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East Asian Cuisine

Traditional East Asian Food

East Asia is a vast geographical region where some of the world’s largest mountains and longest valleys meet rivers, seas, and oceans. East Asian cuisine covers the foods of China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The landscape, climate, and geography of a region always dictate its traditional ingredients, recipes, and culinary customs. For instance, rice – one of East Asia’s most foundational ingredients – can only flourish in environments that are humid and hot. Additionally, rice is a semi-aquatic crop which means that it has to be farmed with a constant water supply (irrigation). Therefore, rice paddies can only exist adjacent to large bodies of freshwater in hot and humid conditions. Consequently, rice is one of the primary ingredients in cultures that reside alongside lakes, rivers, and marshes. For instance, civilizations that arouse alongside the Yangtze river, Asia’s longest river, eat rice in almost every imaginable form.

“Southeast Asia has a real grip on me. From the very first time I went there, it was a fulfillment of my childhood fantasies of the way travel should be. Tasting the spectrum of [Southeast Asian] flavors – that certainly changed my whole palate […] a lot of the dishes I used to love became boring to me.” — Anthony Bourdain

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East Asian Food Staples

Starches are a foundational component of the East Asian meal. Common starches within East Asia include wheat, rice, grains, potatoes, and cereals. Noodles made from rice, potato, and wheat have become the basis of many well-known East Asian dishes.

Legumes were traditionally the major source of protein within early civilizations of East Asia. Common East Asian legumes are mung bean, soybean, pea, common bean, cowpea, soybeans, red beans, and kidney bean.

Oils were first made from animal fats but eventually were produced from vegetables. Common East Asian oils are made from sesame seeds, mustard seeds, perilla seeds, soybeans, safflower, and more recently, peanuts.

The most commonly consumed meats within this region are poultry, pork, mutton, and fish (famously served raw as “sushi” in Japan).

It is important not to forget the soybean when mentioning East Asian cuisine. Soybean is one of the most influential base ingredients within East Asian cuisine. Soybean is eaten raw, steamed, sprouted, and fermented. Not only does it serve as an important base ingredient but it can also be aged to produce the intense umami flavor you taste in soybean paste and soy sauce. Soybeans are also turned into tofu and noodles.

Typical East Asian Dishes

Chinese Dishes

  • Crab
  • Peking Roasted Duck
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Sweet and Sour Pork
  • Hot Pot
  • Dim Sum
  • Dumplings
  • Ma Po Tofu
  • Char Siu
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Congee
  • Baozi
  • Char Siu
  • Wonton soup
  • Soup dumplings
  • Sticky rice
  • Hainanese Chicken rice
  • Jiaozi
  • Spring rolls

Japanese Dishes

  • Sushi
  • Sashimi
  • Gyoza (Fried Dumplings)
  • Onigiri
  • Natto Rice Bowl
  • Japanese Pancakes
  • Yakitori (Chicken Skewers)
  • Miso Soup
  • Udon
  • Takoyaki
  • Soba
  • Sukiyaki

Mongolian Dishes

  • Huushuur – Deep Fried Meat Pie
  • Buuz – Dumplings
  • Bansh – Small Dumplings.
  • Tsuivan – Stir fried noodles
  • Chanasan makh – Boiled meat with salt
  • Khorkhog – Authentic Mongolian Barbecue
  • Boodog – Goat or Marmot
  • Lavsha – Guriltai shul (Noodle soups)
  • Kimchi
  • Bibimbap: Mixed Rice with Vegetables
  • Gimbap: Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls
  • Tteokguk: Korean Rice Cake Soup
  • Japchae: Glass Noodle Stir Fry
  • Naengmyeon: Cold Noodles
  • Kimchi Jjigae: Kimchi Stew
  • Samgyetang: Ginseng Chicken Soup
  • Sundubu Jjigae: Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Stew
  • Gamjatang: Pork Back-Bone Soup
  • Budae Jjigae: Army Stew
  • Galbijjim: Braised Beef Short Ribs
  • Bulgogi: Korean Barbeque Beef
  • Samgyeopsal: Grilled Pork Belly
  • Chicken: Korean Fried Chicken
  • Haemul Pajeon: Korean Seafood Pancake
  • Ganjang Gejang: Raw Crabs Marinated in Soy Sauce
  • Nakji Bokkeum: Korean Spicy Stir-fried Octopus
  • Hotteok: Korean Sweet Pancakes
  • (Tteokbokki: Spicy Stir-fried Rice Cakes
  • Soondae: Korean Sausage

Taiwanese Dishes

  • Beef Noodle Soup
  • Hot Pot
  • Zong Zi: Sticky Rice Dumpling
  • Soup Dumplings
  • Intestine and Oyster Vermicelli
  • Oyster Omelet
  • Stinky Tofu
  • Hsinchu: pork balls
  • Taichung: sun cake
  • Gua Bao: steamed white bun with braised pork belly and pickled vegetables
East Asian Food

Find Local East Asian Shefs & Meals

When searching for “southeast asian cuisine near me”, you’ll find Shef delivers Southeast Asian food in the following locations:

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