Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oil, revisited

I am currently reading the book "L.A. Son" by Roy Choi. It's a fascinating read filled with deeply flavorful recipes and enticing pictures to match. Roy grew up near Koreantown within L.A. to Korean immigrants who raised him on classic Korean dishes such as Kimchi, pickled cucumbers and Kung Pao Chicken (at least he features that recipe in the book. What strikes me about traditional Asian food and the food in his book is the lack of dairy and the heavy focus on vegetables. I first encountered this phenomenon when I traveled to China and noticed the vast lack of milk, yogurt and cheeses at the table. In their place tended to be rice, beans, lettuces and meat. I loved it and I still continue to eat in the same fashion today. Additionally, when I read a book on Asian based food, I always come across an ingredient I'm forgetting to use. This time, as I picked up Choi's book, it was sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil. I have grand plans to build of a perfect pantry but have somehow been lazy (or cheap!) in recent days. Sesame oil is there on the top of my list along with peanut oil (another ingredient featured prominently in Choi's book). Oils add numerous flavors to our food and I'd like to experiment with different ones, experiencing how my chicken tastes fried in peanut oil, instead of sauteed in olive. Sesames, especially toasted ones, seem to add an unexpected flavor to many a dish. Here, you can find the recipe.

Sesame seeds serve as a source high in copper and calcium and have even been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol in the body. You can buy them at any food store and can be grouped into my next topic and level on the food pyramid: spices.

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