S.O.P international answer your questions on using authentic Asian and Oriental ingredients.
Could you begin by telling us how Asian and Oriental foods are sourced?
Large food trade show events such as Thaifex, IFE, Anuga & Sial has opened up the market to a plethora of suppliers wanting to supply authentic Asian & Oriental foods to the UK market. The events are becoming a melting pot of diverse cultures, each with their own unique cuisine, enabling UK importers to compile lists or reputable suppliers throughout the Far East.
How has the importation and distribution of Asian and Oriental food changed in recent years?
Stricter import duties and port health checks have improved the quality of goods being imported. In addition to this goods are now being packed and audited at source thereby ensuring they arrive on our shores ready to go straight to the supermarket shelves. Mainstream retail has certainly helped with the upturn in demand for authentic ingredients by dedicating ethnic pods solely to that of Asian & Oriental products.
What different styles of recipes can be created?
Everything from soups to sauces can be created; it’s no longer just about Thai green curry or sweet & sour chicken with egg fried rice. The growing trend of scratch cooking has introduced a fusion of cross culture dishes mixing traditional with what’s trending. Most of the UK has tried Chinese & Thai food with a growing number sampling Japanese, Vietnamese, Malay and Indonesian dishes. There is nothing wrong with having a dim sum starter followed by a delicious Vietnamese Prawn Curry.
Talk us through your favourite Asian or oriental food recipe and explain why it’s your favourite?
HOT HOT HOT, I love spicy food. Spicy Coconut Beef is definitely my favourite Asian dish, created by Max Piao for the Chang Beer Good Food Guide, this dish, though firmly rooted in the Thai culinary tradition, is modern and uncomplicated. It’s not the quickest of dishes to prepare, but it’s well worth the wait. The combination of chilli and coconut compliments the beef so well, especially when served with Thai Jasmine Rice. A copy of the recipe is available here.
Are there any food trends that you’ve noticed changing with Asian and oriental food in recent years?
Consumers have always bought the staple ingredients such as rice, spices and sauces closely followed by a few key ingredients to ensure an authentic taste such as fish sauce and coconut milk. This is slowly changing to include vegetables such as baby corn and water chestnuts being combined with less traditional ingredients especially with the more adventurous scratch cookers out there.
If you were to recommend some ingredients to inexperienced cooks who want to try making Asian or oriental food, what would you suggest?
Every cook needs to start with the basics regardless of their level of expertise. I highly recommend stocking up on the following:
- Squid Brand fish sauce – a must for Thai dishes
- Chaokoh Coconut Milk – used in sauces and marinades
- Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce – not just for dipping but can be used as a marinade as well as a sauce base for sweet & sour chicken if you like a bit of a bite.
- Soy sauce – dark soy for cooking, light soy for everything else.
- Chilli paste – depending on the protein choice you can choose from Tom Yum, Panang or Massaman. Mae ploy offers a great range in various pot sizes.
What are some healthy eating options available?
When I’m trying to eat healthily I tend to stick with stir fries but use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. This adds an extra level of flavour to the dish and is lower in calories. Another great option is grilled salmon served with Chiu Chow chilli oil, a shrimp based chilli oil that might not be super healthy but a little goes a long way as it’s packed with flavour.
For more information and to view a full list of products available go to www.sopinternational.com or call S.O.P. on TEL: (+44) 01992 584 466.
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