Food and Ingredients

Like the Sun, the human understanding of the power of food, awakens in the East. What would the world be without noodles, sticky rice, dim sum, soy, hot pots, and tea? The items presented in this glossary, thought a drop in the ocean, should be enough to stir appetites time and again. Find out why life is incomplete without a taste of mukimono, sambal, Shaoxing wine and a whole more.

Agar agar: This gum derived from sea vegetables is popular throughout South- east Asia to make jellies that are enjoyed in a variety of desserts for its QQ-iness.
Bubble tea: This playful variation on regular tea which packs in chewy tapioca pearls, traces its origin to ‘80s Taiwan from where it went on to become a regional hit.
Buuz: This Mongolian style of steamed dumpling pairs flour and meat, the same ingredients that go into the making of a fried version known as khuushuur and the boiled bansh.
Congee/jook: An Asian classic, this rice porridge is produced by slow cooking rice using several times more water than usual, making a thick soup that is more filling than the same amount of rice cooked the regular way.
Curry/kari: While curry is used to loosely refer to the broad spectrum of Indian gravy-based dishes, the Southeast Asian karis are inspired by mixed powder/paste-based foundation of true Indian curries.
Dim sum: Formulated as an accompaniment to tea, these personable pockets of food are also known in Chinese as yum cha which means ‘having tea’.
Dragon's beard candy: Named in honour of a Han Emperor to whose chin it stuck, this sweet in some ways resembles the Indian sweet soan papdi.
Gado gado: This Indonesian dish brings together a mix of vegetables which may be variously raw, cooked, blanched or fried, all doused in a peanut sauce dressing.
Halo halo: One example of the region’s much-loved rainbow drinks/desserts, this colourful, enjoyable Philippino dessert knocks together yam, sago, chickpeas, beans and much more.
Kaffir lime: The bitter-lemony double leaves and perfumed rind of this distinctly fragrant citrus plant lends a signature flavour to a number of Southeast Asian dishes.
Lahpet: This preparation of pickled tea leaves, Burma’s national dish, is served along with peanuts, peas, garlic, coconut flakes and other tit bits.
Mukimono: The traditional art of carving foods popular in a number of East Asia countries most notably Thailand, has a history that dates back to Ancient Japan.
Nam pla phrik: Meaning chilli fish sauce, this famous Thai condiment also known as prik nam pla finds a place on every respectable Thai table.
Nuoc mam: This signature Vietnamese fermented fish paste is representative of the cult of fish sauces in the region where it often used in the place of salt.
Sambal: This fiery chilli-based condiment of Indonesian origin is a fixture at many dining tables in Southeast Asia and typically served in a stone mortar.
Schezwan pepper: This peppery, momentarily tongue-numbing dried berry is the signature flavour of Sichuan cuisine; it is a constituent of Chinese five-spice powder.
Shaoxing wine: This highly esteemed amber rice wine which dates back to China’s Imperial era is a variety of yellow wine that is also used in specialty cooking.
Sticky rice: Also known as glutinous rice, this short grain type is clumpy and chewy – qualities that make it the most preferred rice through most of East Asia.
Sake: Traditional Japanese rice-based alcohol that is used for drinking and cooking. It is also loosely used to refer to all alcoholic beverages.
Teh tahrik: Meaning ‘pulled tea’ in Malay, this rapid back-and-forth pouring of tea, popular in many Asian cities, ensures a heart-warming mix and a good head of froth.
Tofu, tempeh: Ancient China hit upon the genius of soya and before long it spread to the rest of Southeast Asia; tofu is its most popular East Asian avatar though in Indonesia it’s tempeh.
Tuk prahoc: The signature flavour of Cambodian cuisine comes from a powerful preserved fish paste known as prahoc which is watered down in this juice.