Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Asian Cuisine is one of those things that you immediately refer to a restaurant, or a takeout order when you are tired of eating pizza.
One thing we can safely agree about Asian cuisine is that it is universally relatable. Not everyone watches the same movie or picks the same outfit at a shopping mall. But don’t lie and say that you haven’t visited an Asian Restaurant and tried a plate of savoury-sweet Pad Thai or a hot bowl of Pho (Which we assume is what led you to this blog from the first place).
What makes Asian Cuisine so enticing is the abundance of flavours and styles to choose from. For each country and culture, the same ingredient can produce heavily different results.
As the saying goes, “Food is the unique outlet for cultural expression”. But ask yourself, how much do you know about the food served at your local Asian restaurant?
We are not pointing fingers here, but understanding a bit about your food can be a great conversation piece at the dining table.
With that being said, let’s take a step back and break down some of the most common traits of Asian cuisine. Enjoy the journey of culinary exploration with us at SWING.
Speaking of Pad Thai, Let’s take a look at a seemingly small country that lies in the heart of South-East Asia, but its cuisine has taken the world by storm.
The people at the land of golden temples really know how to make good food (Just google “Thai restaurant near me” and look at the number). Thai Cuisine can satisfy your craving with all the flavours known to humankind: Sour, sweet, salty, bitter and especially the spicy taste that numbs your tongue.
With a wide variety of options and dishes filled with flavour, once introduced to Thai food, you will want to come back again and again. Bold will be THE impression when you get a chance to try out this amazing cuisine.
Thai food is really appe-thai-sing
Do you love the smell of herbs? If yes then you are in luck. Thai food doesn’t shy away from the use of herbs: saffron, basil, coriander, mint, lemongrass, Lime Leaves. You name it! The combination of spices add a strong and intense flavour to your dish, while not being overwhelming (maybe with the exception of spiciness)
With spices and herbs for flavour, common proteins like Shrimp, fish, beef, chicken can be found in almost all Thai dishes as the main ingredient. If you enjoy meat, order some chicken or duck panang. If you are a vegetarian, then tofu pad Thai will be a great option. Seafood lover? shrimp is one of the most commonly used ingredients in a lot of Thai dishes.
Besides the abundant use of ingredients, Thai food brings another point to the table by its visually appealing colour. Without even tasting, the fiery red colour of Tom yum can make you drop a sweat. The creamy colour of Tom Khan brings a soft, gentle sweetness to your taste bud. Last but not least, the unique green colour of Thai Curry will challenge your unexpected cravings.
From the various regions of Thailand, each dish will make you say WOW! by the variety, originality and creativity when it comes to flavour. The food is varied according to each region, bringing flavours that are both strange but familiar.
In Thai food, rice is equivalent to bread and potatoes in European cuisine. It "softens" the spiciness of the meals by neutralizing the tastes. There are two types of rice in Thailand: Khao Suey, white non-sticky rice that is popular in the country's central and southern areas, and Khao Niao, a yellow and sticky rice popular in the country's northern and northeastern regions.
If southern Thai food is inspired by Malaysia and Java, where the chilli pepper takes the lead in giving dishes a spicy kick. Northern food, on the other hand, has elements of Laos, Burma and China, where the flavour is milder and utilizes many kinds of herbs and vegetables.
Dishes like tom yum soup, pad Thai, green papaya salad, and Thai green curry, have become popular worldwide. highlight the fresh tastes of Thai cuisine and have become a household favourite in Poland. Enjoy some of the most famous Thai’s signatures at SWING Restauracja!
Vietnamese food, a term that hit close to home. Suppose you have ever tried that fragrant bowl of pho with onions, anise leaves, and the sweetness of the bone broth. In that case, you will understand why Vietnamese food is so beloved anywhere.
Located at the heart of South-East Asia and is the close neighbor to our previously mentioned cuisine – Thai. You can spot some similarities between the two when it comes to the use of ingredients.
But while Thai food leaves a strong impression with their savory-sweet tamarin sauce and spicy curry. Vietnamese cuisine added an elegant touch to every dish with the use of raw ingredients and theirs’ perfect combination.
Want to know what Vietnamese Cuisine is all about? Let’s find out together.
Enjoy your ingredient as it is supposed to be.
If there is one word to describe Vietnamese food, it is freshness. Vietnamese cuisine focuses heavily on the raw flavors of ingredients and how it is combined. Picture a giant rice paper roll with lettuce, rice noodle, pork belly, cucumber, herbs and even fruit such as mango, pineapple. and the single spice you need is a dip of fish sauce. One bite of those and you will experience all the flavor nature has to offers.
Like all Asian cuisine, Vietnamese food uses many kinds of herbs such as basil, perilla, marjoram, onion, and dill. They also use spices such as chilli, pepper, lemongrass, chives, ginger and garlic to fermented condiments such as batches, shrimp paste, vinegar,… to create the signature flavor to each dish.
Not all spices are used in every dish. Still, when they do, the combination of ingredients (seasonings) are vibrant and flavorful, bringing a sensational taste for you to enjoy.
In addition, Vietnamese culinary uses many vegetables (boiled, stir-fried, pickled, and eaten raw), along with many kinds of broth and soup. Vietnamese dishes don’t often use meat as the main content, so they are especially low in fat and refreshing in nature.
Harmonious Combination of ingredients (and fish sauce)
In Vietnamese food, you will hardly find any dishes that are similar in taste, even when the execution looks pretty similar! For example, Pho and bun bo hue, a broth base dish that utilizes rice noodles, has an entirely different flavor. All thanks to the unique combination of ingredients and spices.
If you ever come to Vietnam, you will find a common theme of seasoning – Fish Sauce. This aromatic sauce is a must-have at any Vietnamese family meal. Many dishes have a corresponding fish-sauce recipe with traditional recipes to match the taste, especially rolls and salads.
If you can’t stand the smell of raw fish sauce, you will be surprised by how the Vietnamese turn it into an indispensable condiment, with a notable example being Bún Chả. If you get to tried Vietnamese style fish sauce, proceed with caution because it is pretty addictive.
In addition to the combination of flavors, Vietnamese food also pays great attention to the nature of the dish. Cold-nature dishes such as duck and snail meat are often prepared with warm-nature spices such as ginger and laksa leaves, which gives off a nice balance to the meal.
Unlike many other Asian cuisines, where it focuses on aesthetic presentation, nutrition and skillful cooking technique. Vietnamese food is more about balancing the spices and available ingredients to create an idyllic, elegant feeling that is not too bold but attractive in a unique way.
North - Central - South
Not only is it suitable for a daily meal, but Vietnamese food also varies across the region and represents that region's culture.
Vietnamese delicacies bring their unique flavor according to region. The North has a cold climate and four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. The flavor of northern dishes is rich and salty, neither spicy nor sweet.
Northern dishes focus on the elegance of ingredients and their original taste, originating from the past of many difficulties, now become the signature trait of Vietnam's elegant capital – Hanoi.
In contrast, the food in the central of Vietnam is robust, with solid seasoning and spiciness. If you're a fan of spicy food, you're going to have a blast, as chili is the conductor, appearing in everything from casual to luxurious.
Being the central region and affected by different climates, the central cuisine of Vietnam is highly diverse according to location. Some ingredients can only be found in a particular location, which becomes a signature dish that is famous around the country.
Last but not least, Southern Vietnamese is also known to have an "intense" taste-bud; by intense, we meant raw fish sauce, bitterly sweet dessert, and sour taste that could make your eye watered.
Southern Vietnamese doesn't shy away from seasoning, but that is what make them so addictive, every dish from the south is an explosion of flavor: sweet, savory, sour, spicy, etc. Nature also gifted the south with various ingredients, combine with the bustling lifestyle, you will never be hungry once you set food to this tropical land.
That’s not all...
Dishes like Pho, Banh Mi, Spring roll,... Have become a staple in many countries, showing the influence of Vietnamese Cuisine all over the world. Not only captivating the Vietnamese themselves, that oriental delicacy has now crossed the border, conquering diners near and far by its simplicity, harmony, and bold identity that linger in the hearts of food lovers. There are much more to cover regarding Vietnamese Cuisine that we at SWING will be happy to cover in a later blog post.