What is Oriental Cuisine?
The stretch from east Siberia south all the way to Indonesia including Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and China, makes the geographical area for the word “The Orient”. Oriental cuisine almost always refers to Asian cooking from the Far East region. Cuisine from Southeast Asia also qualifies as Oriental food, with Thai and Vietnamese being the two that are most well known in Western nations.
While Oriental cuisine is a broad term that can cover many styles of cooking, what exactly falls under “Oriental” can also depend on the location. In many parts of Asia, there are still advertisements for “Asian food,” but in China this might mean Korean or Japanese food, while in Vietnam it might mean Chinese or Japanese food, and in Japan it could mean Thai or Mongolian. From that standpoint, what exactly counts as “Oriental” in Asia varies by country.
There are many types of Chinese cuisine, because different areas of China can have distinctly different styles of cooking. Many times when someone in Europe or America thinks of Oriental food, Chinese food comes to mind, with its use of chicken, rice, vegetables, sauces and exotic ingredients. Chinese food qualifies as a type of Oriental cuisine.
Classification of Oriental Cuisine
The Three Kingdoms in Korea during the Goryeo dynasty (Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla) all have their own unique types of food that are all different; such as the second kingdom, Baekje, mostly eat cold foods such as kimchi. Some of the Korean food today are food that originated from the Mongol invasion in Korea during the late period of the Goryeo dynasty. Today, Korean food is mostly grains, meat, fish, and vegetables. There are many Korean dishes made with these staple foods such as Budea Jjigae (a spicy stew made of meat and sausages), Kongguksu (a cold noodle dish with a broth made from ground soy beans), Tangpyeongchae (a dish made with moong bean starch jelly and vegetables), Hanwu Galbi (a dish made with beef), and a dish named Samgyeopsal (a dish made with pork).It is a form of Asian cooking that can fall under the umbrella term of Oriental cuisine. Kimchi, a very popular dish, involves putting rotting vegetables in a stew and burying the stew pot to make it ferment. Rice, noodles, seaweed and snails are also used in Korean cuisine, and Koreans’ spicy barbecue is also very famous.
Korean Dining- The way the Koreans eat their food is they have to wait until the eldest person at the table picks up their chopsticks before anyone else can and that the eldest male of the family will always be served first. Unlike in China or Japan, the Koreans do not lift up the rice bowl when eating from it because each diner is given a metal spoon as well as chopsticks.
Cuisine from Southeast Asia also qualifies as Oriental food, with Thai and Vietnamese being the two that are most well known in Western nations. Various noodles, curries and hot spices help distinguish Southeast Asian cooking from that of some of the other Oriental nations that make up the Far East.
Thai cuisine. For although it is a unique cuisine with its irresistible leitmotif of basil, lemongrass, coriander, coconut milk, chilies and a wealth of spices. It is also a synthesis of native traditions and influences from neighboring countries and further afield. It was the Portuguese, for example. Who first brought the now essential chilies from Latin America in the sixteenth century, while the equally ubiquitous rice noodles originated in China.
One of the reasons that Thai cuisine was able so splendidly to absorb and blend these influences is probably cultural. On an intellectual level Buddhism is a great absorber and synthesizer of currents of religious though. Another reason may well be that Thailand is the only country in Asia never to have been colonized – the very word Thai means free – so there was no reason to resent or resist the contribution of its neighbors.
Of course, cuisine is basically, denned by the available produce. Southern Thailand with the Gulf to the east and the Indian Ocean to the west offers above all a superb range of fish and shellfish including squid. Prawns, scallops and mussels as well as crabs and lobsters. These are often prepared with milk from the coconuts that grow in profusion on the fringe of the rainforest inland.
Many people don’t know that Japanese food was influenced by the Chinese during the Tang dynasty. The Chinese culture was introduced to Japan through the Korean Peninsula during the Kofun period. Emperor Temmu was the emperor during 675 A.D. and said that killing animals such as cattle, horses, dogs, monkeys, and chickens were banned; but he did not ban the killing of deer’s and wild boars. Many of the emperors/empresses of Japan banned the killing of animals. It was until the Tang dynasty ended that the Japanese became more individual with their culture and cuisine.
Today, Japanese food is mostly soup, noodles or rice, and dishes that include fish, meat, vegetables, and tofu. The Japanese flavor their foods with dashi, miso, and soy sauce which are very low in fat and high in salt.
Japanese food is both unique in the way it looks and in the way it tastes. If you haven’t tried Japanese food, you might as well try it now because even though it may look like you don’t want to eat it, you’ll never know until you try it.
Japanese cuisine also is a type of Oriental cuisine. Japanese culinary tradition makes heavy use of fish, as well as sushi and other seafood. This cooking has a very distinct taste and style compared to many other types of Asian cooking from the far East area, because there is less frying and more careful preparation of steamed or even raw foods.
Japanese Dining- Traditional way the Japanese set their food is on the right is their bowl of soup, on the left is their bowl of rice, and behind that is their own individual Okazu (side dish that compliments the rice). Traditionally, there are three side dishes. One in the far back left, one in the far back right, and one in the center. The chopsticks are usually placed on the chopstick rest in the very front of the tray near the diner with the pointed ends facing left
There exists a certain ‘uniqueness’ that distinguishes Chinese cooking from other food cultures. To start with, there is the Chinese division when preparing and serving food, between ‘FAN’ (grain & other starch food) and ‘CAI’ (meat and vegetable dishes). Grains in various forms of rice or wheat flours (bread, pancakes, noodles or dumplings) make up the FAN half of the meal. Vegetables and meat (including poultry, meat and fish) cut up and mixed in various combinations into individual dishes constitute the CAI half. A balanced meal must have an appropriate amount of both FAN & CAI. It is in combining various ingredients and the lending of different flavors for the preparation of CAI that lies the fine art and skill of Chinese cuisine.
The other distinctive feature of Chinese cuisine is the harmonious blending of colors, aromas, flavors, shapes and texture in one single CAI dish. The principle of blending complimentary or contrasting colors and flavors is a fundamental one – the different ingredients must not be mixed indiscriminately. The matching of flavors should follow a set pattern and is controlled and not casual. The cutting of ingredients is another important element of Chinese cooking in order to achieve the proper effect. Slices are matched with slices, shreds with shreds, cubes with cubes, chunks with chunks and so on.
This is not only for the sake of appearance but also because ingredients of the same size and shape require about the same amount of time in cooking. This complexity of interrelated element of colors, flavors and shapes in Chinese cooking is reinforced by yet another feature: TEXTURE. A dish may have just one, or several textures, such as tenderness, crispiness, crunchiness, smoothness and softness. The textures to be avoided are: sogginess, stringiness and hardness. The selection of different textures in one single dish is an integral part of blending of flavors and colors. The desired texture or textures in any dish can only be achieved by using the right cooking methods. In all different methods of cooking, the correct degree of heat and duration of cooking time are of vital importance.
The southern regional style, of which Cantonese is a part, does not emphasize sweet and sour dishes as much as many Americans have come to believe. Like many classic Chinese styles, southern dishes do make use of contrasting flavors, textures, and colors, but the sweet and sour dishes known to us are usually applied only to certain types of fish and pork dishes.
The Cantonese are credited with perfecting the art of stir frying, and they are also known for their love of rice. If this latter seems too obvious for mention, it should be remembered that rice is not universally eaten in China; much of the country is too cold or too dry for its cultivation. But the semitropical south yields up two and even three crops per year, and the southern Chinese emphasize it so much that their common greeting “Ch’ih fan la mei yu?(“Have you eaten?”) Can more literally be translated as “Have you eaten rice?