Posted March 16th, 2008 by avaliant · 2 Comments
Asians love food, and they absolutely love home-cooked food, all the better with many family and friends around the table. This means, by extension, that Asians love cooking, even if they do not partake of the activity themselves. However, one thing that Asian people absolutely do not love is cooking with modern kitchen appliances.The true Asian chef will use only a knife and cutting board to prepare their meal. This is ironic, because of the many different types of cuisine in the world, the various Asian cuisines almost scream for the use of a food processor. Garlic must be minced into pieces as small as possible, beef sliced paper-thin, and carrots cut into thin strips; the list goes on. Name an Asian dish, and there will be at least three ways a food processor will help (Note, please do not send me recipes to try and prove this statement false. I really don’t care). This is almost invariably true because most Asian dishes require: a) minced garlic, b) chopped/minced onions/spring onions/ginger and c) some kind of slicing.
But the true Asian chef must resist any urges to go and use such a device. Rather, they practice their craft with only cutting board and knife; preferably a large Chinese style cleaver, one of those weirdly shaped Japanese knives, or a western style chef’s knife. If asians need to cut something small, they don’t get another knife; instead, they simply use the large knife, but more carefully. If the asian happens to own other knives (as parts of sets or gifts), they will remain, for the most part, untouched in their drawers, ready to be gifts for other people.
What about the rest of the kitchen? The Asian chef’s kitchen may contain an assortment of various pots and pans, purchased or received at one point. Like the knives, most of them will remain untouched for years. Because Asians absolutely loathe throwing away useful things (future post), these items will build up over the years. However, certain items will be used meal after meal: a large pot for soup/porridge, a steamer, a rice cooker (of course). But perhaps the crown jewel of the Asian kitchen is the wok. Almost everything in an Asian person’s stomach at one point was conceived in a wok.
Where does this aversion to kitchen appliances come from? Is it a matter of cultural pride? Or perhaps it is the immigrant’s desire to make at least one part of the household similar to that of his home country. Is preparing food by hand really better than using a food processor? The answer to these questions is best left to an anthropology or Asian studies major. Either way, Asian cooking proves that some of the best meals do not need fancy tools to make.