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Cooking in the eastern hemisphere, especially in Asia, is quite different from cooking in the United States. For starters, the techniques and ingredients were born out of necessity and have remained throughout the centuries. And it's much healthier, too. According to the latest Center For Disease Control statistics, approximately 57 percent of the American population, or roughly one in six American adults, are currently overweight or obese. Conversely, just a tiny fraction of that amount of the population on the entire continent of Asia is overweight, with even less obese. As western ways and McDonald's are becoming more prevalent in Asia, the obesity rate is rising.
One of the major accounts for this difference is cooking and eating. Asian cookware is different, the ingredients are different and the techniques are different. Here's how:
• Cookware: Whether, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Mongolian the wok, steamer baskets and rice cookers are staples in the kitchen as are the Chinese cooking utensils that go with them. Luckily, you can find Oriental cookware and Asian cooking equipment, as well as a wok in any type or style from budget brands all the way to premium brands like All-Clad and Calphalon.
• Ingredients: Fresh rice, whether brown or white, at almost every meal is combined with fresh vegetables, fresh spices, healthier oils, fresh seafoods and very little meat. Western ways use white processed grains combined with canned veggies drowned in butter and cheese and lots of fatty meats all fried up to go.
• Techniques: A wok is used at very high heat to flip and toss the food around quickly so it gets seared on all sides with just a tiny bit of oil. This is how it retains most of its nutrients. Rice is simply steamed or boiled fresh and can be further stir fried with more vegetables. No dairy is included, except maybe a bit of egg in stir-fried rice and no major fat source is added except the tiny amount of oil necessary for stir-frying and the essential fatty acids supplied by the fish.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|