Monday, June 27, 2011

Authentic versus "Mangled" Recipes

I can read English (duh), Chinese (simplified is easier than traditional, but either is okay), and Japanese. My husband can muddle through Korean but he doesn't know enough about cooking to be very helpful. When I don't know, I use a program called Perapera-kun. ( This popup helps me read pages.

What this means is that I am pretty good at sorting through "authentic" versus "mangled" recipes for northern Asian cuisine. When I mean "authentic", I mean where I know what the original ingredients were and how they're intended to be used -- what you actually get, for instance, at a Chinese restaurant in northern China when you order Gu Lao Rou (better known in America as Sweet and Sour Pork). "Mangled" recipes means they've been already altered for a different region and ingredient availability. I prefer to get "authentic" recipes and mangle them myself... especially if I know what the original flavor is. For example, I know what northern-Chinese style Sweet and Sour Pork is like, I used to live in northern China. (By the way, most Chinese restaurants in Kansas and Missouri serve authentic northern Chinese food.)

Chinese food in particular is easy for me to pick out. I read Chinese all the time. (If you can read Chinese, I highly recommend recipe searching on If you can't read Chinese, don't worry, there are authentic recipes out there in English. More and more all the time, actually!)

As far as Japanese food goes, currently I don't HAVE to mangle those, really, I am in Japan. When that changes, well, I have good ideas of where to start, so I'll post up those ideas for the rest of you.

Korean and Japanese food are similar enough and they like to trade enough food and ideas back and forth that it's very easy for me to find what I need to make Korean food here. However, I can tell you that Japanese "kimuchi" (as they like to say it) and Korean kimchee are not the same... although the Japanese themselves KNOW that, and they also import genuine kimchee. My husband doesn't like kimchee, so I only use it once in a while to make a few things... he actually like Japanese-style better. (He is less tolerant of heat in food than I am, spicy-heat or temp-heat.)

I'm also looking for information on things.

I'm looking for a good recipe for Pakistani-style haleem, by the way. I can only find really authentic recipes in Urdu, and I can't read Urdu. Plus, I need some good ideas of where to find the wheat grain in northern Japan. I can't seem to find unprocessed wheat.

In fact, I'm always on the lookout for more info on northern Indian and Pakistani food, because I love it, it's terribly expensive to buy, and I'd really like to nail how to cook it. (I have one chana masala recipe that I regard as passable when I make it, and that's it.)

Okay, that's all for now. Gotta go and do stuff.

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