Herbs and spices form the basis of Asian cooking. They also pack tons of health benefits. Learn more about the most popular Asian spices below and why you should incorporate them more into your diet.
Red chilies are a great addition to any pantry and can be used for a variety of dishes to add color and a burst of chili heat. Chilies in a dish should stimulate the palate and not simply burn the tongue, so it is important to find the right balance. You will find red chilies featuring in recipes from all over South East Asia and China. Try red chilies in a Thai stir-fry – start by stir-frying chilies in a little hot oil with garlic to release their flavors and aromas prior to adding the other ingredients. To avoid irritation, wash your hands well after handling chilies. Fresh chilies can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. They should be wrapped in paper towels to preserve their freshness.
Ginger is essentially a root which is popular as a spice in various cuisines. It has various medicinal benefits. It has a pungent, hot aroma and flavor. Fresh ginger is available year-round, although the dried and crystallized variety is readily available in the spice section of any supermarket. The fresh root can be wrapped in paper towels, put in a plastic bag and refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark space in an airtight container.
Ginseng is a famous herb popular in North Asia. Its roots are powdered and used in many herbal concoctions and teas. Ginseng contains vitamins A and B-6, and the mineral Zinc which aids in the production of thymic hormones, necessary for the functioning of the defense system. Fresh ginseng can be refrigerated for up to six weeks, but when dehydrated, it has an indefinite shelf life. Used in teas and herbal soups, ginseng is a healthy additive to your Asian dishes.
Garlic is widely used as a spice and seasoning in food. It is an integral element in Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Additionally, it has several health benefits. Fresh and dried garlic is available year-round in most markets. Unpeeled garlic should be stored in an open container in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate or freeze. Peeled garlic cloves should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Lemongrass is Asia’s main source of citrus flavoring. It is used in South East Asian cuisine, extensively in Thai dishes, especially in soups, salads, and curries. The swollen leaf base is the most used part of the vegetable. Lemongrass is generally available all year round, although the bottled varieties are also available. If frozen in an air-tight bag, it can be preserved for several months in the refrigerator.
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