes you feel good. And in Asia, you'll begin easy with rice, noodle, and soups, and lots of leafy veggies in simple soy sauce seasonings. For desserts- we never go without sweet soups, gula melaka and plenty of tropical fruits. And if you're itching to accomplish something in these duller days, master essential how-tos, of making a complex kimchi, a punchy belacan and a crackling tempura coat. Let's get started! 

Start slow and easy with batch rice cooking that you can reheat 

Make a comforting chicken rice porridge, the world-famous Yangzhou fried rice, and a satisfying Japanese chicken katsudon. Best thing? Make a pot of it and reheat for later, tomorrow, a few days after. 

  • Chicken Porridge

A simple and substantial 30 min meal of sizzling chicken fat, soy sauce and sesame oil is what makes this plain porridge magic. It’s helped by garlic and ginger fried to a exude a hypnotic smell that seeps through a warm pot of pillow-y white porridge.

  • Chicken Katsudon

The Katsudon is one of the most well-known Japanese rice bowls in the world, and it is easy to see why –it is the perfect balance between sweet and salty, filled with delightful textures, thanks to the crunchy fried chicken and fat grains of rice swimming in a creamy sea of egg. To fully enjoy this Chicken Katsudon, eat it hot off the stove!

  • Yang Zhou Fried Rice

Yang Zhou Fried Rice is definitely a dish that everyone knows. Almost everyone would have eaten this dish before, and hence it is no stranger to us. Having tasted this dish multiple times, why not try recreating this dish at home? We have the perfect Yang Zhou Fried Rice for you, simple and easy for you to recreate. With just five steps, you can prepare this dish in 35 minutes. Pro-tip, you can also make use of your leftover rice to recreate this dish.

Look through our top 10 rice dishes: 10 Easy Rice Recipes FTW

Then, switch it up with just-right one-meal noodle soups

In Asia, if it isn't rice, it's noodles. If you need something simple, say, sesame oil tossed with fried shallots into a tangle of noodles- we've got it. Or, something fresh and light, like a oozing lime and fish oil shrimp glass noodles, try that out too. 

  • Scallion Oil Noodles

A humble dish from Shanghai, spring onion oil noodles (aka scallion oil noodles) is simple but delectable. It can be served as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as a quick mid-afternoon slurpy snack.

  • Shrimp Wonton Noodles

Wonton mee, or wanton mee, is a popular noodle dish in Asia. This Malaysian version with fresh egg noodles tossed in a special dark soy sauce and topped with thick slices of char siew is sure to impress your friends and family.

  • Sesame Shrimp and Glass Noodles Salad

Fresh and fabulous, the Vietnamese Shrimps and Glass Noodles Salad is a dish that will add some flair into your regular food roster. Quintessentially Vietnamese, this recipe is wonderfully textured and has layers of flavors, thanks to the use of fresh herbs and vegetables, with sprinkles of calamansi juice and fish sauce. One of the best things about this dish? You can make it in advance and refrigerated for later!

Make all the best noodle bowls: 10 Ultimate Slurp Worthy Noodle Recipes

Now, move on to nutritious week-long soup-pots for the whole family 

The soups here involves no blending and blitzing, merely a slice of smooth tofu in a bubbling Korean kimchi jigae, a chop of chicken and ginger in a comforting Filipino chicken tinola, and an altogether easy and substantial Chinese ABC soup- ABC for all A, B and C vitamins. 

  • Kimchi Jigae

The answer is no, it’s not as spicy as it looks. The Kimchi Jigae, or kimchi stew, may look incredibly spicy but it is actually quite mild when compared to say, the crushed red pepper flakes you use on your pizza. The main ingredients that make thisdish include thinly sliced pork belly, Korean red pepper paste and chili flakes, firm tofu and of course, the kimchi!

  • Chicken Tinola

Quick, tasty and refreshing, the Chicken Tinola is the chicken soup for the soul. This one-pot dish combines simple ingredients like chicken, ginger, onion, and green papaya to form a dish that is both healthy and tasty. A Filipino family favorite, it is guaranteed to have you going back for seconds, thirds, and more!

  • ABC Soup

As simple as ABC, with the vitamins to back it up, the base of ABC Soup consists of pork/chicken ribs, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. To cook it, all you need is a big soup pot, lots of water, and an hour or so for the ingredients to simmer! Here’s an interesting fact -it is affectionately known as the leftover soup because you are free to add in any leftover vegetables at hand without ruining its taste.

Pick from anyone of these: 10 Most Comforting Soups For All Time

Remember to always toss in a quick stir-fry of leafy veggies

Dressed in the heat of sambal (chillies), or stir-fried in a splash of soy sauce, vegetables in Asia are often leafy and incredibly tasty on its own, and even more so when its savoury juices are soaked up by a warm bowl of rice.

  • Kang Kong Sambal Belacan

One of the most widely served vegetable dishes in Southeast Asia- we can't get enough of the marriage of spiciness and the leafy Kang Kong veggie. Though some say the spicy shrimp paste stir-fried in Kang Kong Sambal Belacan may be too punchy of a dish. So go less on the paste, if you like a plainer dish. 

  • Stir-Fried Soy Sauce Mushrooms and Celery

The thing about mushrooms is that it’s often overlooked. But if you ever cook it on its own, you soon taste great rewards with little effort-an intense, savoury juice that flavours everything in just 30 mins. And here, swiftly stir-fry a beautiful bunch of celery, roughly chopped carrots, mushrooms-shimeji, white button, portobello, and oyster. As it simmers, inhale deeply and take in the saucy, herby smell that goes best over white rice, or tucked in a warm bowl of noodle soup.

  • Buttermilk Stir-Fried Kai Lan

Kai Lan, the leafy Chinese vegetable, is now very cool. It’s dressed in golden, creamy buttermilk with a spicy attitude to show. If you want more sass though, toss in a few more sticks of chilli padi and a handful more curry leaves. After a brief stir-fry with butter, heavy cream and chopped garlic, Kai Lan is now the talk of the town.

Finish with one-treat desserts that can be eaten straight out the fridge

Many desserts in Asia are great eaten hot, but seriously good eaten straight out of the fridge too. And we don't just use white sugar for sweetness. There's caramel gold of gula melaka in many Southeast Asian desserts, to creamy milky coconut milk in a bubbling bowl of warm Thai bananas. And we're not forgetting the endless list of sweet tropical fruits, especially the year-round favourite dessert, mango sago pomelo.

  • Mango Sago Pomelo

A wonderfully refreshing Hong Kong dessert served in nearly all Chinese restaurants in Asia. Pomelo bits burst with fruity magic and takes the cool mango "slushy" to the next level. For an x-factor, serve super cold. 

  • Steamed Ginger Milk Pudding 

Guaranteed to make you fall “love-in-first-sight/smell/taste” is the Ginger Steamed Milk. Made predominantly of egg white and milk custard, and infused with the pungent flavor of ginger, this silky white pudding is the perfect summer dessert, served chilled, after a heavy meal! Fun fact: Ginger is known to be good for blood circulation and digestion.

  • Buko Pandan

Oh-so-soft pandan fragrant jelly cubes, drowned in a sweet, condensed milk sauce and slurpy sago. If you so desire, we recommend topping the Filipino treat up with a spoon of chewy nata de coco cubes and velvety vanilla ice-cream. Eat cold, and freeze your bowl ahead for a nice icy touch to the lips on a hot afternoon. 

Eat straight from the fridge or hot off the pot: 10 More Addictive Asian Desserts

Finally, spend time on the basics of essential Asian delights 

What's in the batter of Japanese food that goes so crackling well with shrimp, fish, even vegetables? It's tempura, and it's so easy to do. In Thai food, the trademark flavours are lemongrass, lime, chillies, fish sauce- and that's all found in a creamy hot tom yum paste, which you can refrigerate and use anytime. Across Southeast Asian eateries, you'll find a condiment cup of red hot sambal that seems to complement all meals like magic, even with just a bowl of plain rice. Learn all the essential How-Tos here

  • How to Make Tom Yum Paste 

If you're feeling dulled and need a quick perk up, this punchy Thai tom yum blend is just a thing of magic. First, your nostrils tingle from the sharp smells of herby lemongrass, red chillis and fresh minty coriander. Then, throw in sweet shallots, garlic and zingy kaffir lime leaves and creamy tamarind. After a good blend of all and a fry of the wok, and spread this magic paste over some plain biscuits, use as an addictive dip for crackers, and of course, melt a spoon of it in a bubbling seafood soup. Add noodles to make it a satisfying meal. 

See: How to Make Tom Yum Paste, Try it with a One-Pot Tom Yum Risotto

  • How to Make Belacan

A dab or a dollop (depending on your heat tolerance) of belacan or fermented shrimp paste is widely agreed to be the condiment of choice for Asia's countless rice and noodle dishes. All you need is belacan shrimp paste (store-bought), chillies, sugar, sweet-sour calamansi juice, blended to get a spicy, creamy complex hot chilli paste. It goes wonderfully with over chicken, fish, seafood (especially) and even a quick stir-fry of veggies, particularly kang kong. 

See: How to Make Belacan, Try it with Kang Kong Sambal Belacan

  • How to Make Tempura 

Tempura might just be the most eaten Asian batter- you know it as mainly coated over shrimp on top of a bed of white rice over a Japanese meal. But white soft fish, juicy mushrooms, crunchy onions, and even gritty corn nibs are just some of the best stuff that you can fry in a quick and glorious tempura batter. All you need is cold soda water, flour, eggs, ice cubes and a hot fried wok! Whisk all, coat over each delectable pick and drop into hot oil. It's incredibly easy and wonderful to watch it all sizzle up and bite into. 

See: How to Make Tempura, Try it with a tray of Salted Egg Kale Chips

  • Learn all the essential How-Tos here
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